Travel, learning, humility, isolation, and “The Asocial Network”

– so many flags, so many nations, so many people we can learn from

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Galatians 3:28, 2 Corinthians 13:11
– with Rebekah in Prague

This past few days I have spent a lot of time going through photographs from the 2019 adventure Rebekah and I enjoyed in Germany, putting together a PowerPoint presentation for a travelogue we will be sharing later this week. According to the blurb (below), it should be pretty good!

Derek and Rebekah Maul plan to share photographs and stories from their recent adventures in Germany. The program will feature spectacular views from Dresden, Meissen, Leipzig, and Prague. Dresden – the historic epicenter of Saxony – has an amazing resurrection story to tell after being all but eradicated in WW2, then repressed until the fall of the Iron Curtain. More than a travelog, this should inspire.

I don’t plan to rewrite the series of posts I shared back in 2019, but I absolutely am wistful for travel. The series of roadblocks standing between me and our longtime plan to “hit the road” once Rebekah retired are frustrating to say the least!

I believe travel is especially important in this time where there is so much narrow thinking, mistrust, disunity, and acrimony. Divisiveness is exacerbated by isolation and isolation is amplified by, well, just about everything!

Travel can make all the difference:

Decades ago, when Rebekah and I were first married, I turned down a job with “The Friendship Force that, looking back, I wish I had taken, if only for a year or two.

The organization was the brainchild of Presbyterian preacher Wayne Smith, and then President Jimmy Carter put the weight of the Oval office behind the initiative. The idea was – and remains – to work toward world peace one friendship, one community at a time. Today it is multinational.

I met with Wayne Smith in his downtown Atlanta office in 1980, and he asked me to come on board as a troubleshooter.

Back then, The Friendship Force would charter airplanes, taking a couple of hundred people from, say, Charlotte to Odessa (then in the USSR). Then, after a ceremony at the airport, a planeload from Odessa would board the same charter and head for Charlotte.

Often,” Wayne told me, “we’re two weeks out and a dozen or so more participants would make all the difference to the bottom line. I want you to go to (insert name of town here), meet with the local liaison, get on the radio, talk with the mayor, get interviewed by the newspaper, speak at the Rotary club, show up at the biggest churches, and make whatever noise necessary to sign people up.”

He looked at me appraisingly. “If you take this job I’d like to fly you to Pennsylvania tomorrow and see what you can do to boost the exchange slated for next month….”

We have to expand our horizons:

The digital world we now live in has had the unfortunate, and unintended, effect of narrowing the world view of hundreds of millions of people.

Rather than “The Social Network”, I think today’s Internet would be better framed as The Asocial Network.

“Asocial” is defined as “avoiding social interaction; inconsiderate of or hostile to others.” Synonyms include “alienated”, “antisocial,” and “misanthropic.”

– Italy, on the Adriatic

So travel. Go to church. Have coffee with someone you disagree with. Try on the humility and the steep learning curve that comes with being unfamiliar with surroundings.

Now apply that to your day-to-day life, your views, your opinions, your politics, your approach to religion.

Who knows, we may grow to understand that it’s not all about us!

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Mark Twain

Go figure – DEREK

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