I was stunned the first time I discovered that there were teenagers living in Australian cities who had never seen a living sheep or a living cow.
I grew up being taken on touring country holidays by my parents and just assumed that ‘everyone’ had travelled outside the city limits.
I was equally astonished to discover that you could be elected President of the USA (George Bush Jnr) without ever having left the United States. Astonishing to consider someone with that kind of power in the world, never having visited that world before acquiring that power. More than a bit scary frankly.
See, I assumed that the wider world was INTERESTING to everyone and that if you had the money to visit the world, you would absolutely want to do that. I was wrong.
I know the first time I visited the UK as an adult, it opened my world UP hugely.
That “opening” continues to do this day. Indeed this blog is hoped to be part of that ‘opening to the world’ process – conversing with people from around the world to learn from them and share with them.
That first adult overseas trip not only opened me up to the World – I came home with an entirely deeper and richer sense of my home country and new eyes to see it and appreciate it.
One country I visited quite a bit in the past astonished me when I met a number of people there who felt comfortable saying to me, as a visitor from another country, that they did not care what happened to my country as long as their country did as it pleased. I was mildly astonished at the attitude but mostly astonished at the fact that people felt comfortable SAYING that to me – telling me how unimportant my country was to them in comparison to their country.
That was the point at which I started to understand the old statement “patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings” (I heard that first in a Bob Dylan song but it pre-dates his usage of it.).
Some of us are comfortable living in a very local world.
Some of us are comfortable living in a totally global world.
I suspect most of us are somewhere in between those extremes.
My own path has been that the more I have experienced the world which is NOT “mine” – the richer I feel as a human being, the deeper I grasp my connection to others and to the planet and the more powerful and nuanced my experience of “my” local world becomes. Your mileage may differ.