From the Editor

Where have you been?

Getting out of the country can expand your world

The high price of gasoline and the growing inconveniences related to airline travel notwithstanding, Americans are on the move, traveling all over the country and all over the world.

Lutherans are no exception. Readers of the Febru-ary and September issues of this newspaper will know that Metro Lutheran encourages travel by Lutherans. (This month’s encouragement begins on page 7.) We promote a special sort of travel, where possible: “Travel with a purpose.”

What does that mean? Purposeful travel begins with a plan to learn something, to grow, to encounter other cultures, to make a positive contribution to human existence based on what is encountered in the travel experience.

The president of one of our area Lutheran colleges recently told me that many of his students study abroad each year. He added, “Even if they didn’t learn anything academically during their time overseas, the experience itself would be worth at least three college credits — unless the students spent all their time in bars or in bed.”

Why would an educator say that? Simply put, getting out of your familiar space and experiencing a new one can provide a broadening, life-transforming opportunity. People who travel abroad are far less likely to be judgmental and negatively inclined toward those in other cultures. Travel overseas can be a great bridge-building experience.

As the United States has engaged in a vigorous national debate, these past four years, about our nation’s relationship to other countries and cultures, it has become clear that engagement with those cultures can go a long way toward building understanding. Conversely, those who have not left their familiar, comfortable environments tend to be more rigid and self-satisfied, and less tolerant toward people whom they do not know and have never met.

Where have you been? What has it done to your world view? Maybe it’s time to hop a plane and travel somewhere — purposefully.