Travel As A Poitical Act ~ Rick Steves
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Rick Steeves’ book, Travel As A Political Act, carries a number of messages and carries them well. Steeves’ uses his travels to various overseas destinations as the vehicle to broach, discuss and consider and reconsider a number current of social, religious, economic and political issues. It becomes apparent fairly quickly that Steeves is a progressive thinker and doer in his politics, religion and world view. Steeves does not flinch from espousing a progressive, dare I say it, liberal view point through out. He is firm in his beliefs and firm in his opinions yet he does not bash or condescend to anyone who might think differently or disagree. A breath of fresh air on both counts. His experiences are the origins of his world view.
While much of Steeves world view is preaching to the choir for me it was refreshing to see and hear that world view articulated well and advanced in print. Steeves has a voice that might turn some readers off but it is consistent throughout the book and I found it sincere and experienced as opposed to pompous or arrogant. After eight chapters of traveling in different countries and cultures to make a point regarding an issue or perspective (war, Europe’s socialism v America’s capitalism, legislating morality and human behavior, religion and Christianity, taxes and government, secular Islam, being smart on drugs) Steeves takes the final chapter to challenge the reader through an outline of specific ‘walk the talk’ actions that a traveler could take upon his/her return to their home country to impact the status quo and put one’s new found perspectives into action.
Lots of new-to-me tidbits of information:
“In the Bible God calls for a Jubilee Year (Leviticus25:10) – every fifty years, the land is to be redistributed and debts are to be forgiven. Perhaps God figured that, given the greedy nature of humankind, it takes about fifty years for economic injustice to build to a point that drives asociety to violence. Rich Christians can’t image God was serious.”
While Iran is an Islamic country (Shia), Iranians are Persians not Arabs. Huge distinction.
Travel makes you wiser but less happy.
On proselytizing Democracy throughout the world: “Democracy in countries that function as the quarries (oil fields ~ my insertion) of capitalism reminds me of a bonsai tree. You keep it in the window for others to see, and when it grows too big, you cut it back.”
Whatever level of traveler you are or aspire to be read this book; it will make you think. I am sending it home to my youngest daughter and her husband to read as they are divided in their politics.