world travel/ perspective
This image is from an episode of West Wing, where people bring in a map of the world that is upside-down and explain why it changes everything. The initial reaction, of course, is to laugh because it's such an odd idea and seems so trivial. However, once I began actually looking into this after our class discussion of "world travel" and perceptions, I realized there is actually something to it. For one thing, the continents are re-sized more acurately, but also it does make you think about the relationship between North and South and Top and Bottom. Even if you don't realize it, I certaintly didn't, constantly seeing the US as near the top of the world, or at least above other countries on the map has an implication of power and importance. Imagine if we were no longer North America, but South? Besides the fact that it sounds weird, are there any other reasons we would object?
It was that idea that made me laugh while watching the show, and then when doing the reading and listening to people in class, it suddenly made me uncomfortable. I have been traveling all my life, have dual-citizenship, and have family members living in 6 different countries so the idea of "international" has always been somewhat unimportant to me. I am used to both fitting in in other countries and standing out (a lot, especially when my Dad wears absurd hats) and I was very uncomfortable with the idea that, subconciously, I would or could still have these thoughts of superiority. It made me think. I never really thought of myself as a "Tourist" because to me that conjures up Hawaiin print shirts and inappropriatly loud conversations coupled with ignorant questions. I'm not sure what I thought I was, what I think I am, but I begin to realize that by giving myself credit for not being like other "Tourists" I am elevating myself to a position of superiority within the realm of traveling, which is just as bad as looking down on other countries and cultures because I do not know these other people traveling as well. This post has taken a bit of an odd turn but it is because I am still working through this idea in my own head. It is strange to suddenly realize the neutrality that I always (secretly) was so proud of, is in fact non-existent at best, and insulting at worst.