In light of the recent events, people keep asking us “With terrorism spreading west, is it safe to travel to Europe?” We decided to answer this question here.
Death by evil has been ever-present since Cain killed Abel with that rock. However, we believe that the world is safer than ever to explore.
Indeed, terrorism is high, and numbers are rising, and we are inundated with reports of this in the news. We must remember that the news organizations are businesses: they report on what sells. It is important that we keep ourselves informed on both the good and the bad in society today, but when it comes to the news, the bad is disproportionately represented, because war-mongering reports are what sell! Most places in the world are made up of peaceful villages where locals go around living their day-to-day lives, but we do not hear about these places because it is not interesting news.
Now, we are not attempting to downplay the severity of the terrorist situation; it is serious. However, we have to educate ourselves before we refuse to travel. According to the Global Terrorism Index, 78% of deaths by terrorists occur in five Middle Eastern countries, namely Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, with Iraq being the most impacted out of the five. At the risk of sounding insensitive, we will not be sending clients to these places, just as we would not send clients to other areas of the world with high violence.
The West is not exempt from attacks, as we have witnessed in Paris, and as we saw in Australia a while back. And let us never forget what happened in our own dear United States on 9/11. We must point out that people have not stopped traveling to the latter two places as a result, and neither should they stop traveling to the former. In fact, we have been to France, Australia and New York this year.
The 2015 Global Terrorism Index states that “Excluding the September 11 attack, only 0.5% of deaths from terrorism have occurred in the West since 2000. Including September 11, the percentage reaches 2.6.” We have threats of continued attacks to the United States as well, and we will all continue to live here, regardless.
The State Department has issued a worldwide travel alert in light of the threats of continued terrorism, but this is simply a necessary precaution and not a definite warning not to travel. We have tools to help keep our clients safe, such as STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program): a free service, which allows travelers to register with the nearest US embassy or consulate, to assist the embassy in contacting them in the event of an emergency and receive information about safety conditions. There is no fail proof system that ensures that we will not be caught in violence wherever we choose to be, including places in the United States (Chicago is a great example), but we can be cautious and informed without giving up travel.
In a world of division between nations and socioeconomic disparities, traveling is more important than ever. When we go to foreign countries, dig into the cultures and build relationships with the locals, we help to create a more tight-knit global village, and we understand each other better.
If we want to fight terrorism, we have three jobs: To pray as hard as we can, to lift people out of poverty and ignorance, and to build relationships citizen-to-citizen with people of other nations. Traveling allows us to see each other’s peoples rather than each other’s governments, and this is desperately needed.
Let us not add to the distrust and fear that is growing in society, but let us add to the peace, love and joy that is so much more powerful. Love is the only thing stronger than fear or hate, so let us spread love as far and wide as we can. We are not just American citizens, we are global citizens, and the sooner we understand this, the faster we can better the world for our children and our children’s children.