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Global Travel: Escapism or Engagement?

by Globetrooper Todd | 4 Responses
Escapism vs Engagement

Global travel is a faith. It’s a movement of people who agree that life is all about experience, and experience is all about exposure to the unknown.

But like any faith, debating it and rationalising it is futile. So rather than preaching the ‘good word’ to staunch travel-cynics, I’d like to take a step back to explore the escapism vs engagement debate for what it really is.

Escapism seems to be the default argument against anything that breaks the status quo. For example, if I want to join the military, it’s escapism. But if I want to leave the military, it’s also escapism (sounds like Yossarian’s dilemma in Catch 22). You just can’t win when it comes to cynics, but that’s life.

As for the concept of engagement, it’s just the default rebuttal for escapism. ‘No, I’m not escaping [this], I’m just engaging in [that].’ And who can really argue whether it’s one or the other? If you want to escape, then escape. If you want to engage, then engage. But I don’t think we can make blanket statements about whole movements.

Stepping away from semantics, there’s a somewhat ironic view to consider. Immersion in other cultures (through global travel) is what gives you the perspective to see the bigger picture with debates like this.

Regardless of whether you’ve travelled to escape or engage, you begin to see that we’ve all got reasons for acting and thinking the way we do. And it’s very easy to become hypocritical by suggesting you’re more noble than the next person. More importantly, you realise that just because you’re more advanced (in whatever way) than the next person, it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily better off or more happy. And that’s a big wake up call.

Escapism or engagement? Well, that’s not the point. It’s inconsequential.

Posted in Adventure Travel | April 15th, 2010

4 Responses to Global Travel: Escapism or Engagement?

  1. An interesting post – one that is worth coming back to occasionally to keep us grounded and maintain a balanced perspective about travel.

    There’s a whole new post in your closing comments about being “”more advanced”". Indigenous Australian’s immediately came to mind and their forty odd thousand years of developing their methods of living in harmony with the harsh environment of the Australian continent. Their methods were in contrast to the early European explorers who often perished or struggled with their “”more advanced”" methods and equipment that were often not in harmony with the environment.

  2. Great to hear from you EnT. And that’s a really salient reference to the Australian aboriginals and the environment.

    I often hear their (lack of) sophistication compared to the sophistication of the Egyptians. But you’re right; the Australian aboriginals subsisted for however long (let’s say 40,000 years) without ruining everything. Here we are, after a couple of hundred years, and boom.

    Clearly we’re smarter, more advanced, more in-tuned, etc. :)

    P.S. We’re keeping an eye out for the re-launch of your site.

  3. I dunno if the semantics help us, though they make for int blog posts right enough.
    All these words can be so loaded with judgement/connotations. Escape has its time and place, just as immersion does. And some would argue for local travel over global. The main thing is to do it, if you want to, instead of debating it. I’m in serious danger of that trap myself!

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