Henry Rollins rolled through town last night on his new spoken word tour, which is actually a slide show of photos he has taken on his extensive world travels. He shows a photo, starts talking about the story behind the photo, and before you know it he has talked for 2:30 straight without a break, and it feels like he just started. They guy is a master story teller and his travels have provided more than enough source material.
What struck me about what he was saying wasn't so much the specifics of the people or places he visited, it was the over arching theme of the importance of travel as a vehicle for personal growth and compassion. Somebody that spends a week in Tehran enjoying the food and getting to know the people and culture a bit simply can't come back to the States and believe we should bomb those people off the map. They are a caricature if all you know of Tehran, or anyplace else, is what the US media or politicians tells you. Going there, wherever there is, makes it personal and that changes everything. Going there means getting out and experiencing the culture. He likes to hit the big city bazaar or market, as it's a melting pot of local people, food, and culture.
Another theme he returned to many times over the course of the night was the necessity of leaving your Western POV at home, especially when you are visiting some place like Vietnam or India. His pictures bring out a beauty in a woman picking though a garbage dump for food that you just wouldn't think possible until you see his picture and listen to him challenge you to consider that people everywhere do what they have to do to survive, and that doesn't make them any less worthy of respect than what you may feel you deserve. I would extend that to say they are probably more worthy of respect because of what they do to get by. Most of the world doesn't have as easy I do sitting here in my heated home with stable electricity and Internet. I'm reminded once again that yes, I am damn lucky.
So I guess what I'm saying is that I need to travel more.