I have come across two quotes that I believe capture in large extent the great value I find in traveling to a place like São Tomé, a place quite different from my home town in many ways (although the more I am here, the less different it really seems).
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
– Lilla Watson,
Aboriginal elder, educator, and activist
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”
– Paul in his letter to the Philippians, first chapter.
In his book “Travel as Political Act”, Rick Steves points out that travel not only can change us in many wonderful and positive ways, but it also can significantly impact our communities as we return home with changed perspectives regarding our own communities. Unless I challenge myself by going to places that are far outside my daily experience and that put me outside of my comfort zone, my knowledge and depth-of-insight will not grow more and more, and my love will be immature and limited as well. I go not to serve, but I go because my liberation from my self-centered, self-serving, parochial view of the world is bound up with the liberation of those whom I go to meet and to form partnerships. And in so doing, I am also able to better serve in my home communities to which I belong.