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Written by: Chris Dawson

10 October 2001

I am sure I was not alone in my thinking about getting on an airplane after September 11th. I definitely gave it more reflection and thought than I would have given it before that day. I have read countless pieces via email or on different web sites about what pilots have said before take off, and about what passengers have done to those sitting next to them, both negative and positive. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred, no tear jerking speeches from the cockpit, and no suspicious eyes following anyone as far as I could tell. Things seemed to be back to normal, as best they could.

I wonder if this is the way it should be after something like the attacks. One part of me hopes that this will be a catalyst for people to review what is going on in the rest of the world. I worry this will mean that Americans will stop visiting other parts of the world, people will entrust their vacations to resorts and Disney and cruise ships. As an American I feel that Americans are blessed in that we live in a country rich in resources and full of people with new ideas about how they want to live their lives, but I also see the isolationism that we are a part of because of our geographic location in the world, and because of the policies of our government in a great many cases. I hope that despite the terrible things that happened several weeks ago that Americans, and all people around the world, choose to learn more about the rest of the world because of it, instead of closeting themselves more because of fear.

Today we visited the Sistine Chapel. I missed it the first time I went to Italy several years ago. I almost did not take this trip because of the threat of more terrorism. I am really glad I did. Nothing can describe the amazement when you stand beneath those works of art, and everyone should have the opportunity to see that. It truly is a testament to the power of religion, and devotion. After some introspection, the issues of today are not so different as they were hundreds and thousands of years ago. Religion and a search for power still drive people to do incredible acts, and also commit terrible atrocities.

One thing never changes as we walk around the cities of Italy. We have seen people from all over Europe, and all over Asia, and people from the Middle East, and all other parts of the world. As you travel, you notice that their mannerisms might differ slightly, and their dress might not be the same as what you see in your home country, but at their very depths, people are people. We walked around Milan late at night the day America began bombing, and as if by fate, we walked by countless groups of Arabs out in the streets, listening to radios. My heart beat faster, but why? No one cared who I was. They were only interested in getting more information about the attacks, just like I was. And on the train from Florence to Rome yesterday, we overheard people talking about the “war,” and I have yet to hear someone here speak out in support of this war, or any war.

I love to travel. It is a selfish thing in so many ways, just to expose myself to things that I think are beautiful. But, travel also exposes you to the rest of the world, and no matter what politicians want you to think about the rest of the world, people are people and individually people do not look to kill or injure other people. I hope that people can remember this after September 11th, and continue to remember that we are not so different from our neighbors around the world.