As much as I hate to use the “S” word, it’s one that should be ingrained into humanity’s DNA. It is, as evidenced by every other culture than the current status quo. But unfortunately sustainability has taken a back seat to economic “progress”, and even the word itself has been perverted to suit the needs of those in power.
But true Sustainability – the ability to maintain a symbiotic relationship with our Mother Earth, is necessary. But before we try to maintain that relationship with our planet, we need to do so with each other.
Cultural exhange happens all the time but many people give it other names such as “tourism” or “immigration”. Both offer the ability to change one’s entire environment to spend time in another place. But look at the differences beteween the two.
The tourism trend takes people for 1-2 weeks of time, puts them completely outside of their element, then does its best to give these people what they want. Usually it’s a vacation – some sort of escape from their life back home. Other times it’s an “experience”. Something they can tell their friends about, or post on instagram to gloat to the world at large about what a great life they have.
True travel does the opposite. It seeks to find the similarities in cultures while at the same time relishing in its differences. It is when a person really dives into a culture. Learning the language. Cooking the food by shopping at the same grocery store everyone else does. Going to the same restaurants and bars. Learning something new to take to your life back home. It happens all the time when people immigrate, but it can also happen in a short time
That is cultural sustainability.
Because if we can maintain a part of another culture we learned about and bring the good elements back home, we are helping to extend the reaches of culture to an entirely new environment. Through appreciation we find understanding. And through this, we are able to stop quarreling.
But that’s my point between travel and tourism at least. Take it or leave it.