Many of my American friends are scared into not traveling abroad because they think the world hates and wants to kill them. Most of this fear originates from the US press sensationalizing foreign events, painting the outside world in a negative light. As a consequence, Americans become fearful of traveling anywhere abroad that is either unfamiliar or “unsafe”. In actual fact, in my travels abroad to over 40 countries I’ve found the world loves Americans.
Despite What the Media May Say, The World Loves Americans
How the Media Scares People into Staying Stateside
In general, as Americans we have this idea in the back of our head that the world hates us. We especially fear the Middle East as we think it’s full of terrorists who want to kill us just because we are Americans. Why do we think this? Well, it’s what’s broadcast on the television on a daily basis.
This sensationalism from the US press sells more papers and gains a better viewership. It feeds into American’s fear of the abroad, and their belief that we are the best country in the world. The problem with this is that Americans then don’t get to meet and interact with many people who live overseas.
If US citizens would take the time to travel the globe and converse with foreigners, they would discover the truth. In fact, a great majority of the world and Middle East love Americans. Trust me: I’ve been to over 40 countries.
Case in point: I’ve been traveling for the past month to six countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including Portugal, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. During my voyage, I’m often asked my country of origin. And each time I say “I’m an American,” I always receive a positive, if not glowing response. Here are some firsthand accounts.
The Wonderful Turkish People
As Allan and I spend a week in Istanbul, Turkey, friends write of their concern for us. Apparently recent news reports about Istanbul have worried them. This week two stores in Istanbul dominate the news stations: a Saudi journalist disappeared and an American pastor was released from house arrest.
Despite these accounts, tourism in Istanbul is booming. In fact, the streets are so packed, some alleys are almost impassable. If Americans could come to Istanbul and see how safe it is here, they wouldn’t have reason to worry.
Furthermore, if they chatted with the Turks, they’d learn that they love Americans. Case in point: yesterday Allan and I hailed a taxi back to our hotel near the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. After a short while, the driver asked where we were from. When we said “the US”, a big smile lightened up his face. “America number one,” he proclaimed. He then passed us a piece of his orange, a token of friendship. Before exiting his cab, he snapped a picture of the three of us on his phone.
A similar encounter transpired later the same day. I’m face-timing friends in the US while shopping for pottery. To show my friends how safe it is in Istanbul, I asked the shopkeeper on camera what he thought of Americans. The vendor retorted “I love Americans, only second to the Japanese”. He then invited me to sit with him for complimentary tea, as he successfully sold me some gorgeous plates.
The Amazing Egyptians
Egyptian tourism is down due to some political uprisings and safety concerns in the past decade. However, as Allan and I sail down the Nile we are greeted with kids from on shore shouting “hello” at us. When we disembark to explore surrounding towns, residents smile and say “America number one” when they find out we are US citizens.
In response I chime in “no, Egypt number one”. One salesman retorts “no, life in Egypt very hard. Very hot.” I have to admit, it’s 114 degrees F outside (46 celsius), and this guy is selling crafts all day long in the sun. He’s right – life is hard for him.
The Lovely Lebanese
We recently traveled to Lebanon despite the US State Department’s advisory to “reconsider travel”. I have to admit, as we flew over warn-torn Syria in our approach to Beirut from Jordan, I was a bit nervous. If the state department said it was unsafe, should I heed the advisory?
To calm myself, I tried to remember conversations we had the week before on the streets of Amman, Jordan. I had mentioned to some local Jordanians we wanted to travel to Lebanon, but were concerned about the travel warning. “Is it safe for Americans?” I questioned. Resoundingly they all said “yes, many Americans work and live there.” So I ignored the travel warning and booked a flight into Beirut.
Days later when I landed in Beirut, I discovered the Lebanese to be wonderful and friendly people. In the end we enjoyed several peaceful days eating delicious Lebanese food. Plus we made many friends, who all “love Americans”.
More over, our private driver, a Lebanese who has worked in Saudi Arabia and Dubai, confirmed: the world loves Americans. He even stated that in Saudi Arabia, Americans are given special privileges and special status. “All over the world, people love Americans – for all the good you do.”
He then drove us all over Lebanon. From Beirut to Baalbeck, close to the Syrian border in Hezbollah country, we met gracious and amiable people who were elated to see us. Lebanon is a peaceful and beautiful country, completely safe despite what you may hear otherwise.
I would encourage everyone to travel abroad and chat with the locals. You’ll find people for the most part are just like you – they seek peace and happiness. And they want to make friends. You may be just as curious a creature to them as they are to you.
Yes, there are individuals who hate Americans and want to kill them. However, this percentage of people comprise the great minority. So small, it’s not even worth considering. In actuality, the majority of the world loves us.
However, as with any exploration, I keep my wits about me and use common sense. Just because destinations are safe, that does not mean you should completely relax and let down your guard. Travel smartly and don’t be afraid.
Since I’m starting to explore to less traveled to places like Lebanon and Jordan, I’ve become more motivated to visit the more remote parts of the globe. It seems the less touristy a place, the more authentic the experience. With each new country I visit, the more friends I make, and more I discover the world really does love Americans.