The Tourist

This past weekend I spent a few days with some strangers touring around the east side of the island. The idea was that it was supposed to be a spiritual retreat. 

And while I know plenty of people come here just for tourism, so they can get some likes on their Instagram feed, it really was something to see this commodification first hand. 

There was an individual there who came to bond with her daughter and not necessarily to engage with the mindfulness of the retreat. And while we had lectures about the bloody history of this island, so that we wouldn’t be carelessly walking around without any context, I only heard her complaining about everything. 

It’s completely inappropriate, in my opinion, to complain about a situation and then get on a plane and say, “well, at least I don’t have to live as those ‘savages’!” from the comfort of your home, in your respective representative district. 

The moment you realize that the place you visit has no autonomy from your wealthy nation, is the moment you have to question why conditions are as unpalatable to you as they seem. 

And it’s truly shameful to concern one’s self only with reaping benefits of a fun vacation while concerning yourself with all the souvenirs you must buy for folks back home, all while loudly complaining about what a terrible place it is and how you wouldn’t come back.
But that’s just it. Most people don’t understand the politics of power, or who is in control. The colonized mind believes in the yarn that is spun, that perhaps he or she really can’t self govern, really can’t root out problems, or can’t find solutions to every ‘what if?’. 

If the colonized don’t even bother to understand their situation, why would the tourist who benefits from this dynamic? Where does the burden of proof lie. 

It’s inspiring to meet people who educate themselves about the history and the systems around them. How can you know who you are if you accept someone else’s narrative of your own history? Someone else’s culture? 

No one else will preserve these things for you. Colonial powers erase, hegemonize, exploit. 

I’d go so far as to say, why stop at one’s own history? After that, learn another. You will find out there’s nothing original under the sun. And perhaps you will see hope and solutions. 


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