Note: These are the author’s interpretation of quotes said in a context completely separate from today. Even the most timeless phrases must always be viewed, at some point, through the lens of context.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Words like prejudice and bigotry are thrown around a lot more generously nowadays than when Mark Twain was alive. Under the definition from which he was operating, anyone can be susceptible to these things and everyone must stay vigilant so not to fall into the same pitfalls many of our ancestors have fallen into.

As Twain insinuates, travel is important to a healthy soul. This could mean traveling to the deep south to get a first-hand understanding of what you thought “racist rednecks” are really like. This could mean travelling to an Islamic country (there are plenty of safe ones) and getting a grasp one what those “backwards Muslims” are really like. Of course, confirmation bias will be at work, but one must operate with an open mind.

What you will often find is that there are serious problems within every culture, though they vary from place to place and are often not a problem in other cultures. You also find that there are sweeping, surprising commonalities between countries and cultures that just boil down to human nature. You find that with understanding might come a little bit of empathy, even if you still do disagree with some fundamental ways of life.

At the end of the day, you find out that the world is just a bit more complex than many would have you believe, and to disregard those complexities would be to disregard the truth.


“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”