Does traveling make one optimistic? I pondered this question during the 20-hour flight from Nairobi, Kenya to San Francisco, California. I was returning from a week in Mombasa, Kenya attending meetings and giving a keynote speech about my International Bill of Rights work.
My answer: yes. Even when I see and experience some ugly things, overall travelling leaves me more optimistic. In this instance given the brilliance and enthusiasm of the people I met, it is easy to be optimistic about their future. But after traveling for many years, some of the reoccurring sights of poverty and misery are grinding away at my belief that we can fix these things. An example of how maintaining optimism can be hard from my most recent trip to Kenya: only 53% of Kenyans have running water.
Ultimately, I’m still an optimist, but I see this challenge differently– particularly after reflecting on my group discussions and interactions with people after talking about International Bill of Rights in Kenya. It’s a matter of perspective. We see things through a nation state perspective – even progressives for the most part—instead of as a human family, yet the problems facing us require the perspective of a human family.
Poaching for example is on the rise in Kenya. The media focus is on how Kenya is going to solve the problem, and this is a genuine question since it’s occurring in Kenya’s national parks. But what’s creating the market for the ivory? Much of the demand comes from China. What’s needed is not more anti–poaching laws in Kenya, but education in China, and Chinese laws banning ivory sales in stores.
Take the International Panel on Climate Change’s report that came out last month. Kenya will be hit extra hard, particularly Mombasa where I was staying: flooding, Malaria, crop failures – mostly from greenhouse gasses created outside Kenya. Again, only action by our human family will do.
The International Bill of Rights will not completely eradicate these problems, but it will dramatically reduce them. It does so in part by shifting one’s perspective from the nation–state to the human family. Click here to sign the International Bill of Rights.