I've just returned from our trip to Munich and Prague and am fascinated by the many feelings the experience has stirred up. It's as though I've travelled back and forth through time and space, seeing connections everywhere.
Interestingly, the timing of our vacation was accompanied by a dramatic series of international events including the ongoing effects of the Icelandic volcanic eruption; the devastation of the BP oil spill; Greece's potential bankruptcy and its impact on the global economy; the intense focus on today's British election; and commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII.
Being in Europe during this time provided a different perspective on these events, perhaps because we were in a different environment, beyond our comfort zones, and thus paying more attention. It also reinforced how, internationally, we're all tuned into many of the same things regardless of our geographic locations and nationalities.
More than this though, being away was a reminder that despite how meaningful each of these events may seem, so many peoples and cultures have gone through so many crises over the many, many centuries. While touring parts of Germany and the Czech Republic, their rich and deep history was apparent around every corner.
Visiting noted historical sites and walking centuries-old streets and pathways stirred in me the desire to understand so much more - to look back in order to move forward.
It also ignited a desire to pay more attention to the status of democracy in our own country. We've been so fortunate to enjoy the peace and personal freedoms we do and yet I believe we've come to take much of what we have for granted. Learning more about German and Czech history indicated how political climates and landscapes can take a dramatic turn that is real, to be understood, and not just to be read about in newspapers and/or history books.
For example, and without trying to be melodramatic, right now in Canada we really must keep our eyes open regarding the protection of our civil rights and freedoms, support for the arts and universal social programs, the transparency of government, and freedom of the media.
We don't want to lose all the things that many others respect and aspire to enjoy.
PS: We did have a wonderful trip - just had to express this as it's been on my mind.