Thick travel has made me realise how much chaos we have here in the US, at a spiritual level, compared with the rest of the world. We are becoming a thin culture, obsessed with the surface, more and more in denial about the importance of what is beneath. We have forgotten that we need webs of meaning, eroding so many of them. People are left trying to cope with what we humans are not equipped to cope with — the isolation and chaos that follows from meaninglessness.
… My three years of thick travel, of trying to understand other cultures, has given me a much clearer picture of the problems here in the US. It’s made me aware just how deep they are. Our culture is harsh and transactional; it doesn’t respect the very human need for a deeper sense of meaning. The result is our epidemic of suicides, overdoses, and other early deaths.
Worse still is that culture, while easy to erode, is very hard to rebuild once gone. You can’t legislate back meaning. If thick travel teaches you anything, it’s that people don’t work that way.
Chris Arnade, Why you should be a thick traveller