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Thoughts On My Vacation (Its A Necessity Not A Luxury Alert)
Townhall.com ^ | 01/16/2007 | Dennis Prager

Posted on 01/15/2007 10:23:01 PM PST by goldstategop

I am writing this week's column from Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea where I have been on a cruise ship lecturing to 75 listeners of my national radio show.

Some thoughts:

I have traveled outside of North America at least once a year for nearly 40 years. These travels have taken me to some 82 countries (yes, I admit to keeping count) and have taught me more about life than anything I learned up through Ivy League graduate school.

That is why I so strongly advocate that high school graduates not go straight to college, but take a year to do anything except attend school. Travel -- especially when done alone -- can confer much more wisdom than college.

This is my 12th cruise. Thanks to these trips with my listeners, I have cruised from Antarctica to the Baltic, from Indonesia to Peru. It has become by far my favorite way to travel. Having your hotel take you from city to city is almost too good to be true. Sometimes, as in the case of my visit to the eastern tip of Papua New Guinea, there is no other way to get to a place, let alone in luxury.

Why have I never met one American (outside of a handful of entertainers) working on a cruise ship? I have met young people from almost every country in the world working on cruise ships -- except Americans. Do young Americans not know about this unique way to see the world and interact with peers from around the globe? I wish I knew the answer. I would suggest to any person in his or her 20s to spend a year working on a cruise ship. It is an incomparable experience.

Whenever I go abroad I am struck at how superior the international editions of Time and Newsweek are to their American editions. This superiority provides a clear illustration of the American media's dumbing down of almost everything they touch. The American editions of Time and Newsweek are largely infotainment.

I have visited some of the world's poorest countries, written a book on happiness and lectured on happiness around the world. Once again, on this visit to a remote part of New Guinea, where I saw few homes with electricity and where people live essentially on the food they grow and sell, I am reaffirmed in my conviction that being poor is no more a guarantor of unhappiness than wealth is a guarantor of happiness.

In this extremely impoverished area of New Guinea, there was no begging whatsoever, and the people were among the friendliest and happiest I have ever encountered. What accounts for these facts? Why is one national or tribal or ethnic or religious group largely happy and another largely sullen?

My waitress in Townsville, northeast Australia, was a charming young French woman studying zoology at the local university. I asked whom she would vote for in the upcoming French elections. She responded that she knew absolutely nothing about politics and would, if she were back home, vote for the Greens. Why? "Because they are a small party and they are for the environment."

She confirmed my longstanding belief that while there are many people on the Left who know history and think about social issues, the default position for those who know little history or think little about social issues is with the Left. All you need do is care for the poor or care about the environment.

This is my 5th visit to Australia, and once again I am struck by the remarkable friendliness of Australians. It seems to hold true for the many Asian immigrants I met, as well. If so, we need to learn how Australia succeeds in passing its best values to immigrants from other cultures.

Finally, I followed no news events for 10 days. As a radio talk-show host and columnist, that is somewhat risky. But, I believe, worth it. I return with a clearer mind and a lighter heart. Vacations are not luxuries. They are necessities.


TOPICS: Australia/New Zealand; Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: australia; dennisprager; happiness; left; newguinea; newzealand; oceania; townhall; vacation
Dennis Prager has travelled extensively in his lifetime. There is a case to be made that one can learn more about the world by going where one has never been and one can learn more about life vacationing than by going to college. Above all vacations are a necessity rather than a luxury. They both recharge you and they change your outlook. You always come back home a changed person.

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus

1 posted on 01/15/2007 10:23:06 PM PST by goldstategop
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To: goldstategop
"Ivy League graduate school"

How can you tell that a person went to an Ivy league school? Wait 15 minutes, and they will tell you.

2 posted on 01/15/2007 10:28:39 PM PST by Rudder
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To: Rudder
As Dennis points out, for the Left, feelings count for more than reasoned thought. You have to search long and hard to find a liberal who goes beyond a bumper sticker thought on the issues of the day.

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus

3 posted on 01/15/2007 10:32:40 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: goldstategop
Visited States

Visited Countries

4 posted on 01/15/2007 10:36:40 PM PST by Paleo Conservative
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To: Paleo Conservative
So you're a globetrotter, eh? Congrat!

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus

5 posted on 01/15/2007 10:38:52 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: goldstategop
Travel -- especially when done alone -- can confer much more wisdom than college.

This doesn't say much for travel, LOL.

6 posted on 01/15/2007 10:42:51 PM PST by donna
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To: goldstategop
Thanks GoldState, good post. I agree with Prager about travel (and vacations being a necessity, even if it's just low-budge camping). Having spent my 17th summer in Central America was a tremendous education. I came home sooOOOoooo grateful for how good I had it here in the U.S., on so many levels, and realized how materially wealthy I actually was. Prior to my trip I was only aware of my family's relative financial poverty in that teen-aged "everyone else has XYZ" perspective.

I gotta save up so I can get my first cruise on!
7 posted on 01/16/2007 1:10:25 AM PST by MonicaG (In hoc signo vinces)
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To: goldstategop
I'm sure visiting New Guinea is a hoot now that they've given up that "eating the tourists" thingy. Much truth to this article. Thanks.
8 posted on 01/16/2007 1:16:22 AM PST by Caipirabob (Communists... Socialists... Democrats...Traitors... Who can tell the difference?)
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To: goldstategop

So when is Dennis Prager paying for my vacation?

(sound of crickets ...)

It sounds like he's an advocate of "adultescence" - I was married and had a child at the age when he suggests people should take a year off for travel (who's paying, again, honey?) and THEN college, grad school, blahblahblah.

Oh, well, somebody has to do the work ...


9 posted on 01/16/2007 2:22:58 AM PST by Tax-chick ("I don't know you, but I love who you seem to be.")
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To: Tax-chick

Prager isn't paying for his own, LOL. Get 75 folks to sign up for a tour, and you'll get a free ticket, I'm sure.

As far as travel, it is beneficial. I don't advocate sending your recently graduated high schooler off on a year by themselves though. That's a scenario for disaster, IMHO.

We send our teenager to Central America each summer, in order to practice his Spanish and help out some friends who work with the rural folks in several countries.

It does make one appreciate what we have in the US and Prager is right, ask a poor Central American if he's happy, and that question won't have crossed his mind. He's more concerned about where the next meal is coming from or where he'll get medicine for his child, than wondering if he's happy.


10 posted on 01/16/2007 2:49:22 AM PST by dawn53
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To: dawn53
I don't advocate sending your recently graduated high schooler off on a year by themselves though.

I'm thinking my high schooler needs a year working at Wal-mart, to make her appreciate the advantages of higher education!

It does make one appreciate what we have in the US and Prager is right, ask a poor Central American if he's happy, and that question won't have crossed his mind.

Oh, I agree with that! Even visiting Europe made me appreciate what we have in the United States ... things like working toilets, jobs, and people who take baths!

I do think, though, that he's illustrating one of the distortions of our society: the elevation of leisure and expensive recreation to a "necessity." With his plan, young people *might* reach adulthood by 30; presumably Mommy and Daddy are covering the costs until then.

11 posted on 01/16/2007 3:01:36 AM PST by Tax-chick ("I don't know you, but I love who you seem to be.")
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To: goldstategop

The reason why Australians get on with most immigrants is that the general attitude of Aussies is that you are a mate until you prove otherwise.

Of course once you prove otherwise your likely to receive a severe ass-kicking -see Cronulla riots

Mel


12 posted on 01/16/2007 3:17:17 AM PST by melsec (A Proud Aussie)
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To: goldstategop

Vacations are a necessity. That's one area where the US does lag - Prager's privileged situation aside, it isn't surprising that so few Americans travel broadly with only twoi weeks a year leave. Who wants to spend a day or two traveeling out of such a meager allotment.

Personally I favour longer breaks - the productivity payoffs are worth it.


13 posted on 01/16/2007 3:52:34 AM PST by Androcles (All your typos are belong to us)
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To: Tax-chick
I do think, though, that he's illustrating one of the distortions of our society: the elevation of leisure and expensive recreation to a "necessity." With his plan, young people *might* reach adulthood by 30; presumably Mommy and Daddy are covering the costs until then.

Great point. Sending your 18 year old on a year of travel is a great way to keep them immature (because they can't pay for it). Be better to have them in the military (travel, and you get paid), or get a job and learn to appreciate college. Vacation is a luxury.

14 posted on 01/16/2007 5:41:29 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: redgolum

The military is the other course that I'm encouraging for my teenager! Or, if one is a good administrative assistant, there are a surprising number of cool overseas Civil Service jobs in the DoD and State Department. (I applied for a typist post in Oman, when I was with the Army Corps of Engineers, but got married before the job was filled :-).


15 posted on 01/16/2007 5:44:50 AM PST by Tax-chick ("I don't know you, but I love who you seem to be.")
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To: Tax-chick
My Dad was the "Radar O'Reily" of his unit. Saw a lot of the world, and came home to Nebraska with a better understanding of what is what.

I wanted to do something similar, but my Mom was very against it. But my career has sent me to some very odd and interesting places anyway.
16 posted on 01/16/2007 5:52:22 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: redgolum

I've been on a couple of trips abroad with my parents, but I think you can get a good exposure to *reality* without leaving the U.S., too ... especially if you're having to pay your own way!


17 posted on 01/16/2007 5:58:48 AM PST by Tax-chick ("I don't know you, but I love who you seem to be.")
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To: Paleo Conservative

Why ain't y'all never been to Kentucky yet?!


18 posted on 01/16/2007 6:07:15 AM PST by nkycincinnatikid
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To: goldstategop; redgolum
I would suggest to any person in his or her 20s to spend a year working on a cruise ship. It is an incomparable experience.

Oh, come on, Dennis ... how do you know what it's like being a waiter or cleaning worker on a cruise ship? Or a waiter or cleaning worker on dry land in the U.S., for that matter?

Redgolum, notice how he expects the person "in his or her 20's" to have a year for cruise ship work. Now how old is this person when he *finally* settles down to a real job and family?

This is an example of why we red-state cleaning folks are outbreeding Dennis Prager's New York elitists by such a huge margin.

19 posted on 01/16/2007 6:16:52 AM PST by Tax-chick ("I don't know you, but I love who you seem to be.")
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To: nkycincinnatikid

Do they speak English and accept dollars there?

Should we bring bottled water or is the water there safe?


20 posted on 01/16/2007 6:20:11 AM PST by Eagle Eye (I'm a RINO because I'm too conservative to be a real Republican.)
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To: goldstategop
My mother in law took her family, two children, spouses and 9 grandchildren ages 14-24 on a two week Christmas through the Panama Canal. We started in San Diego and ended up in Miami.

It was fantastic going through the locks and stopping at all the different countries, but the grandkids did not empathize with the help on the cruise ship or the native peoples. We would see their poverty and then hop aboard our luxury liner, to be served a 6 course meal including lobster and steak that night.

It was sort of hypocritical and made me feel uncomfortable. It would be a better learning experience, immersing one self with the culture, living there for a few weeks, not escaping to your luxury digs every night.

21 posted on 01/16/2007 7:46:08 AM PST by thirst4truth
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To: Eagle Eye

Well we call it English and dollars are always welcome, but water? We drink Bourbon.


22 posted on 01/16/2007 8:25:23 AM PST by nkycincinnatikid
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To: nkycincinnatikid

LOL...good answers!

I usta live in West KY between Monkey's Eyebrow and Possum Trot. Really.

I eventually learned the language. Not all the native dialect, but enough for converational use.


23 posted on 01/16/2007 10:12:57 AM PST by Eagle Eye (I'm a RINO because I'm too conservative to be a real Republican.)
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To: Tax-chick
That is why I so strongly advocate that high school graduates not go straight to college, but take a year to do anything except attend school. Travel -- especially when done alone -- can confer much more wisdom than college.

Why have I never met one American (outside of a handful of entertainers) working on a cruise ship? I have met young people from almost every country in the world working on cruise ships -- except Americans.

Dennis did a bad job of tying these two ideas together, but I think that was the point he wanted to make.

FMCDH(BITS)

24 posted on 01/16/2007 4:00:42 PM PST by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: nothingnew

I understand his point. However, one reason there aren't as many American workers on cruise ships (in addition to the non-American registries of the ships) is that American young people have other work options ... work options with a future.

I think I read that the unemployment rate among French aged 22-25 was around 30%; they can't just go out and get a job the way Americans can.

Certainly any job is better than no job, but if I'd put a child through college, I'd expect him to get on with real life.


25 posted on 01/16/2007 4:17:00 PM PST by Tax-chick ("I don't know you, but I love who you seem to be.")
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To: Tax-chick
Certainly any job is better than no job, but if I'd put a child through college, I'd expect him to get on with real life.

I understand that, however I believe he recommended the work on a ship out of high school, not college, which I agree with. A year off from "academics" and earning your OWN way while traveling could be very instructional as far as what you may want to study in college a year later.

I've never been one to push a HS grad right off to college. One years work before will help a college wannabe have a much more clear idea of what, exactly, they want to study, along with a much bigger appreciation of hard work.

JMHO

FMCDH(BITS)

26 posted on 01/16/2007 4:37:32 PM PST by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: Eagle Eye

Covington is probably closer to Canada than Paducah but if you have spent some time in western Kentucky, you are a friend of mine.


27 posted on 01/17/2007 6:09:27 PM PST by nkycincinnatikid
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To: nkycincinnatikid

LOL...seven years....dang, we're probably related by marriage!


28 posted on 01/17/2007 6:19:16 PM PST by Eagle Eye (I'm a RINO because I'm too conservative to be a real Republican.)
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To: Androcles; Tax-chick

There are many jobs in America that provides heaps of leave days. But it is on the employee's part to negotiate - hard. Work culture wise, the US has more similarities with productive and East and Southeast Asia - whose people work really hard - and less like lazy-bums like Europeans or us Kiwis when it comes to attitudes towards holidays (or what North Americans call vacations).


29 posted on 01/21/2007 10:32:14 PM PST by NZerFromHK (The US Founding is what makes Britain and USA separated by much more than a common language.)
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To: nothingnew; Tax-chick

I understand that, however I believe he recommended the work on a ship out of high school, not college, which I agree with. A year off from "academics" and earning your OWN way while traveling could be very instructional as far as what you may want to study in college a year later.

This is what the British call a "gap year". I know many successful professionals in New Zealand and Britain did little bits of this that that deemed-to-be-menial jobs when they were young. I work for a semi-rural electricity lines company in the Canterbury Region, and the Managing Director once told us in a social gathering that just after he left school and before entering tertiary studies, he took three menial jobs just to earn enough social/life experience and (of course) tuition fees. He then became a chartered accountant and of course now the boss of an electricity utility company. Many famous lawyers in NZ will also likewise tell you similar tales.

In sum, it is not necessarily a bad idea to be on that side of the job after you get out of school - it gives you appreciations of what the real world is beside the ivory tower.

30 posted on 01/21/2007 10:39:01 PM PST by NZerFromHK (The US Founding is what makes Britain and USA separated by much more than a common language.)
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To: Tax-chick

I've been on a couple of trips abroad with my parents, but I think you can get a good exposure to *reality* without leaving the U.S., too ... especially if you're having to pay your own way!

This foreigner thinks otherwise. I love America, but there is something obvious to foreigners but not many Americans is that the unity and common heritage of Americans, between Noam Chomsky and Ronald Reagan for instance, is much greater than the difference. There are some things which tie the country as the United States.

If you come to New Zealand and stay for a week, you will quickly be struck with the idea of being foreign everywhere - from sports, food, culture, politics, social interactions, work vs life, etc. There is such a world that is very different from the US even we may speak the same language, and a trip here will make you appreciate what America has and this sense of appreciation will never be earned if you stay within the US border.

31 posted on 01/21/2007 10:53:48 PM PST by NZerFromHK (The US Founding is what makes Britain and USA separated by much more than a common language.)
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To: thirst4truth

My brother and his daughters used to go down to an orphange in Hondourus and work. The kids had to pay for airfare and any "spending money". They lived, ate and worked (they helped build a building) at the orphanage (they may have had to chip in for meals?).

The youngest daughter after the first time wanted to do it again as soon as they got back she enjoyed it so much and bonded with the other kids. My brother told her they would once she had saved up enough money for the air fare. At the age of 13 she had it saved up again in 9 months! (Much to the chagrin of my brother!)

She's now in college and continues trips to S. America, and is trying to get into some university in Spain to complete her studies.


32 posted on 01/21/2007 11:06:24 PM PST by geopyg (Don't wish for peace, pray for Victory.)
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To: NZerFromHK

Interesting points! We can see so many of the world's "sights" on TV that we imagine it's more like the United States than it really is.


33 posted on 01/22/2007 3:59:12 AM PST by Tax-chick ("You're not very subtle, but you are effective.")
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To: Tax-chick; Fair Go

The converse is also true - because we watch American TV and movies many assume they already know the United States, not just politics wise. They they go to your country, even to deep blue areas like Seattle or Vermont, they found how utterly foreign, and presumably more conservative in some areas and less in others when compared with "home". For instance, this is a website hosted by Anne Hill an Australian leftie (and a postmodernist no less!) from Melbourne who has now moved to your country. Even though she has settled in a blue area - Seattle, she found there are so many cultural differences and differences and such cultural conservatism currents undergoing that it shocked her:

http://www.aussieinamerica.com/

( Hill has also written a book on this topic:

http://www.amazon.com/Aussie-America-Laughter-Lessons-Cultural/dp/1594111103

I think in general, New Zealanders and Australians like to take good holidays - we have around 3 weeks of breaks every year which also cover Christmas and New Year. It is commonly known that we play hard, but we also work hard. I understand that many Americans tend to be more on the work side of the equation - more "Asian" in the sense that many (even on this forum!) itch to go back to work even when they take leaves. Well, it is a lifestyle decision, but I don't think this attitude is my cup of tea. I like to do really hard in job but also spend holidays recharging.

Ping to Fair Go - interesting article from Dennis Prager on holidaying in Australia.


34 posted on 01/22/2007 10:20:38 AM PST by NZerFromHK (The US Founding is what makes Britain and USA separated by much more than a common language.)
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To: goldstategop
one can learn more about life vacationing than by going to college

Most college-aged kids learn about where to find the cheapest booze and the best places to go to pick up members of the opposite sex. I wouldn't call that learning about life, but whatever.

Above all vacations are a necessity rather than a luxury.

Lots of people can't afford an actual trip every year, or simply don't have the vacation time to do it after they've spent it visiting relatives for various reasons. (I suppose some can get recharged after visiting relatives for a week, but not me.) I do feel recharged after I've taken a few days to just hang around the house.

35 posted on 01/22/2007 10:26:05 AM PST by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
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