When I first read this, I thought to myself: “Well... People who have stamps on their passports also generally have a house full of stuff!” People buy souvenirs from wherever they go, travellers collect stuff. So it's not as if this thing of stamps and stuff is exclusive. On the contrary, most often than not, they are mutual.*
I think of myself as a person who does not buy much. Especially in my earlier days of travelling when I was on a tight budget, I only picked up small things. But you know what? Things accumulate. Even a non-consumerist accumulates stuff somehow over the years.
A decade ago, I went into this phase where I saw every unnecessary piece in my house as a burden in my soul.** They weighed so heavily. So starting with the huge pieces of furniture including wardrobes, couch sets, I gave away lots of my stuff. I filled up a big table with souvenirs I'd bought from all over the world, invited my friends over, and told them to pick up whatever they liked. Now I have only very few items that have memories or are for some reason special and meaningful to me.
When I started travelling with my husband, he wanted to buy a present for almost everybody around him. Family, including mother, the two brothers and wifes, the four cousins, plus the colleagues. Then there were the neighbors to think about too. Of course this amounted to a lot. I had given that up a long time ago. I couldn't bring something for everybody I knew from everywhere I went. Obviously, my husband was not at that point. So my solution was to buy magnets or keychains, small stuff for people. He sort of despised my choices.
Then, he somehow got into it and started making me buy magnets from every place we went. But that was not what I wanted! I only bought magnets if I liked them, I didn't see buying magnets as an obligation, as a duty.*** For my husband, they had become a collection.
We are collectors in the end. Whether they be CD'd, books, souvenirs, postage stamps, or just stamps on a passport...
I like the stamps on my passport just as much as any other traveller. There is a romanticism to passports. Still... To me, passports are a symbol of restriction of movement. And as “A No Borders Manifesto” on the No Borders UK website states in its first sentence “Freedom of movement is not a right; it is a real living force.” So true. It cannot even be considered a right, it should not even be considered as a right. Especially not one some privileged people can enjoy and others cannot. Passports are a symbol of discrimination, therefore need to be abolished. That's why I am willing to go to every country in the world and then burn all my passports.
My second and final response to the wish “I'd rather have a passport full of stamps rather than a house full of stuff” is:
“I'd rather forego the stamps on my passport than have so many people suffer from not having the right passport. I'd rather there were no passports at all.”
The above artwork named "Blade" belongs to the Syrian exile Moustafa Jacoub.
* Vagabonds may be an exception. But people who really have no ties to society and its dictates, do not stray that much. Even if they do, I guess they're not after stamps either. Being a vagabond is a form of renunciation. It's something I'd like to have done. Which I have done in a way but not completely. My husband keeps me on the threshold. I want to change the world because I cannot accept it the way it is, I cannot breathe in it.: I find it outrageous to exist in it. Every time I try to take a step towards the current world, I bump into people who make me go right back to my shell as a turtle. I retreat to my shelter. I now have a child for whose sake I need to hang on to this world. Or some kind of world, even if not western. So I really need to change it. I need to do something about it. I want to change the rules of the game because somehow, if you, if we set up the rules in a different way, I'm hoping it would have the power to bring out the best in people instead of the worst! Then, I could start loving people again.
** After a while, I started seeing every “unnecessary” person in my life as a burden in my soul too. So I eliminated most of my friends. Or rather acquaintances I should call them. People with whom I did not share anything special, those who only made a crowd. There are a lot of people who collect “friends” on FB. I de-collected them. Like decluttering. But I guess it's time to start collecting people again. Because people are what count in the end. People are the real value, the real richness in our lives. It's good to have a circle of friends. My trouble was finding the “worth” person to accumulate and include in my life. But perhaps, it doesn't matter if people are ignorant and selfish now, they may be wise and caring some day. Even if not tomorrow, one day. They may surprise you with their capacities for change and humbleness. Perhaps it's always good to give people a chance.
So I guess I'm fine with collecting people now. But I still stand my ground that it's wise to de-collect those that only bring trouble into your life. There is no reason to propagate misery needlessly.
*** I am not a collector in soul. Not even fridge magnets. Not even stamps on passports. At best, the only things I like collecting are moments, memories...
PS: Nikki Cheeks posted a comment on the TED talk given by Alexander Betts on refugees. “We better start loving everybody and everything on this planet or we are all doomed!” she said.
I don't love everybody and everything. And I'm not sure I can do it even if I try. Well... In order to try, I must be willing in the first place. And I'm not even sure I am. But I'm sure of one thing... We'd better start treating people justly and remove the racism of nationalities from being the status quo. And the place to start this is the global removal of visa obligations. In which case, sorry folks, there goes your passports and passport stamps too! Find another collection. Go for coins.
Ah actually, that's one thing I collect. I like having a set of coins from all the countries I've been to.
Well, of course, I feel that money needs to be abolished too!
Yes... Along with passports and visas, and borders, money is the other unjust tool we humans have created. Barter is different than money. When bartering you cannot accumulate and sit on things. You have to use the stuff you get. (Mostly.) A doctor cannot charge a peasant a thousand chickens to eat, where is he going to store all of those birds?
Well... He can charge a thousand chickens and give a banquet to the village. But of course it's different than cashing in money and storing it conveniently in a bank and making more money out of it. If the world worked on barter, some people could not get riches so easily.
Actually the doctor can charge a thousand chickens; he then goes to the market and barters the 999 chickens for cheese or other things.
That's a lot of work. He won't have time to practice medicine if he goes out to barter the extra things he cannot use, yet still charges. Or of course he can ask the peasant to provide him with a chicken every day for three years. That might be an idea.
Not that it can work on barter these days. It's impossible. Still... It's a good thinking exercise. What would we lose if all the money in the world magically disappeared from the face of the earth? Nothing. I mean those of us with money in the bank would lose our purchasing power, but then again, airplanes would still be able to fly as long as there are the natural resources and the human resources that make it possible to fly. The owner of the airline company and the pilot and all the rest of humanity would still be able to eat as long as there are tomatoes and potatoes and wheat and... You get what I mean. Money has no function apart from what we make it to be. It's not as if we would lose anything of value if there was no money in the world.
Well... We would lose our sense of "security" for the future but that might be a good thing. Thus, we might be forced to learn to live in the moment. It's nice to imagine a world without money.
Yes. And without possessions.
I wonder if you can...
Not really... Sorry. I cannot imagine a brotherhood of man either. It's not easy even if I try. I don't believe that's ever going to be a reality. And the same goes for “No need for greed.” There is no need for it, but greed is a part of human nature. A part of the majority, unfortunately. I cannot “Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world...” But I can imagine no need for hunger. There really is no need for that. There should be no need for that in the world where some of us have so much stuff. There also should be no need for people to die trying to cross some imaginary line when some of us can have so many stamps on our passports.
If only everybody got this!
Or maybe if some politicians got it...
Or... As Carlo says, "If only us, normal people got this, then maybe our politicians would eventually get it too..."