Thursday, May 26, 2011

Theory: All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull…and Ignorant Boy

Image by Ilker

I read an article yesterday about how America is the only developed nation that does not mandate a vacation for employees (most industrial nations offer a minimum of four weeks). This morning, I was intrigued by Jeff Johnson's commentary from Kenya on the Tom Joyner Morning Show in which he talked about how most of the people he meets in his international travels view themselves as citizens of the world. They’re knowledgeable of other nations and consider themselves members of a global community.

Yet, most Americans can't see past the physical and psychological borders of the good ol' USA.

While there are beaucoup debates to be hashed out within these topics, the thought I had this morning was a simple one---there is surely a correlation between the lack of vacation time for most Americans and the lack of global sentiments/knowledge among Americans.

Think about it. If you saved the money to take a trip to Ireland, Australia, or Ghana, you wouldn't just want to go for two weeks, right? In fact, if you're like me, you don't even want to snort up your precious two weeks in one go. Therefore, with one week being the longest vacay that probably most folks are comfortable taking, there's no time to leave the country. No time to truly engulf yourself in another culture (as opposed to a high-speed tourist whirl).

And there you have it--a self-perpetuating cycle of rationing 14 PDOs between 365 days of the year, only allowing for short jaunts to locales that don't require a flight over 4 hours, a passport, or a translator app.

Experiencing other countries is not just some elitist, foofy, or bohemian thing to do. As Jeff Johnson points out, how can Americans compete globally in business without global knowledge? How can we have open political discourse on an international level if we can only identify with Democrat or Republican?

And so, we die early from decades of burnout, and ignorant from decades of not venturing out.

(Note: If you can afford a trip for four to Disney, you can afford to leave the country.)

More thoughts on vacation and working:

Paradise Minus the Packing: Your Staycation Awaits 
Permanent Vacay: How Can I Be Down? 
Will Work for Character

1 comment:

Me said...

And let me stress that I think vacation time is just one of many factors in why we as Americans tend to be uneducated/unconcerned about the rest of the world. Some folks wouldn't be interested in leaving their state if you gave them six months off. But for a lot of us, it is a primary reason a trip abroad is out of the question.