This July 4th, America will be celebrating her 235th birthday! What are you going to do? Who are you celebrating with? We are so lucky to be citizens in a free country and to have so many freedoms that people have fought and died defending. Be thankful for where you are and for what you have, and that includes your health, freedom of speech, the right to vote, and all of our other rights and privileges.
Last week I got back from a 12-day trip to Israel that I shared with my husband, my sister and about 75 other people. What a spiritual and emotional learning experience. Just to delve into a different culture, visit historical sites and on top of that to meet new people and share these experiences with them, was absolutely amazing. Plus not to mention being able to have the freedom to travel and get out of my New Jersey comfort zone was a much needed feeling.
Upon arriving to Israel, over 5,000 miles away, I realized that so many of us are short sited as to what we know because we don’t all have the luxury, time, or money to travel and experience other cultures. I traveled outside the country years ago, in 1996, but back then I didn’t appreciate it because as a teenager you could imagine where my head was. Now, as an adult, this opportunity presented itself and I knew I had to take advantage. The decision was certainly validated because traveling out of your comfort zone, especially somewhere that may not be the safest of places according to some, was not an easy thing to digest, but it was the absolute best thing for my mind, body, and soul. And by the way, it was completely safe and actually very serene and peaceful.
I know that traveling would be great for you, too. We are so accustomed to our own unique lifestyles, and we all have our individual situation in life whether you are having personal or professional problems or both. But somehow when you take yourself out of your comfort zone, your eyes open, your mind starts to digest, and your heart gives you feelings you’ve never had. You look at other cultures and the way people live and realize that people are all the same, we all have similar needs and necessities such as working for a living, showering, eating, etc., but we don’t all have the same environments, traditions and cultures.
The land here in New Jersey is very flat with — as my friend says jokingly — the highest mountain being a landfill. But in Israel, there are beautiful mountains with houses built on them, and there are gorgeous desert views and breathtaking beaches. But at the same time being a citizen of this beautiful state has some other sides to it. For instance, Israeli citizens and permanent residents are obligated to do national army service. National military service is mandatory for Israeli citizens over the age of 18. Men serve three years and women serve two. And after you complete your regular service, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) may call men for reserve service of up to one month annually until the age of 43 to 45. Of course in times of crisis, they must report to active duty immediately.
Men and women are considered equal except for in the combat units, but even there you will find different opportunities. Even as part of a large group, we had a tour guide who carried around a gun and you see many soldiers walking throughout the streets all with a shotgun attached to them.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, and the irony is that many people want to serve their country and want to serve in the IDF so it’s all good. But to just know that here in America we have a choice. We have many choices that we must not forget.
This Independence Day, relish and enjoy what you have, surround yourself with people you love and take a moment to recognize all that you have. But know that there is a whole other world out there for you to experience and broaden your horizons. Do your best to take advantage of this while you can, don’t put it off any longer. You must do this because I know that when you take time to understand or even just experience other cultures, you will have a different perspective on the world and on life itself.
Happy Birthday America!
Whitney is an on-air multimedia personality, and works behind the scenes helping businesses gain extra exposure, through her WIN Promotions video production services.