I live about six miles from where the devastating tornado ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, last week. You've seen pictures, I'm sure. While looking at the pictures is gut-wrenching, observing the wreckage with your own eyes is another story entirely.
For nearly a week, traffic was stopped on I-35, not because debris was in the way, but because drivers were busy taking pictures and videos of the disaster on their phones. The scene was (and still is) so horrifying, yet no one can look away. Over the past few days, "tourism" in Oklahoma has skyrocketed. In the coming weeks, though, the volunteers will go home, the destruction that could be easily seen from the highway will be cleaned up, and everyone will go about their normal lives. Everyone, that is, except Oklahomans.
Thankfully, Oklahoma's economy is not based on tourism. We are resilient and diverse, and we will bounce back eventually. Tragedy has not ruined us.
The video below discusses tourism in Afghanistan. Unlike Oklahoma, Afghanistan is rich in history, and its economy could profit greatly from tourism. But like Oklahoma, tragedy has changed everything.
In the midst of so much conflict, the Afghan economy has taken a hit. Travel has become increasingly difficult because of the war, and no one wants to put his or her life in jeopardy in order to go and look at something interesting.
Maybe, though, this will not always be the case. Afghanistan is full of natural beauty and cultural treasures which are worth visiting. Similar to Oklahomans, the people of Afghanistan are resilient. Though no one ever wishes for tragedy, tragedy seems to be the one thing that brings a country together and makes its people stronger. I have no doubt that years down the road, when the debris is cleaned up from the tornado and houses have been rebuilt, the people of Moore, Oklahoma, will be more enduring than ever before. Likewise, as the image of Afghanistan is changed and the travel opportunities expand, its economy will become more vigorous and its people more powerful. Foreigners will be coming to Afghanistan, not to look at the destruction, but as true tourists.
(Check out this video and others on My WebTV at http://webtvs.filmannex.com/MaryRachelFenrick.)