Category Archives: Celebrate Our Differences and Diversity

Don’t be a H8er! Travel destroys prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. It is hard to hate those you’ve actually met and shared time with on an adventure. Learn how we can all make the world better.

It’s All Grey

Watching “50 shades of Gay”, I am in awe of IO Tillett Wright’s compassion for others.

Boxes, patterns, profiles… the human brain is hard wired to quickly assess things against a template and make judgements.

This ability to assess and react served us well on the Serengeti when we would scan the grassland and see a golden mane, thrashing tail, whiskers…  lion, run!! We judged things as either predator or pry.  We reacted with fight or flight.

Unfortunately, we continue to use patters to appraise situations and often apply judgements across a wide group of people.

I’m pretty sure you don’t fit neatly into any prefabbed box.  I can promise you I don’t fit into whatever pattern you think I might.  I’m a jock, a princess, a brainiac and the dumbest guy in the room.  I celebrate life with the straight, gay, black, white and brown.  I travel the high moral ground and drive right down into the low places that you don’t speak of in polite society.

We are all the same…  and we are nothing alike.  We are individuals.  We need to celebrate diversity, exercise compassion and avoid putting others in boxes because it is easy.  We need to get comfortable with the shades of grey we are all painted in.

(original cover photo by Ted Eytan licensed under Creative Commons – Attribution, Share Alike)

Don’t Be A H8er

There is nothing wrong with proudly repping your favorite 4×4 truck or off-road adventure vehicle. It’s another thing to be hating on someone else’s. You’ve seen the stickers, a boy pissing on some other brand’s badge or other derogatory remarks on display. This says nothing positive about your rig. In fact what it says about you is not good.

Out on the trails we all count on each other if there is a breakdown or an emergency. If someone needs mechanical help or is stuck and needs recovery assistance the last thing they need is someone telling them how they should of bought a rig like theirs. They’re already having a bad day. You don’t hate on the brand of their rig, you don’t point out why they should have a rig like yours. You ask how you can help.

Because someday you will be the guy stuck or broken down on the trail and Karma is a bitch.

What’s In A Word

Sometimes we cling to words like a drowning man to a straw…  Some people find comfort in their familiarity, some use them to comfort others and help.  However, some use words to feel superior while others wield words like a knife to cut down anything different.

This point was driven home to me the other day… just a bunch of simple comments posted on the forums.  Comments mocking the website’s use of the term “beadlocker” rather than beadlock wheel and implying the whole “How To Mount Tires on Beadlocker Wheels” story was of no value since the author was not versed in the vernacular they use.

These beadlocker comments are of course nothing and not the point… But it highlights the fact that some people are assaulted by words for being seen as different.  Some people constantly take an onslaught of slanders so others can feel good about themselves at the expense of others.

This post will not change anyone’s life but hopefully it will encourage readers to at least think about standing up for another who is under a verbal assault.  And I mean a real assault with verbal daggers about race, religion, age, gender or sexual preference.

To fully understand the affects of words and how to stand up for others, read one of the best perspectives on the subject, “Speak UP!” put out by Teaching Tolerance.

By the way:  google beadlockers we’re not along…

People Of Conscience Speak UP

Growth is rarely easy and personal growth is often painful to achieve.  It takes courage in order to break down the walls of prejudices or speak up when you catch yourself, a friend or co-worker saying something like “that’s so gay”.  You know it is wrong but it makes you uncomfortable and feels awkward saying something to a neighbor or even your boss.

So how do you feed your soul a diet of positive ideas that gives you the strength to knock down the barriers holding everyone back?  How do you learn to speak up for those who can’t or are afraid too? You start by reading “Speak UP!“.  Speak Up! uses real world examples  to help you respond to biased comments when you’re among family, friends and neighbors, at work or in public.

Learning to speak up is like watering your seeds of growth.  To put your personal growth into overdrive fertilize it by teaching tolerance to others. The Teaching Tolerance magazine, published twice a year, showcases innovative tolerance initiatives from across the country.  Teaching others breaks the cycle of intolerance that keeps us all from reaching our potential.  After you finish the current issue, browse the magazine archives which go back to Spring 1996 for truck loads of ideas.  These guys have been doing good work for a long time.

People of conscience are a vital part of society and we need to celebrate our person growth everyday.  Although personal growth may take hard work, remember what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Who Cares What’s On Your iPod

On the road to the White House, both campaigns put a list of songs on their candidate’s iPod.  These lists, carefully crafted by spin doctors, more focused on poll data than music charts, created play lists designed to make us identify with candidates who have more in common with Pennsylvania Ave. than Main Street.

While I’m not going to bore you by publishing my Top 10, Greatest 80s or All Jimmy Buffet play lists, I am going to point you to a source of music you will never find on President Elect Obama’s iPod.  A local radio station has Bob Rivers and his crew in the morning…  and these guys have been putting out “Twisted Tunes” for a number of years now.

Weird Al has nothing on these guys.  Twisted Tunes: Think completely non-PC parodies, designed to mock all that is stupid in the world…  while at the same time making us laugh at ourselves.

The show also sponsors an annual adventure with World Visions.  These trips have team members traveling to poverty stricken locations (S. America, Africa, India..) most people would prefer to not think about. The show works to shine a light on kids in need, help find sponsors and connect them with impoverished children through the World Vision organization.

Good music, cool DJs and a real understanding of diversity… give these guys a listen and I’m sure you’ll find something that makes you smile and offends you.

An Overland Adventure By Any Other Name

When a guy (gender neutral, non-specific term use) has an important message, you listen and you offer a forum for them to spread the word.  We met Lance Blair at the 2008 FJ Summit.  Lance is the founder of Disabled Explores, a contributing writer for FJC Magazine and an accomplished overland adventurer.

We are pleased to publish Lance’s words on vehicle dependent adventures.  The following is an excerpt from Lance Blairs’ article “A Trip, Adventure, or Expedition”, available now in the October issue of FJC Magazine.
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We each take a trip when we pull out of the driveway, and those trips sometimes become adventures, but what does it mean to embark on a true expedition? While it’s fun to use the term ‘expedition’ to give our trips or adventures a cool sound, it’s important to know the difference and understand why overlanding is gaining in popularity.

The definition from Dictionary.com for trip is long winded, and does not normally excite anyone. That’s OK, because much of the time, it is a “trip” that we took, a day trip, a camping trip, a weekend trip, but mostly something that wasn’t far from home, wasn’t dangerous or hazardous and we returned home as planned. The word “adventure”, on the other hand, stirs the soul and brings a sparkle to our eye. Many of us have had “adventures” with our 4wd’s. Again the dictionary gives us “a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome” as the meaning of adventure. Often these adventures aren’t planned, they just happen. These adventures are what we plan and prepare for, yet hope to never experience.

Different from a trip or an adventure is something else in the vehicle dependent travel world: an “expedition”. Defined by the dictionary as “an excursion, journey, or voyage made for some specific purpose, as of war or exploration”. Today we consider an expedition in the 4wd world to be an organized journey with a specific goal or purpose. A bit different than a vacation since there will be roles for each person, schedules, work to be done, and results to be presented. Expeditions are less about the journey and more about the task.

In truth, the word “expedition” is the word we know and use to convey our desire to do something more than a day trip, something more in-depth than a weekend get-away. We have other words to use like “overlanding” that are more precise and accurate, but somehow have not yet gained the emotional reaction of the word “expedition”.

While you often leave home on a trip, and those trips sometimes become adventures, strive for more on your next journey. Plan to go further, stay longer, be away from towns and cities, explore and experience the backcountry. And don’t forget to document it all so you can share and possibly inspire others with your “expedition”.

You can read the full text of this article, along with photos in the October issue of FJC Magazine, available right now for free.

Lance Blair is the founder and operator of Disabled Explorers, a non-profit organization dedicated to exposing disabled individuals to independent backcountry travel. He’s a regular contributor to the Expedition Portal, FJC Magazine, and FJCrusierForums.com.

Diversity On The Podium

As long as I can remember, which is quite awhile now, I have watched the Olympic Games with the devotion seen only from a wet nosed mutt chewing on a new shoe waiting for his master’s return.

I watched the Olympics when the summer and winter games were held in the same year and I had to contain my enthusiasm for another four years. I watched when the athletes were amateurs, or at least much closer to amateur status. I watched when it was the USA against the Iron Curtain of Communism. I watched when Mark Spitz took seven gold metals, Nadia Comaneci put up a perfect 10, Eddy The Eagle flew, Fosbury flopped and there was a Miracle on Ice. I watched as Bruce Jenner and Mary Lou Retton joined the elite few on the Wheaties box. And I watched when nothing spectacular happened.

This year, I watched as Phelps succeeded Spitz’ with eight gold metals. There have been a number of other great athletic accomplishments and there is still more to come. But none of this is why I watch.

There was a moment, just a little moment, when swimmer Dara Torres stalled the start of a qualifying 50 meter heat in order for a competitor to change her suit and make it to the starting block on time. Dara performed a completely selfless act for another and in that moment exemplified all that has ever been good about the Olympics and why I watch. In that moment there were no politics, no racial, ethnic or cultural boundaries. There were only friends around the pool. On the field, the slopes, the track, ice rink or in the pool athletes are fierce competitors; outside of that, the great ones are just people looking out for one another and ensuring everyone has the opportunity they deserve.

The men and women who are fortunate enough to participate in the Olympic Games represent far more than their country. Every once in awhile they represent what is best in the human race and allow us all to share the touch of a helping hand, a fist bump between competitors or a pin exchange that will never see the podium and still stand taller than any metal winner ever will.

I’ve watched the Olympics forever and as long as competitors from around the world extend their hand out to one another I will continue to believe the endless capacity of the human soul… And watch the Olympic Games.

Road Trip For The Soul

There are many derogatory and hurtful words in our language. I’m sure any number of them come to mind. If you need help starting this list, let me refer you to my sister-in-law who can start you off in a couple of different languages.

Now look through your mental Rolodex for words that embrace the ideas and skills needed to live together peacefully. This list takes some time. Even Google is not much help. Try “celebrate diversity” and you may find the Internet leaves you wanting. What is a socially conscious web surfer to do…

First relax, take a big cleansing breath and count to ten. Now type www. tolerance.org. What you find is a site dedicated to fighting hate and promoting tolerance. As a major portal for people interested in dismantling bigotry and creating communities that value diversity, tolerance.org offers you a seemingly endless set of resources. Some of these resources include:

  • 10 ways to fight hate
  • 101 Tools for Tolerance
  • Kits and handbooks

There is even a section that teaches writing without bias.

If you’re feeling very secure in your dedication to tolerance follow their link to Project Implicit. Scientific studies have demonstrated that even when people consciously commit to diversity, “mental residue” in our subconscious may still harbor negative prejudices that need to be stomped out. Project Implicit is a Harvard research project that is designed to expose the hidden biases so you can over come these unconscious hurdles. The Harvard study allows you to use the test in demonstration mode or commit to participating in the study and furthering their research program.

As we travel our road of life, all of us need to find words that express our individual celebration of diversity. Join the Speak Up! campaign and begin your own road trip to take a stand against everyday bigotry. A road trip for the soul goes beyond any marked road to where all forms of bigotry and discrimination are left behind, replace by peace and understanding.

Harsher Punishment for Parole Violators, Stan… and World Peace

We all want to make the world a better place, although few us find the time to live those convictions out as fully as we would like. At Last Great Road Trip we try to fight hate, promote tolerance and encourage the celebration of diversity. We attempt this through donations, blog entries and interviews with others. But a couple of local guys are going the extra mile.

If you listen to morning radio you probably tune in for pithy, sharp tonged caller abuse, biting humor and political sarcasm. And HEY, I’m right there with you on my daily commute. However if you have been paying attention lately you’ve notice some compassion sneaking into the air waves. Local radio guys Bob and Arik, from the Bob Rivers show on KZOK 102.5 FM are currently in Senegal working with World Vision. These guys are contributing their talents to connect listeners with the kids of Senegal who need our help. One way to get involved in Bob and Arik’s excellent adventure is by sponsoring a child through Wold Vision. While Bob and crew are working to make the world a better place in a very public way, each of us can make a private and just as big a difference to a child by contacting World Vision .

Adventures come in all shapes and sizes. What is important, is that you follow your own trail and do what you can to make a positive contribution to the world along the way.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping!

I have mentioned that my grandmother was born in Chihuahua Mexico and when we started our celebration of diversity on the road we had culture and race in mind. With humor and the backing of Pepsico/EnAble, the folks at National Association of the Deaf (NAD) pulled off this commercial during the 2008 Super Bowl reminding us that diversity has many voices. The commercial cost around 6 million dollars. Any company willing pay millions to promote a celibration of diversity deserves a little credit. The 60-second spot was developed by Pepsi employees who are deaf and features dialogue in American Sign Language as well as subtitles for the signing impaired.

This spot is based on a popular joke in the deaf community, demonstrating once again how important it is for us to laugh at ourselves and remember we are all in this together.

There is a whole series of “Bob’s House” videos out there… enjoy them all and share with others.