Anthony Bourdain’s life is a lesson that can be applied to politics

By Michael d’Oliveira

Anthony Bourdain lived the kind of life people should aspire to.

He traveled the world.

He was unafraid to try new things and new experiences.

He was unafraid to be exposed to new ideas.

He met people who looked, talked, and viewed the world differently than himself.

He was a man of means who searched for beauty and humanity. Through his “Parts Unknown” show on CNN, we got to witness him find both.

And he was able to appreciate all of it.

“To climb a dune in the Egyptian desert and look out over the desert as the moon’s rising, surrounded by friends that I work with, a belly full of some food that no one outside that time zone ever gets to experience, that’s a ‘pinch me’ moment for sure,” he told in 2016. 

Bourdain’s life of travel and seeking out new people and experiences is a lesson that can be applied to politics.

Too often, we have a tendency to stay within our comfort zone. Many of us don’t really meet, know, or converse with people who are different than we are, politically or otherwise. And when we do talk to them, it’s often more of a shouting match. Shouting at each other occasionally is forgivable. No one is perfect. But you should also have real conversations with people who think differently than you do. You might be surprised at what you learn.

Bourdain was famous for eating foods considered weird and disgusting. He never seemed afraid of really getting uncomfortable. Likewise, we should never be afraid to swallow a political idea that we find unappetizing. You might end up finding something you like about it. At the very least, it’s a chance to engage with someone with different ideas. You can spit out the food and walk away, or you can philosophically chew it up and see if it agrees with your stomach. You don’t have to eat it again, but at least you tried it.

For Bourdain, eating exotic foods in exotic locales never really seemed to be about the food. It also really seemed to be about the people making it.

Bourdain told Anderson Cooper in 2013 that he’s interested in what’s cooking and “why people are cooking certain things.”

That’s what politics is (or should be) about – people and making their lives better.

Just like a good meal, sometimes there’s more than one way to cook up a good solution.