top of page

31. The Epiphany of Travel and Rhetoric


Hugh Sifu: [00:00:00] All right guys. Welcome back to Thoughts of a Random Citizen. I'm your host as always Hugh Sifu. Today I'm pretty excited because we have a podcast oriented around travel and rhetoric and how those two things go hand in hand.

I just recently got an email from Malaya Johnson, shout out to Malaya Johnson, and the email wrote as follows. "Hello. I came across your podcast and have to say that I absolutely love it. Travel is my passion and I'm curious as to why you chose Australia to live, as well as your new destination Italy. What are your goals and where do you see your podcast expanding to? What are the future destinations can we look forward to hearing about? Thanks again and best of luck to you in your new country. Sincerely, Malaya." I hope I'm pronouncing that right. Apologize if I'm not, Malaya, maybe. So thankful for that email.

Again, if anybody ever wants to email me, feel free to head over to to do so and I will use it as motivation to create something in response. Hence why we're talking today about travel and rhetoric. Nothing makes me happier than to inspire or at the very least entertain even one of my listeners. Again, thank you Malaya.

To understand fully why I chose Australia, you first have to unpack a little bit of who I am. After graduating from university and forming a real estate company, I quickly realized that I had many young years that I wanted to use experiencing the beautiful little ball that we live on, instead of using those years to work in the same city I grew up in and still love today. That city I realized was going to be there when I eventually returned home someday, [00:02:00] but I won't be here on this earth forever.

Being from America and having Scottish descent, I decided while in a hospital waiting room to buy a $600 one-way ticket to Edinburgh, and at the time I didn't even know that was the capital of Scotland. A few weeks later, I was backpacking my way through the UK literally taking a 40-kilo 80-gallon backpack, it's huge by the way, and walking through the West Highland Way which was still to this day one of the most beautiful and exciting adventures I've ever been on. It's 100-mile hike from Glasgow to Fort Williams. If I could give you one piece of advice, just don't bring a 40-kilo, 80-gallon backpack. That's probably my one advice I would suggest while doing long hikes or backpacking in general.

However, after returning home from the UK, I had lost all of my passion for real estate. I knew that if I ever decided to continue with that journey in my life, there will be houses and apartments to be bought, sold, and fix that I could happily return to whenever I chose, but being 24, I was well aware the 5 years I would spend on real estate would probably be better spent when I'm 34 or 44, not when I was 24. I say 5 years specifically because that is the amount of time that I had planned on traveling before returning home when I initially left.

To finally answer your question on why I then chose Australia to be my place of travel, it came down to one simple fact. I needed to work while traveling in order to continue saving money and investing my money like I had planned. I knew zero other languages. As an American, there really was no better place than Australia with a working holiday visa and also being [beep] Australia, I was pretty sold.

[00:04:00] However, a piece of advice. If you are just graduating from university like I had, you might want to consider Ireland because you can get a one-year working visa there if you're a recent graduate and you can only do it directly after or within 12 months directly from when you graduate. I am no longer able to travel to Ireland because I'm no longer a recent graduate and have a one-year working visa.

However, in Australia, as long as you're under 30 for an American citizen, 35 for European citizens and most everywhere else in the world, you're fine. Something I wish somebody would have told me because once you start traveling, it's hard to turn around and pack your bags and go back home so you want to keep your options open and plan a bit ahead.

As for my new destination of Italy, that one's a bit more simple. My girlfriend that I'd met after 6 months in Australia happened to be Italian. As we had traveled to literally every single place you can think of in Australia and being there for over two years, summer in Italy was calling us both.

Now without diving too much into the difficulties of staying in Europe as an American, unfortunately, I found that I can't stay more than 90 days legally in Italy unless you want to go home and apply first for specific visas which in Italy are difficult to obtain. Thankfully, Spain will be welcoming me with open arms as we settled down in Barcelona for the next chapter of our travels. Luckily, flying in Europe is dirt cheap and I'll be able to visit many destinations over the next 5 years which I plan on sharing with all of you guys.

Onto my goals, in life are vast. I'll stick to those specifically of this podcast. The idea was to share my experience and knowledge gained from my life of traveling and business and [00:06:00] bring a bright light to a different side of people that isn't much discussed. I want to discover and share the commonality of all people across this small yet vast world. While, hopefully giving my listeners some benefit along the way, whether that'd be humor, motivation, logic piece, or some understanding. I just want to bring a positive light to a realist view on a world that I'm actively immersed in, the real physical, beautiful world.

I've always been able to forget the past as living in it serves no purpose to your current existence. That isn't to say you can't learn from it, just not to live in it. Planning only a few steps in the future is a mindset I hope my listeners can grasp as that is how I found the most success in my life regarding my own happiness. Which leads me to my most certainly unobtainable goal that all people in this world find some level of content and aspiration of enlightenment to better themselves and their surroundings.

Beyond the personal growth that I hope to instill in all my listeners as I do think that is the most important aspect of any one person's life, because without it, no matter if you have the world in your hands, if you don't have the personal development within oneself, you're not going to find the happiness that the world could give you.

However, beyond that, I am in the process of creating a network of freelancers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and investors on one platform that can more easily and swiftly design innovative products to create a better world. As there are these platforms out there, I don't feel that they are as readily available as they could be to any freelancer, engineer, entrepreneur, and investor wanting to [00:08:00] enter this innovative and entrepreneurial space.

Until then, this podcast is just about thoughts from a random citizen traveling and sharing what little knowledge he finds with you. I will interview people along the way and hopefully get a diverse and exciting group of people to partake in the podcast in the future. As for traveling, that's what you can look forward to. Regarding the business, entrepreneurial, politic, philosophy, and history side of things those will, as they are large interests in my life, inevitably be on the podcast as well.

Malaya, I hope that answered your question for you regarding the goals for this podcast, where it's headed and what you can look forward to in the future regarding travel and general information that the podcast will be covering. However, as you all know by now hopefully, that I like to get something more specific across in most of my podcasts that's where the rhetoric comes in. I've decided to share some of the current knowledge that I've recently found.

Travel has made me more aware that there is so much more going on around the world outside of your bubble or nation. Some of our issues we think are so major in only happening amongst each other in our own nation is a lot of the time happening everywhere typically around the same time. It more importantly has shown me that a lot of time and patience in certain issues is the best way to find a solution that works for everyone involved and compromise is almost always better than swift, unwarranted reactive decisions to issues potentially not fully understood. Something that often happens when one [00:10:00] or both parties have said issues on being empathetic.

For example, when our presidents debate with each other, they use rhetoric to persuade our opinions. By persuading our opinions, it only allows for those opinions to later be persuaded in potentially the opposite manner. An example of this is when the Athenian democracy, back during the Greek ages, decided to have a vote where their leaders persuaded them to democratically vote to commit genocide on this small island that pissed them off. After the vote passed, they sent a set of ships to go commit genocide on this island.

They woke up the next day and a different set of leaders decided, "Hey guys, maybe that wasn't a good idea to go send those ships to commit genocide to this entire island." Then they persuaded that exact same group of people that voted before to retract their yesterday vote and say, yes, we should stop those boats. What did they do? They sent ships to stop the ships that were sent the day before to commit genocide to an entire village. They did stop them so kudos to them. I assume most people would have actually never considered in the first place the things they later changed their mind of, if they would've simply traveled to that small island.

Traveling helps you be more confident in your decisions and opinions as well as not being so easily persuaded by the opinions of someone or rhetoric of someone like a leader saying we should go commit genocide as revenge. Why do we not encourage our presidents on both sides of the aisle to discuss facts and knowledge and teach the public instead of attempting to persuade the public? This would create a patient unified direction [00:12:00] moving forward and allow for the further discussion of issues not yet compromised where there is no need for immediate action.

See, this is what I have realized while traveling, that the art of rhetoric is literally an art that is designed to persuade people on matters in which the speaker knows little or nothing about. While each scenario is different, and the speaker might not know a lot about the subject matter, or maybe they know a little, rhetoric is specifically designed to be able to craft words in a way that will imply superior knowledge even if there is no knowledge.

There is the art of medicine, building, businesses, along with many others and each have their own very distinct ways that can benefit and affect those around them. The art of rhetoric, however, is one attached to a politician or advertiser where their only skill is that of persuasion, the exact opposite of constructive discussion.

We literally hold debates that decide elections. It is impossible for one human to know important details of everything, that's why we have specialized people who differentiate their expertise in different fields. This is why any leader has a team of people around them to be any kind of effective. It also means that watching people debate only declares who is more of an expert in that persuasive art form of using words to persuade and portray knowledge. The point of public relations, which used to be called propaganda is to persuade us about political-economic lifestyle choices, et cetera, with no concern for the truth. Think about advertising in today's rhetoric.

[00:14:00] We fight against each other, but the beauty of travel highlights where you come from is one culture of one people, and you actually have a lot more in common with each other than anywhere else in the world. Something while not impossible is more difficult to realize when you never leave home.

In the book Gorgias by Plato. He says, "Rhetoric is superior to all other skills, because if you can persuade people it doesn't matter if you are a doctor, because you will be able to convince people you have a better idea of what is healthy for them than actual doctors do." Take COVID as an example of this, or go back a few years to advertising and obesity. The same goes for persuading people for investing against the advice of your own banker. Let's think about the bills passed, some that are thousands of pages long, and almost no politicians actually read.

We should start consulting with people other than rhetoricians to do the jobs where actual skills are involved, not a skill used to persuade people. For example, we should be consulting engineers, architects, and generals for matters such as infrastructure, housing, and war. Instead, we allow those skilled in rhetoric to dictate all of these issues. It comes down to the fact that those skilled in persuasion are effective only in persuading and not teaching. Only those who do not know the subject material will be persuaded by the persuader.

Now see, stay with me just for are a bit longer. You can't persuade a room full of doctors about medicine, because they could immediately tell if you're a bullshitter, but you could instead persuade those who don't know this subject material, like in medicine, even more than a doctor [00:16:00] could persuade those same people because of the art of rhetoric. To break this down, when politicians debate with each other, even if one is an expert in this specific material being discussed, the better rhetorician will be able to convince all of those who aren't an expert in that subject material, whatever it is they want to convince them.

Why has travel opened my eyes to this specifically? For one, I never remember so strongly disagreeing with my friends growing up, but almost immediately after I left my country, that's all that seemed to be on the news in what they were doing back home, disagreeing with each other.

I was actively being persuaded to believe that America was this dysfunctional, terrible society, especially compared to the rest of the world. A fact that I now know is completely untrue comparatively to how functioning societies operate around the world. People, instead of asking me about the many beautiful things in America would ask me consistently about politics and assumptions of how terrible my life was growing up, which again, brought my attention to this act of persuasion.

I had truly come to appreciate the conversations I had with those individuals abroad and the immersion into an array of different cultures. Typically by the end of any of the conversations, almost always, we both would leave not even can considering the former opinion of the persuadee. Seeing other countries, cultures, and governments, forces you to open your eyes to this persuasion instead of blindly believing that there are only two opinions to fix any issue.

It's crazy how similar we all are. We all love, have family and [00:18:00] friends of different variations. We all like to drink, eat, dance, laugh, joke, and care for each other. The more I travel, the more I'm reminded how easily it would be for us all to be friends in this world, all to work together in this world. It is only those who persuade in their own self-interest or delusion that inhibit this reality. Having learned all this from travel and beyond those benefits, the amazing sites and beauty you'll witness will be worth it in and of itself.

There has been no more important decision I've ever for my own growth [music] and understanding of the beautiful world we live in. Travel is amazing and I hope you all continue to travel with me here on this podcast from now and the future episodes that I bring.

That's pretty much it guys. I'll definitely get back to something next week. I believe I already have what I'm going to release, but I forgot. Just tune in next week. It'll be a surprise, but from Ostuni, Italy, and enjoy the rest of your guys. Cheers.

[00:19:19] [END OF AUDIO]

bottom of page