When I first read the prompt, I immediately thought of the McCarthy-era “fellow traveler”. But I am not sure that is what was intended with this prompt. A “fellow traveler”, in its original political context, meant a person who is a sympathizer of a particular belief, without being a member, usually referring to the Communist Party; someone who holds the same views as the Communist Party, but may not be a card-carrying member. While our Constitution’s fifth amendment is supposed to protect someone from self-incrimination, during the 1950’s and 60’s, if someone accused of being a communist invoked the Fifth Amendment (for their own protection), they were actually seen as guilty of being a Communist. So the people who weren’t card-carrying members of the Communist Party, but shared the same beliefs and views as the Communists, were called ‘Fellow Travelers”.
The “NEW” Fellow Traveler may refer to people traveling in the same direction, whether on a physical or spiritual journey, or someone who is walking the same general path through life. I just finished a conference with many fellow travelers. We came from more than 20 different countries, walking the same general path of wanting to see education, health care, community development, clean water, and good nutrition in rural and urban areas of developing countries of central and south Asia. It has been a very motivating conference, with a lot of good exchange of ideas. And, in addition to catching up with old friends, it was nice to make many new ones. If I have to be traveling down a road by myself, I am glad to have many wonderful, fellow travelers to make the journey with. Traveling is just a little more enjoyable.
For more stories about Fellow Travelers, go here.