During World Tour 2000, we traveled the world asking hundreds of people in 26 countries "What is the most important thing in life?". We wondered if there was a consistent thread throughout the world. Some answers enlightened us, others surprised us, and some made us laugh. Without sounding too Disney-like, it really is a small world sometimes.
Here's the documentary film of our journey.
And here are some of the answers - see if any sound like something you would say.
"I don't know what other people think, but for me it is my family and my friends. If you have for example two friends, everything will be OK. I know people who only care about money, but I don't understand that."
"For me, it is my family - my wife and daughter and mother and father. I think we just try to be good in the heart. My dream is when many people in our country come together without problems, we will have good things in the head."
"The most important thing is health"
"To be honest and to be a good person. We are in this life only for a while - it is like a dream - afterwards we go somewhere, but no one knows where. So while we are here we leave some footsteps so people remember us - so we must try to do favors if we can. I hope people all say the same because if they do, there will be no war and no problems. There will still be some problems, but not between people. Some people say life is shit - life is hard. It is not hard - people make it hard. If we can be good and teach that to our children, when they grow up they will make a better world. Step by step, generation by generation. To be good, education is important, but environment is important too - like Confucius or Buddha - they learned thousands of years ago what is important - if you have spirit inside and you learn how to be happy, you can be happy anywhere. Happy is where you have spirit - like Nirvana. I say Allah, you say God - whatever. You name it - it can be called anything."
"They said communism would take over the whole world, but this was very crazy. They want to say if anyone has a different idea, they must cut off their head. They want to say that without communism you can't go on - but no - we can go on. It is necessary to stop the state power against individuals. Globalization means to develop the freedom of the people and decrease the state. Internet is the big village. This is good, but we must be very careful. If the state or the police or military have a chance to open your email - oh my god! I believe in my friends- this is most important for me - not newspapers, not the internet - it is necessary to see real people. We are open for everyone all over the world - you are welcome. Now we have a chance to have freedom, but it is very difficult to change politicians."
"It is difficult here because our salaries are too low. If you have money, maybe it is OK here. Now our only chance is to go abroad. In the last ten years one million Bulgarians have gone to the West. It is a shame, but it is a reality. We have thousands of years of history, so it is difficult to go away and leave Bulgaria. We want freedom. We don't have all of that, but we want that. We hope maybe in five or ten years..."
"Getting satisfaction from giving good lessons to my students because this is my profession. I also think being good to people brings satisfaction in life. And to have no enemies."
"To reach inner piece and to understand that everything is from the creator. Everything has a reason. For example, I think if I throw a ball to the wall, it will come back. Maybe we don't have the brain to understand, but the law of Karma tells us something"
"I wish everyone to find their own way in life – what is best for
“Groups of people are not important, it is the individual that is important – so be yourself. It does not matter if you are Jewish or Gypsy or American of Hungarian, but that you are a human being”
“People around the world are all very similar, they all want happiness”
Regis Philbin look-alike was one of the most talkative people we have
met. Like many people, he
was genuinely impressed that strangers from a far away land would be
interested in his opinion. He
first said the most important thing in life is to get a good background
of education and experience. To
elaborate, he said there are three stages in life:
the first to study and get ready for life, the second to make a
good living and raise a family, and the third to look around the world
and see what you can do for others.
His piece of advice to others:
"Get to know the world as best you can, know yourself and your
place in the world, and find our how you can help the human race."
"Love one another"
"Love each other, live in peace with each other and have no wars"
"We must help save the environment, particularly the rainforest"
Our Group of Servas friends posing with our promo flag.
"My family, having harmony with others, and sharing my music with people. More love”.
"Harmony and respect for others, care for the environment. There is more to life than money"
"Be yourself - that's all"
This girl was a riot. I originally asked her boyfriend, but before he could speak, she blurted out "Love, of course!"
Her boyfriend was a bit more stoic, his answer "friendship"
"I think the most important thing in life is to help other people in whatever way you can"
"Beer....and girls" Ah, to be young again. These military school kids were hilarious. They were in the square drinking beer and checking out all the young girls and rating the miniskirts.
"Meeting people, communication and understanding"
"My woman, peace in the heart, finding good work, and maintaining a good situation"
"Getting along with the people around me"
"Protecting the environment"
"Health is more important than money"
These guys who run a hot dog stand were a
riot. Their answers went something like:
"To be lucky. To find your life's fortune in something. To find yourself in something"
"Good relations with people. Make things that make me happy"
"To me it is music. It can change the way people think and feel"
New Zealander was living in Vienna and running the bungee jump attraction
at Prater Park (what a surprise!). His most important thing in life is
"Enjoy yourself, have a good time and be happy with who you are".
If his opinion is widely held in his country, we can't wait until we get there
in a few months!
Igor: "To be healthy and happy, to have a good job and to be satisfied with your job"
Tania: "Love. It includes many things. Anything that is done with love is OK"
"To be happy with yourself and hopefully everything will work out"
"My family, my freedom, and music"
"Friendship, a little to drink, a little to smoke, and to a see a little art"
"Love and Luck"
"The most important thing is to maintain a constant balance - an even constitution"
"Everything is important in life - even the dust, so you must behave yourself. Be independent and try not to be in a bad situation all the time. It is important to have someone near to you and to keep in contact with your parents because they are the only ones to tell you some truth. Have hope."
"Family and work are the most important things in life"
"Respect for everyone. It all starts there"
"Liberty, Freedom, Security, Peace"
"Freedom. To be a good person. Learn a lot about others"
"Just enjoy life, but with respect for each other. Respect the environment."
"We could all use a bit of tolerance. Too many people take a position and close their mind to everything else"
is the most important thing. The problem in the third world is not only
poverty, but also education. You can see the difference between ignorance
and education in this country. You cannot have a democracy when people
cannot even read and write. They only know what the government tells them
on TV and radio. I have hope this will change, because if I do not have
hope, I am not alive."
most important thing in life is not to hurt anyone because if you do, then you
will get hurt. I believe no pain,
no gain. I believe in God and my
family, which is very important. Oh
yes: and love conquers all.”
“To love life and make a good life and future for me and for my family”
“To live with passion. Develop yourself. Don’t do things mediocre – do them because you care”
most important thing is to be careful. Don’t
get ripped off or taken advantage of – especially in Egypt” (note: she
had just been cheated by a papyrus vendor)
"Give children the opportunity to see themselves outside the consumer-based image of themselves imposed by most first world environments. Give them the opportunity to realize almost all they think they absolutely must have has been commercially planted there, absorbed from their consumer environment. Traveling outside your consumer world gives you a chance to examine your true self without the next media form smoothing your reality with their commercial dream. Go basic, take time and witness the pupation of your true soul emerge from who you have been told you are."
"To experience life and learn about people. To help create a fairer world."
"To learn for yourself what is important and be a good person to all."
"Health is very important in life, but capital is also important. You must have money to live because whenever you are sick or hurt, you can treat yourself or get help at the hospital. And to get money, you must have a good job - like mine, I am able to meet a lot of clients and make friends. Also to have a nice wife who is able to take care of you and your family. If you have a nice person to love you, then you can live many years because you don't have to worry or think too much. To have a nice community - to live without disturbance around you. Peace is very important - if you have money but the country is not at peace, then you will not be happy. And finally, when you look up in the sky, to hope there is someone up there taking care of things."
"To be healthy and happy - to enjoy life. To have good friends and family. To know what love is. Love is very important. To live a long life and have as many experiences as you can - and enjoying them is very important."
"I would say knowledge and understanding, but I don't think it is - I think faith is more important. It doesn't have to be faith in God or anything, just, for example, that your government is going to get you through and safe and it's not going to collapse on you. If you haven't got that, you don't have good health - you have nothing. If you have knowledge, for example that after death there was nothing, you would probably despair of life, so faith is very important. In fact blind faith actual does get you out of things. Sometimes it's not the most important thing, it's the only thing."
"Without health, you can't really do too much. I think family is very important. I don't have a very big family, in fact I've only got my mother now. She is very important since I don't see much of her as I'm quite far away. Having the good support of friends is important - having a safe little community around you for support. My friends are a sort of family for me. I like to be able to do the things I enjoy as well, like this trip. Being able to have fun and enjoy life, instead of just working And eating well of course."
"The most important thing is to do what makes you happy, not to do what you feel you have to do or what everyone tells you to do - as long as that doesn't make someone else unhappy. To experience as many people, as many cultures as you can - to try to understand how other people think and live and in that way probably make yourself a better person and more interesting as well."
"To have good health, because if I wasn't healthy, I would not be here. And there are many other things I couldn't do - I couldn't work, I couldn't go out or enjoy myself -so to have good health is very important. To have a good family and be able to communicate with everybody. To be happy with yourself, because if you are happy with yourself, you can be happy with others - it will be easier. To be in a peaceful, free and fair society. We see when we travel and on the TV that to live in fear is horrible. To have enough to eat and a nice, comfortable place to live."
"Education and jobs – we are a very poor country and this is the only way to improve our condition."
"To be together and to find time to solve problems for all, not just for one. It is difficult in Africa now because some have and some have not, and it is easy for those that have not to see the others. Technology should be used to benefit all, not just put people out of work."
"To help other people in life – Africans, white people, it doesn’t matter."
"To be healthy and successful in our life and
to reduce the level of apathy in the world."
"I don't want to be a big man - just to have a good position so I can provide for my family."
"You should enjoy life, act like brothers, and cause no harm"
"life is good here", but prices are a little high and life is rougher for those without jobs."
"Respect is the most important – if you have no respect, you have nothing in life. If you have no money, then you just do something so you can eat. If you have a lot of money, it is not possible for you to sleep because you will think where will I put the money?"
“Health is most important – if you do not have good health, you cannot enjoy life”
"To live together in health, to have a good family, to help neighbors who are poor. If you help them they can go to school and get better lives and things. Some people have many children – for them, please – no more than two or three. In India we have respect for everything. Like women, we respect because they can be mother, sister, daughter of someone – or grandmother. We respect cows because they represent mothers."
"For me the most important thing in my life is my wife."
"Money. Without money, no life, without money no wife"
"business – that I am successful – for my mother too."
"Be happy for the life – that’s the first thing. Family is very important. All the time they support us, so we support the family. It is also nice to go traveling somewhere; it’s a very good experience in life. Everybody has to go and get experience. It lets you meet all kinds of people. Then I feel very good because I can learn about other people of earth. When I talk to them, I get something from them, and they get something from us. We can change our thoughts and we can care deeply about this earth so maybe we can choose a way of life better"
"I lose my country. I love my country, but we have no freedom. I hope some day, but China is a very big and strong country. But Dalai Lama has many friends, I hope some day we will be back."
"Job, family, to be happy"
"My family and my sources of life"
"Education. And I think social work is very interesting"
"My girlfriend, my family and my friends"
"Life is very strange. We cannot take care of all the times of our life. Even when we are, we don’t – it is like a game, some children playing at a game, like football. We have to help each other – even dogs and birds. We can say nothing bad about people because we don’t know – we can’t judge because we are all the same. When I do good, I get something – in this life or the next life – slow or fast. Karma is very important, but I cannot say what Karma I have – that is for God. I cannot take my money when I die "
"Having a good job and no drugs"
"I think to be a good person also. Some people say “big person” is important, but really it is to be a good soul. Also, for me my family is the most important – my son and husband and mother – everyone really."
"Business: to have a business card so people know you are out there."
"To be happy. It doesn’t matter what you are doing or who you are, just be happy. Unfortunately, you need money too or you cannot do anything in this world. Don’t forget where you come from and who you are."
“ Peace of mind. Some people think that a lot of money is most important, but I don’t think so – think peace of mind. We get this with meditation, but it is very difficult because there are many things to think about. We control our breathing, so we can control our mind so it goes only one way. Meditation is not only for our religion, but all kinds of people need peace of mind.”
“In my view, I think we all have the same goal – the same destination – like that song “we are the world”. We are humanity - not separate. Especially I think religion – Buddhist, Christian, protestant, catholic, Muslim – we have the same goal and destination because when we chant and after mediation we pray – “may I be happy and free from suffering and may all sentient beings be happy and free from suffering”. I think it is same as “never end peace and love – like your shirt says.” (note: I was wearing my Nepal T-shirt with those words spelled out)
"Work because work gives you life. If you don't work, God will not help you. If you don't move, god will not move you"
"For me I think education is the most important – for the truth and for the future. For my daughter especially – if she can learn a foreign language it would be better."
“Everyone should learn about this genocide and Pol Pot by seeing with their own eyes. I think the Cambodian people and the international community needs to punish Khmer for the war. I think if Khmer Rouge still in government or ministers, maybe they fight again. I hope international organizations support the Cambodian government for development for future time. Education and information is very important.”
“In Cambodia everything is important because we start with nothing in 1979. We need health, education, and money. The salary of the government is low. Like me, I have $11 per month”
“What is most important is money for my family, especially my baby. So I work every day from 7 in the morning until 11 at night. I think for my baby, it will be better in the future because they stop fighting. So he go to school and get education. I want maybe one more baby because more than 2 is too much to feed. We want more tourists to come here because it is safe – no more politics – there are many things to see.”
"For myself and all Vietnamese people I think for everyone to have freedom to speak and do what you want and for everyone to have equal life"
"A good job is important. If you have a good job, you have good life – family life, personal life. I like being able to travel around the world. I think you can learn many things from different places. It is a good idea to visit Vietnam. It is a small country, but beautiful; people are very friendly "
"The most important thing in life: I don't know"
"Happiness. Being honest. Finding someone special to share your life with. Also, as I've seen here in Vietnam - a country at war for hundreds of years - their ability to forgive and smile and get on with life is amazing. I think that's the same for everyone."
"You must have good friends and relations with the world. And you must have a good job. You must work hard and try your best. You should also travel, if you can to see the different people and cultures and see how beautiful is the world you live in."
"My family - to have good relations with my grandparents and parents and children, and good relations wit the neighbors and community. Money is important, but it is not everything. The war caused much sadness, but it is in the past. Now we don't care where someone is from."
"People need to have good relationships with others because if we do not, than we are like animals. Also success in my job is important.
"To be happy. to be ambitious about it"
"The future - I want to have a house"
"Friends. Because even if you have money, but no friends, it has no meaning. Like right now, together like this. We are here and I have no money - just guitar. I learn this from Bob Marley."
"I think the same - friends"
"I like to play my flutes with friends"
"Just to enjoy my life"
"My family is most important"
"Take it easy"
"Most important is thinking about what I like"
"It doesn't matter. Working is important for food and my family"
"Eating and traveling. I like to see different things"
"My family. Eating and working"
"Having a good community and family"
"Be happy and enjoy"
"I don't know"
"Working - my job"
"Like my brother say - we need to make money for our family"
"Me making money. Health is very important - and peace of mind no matter what you do, because money is not going to buy your health, no matter how much you have. And enjoy what you are doing. Basically that's what it's all about. And we're certainly doing that!"
"Staying above ground and enjoying life."
"My family is most important. That is why I still work. I am 62 years old. But I enjoy my work too. Tourism is not bad. The coup we have now is not as bad as last time when many people stay away from Fiji. But when they come, it is a different story altogether when they see we are still very hospitable. We still smile. We like our work."
Catherine: "The most important thing is just to be happy. How? I haven't figured that one out yet"
Chris: "To be happy and get everything you really need - so you're not hungry, not worried, not frightened or whatever"
Scott: "Friends and happiness. I'd say without friends you can't be happy. And a nice cold beer."
"Family is the most important thing. In everything, the family comes first."
That's 179 opinions so far - do any of them sound like you?
There's more to come as the photojournals themselves get updated. Please stay tuned for updates here and the real objective we've been striving for all along - the documentary video compilation so you can here the opinions straight from the people above.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Thanks for your support!