Once a man has changed the relationship between himself and his environment, he cannot return to the blissful ignorance he left. Motion, of necessity, involves a change in perspective.
– Commissioner Pravin Lal, “A Social History of Planet”
Readiness is a strange concept, being at once both intuitive and hard to grasp. The intuitive part is that for whatever you are trying to do, there are different levels of being ready for it. A simple example is going out for a walk. It might so happen that you are ready to go right this instant, and all you need to do is put those legs into motion. That is a high state of readiness. It might also be the case that you need to make some preparations before heading out – putting on clothes, eating something to keep up blood sugar levels, tell someone where you are going, etc. The act of going for a walk is still possible, but not without preparations. Readiness is a measure of how many (or, more precisely, few) such preparations need to be made between right now and being out the door, walking.
Being fast, as in able to move at great speed, is a tremendous advantage in this regard. Not only because less time is spent moving, but because it makes it possible to attack whilst the enemy is unprepared. If the attack is fast enough, the enemy is busy getting prepared to fight rather than actually fighting; it takes a while to put on boots, grab a gun and get into formation, and during that time, great damage can be caused. For this reason, speed is of the essence.
These military considerations tie in to Lal’s quote in a simple yet important way: you are always someone, somewhere, doing something. Regardless of whether you are planning a sneak attack or a lengthy walk across the landscape, you have to take into account all the steps necessary to get to where you want to go, and the preparations associated with that. Mobility means changing your relationship to where you are, just as it changes where you are. Depending on whether you plan on being in one single spot forever, or on being in multiple places at different times, your ways of thinking differ radically.
The same goes for mental places. Those who have never been somewhere only have access to the information they have been told about this place, true or false. This information morphs into mental images and representations of that place, which can then further solidify into stereotypes or misconceptions. The act of simply going to these other physical places changes the mental landscape significantly; suddenly, there is a wealth of new information available, rendering those previous ways of thinking obsolete. Upon discovering that things are pretty much the same here as there, better communication and understanding can take place between groups of people. Conversely, discovering that things are done differently elsewhere can put things taken for granted into perspective.
Like Matthew Arnold said: the likelihood of the best possible knowledge in the world happening to exist right here, right now, is rather slim, considering the vast amounts of world out there. The only way to find out is to go there, and the readiness to get moving (physically as well as mentally) is a virtue not to be underestimated.