I’ve been fighting a cold since my last day in Granada. This has dampened the enjoyment of my time in Málaga and caused me to get behind on my blog. Also the delay has given me time to reflect on the recent attacks in Paris and I feel this post should address that and how it will affect my trip and me as a world traveler. I will resume my travel log next week at some point and get up to date.
Firstly, my heart sank when I started reading the reports and seeing the videos of people screaming, running and crawling out of windows in attempt to escape some unimaginable horror. It’s a scene that is all too familiar today. To be honest, I can’t wrap my brain around it, but I guess no normal rational person can.
There has been quite a showing of solidarity among many nations in light of these attacks. It saddens me, though, that it takes horrendous events such as this to bring about such solidarity. We should be one global community of human beings - at all times. Not American, not French, not Syrian, just Human. The other thing that saddens me is that there is little talk of the bombings in Lebanon just a day before the Paris attacks. Granted the Paris attacks were on a larger scale but a life is a life is a life. Any act of violence should spark outrage and action no matter the scale, location, or nationality of victim.
Now, my belief in a global community is not to be mistaken for homogenization. I believe we can all retain our individual cultures and identities, while acting as one human race. The planet earth: unified yet diversified. We can have differences of opinions, we just need to respect those differences and embrace them - Not be driven to violence because of them. It’s hard to believe that in this day and age some people are still compelled to take another’s life because they believe something different.
It is indeed a scary world we live in… but then, it always has been. We are just reminded of that fact at times like this. I’ve had many people contact me in the past few days telling me to be extra careful as I travel. I will. And I respect that they care about my safety. Some people tend to over-react, however. Do the recent attacks give me pause when contemplating my travel? Of course. But I can’t let that stop me. “If we stop living our normal lives, then the terrorists have won”. That sentiment was thrown around a lot after 9-11 and, while it makes me cringe from the sheer sloganism of it, there is some truth to it. I prefer this quote by Helen Keller:
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature… Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
I used it as the epigraph of my latest journal, the one I started at the beginning of this trip. It sums up my beliefs. The world is a dangerous place, yes, but that’s nothing new. It always has been and, sadly, I feel it may always be. If you wait for everything to be good and safe, you will never leave your doorstep.
The other side of this is: disaster can strike anywhere. It can even strike at home. 9-11 and the insanely high number of mass shootings are just a few examples of this. So, yes, I may find myself in some mess halfway around the world but I could just as soon run into something at a concert or movie theater back home in Virginia. The thing is we never know where the next major atrocity will strike.
Now this may all seem pessimistic but don’t get me wrong, I honestly do have hope that humanity is slowly progressing away from violence and towards tolerance and unity. It’s just still a long way off. I attribute this progression to the species migrating away from religion and towards science. Personally, I feel the world would be better off without religion. Too many horrors have been carried out in its various names. I am a man of science. Some may counter that it’s a religion unto itself. Perhaps that is a way to look at it. It is what I place my “faith” in. But if we all based our decisions and actions in science and logic… well, let’s just say I don’t know of too many crusades or jihads carried out in the name of science.
With science there are ways to prove who is right and who is wrong (though sometimes it takes years and years) and, though the debates can get heated, guess what - no one gets killed! (Some of you may be thinking: What about all the lives lost in pursuit of science? The Apollo team or the Challenger crew? That is different. They were men and women who knew the risks and willingly put their lives on the line for the betterment of mankind. They were not average people going about their daily lives only to be senselessly slaughtered by extremists). With religion and questions of a theological nature there are no clear cut answers and there perhaps never will be. No way to prove or disprove anyone’s position. It’s just one person’s word against another’s. These debates tend to get heated, as they do in science, but violently so. Why is this? Yes, I know it is only the extremists of the religions that go to these lengths and that there are plenty of religious people not in that realm who are peaceful folk. And I know science itself can breed extremists, to be sure, but they are not going out and mowing people down with automatic weapons or suicide bombing another scientist’s laboratory. They just go down in the history books as kooks. My point is this: perhaps religion is just naturally unstable and will always sprout violent extremist arms so why not place faith in a non-violent mode of existence?
I dream of a day when men and women on bikes ride through neighborhoods, knocking on doors, asking “Do you have a moment for me to come in and talk about our lord and savior Carl Sagan?” The good word logic is spread throughout the land and humanity thrives for eons. Of course I’m joking… kind of.
I’m probably getting too political or preachy or whatever but that’s just my two cents. Next week I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled programing. Before I go let me make three simple requests of you, the World: Respect one another, love one another and, for fuck-sake, stop killing one another.