It has taken great effort to get to a point in which we can sit and have a coffee in relative safety. To gaze across the beautiful blue waters and distant hills without looking for an immediate threat behind us. It is something I try not to take for granted. Some of the worlds most beautiful landscapes are no-go areas for so many reasons, for how long is anyone’s guess.
This could be due to war, secret government operations, radiation levels. I took this photograph in Rio shortly before my lunch arrived, in the same area as the featured image in this post posted earlier this month. I snapped the image as the person in front of me was using his phone, I don’t know what it is but it seems to add something. It is as if he was oblivious to the view he had in font of him, although I am sure he has seen it a thousand times before.
Thanks to the implementation of police and armed forces we can enjoy time that isn’t spent evading evil. An iced coffee by the sea or drifting in and out of sleep in a hammock. It doesn’t mean danger is never there. Someone holding an umbrella for you doesn’t mean it isn’t raining, even if you are doing little to prevent getting wet. For that I am incredibly grateful. This doesn’t mean that it will stay this way forever.
I was debating with a friend yesterday about what it is to be on the ‘left’. I consider myself a centrist, I have tried speaking to both the left and the right and on both occasions feel like I have been pushed into the centre. The left have been overly trigger happy when it comes to using labels such as bigot and racist and the right have been, well, too bigoted and racist. Where is the middle ground? How can being on either end of the spectrum give us a better overview?
I gave the following analogy, you can of course let me know your thoughts.
A serial killer has successfully escaped jail. Dark, I know but of course a reality. He is walking down a street of a dozen houses. He takes his time knocking on each door, waiting for an answer. Let’s say each resident has one of three views; far left, far right or central. On his first knock, a far right resident answers and kills the killer. There was little time to find out about the man knocking and no time was spared. You can probably tell already that depending on each outcome we have to rewind the clock to the killer walking down the street again, groundhog day style. So here we go again.
He is walking down the street again, on this occasion a far left resident answers. The resident has sympathy for the killer asking for shelter in the rain, invites him in for tea and is killed. Again, little time for discussion. In such a scenario, what is wrong with using the peep hole? Speaking through the door or upper floor window asking why he was knocking at the door at this specific time? If I had any bad feelings about this man, which neighbour would I warn? The right winger that will probably go on his own killing spree, hunting down people of a similar appearance or the left wing one that will accuse me of bigotry or a lack of compassion by refraining to fully commit? I feel the most productive decision would be to speak to other centrists. I know that I have decided to speak only of extremists on both sides, however even the apparent moderate-left have made it difficult to talk to.
Our minds are a wonderful thing, they can seek out irrational behaviour and allow us to calculate whether or not we should be concerned during an encounter. I certainly want to be able to use such an amazing human system, there is nothing wrong with a little unease. We have evolved to take everything with a pinch of salt and treat everything as a possible threat. It is natural and can be life saving. There are plenty of people out there with a strong desire to take this away from us given the chance and if anyone is willing to have conversation, I will make time for conversation. Opinions that contradict our values aren’t the threat, it is the unwillingness to sit down with someone and have that conversation. A lack of desire to understand the thoughts of someone that has a completely different mindset. I know some of my views may offend someone that has a different view, my duty is to realise this and listen, not accuse and evade.
I truly do hope that in the next few months of travelling I meet like minded individuals that will sit down with me and talk, regardless of differences. It seems like this world is increasingly shoot first, talk later.