Hitchhiking and Three Pleas After the Paris Attacks

I posted this as a Facebook status after the Paris attacks in November 2015. The feelings were very present, especially given the kindness I had received from strangers while hitch hiking. I can’t say I’m an example of living truly to the three pleas I make below, but they are certainly aspirations for me and I hope to continue moving towards them.

I’ve just spent the past few days on a spontaneous hitch hiking adventure with the badass Talisa. It has been incredible to let go and fall into trust. The trip has been an amazing experience, but today my heart is hurting from finding out about the news in Paris.

There are three requests coming to mind that I would really like to share:

1) Let’s have compassion for the victims of the attacks. But please, can we also extend that compassion to the perpetrators of the attacks? Yes, I am saying have compassion for the suicide bombers. I am saying have compassion for ISIS. Can we have a genuine wish for the happiness of these people too? They are people after all, like you and me.

2) Can we forgive them? Maybe this is too early to say now. And it might be likely I get some shit for saying it. But if we don’t practice forgiveness, we end up seeking revenge instead. And when we seek revenge, we take an eye for an eye. They bomb us, we bomb them. They bomb us again. We bomb them. Do you see, the cycle never ends? It’s easy to say this intellectually, the difficult part is putting this into practice. The practice is forgiveness. Can you forgive someone today who has hurt you in the past?

3) Having spent the last few days relying on the kindness of strangers, my final request is, can we keep moving towards love, not fear? These attacks spread fear. Fear is divisive. Fear leads to mistrust. Fear leads to more violence. We cannot move towards a world free from attacks like these with fear. We need love. This means watching those immediate judgements you might have of someone based on what their skin colour is, what they are wearing, how they speak.. This is an every day practice. I once heard someone define love as, “an absence of judgement.” I like that.

During our trip we got picked up by an elderly woman nearing 70, a Somali dude, someone who just got out of prison, a guy who works with millionaires and many other kind souls. One common thing several of them said is that they don’t see many hitch hikers any more. I’d like to think it’s because public transportation is much better and cheaper these days. I wouldn’t like to think it’s because as a society we have become more and more fearful of each other.

The war on terror perpetuates terror.

Please, instead of reigning terror back, can we extend compassion, forgiveness and love?

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