I’m not changing my mind. I know. How can this be so in light of the weekend’s events? Last week I said that I don’t think the world is unsafe. I don’t believe it’s any more dangerous or crazier than it was 100 years ago or even 1000 years ago. I stand by this.
I hold onto this fact (and it is backed by evidence). I hold onto this belief. It just seems more dangerous. If I were to place blame on why it feels this way, or why many folks truly believe our world is so dark and dangerous, I’d blame the media. I said it before and I’ll say in again – good news isn’t sexy. It doesn’t sell. It doesn’t grab people’s attention. But, if you follow the trend lines and not the headlines (as former President Bill Clinton suggested), you’ll find that the world truly is safer today than it was 100 years ago.
What happened in Paris was horrible. What happened in Beirut (lest we forget about 40 folks who lost their lives there) was terrible. What happened to the Russian airplane flying from Egypt to St Petersburg was horrific. These terrorist attacks are going to happen. But, the odds are that we’d be more likely to die in a car accident than in a terrorist attack. I’m not making light of what happened. It’s absolutely unforgivable – what this very small minority of extremists has done and will continue to try to do. And, I hope we don’t become immune to those feelings of “how can anyone do this to their fellow human being?” But, my beliefs, I hold fast to. These beliefs are that the world is not unsafe. And that 99% of the people in this world are good. It’s the bad seeds that get the press. It’s their evil deeds that grab the spotlight.
We need to fight back. We need to fight back by living our lives – living without fear. Sure, we all need to be aware. We can be aware without being so scared we can’t live our normal lives. If we are afraid to go about our daily lives, they have won. We cannot let the terrorists win.
We fight back by not being afraid of being kind to each other. We fight back by not being so suspicious of a stranger that we miss the opportunity of making a new friend. I am so lucky that I made new friends everywhere I’ve traveled. From Turkey to Greece, Italy to Argentina and from Spain to Ireland.
For those of us with itchy feet, with wanderlust in our blood, we won’t stop traveling. We believe in the goodness in the world, the kindness of our fellow man or woman. We’ve witnessed it far too many times to not believe in the good. For those who aren’t as “adventurous”, I hope that these attacks don’t scare you into NOT traveling to the places you dream of. If these events have frightened you into NOT fulfilling those travel dreams, then you have let the terrorists win. DO NOT let them win. DO NOT give them, that very small minority of evil people, the satisfaction. Fight back! If you want to travel to Paris, then do so. If you want to visit the jungles of Borneo – GO! If you want to see the great Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, make those plans. DO NOT let them take away your FREEDOM. Because if you are afraid to live your life on your own terms, in your own way, then you are no longer free. Don’t let this happen.
I’m going to share a story. My niece and her new husband are on their way, right now as you read this, to Thailand. I’ve been planning their honeymoon since early in the year. When the bombing happened in Bangkok a few months ago, I worried, just a little. I stayed on top of the goings on. I knew that, while it was very sad and tragic, it was an isolated incident. And ultimately, I knew that Thailand wasn’t any more dangerous or any less safe than most of the rest of the world. I still felt completely fine about their trip. I know others around them fretted a bit more. But, I never wavered. And to be honest, to their credit, neither did they.
There will always be evil in the world. There will always be bad people in the world. But, and this is a huge BUT, there is so much more, loads and loads and loads more, good in the world. There are so many, lots and lots and lots, of kind people in this world. I’ve gotten hugs from complete strangers in Paris. Help in finding a hotel from complete strangers in Turkey. Assistance in changing a flat tire by passersby in Ireland. Led by the hand to my guesthouse by a complete stranger in Spain. Welcomed as a local in Greece. And my heart filled with the love of the Italians. I have friends, true friends, in Ireland, Turkey, Argentina, Italy, Australia and Switzerland. Wow!
So, don’t let the evil win out over the good. There is so much more good out there. Live your life. Follow those dreams. Be free! Show those evil doers that they cannot, and that they will not, win. Do good in the world. Be kind to your fellow human beings. This is how we win.