vrijdag 1 november 2013

The Religion of Traveling, pt 1 : Opinions and Stories

My first kiss happened to me when I was 17 . My first car accident, when I was almost 20. My first encounter with Israeli happened when I was 22. One of my friends, her brother and I were on an Caribbean island, owned by Honduras, for some diving courses. My instructor, who convinced me to go over my fear for drowning by diving beneath the surface of the big ocean, was from this nation. He had big grey eyes, I kept on focusing, when I took my first steps (sorry for the word) in Waterworld. On this pirate island we met also other Israeli, and spent some time with them. They were cool young people, with a weird accent, not the military people you see on the television around 7pm, or the dark people with curly hair, big black hats and coats, and all looking pale and selling diamonds in some neighbourhood in Antwerp. They looked like us. In many different meanings. One of the best quotes, an Israeli told me, is that when you sit with 7 israeli's on one table, you will have 70 different opinions.

I'll come later back on this quote. First...


The evening before I sit here, in the Starbucks of the Brussels Airport, enjoying my hot chocolate (I love my Belgian sweets), I was interviewed by a Master student, doing a research about female solo travelers. One of the questions she asked, was how traveling had changed me. After talking a lot, and thinking -also, yes- I realized I got less strong opinions. When I was 18 year old, just in university, I told everyone I was left-winged, loved Che Guevara, believed in communism... while I didn't know so much about it. You got confronted, during your life, with opinions, and the arguments behind it, with stories and life experiences... and then what I learnt, after hearing stories, reading, getting in discussions... is that I rather don't want to have an opinion. People say you're not strong if you don't have an opinion, but sometimes, in a world, where everybody is so free to share it everywhere on the social media what he thinks... I prefer not to have an opinion in everything, and just listen, and learn. I told the researcher I started to see the world from black-white to a more grey spectrum.

Even several weeks ago, in the mountains of Bulgaria, one of my close friends and I had a discussion about Israel and Palestina. She had an opinion. I didn't. I didn't know enough to have an opinion, certainly not about a place where I only heard and read stories, and even if I would go there, live there... I don't think I will ever know enough to have an opinion. I just am against the fact that innocents die on both sides, so I am rather against war than against a policy or a country. If you choose a side, you bond, yes, with all the others, on this side, against the other side, but if you're in the middle, maybe you're the biggest fool, yes, or maybe the bravest soul. I don't know. I don't want to call myself brave. What do you think ? I feel it is better if people rather don't have an opinion and spread it through the whole world, and give us more silence... but... not having an opinion doesn't have you don't know your values. Not to have an opinion opens space to listen, find more knowledge and stories... be as openminded as possible, and there where there are open minded people, you'll find tolerance. Or that is what I feel.

So, now, this close friend and I will embark on a journey, where we want to learn (more) about the conflict between Palestina and Israel, explore why Jerusalem is so important for three world religions, the culture of both entities, the food !, the nature, the geography, the water management of Israel, which is apparently the best in the world, and take my lessons back to Belgium, not necessarily to have strong arguments to build an opinion, but to bring back stories, pictures, film footage... to open dialogue for everyone interested.

And yes... religion will be a big topic in the blogs of next two weeks.

Did I already tell you that I hate flying ? It is ironic. I fly so much (I know this doesn't help nature and the climate so much), and still I cross my fingers, like I am going to pray, every moment the plane leaves the ground. I don't call myself religious. I am baptised as Christian, and did some Christian ceremonies, even today, on All Saint's I went to the graveyard, to put flowers on the grave of my grandfather. Still... I believe in something, and know the power of believing very well, but I don't believe in one Almighty person, I believe in the world, human and nature, and a future where they will find harmony. This belief keeps me going. Still... I am interested to learn more about other beliefs. There is some power in it, and if you want to understand power, you've to understand the roots. I like to be think in metaphors of trees, yes.


... first I need to enjoy this little piece of Belgium in my cup, and continue listening The Crystal Fighters. I love the song « Follow ». It suits the theme of choosing a side, yes, so worth to mention it. Besides this, this is just a great song of an amazing group. And yes... wait for my travel buddy. She seems to be a bit too late... hmm...  

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