Last night Guy met me outside of the language school I was volunteering at and told me about the news from Paris. We discussed it as we walked into town. In the back of my mind it occurred to me how strange it was that there was anything to say about it – what words can you use to describe the feelings of sadness, horror and frustration you’re feeling.
After a while our conversation turned to how ironic it was that we were so safe in Mexico – a country that many, many people warned us about going to. We’ve been here for almost a month now and have yet to experience even a twinge of fear. We have been treated with nothing but respect, kindness – and occasionally bemusement. The people in Oaxaca are some of the kindest and warmest we have ever encountered, even though many of them have so much less than us. And last night we appreciated them more than ever before – we appreciated that they have welcomed us to their country with open arms, that they treat us as they would treat anyone else regardless of the colour of our skin, or our religious choices, or our nationalities.
This is why we choose to travel, and why we feel so strongly about it. We’ve uprooted ourselves from our comfort zones to come to a foreign place where we don’t speak the language, we don’t understand the culture, and where we have no friends or family. And we do it not for the sights, or food, or cool experiences – although of course they are wonderful and we greatly appreciate them – we travel to learn more about the world, to experience what life is like for other people, and to understand not only other people but ourselves more deeply.
What happened in Paris is a tragedy, for Parisians, for the French people, and for everyone in the world today. No one wins when violence is used against innocent people.
I’m not a religious person, and I’m currently not even sure I’m a spiritual person but today I am praying. I’m praying not only for Paris, but for the whole world – for it is all of humanity who suffers when there is no peace. I’m praying for peace for those who have suffered and are continuing to suffer in other countries around the world.