A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In Nador, and Ready for Spain

I am in Nador, ready to catch the ferry to Almeria, Spain, tomorrow night. The 140 kilometers from Guercif was challenging, not only for the distance, but also because of the freezing cold. It was also an interesting walk; I find barren desert landscapes interesting; and it was interesting because of the police escort I have had from the village of Saka to Nador.
The police claim their escort is for my own security, and they have been courteous, generous,  and kind, for the most part, but I have also felt that I've been under an ambulatory 'house arrest' at times. Having one police car pacing me at my heels and another 30 meters ahead while passing through one small city felt like something other than 'my security'. This was the especially the case when I stopped to answer the questions of three young men and was told by the policeman in the car behind me to keep moving. I also felt that being told "You must go," when I was in Saka had nothing to do with my security.
I suspect there are those who think 'peace' is a threat to national security, and I have indeed posted information about the 20th of February Movement, though my pilgrimage is not about that. I sincerely hope the King of Morocco implements meaningful progressive changes for his people so that the movement dies out and he has a long and happy reign. But this pilgrimage is about 'peace'; most of all my own. My destination, however, is the Middle East. When the police in Saka were questioning me I made a point of showing them my petitions for peace in Palestine and Israel; I have no such petiton regarding anything in Morocco. I usually mention that I am a Quaker, when there is no language barrier, and that I am a pacifist. But my feeling is that the authorities just want me out of Morocco. I am happy to oblige them; it is also my mind.
On the other hand, many of the policemen escorting me have clearly had no idea why they are doing it, and rather than suspecting the worst, many have cheerfully supposed it was simply to help a pilgrim along the way. Those officers have been a pleasure to be around. I should also mention that my backpack has never been searched, I have been allowed to continue walking, and I still have my 'peace pilgrimage' sign on my back.
In any case, whatever the motive for this police escort, it has kept me out of the cold and filled my belly at times. For this I am grateful, and I thank the police of Morocco for that. But I would prefer to have no more hospitality from you. No hindrances either, please.
I would also like to mention the extraordinary hospitality of the village of Afsou through its mayor, Mohamed Elamraoui. His hospitality, and that of Absalom, the caretaker of the town hall, was that hospitality that comes from Islam. Islam means, literally, 'surrender'; it is the deep humility and love for God and neighbor that transcends politics, nationalism, or even 'religion'. Thank you Mohamed and Absalom. If only every town hall would give the homeless lodging on a cold night; the deaths of so many in Europe during this current deep freeze would be avoided.
Meanwhile, here in Nador the police have changed tactics, keeping a low profile. One plain clothes officer had been following me; we met in the lobby of the hotel I had just checked in at. He said it was for my own security.
He was also a very pleasant fellow. I showed him my ferry ticket, and told him I 'd be changing hotels, to a cheaper one today, which I did. I told him I was fine and didn't need any more help. I thanked him and he excused himself and left. As far as I know, I've been on my own today.

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