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

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Hope is a Stand", My Plans Now, the Help I'll Need, and Thanks again

I saw on the news this morning an Italian Jesuit priest named Paolo Dall' Aglio. He's been trying to stop the violence in Syria. On the topic of hope, he said, 'Hope is a stand.' It isn't wishful thinking, or delusion, but a commitment. This kind of hope, which is the only real hope, can change the world for the better.
I tried to convey my stand on hope to the children of a school last week. My host, Shanna, and her friend Triona, both teachers at the school, organized a full day of speaking for me. I talked to six classes of English-speaking kids, and I tried to emphasize to them that the world isn't as bad as it looks on the news. I am in Egypt after 18 months on the road because of the generosity and kindness of strangers, for the most part. Depending on strangers to walk across a continent requires a stand on hope. I also wanted them to see photos of life on the road; the hard photos, of living in abandoned houses, or in a tent in freezing weather, or in the rain, and I wanted to make it clear to them that this kind of life isn't a trekking adventure for a weekend, only to return to the comforts of home. It's often a life of exposure to the elements, 24 hours a day, often for many days before finding temporary shelter. Then you move on again. You often feel that you are utterly alone, and doing what you are doing in vain. I wanted to emphasize to them that I am homeless... by choice, but homeless. Literally everything I own is in my backpack. I wanted to emphasize that a walk for peace is not always  'la dulce vita' people imagine it to be. There have been many days on this journey when a 'stand on Hope' was the only thing that has kept me going.
And now a firm stand on hope will be required to deliver these petitions I'm carrying. Echoing the cynics, I often ask myself what the point is in delivering them. Surely nothing will change even if I can deliver them! But my Faith, my Hope, is that something will change for the better. I know that some things have already changed for the better because of this walk, and I know that some things, and at least one terrible thing, has changed for the worse. But even that one, terrible thing strengthens, rather than weakens my stand on Hope. So I'll deliver the petitions.

Masterpeace is organizing the walk from Tahrir Square, where I left off, to the pyramids for May 15th. Again, the pyramids were originally the end of the road for me. But I'll be setting off to cross Sinai just a few days afterwards, and I'll try to get into Israel and Palestine again. Depending on the route I take, I may need some logistical help along the way, so if anyone would like to help me on a ten to fifteen day walk across the desert, let me know. I'll also need money. I've got a little less than 50 US dollars now, so if anyone would like to contribute to this leg of my journey, you can e-mail me at: la_peripherie@yahoo.com. Type in as the subject, 'Donation', and I'll let you know how to get your contribution to me. As always, I am careful with the money you send; I get by on about 200 US dollars a month now to pay for the bare essentials. There is an exception, however; I smoke, so some of that money goes for tobacco.

Meanwhile, after 18 months on the road for peace, I have to thank the hundreds of people who have helped me along the way.  That help has come in the form of money, food, lodging, guidance, encouragement and companionship. Clearly there has been a commitment to Hope among all of you, and this stand has made my own commitment all the stronger. I thank you again and again. Salaam, shalom, peace.

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