Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lars Bengtsson solves some problems for me.

Mr. Lars Bengtsson has the fanatic honor of having biked 30000+ miles around the world in about every configuration imaginable. I stumbled upon an excerpt from an interview of him that seems appropriate to my current situation:

"The whole world has, as you know, really gone nuts when it comes to fear of a non-existing threat from Islamic countries for example. Almost ten years has gone by since the 9/11 attacks but the fear is still alive and growing, which is very sad.

Me, on the other hand, have spent a long time in about 15-20 Muslim countries over several years and have never had a bad day. Sometimes I wonder what I would be thinking of Islamic countries and the many other minority cultures within them if I had never travelled in them. Maybe I would be one of the many people who feel an unnecessary fear too. Who knows?

At the same time I wish that ordinary people in Muslim countries had more opportunities, so they too could travel around the world and learn about atheism, the West, Christianity, Mother Earth herself and so on. Metaphorically speaking, the best way to build a bridge between two cultures is to start from both sides of the river, not just one side. Things are never painted in black and white but in every colour imaginable. Islam is misunderstood in the West and the West is equally misunderstood in the Muslim world.

I am afraid that if the bridge over the broad cultural river is built from one side only, the whole thing could turn to neo-colonialism. And we have seen that road before, haven´t we? And we don´t want to walk that path again.

But of course – an average woman in Yemen just can´t go to Canada or Romania or Chile for a couple of months to learn and hopefully got a wider perspective about the world and it´s people – but it would be amazing if she could. Today only people from the West can afford the luxury to do that kind of travel."

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