I stumbled across a BBC World News article about a doctor who spent six years cycling around the world. Dr. Fabes took airplane trips between continents, but otherwise rode his bike. He saw a lot, and met a lot of people. His conclusion? People in the world are much nicer and friendlier than he thought. Many random strangers helped him, and he helped out a lot of strangers, too.
This encourages me. Of course I want to see the world in a positive way (I’m an optimist.) Of course I know really awful things like wars, terrorism, and murder happen (I’m a realist.) But here is one voice, from six years of actual experience, who survived alone on a bike in a huge variety of places. Not only did he survive, but many people accepted and helped him. Sometimes he worked at a local clinic for a few days (and I do imagine being a doctor made him more welcome to anyone who took the trouble to learn that about him. For that matter, I imagine that earning great money as a doctor let him have the financial freedom to go six years without earning any money. I’m not advocating everyone seek enlightenment in the exact same way. I admire Dr. Fabes, though.)
Finally, I see a connection between people helping him and him helping people. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Not only is this one doctor a better man for his trip, lots of people’s lives are a bit better for his journey, too.