DY: In Just a Few Words (#73)
Most of us have a lot more in common than we realize.
One of the great things about travel for us has always been the opportunity to meet good people. The icing on the cake is when you can really interact with local people, especially in their homes. Yes, there are differences, but there are amazing similarities wherever you go.
Our world is on a precipice right now - filled with tragedy and sadness and a scary future ahead. Today, in the face of the barrage of bad news we confront every hour of every day, I bring you a story about a family that lives far from us, but which points out how similar we are. Enjoy this story. Gain strength knowing there is and always will be more that unites us than separates us.
Something on the order of 97 percent of Egypt’s citizens live along the mighty Nile River, which stretches thousands of miles from its origin deep in Africa north to the Mediterranean Sea. I would guess that most of us think a river flows north-to-south. The Nile flows from the south to the north.
Along the Nile one sees many feluccas. These are colorful sailboats, normally holding 10-12 people and/or cargo going from one point to another. You’ve seen them in movies or on TV. You or the cargo are wholly dependent on the skills of the local captain.
Give or take a few feet, the Nile is a mile from one side to the other on average. It’s a common tourist attraction for visitors to take a felucca ride across this span. Takes about an hour or so. No way were we going to miss that opportunity.
Our captain was a nice gentleman who looked to be 65ish, but was probably no more than 50, maybe less. You age quickly when you spend every day on the Nile under a hot sun that reflects the sand that lines the river’s banks. After the ride, our group adjourned to the captain’s modest home, where he broke the joyous news to us that his son had just been promoted. His son had been working as a barn hand for the owner of some camels and was now to be a camel guide - interfacing with customers coming for camel rides and handling any problems that arose. Henceforth, our captain’s son would be in management.
This was a big deal for the family. Really big. The pride of the father just oozed from his gnarled body. His son was made of the right stuff, and the father glowed in the reflection of the son’s success. The opportunity to be in his home on that special day was something I will never forget.
That’s when I learned again that there’s a whole lot more that unites us than divides us. This is a lesson I have since learned over and over again. A family in Japan celebrating an important religious event dressed to the nines. A street vendor in Italy chasing me down the street because he had short-changed me and wanted to correct his mistake. A father-son professional musician duo with dueling pianos in their apartment in Argentina giving us one of the greatest concerts of our lives. The wife/mom of the two musicians spoke no English but communicated perfectly in her own way to make sure we were comfortable in their home. And the commuter getting off a train in London and making sure we had directions to our destination.
What have we learned? We have learned that people are great everywhere. Maybe not everyone, but certainly that description fits most people. They love their families and their neighbors and want nothing but the best for them.
Yup, ordinary folks are great. It’s the leaders that keep getting us into messes. Can you think of a current example of that?
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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