Monday, April 22, 2013

WTF?....Why so Much HATE and EVIL in the World? WHY?

The past couple of months have left me physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted.  I have started this blog numerous times, thought about it in my head on rides, on long plane flights and every time I’m faced with the darkness of the world.  Obviously, the events in Boston this week have caused me once again to revisit my writing.  Sadly, there is so much, everyday, Boston was just an accumulation to the atmosphere of hate and darkness seeping into every corner of our world. 

There are days I simply look at the posts scrolling through Facebook and I wonder what has happened to the world.  What has happened to respect, dignity, and intelligent dialogue?  Is it because I live in Africa?  Is my perspective skewed?  Influenced?  I am sure it is.  Perhaps when I lived in the US I operated like most Americans, watch the blip of war, famine, starvation, bombings, evil, and then turn the channel, or call friends and meet up for dinner.  I do not do that anymore.  I see it, it stays with me and my world has been getting darker because if it.

When did the good people of the world become so bullied by the vocal, nasty, minority they simply walk away?  When did our lights stop shining so brightly?  Have the vocal minority of darkness, cynicism and ignorant ranting chipped away at our soul too much?

It came to a head for me the week Margaret Thatcher passed away.  The Iron Lady, one of the first women to break the glass ceiling of politics.  I was in Europe shortly after her death and prior to her funeral.  I do not know all the ins and outs of her politics while she was Prime Minister.  I was graduating from high school during the Reagan/Thatcher years.  I had more important things on my mind, graduating, college and boys.  One thing I know.  Margaret Thatcher blazed a trail the women in the US STILL have not walked. 

Upon hearing of Margaret Thatcher’s death, Geri Halliwell, aka Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls, tweeted, "Thinking of our 1st Lady of girl power, Margaret Thatcher, a greengrocer's daughter who taught me any thing is possible...x."

Here’s the thing, I do not care what you believe politically.  I do not care if you approved or disapproved of Margaret Thatcher’s policies and governance.  Do NOT spew your views on this blog. 

Margaret Thatcher was a woman all women could learn from.  She played on the biggest political field and shaped not only the UK but the US as well.  She was a woman who did not back down.  Things were probably not easy for her in that political arena of the 80’s, but she led.  I cannot, for the life of me, understand why people would so vehemently hate her so much so they would cause a good woman, who made a great statement to delete it for fear of appearing…good?

The days before her funeral I was in Europe and the biggest news story was the use of the song, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” to be played on all the radio stations in the UK celebrating her death!  I cannot even stomach the thought.  She was a woman, a leader, your leader UK citizens; you should be ashamed of your blasphemous behavior.  I am not a fan of Barack Obama.  I did not vote for him.  It has nothing to do with him as a man; it is simply a difference of politics.  If President Obama died tomorrow I would be sad.  I would remember him for the path he too blazed for minorities in America.  I would never “celebrate” his death.

If you were a woman joining in these “festivities”, you have set the course of women leaders back decades.  Are you jealous you did not have the balls to do something so great?  I am just done with women tearing other women down. 

Luckily, Geri Halliwell did not stay silent.  She rethought what she had felt pressured to do and came back in support of her original tweet.  THANK you Ginger Spice for finding your strength, for shining your light on the darkness pervading the UK.

Recently, I have begun defriending people on Facebook.  I would not have a Facebook account if it wasn’t part of my job with the team pages for Rwanda and Ethiopia.  You spew hate, you are deleted.  I do not want to see the world through your haze of evil, go elsewhere.  I used to warn people.  I used to attempt to have a reasonable conversation.  I found both were futile.

The other day I put up a post about the UCI and President Pat McQuaid being endorsed by the Cycling Federation of Ireland for another term as UCI President.  The vote was 5 to 1 in favor.  The “1” resigned.  That was his prerogative.  Because I support the UCI and Pat McQuaid does not mean I will tear the “1” to shreds because he did not agree with how I view the situation.  Instead, I respect his right to resign.  Unfortunately, others do not have the ability to respect differences of opinion.  Within an hour of posting the link on the Team Rwanda Cycling Facebook page (the team supports McQuaid and UCI) and my personal page as well, I had a paragraph long response from the same person who has been warned repeatedly about posting his narrow, myopic viewpoint.  Instead of accepting our right to disagree, he feels compelled to spew all the reasons why he is right and we are wrong.  He apparently rode in Kenya decades ago so it obviously makes him an expert on current African Cycling.  Instead of wasting my typing, I simply hit delete and smiled.  I’m sure if he reads this blog he will feel the need to respond, and I will simply delete….and smile.  I choose to focus on the good.

And frankly, why is he right and I am wrong?  Why does the media dictate what is “right” and what is “wrong” as far as our thinking and WHY do we listen to them?  A friend of mine had a great post the other day about CNN and their reporting.  

“I really wish the news would go back to the days of reporting confirmed reports rather than unconfirmed stories.  I would like the real facts, not someone’s theory on what might have happened.  “We don’t know” is better than conjecture.”

I would prefer to simply have the facts and not their speculation on what they THINK they know.  That is ridiculous!  When did journalism become about speculation?  And then, in the end, they got it horribly wrong with their “dark skinned man arrested” story.  Be careful what you believe.

So, back to good and evil, lightness and darkness….

There is so much evil in the world and I believe in Africa I am exposed to more than normal.  Or perhaps I am not able to numb myself with distractions as I once did in the US.

Last week I read an article about the Congolese military bragging how after driving the M23 out, they raped 126 women in a village 30 kms from Goma, which is 60 kms from my house in Rwanda.  They bragged about raping children.  I was sick to my stomach.  How does this happen in an area with the highest concentration of UN forces in the world?  It happens because apparently, the UN and its forces have lost their moral compass.  The UN mandate of do not fire unless fired upon seems woefully unethical and immoral as women and children are raped on their watch.  When did the rogue Congolese soldiers get a free pass to evil?  Where is the good?  Who are the good?  Sadly, they did the same thing in Rwanda 19 years ago this month. 

Rwanda in April you are reminded of evil at every turn.  I walk by the genocide memorial as I walk Zulu each day.  This month the memorial is overflowing with flowers.  The other day there was a remembrance ceremony as Zulu and I walked by.  Thinking about all the things I had seen and read over the past couple of weeks a chill went up my spine.  We have not seen the end of genocide.  I pray for Rwanda they have, but in the rest of the world, with such hate at every turn, do I believe it is possible, another genocide?  Absolutely.

And then there’s Boston.  The act itself was tragic, the bombing, the lives maimed and taken.  What has bothered me most, however, has been the perceived forum people have taken to renew the talk about gun control, terrorism, religion and to simply just be nasty.  I read an amazing article about Carlos Arrendendo, the man in the cowboy hat who jumped in a started saving people injured in the blast.  As I read the story about Carlos I cried and as I scrolled down into the Comments Section I became angry.  How dare people pick him apart from their cozy barcalounger in nowhere USA?  I do not understand this ferocity.  Is it because they were not there to bask in the limelight of a New York Times piece?  Are they jealous?  Is that really what all this hate boils down to?  Ego?

Two days ago I kept going back to bed.  I just did not feel like doing anything.  I had this overwhelming sense of defeat.  Why should I care when no one else does?  What does it matter?  In the end, the good will just be torn down by the jealous, petty and evil on the VEM.  And then I realized, if I gave up I would be like all the other good people who just decided to slink away, to not engage and to let the evil have their platform.

Today, in the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam after a fitful night of flying I could not find my grounding.  My head was spinning.  I am worried about Zulu, he has been sick and has not eaten for two days.  I’ve been sick for four weeks.  I am coming back to the US, which becomes more and more difficult every time.  I am unsure about my future in Rwanda.  I want to do more work in Ethiopia.  I am definitely not grounded. 

I walked into the Meditation Center at the airport and found an English Bible and opened it to this devotional. 

John 1:9, the Bible says the Word of God is the true Light.  It’s the Sword of the Spirit with which you pierce your way through the darkness of life.  If the true Light dwells richly in you, fear, defeat, failure, and all other result of darkness won’t have any place in you.  You won’t fear because the true Light will show you that God has not given you the spirit of fear.  You won’t be defeated because you’ll see that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

I used to feel self-conscious about professing my religion but I would like to thank the VEM for renewing my spirit and my fight and for God and my beliefs for providing the foundation of good on which I stand.

I will not back down.  I will not let nasty language and spewage of hate go unchecked.  I will call you on it and I will continue to spread the light of my life and frankly not give a rat’s ass how that makes YOU feel.  You are dark and I am light, we are light. 

Think about this for one second…..what have you done to make someone’s world better today advertently or inadvertently.  A few minutes ago I looked over at the two older gentlemen sitting next to me in the cafĂ© at the airport.  After my second cappuccino the pee pee dance was going to commence.  I could either pack up all my crap and walk the 20 feet to the restroom, or I could simply ask them to watch my laptop and suitcase.  I asked and they agreed but asked me to take my purse.  Five minutes later I returned and they both looked at me and smiled and told me, “Thank you for trusting us.”  I just shrugged my shoulders and smiled and the one man sitting next to me told me it really made his day to know someone would trust him, a complete stranger would trust him. 

Maybe we should all just try a little harder to believe in the good of others and the world and maybe, just maybe we should be the light shining in all the dark corners of this world.  I am going to believe there is still more light than dark.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Live Your Dream Life

Last night I went to the Swiss screening of Rising From Ashes hosted by our most amazing board member and one of the best mountain bikers in the world (still), Thomas Frischknecht.  Before heading to the screening he showed us a little video about their time at the Cape Epic.  The Scott Swisspower team of Florian Vogel and World Champion, Nino Schurter, along with Thomas and Urs (the videographer) and all the crew were our camp mates all week.  It was two of the most fun weeks of my life, totally in my element, thanking God every day I had the kahunas to quit my job four years ago.  

Here's a small glimpse into my world....

Nino und Florian an der Cape Epic 2013 from SCOTT-Swisspower on Vimeo.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Milicent Unveiled....Her Personal Take on Fear

I was chatting via FB yesterday to "Millicent".  She told me she had written a blog about her cycling experience and I confessed to her I had also written one under her pseudonym.  We thought it would be fun to have you read her perspective...enjoy!  Another lesson of fear overcome.  Do something you fear every day!

It’s day one of the training and I am happy to be awoken by birds. The sounds are unlike any I have heard in the states.  The birds are loud and exotic.  I open the French doors of my room, which looks out onto a magnificent English Garden and a crew of rescue dogs.  Meme has been renamed Tsunami and I have an instant bond with her.  We walk parade style to find breakfast.  Breakfast at Elaine’s is heavenly.  I walk in to find a plate of brightly colored fruits- watermelon, mango, passion fruit, banana and strong Congolese coffee.  Today I made the mistake of asking to ride with Kim up the mountain on a bike before work.  So it’s a quick breakfast and then I head out.  I am terrified which I explain to Kim in great detail.  I am riding to try to figure out why I am so afraid of speed.  And then add in that I will be dealing with farm animals darting into the road, huge tracker trailers travelling through with goods from Tanzania and kids who may either follow along or spit on me, depending.  This is a stupid idea.  Really one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. At home in the states I had just watched the dashboard camera footage on YouTube of ‘Russian Driving’ and visions of army tanks traversing the highway at random, overturned truckloads of cows and people purposefully hurling themselves at cars in the hopes of a payday dance in my head.

 I do ok on the assent reminding myself that I am not in fact in Russia. But on the way down everything changes. I learn the brakes don’t actually totally work. They can slow me down a bit but I will never stop unless I hurl myself into a tree.  I contemplate hurling myself and then realize I also don’t actually know how to do that either.  According to my new coach, the best plan of action if someone or something darts in front of me is to swerve.  Keep my eyes on the big picture, take in the whole scene, anticipate future challenges, and take my mother fucking hands off the brakes.  Kim tells me if I don’t that my bike will catch fire.  I am unfazed by this bit of information and squeeze the brakes until my hands and wrists are blue and ache.  It is 9 hours until happy hour.

 Kim is a great coach and holds steady as I become unhinged.  That I was able to complete the ride at all is only because of her coaching me.  She is an expert.  There is nothing more interesting to me than watching a master of their craft at work and I am trying to focus on that. I am trying to focus on the privilege of being with an expert.  I don’t know anything about cycling but I do know what it feels like to be with a teachers’ teacher. AHHHH. If I can’t be in the zone I can at least appreciate someone who is.

There is a rule that all great teachers follow and that is simply to not go into the confusion of your students. Great teachers remain steady and hold space for their students so that they can build confidence.  When students don’t feel judged, they get very good, very fast.   That said, I know I will never repeat this most horrible of all the ideas I’ve ever had on this trip.  I will stick to my morning jog, daily yoga and nightly glasses of wine as my decompression chamber.  

I have so much fear. Is everyone afraid all the time or is it just me?  I am so afraid all the time.  Of everything.  I have been teaching yoga for 10 years and I am still afraid every time I teach.  I am still working on sustaining eye contact with people.  I am still a little fat.  But I don’t have a support system in Rwanda and I am so afraid to get back on that bike without some way of processing it. The only thing worse than putting myself through that every morning and not breaking through would be breaking through.   I cannot afford a psychotic break on this trip. It’s only 5 days. No more biking.