Friday, October 21, 2011

Walking for peace

11 years ago, Jean Beliveau (not the hockey player) was depressed. He decided the cure was to leave his home in Montreal to go for a walk. He probably didn't realize he wouldn't be home for 11 years. Nor did he likely think he would eventually walk 75,000 miles over 4,000 days through 64 countries before making it back to familiar surroundings.

He left Montreal with $4,000 in his pocket and ended up spending that amount each year (provided to him by his wife) and relying on the kindness of strangers. He is broke, but said, "I left with nothing, but I return now with a wealth of knowledge and understanding." Jean says he learned many lessons, among them he experienced a paradigm shift on the concept of wealth. Having seen so-called “poor” people other countries, he concluded that it is us who are the poor ones. “We say these people are poor but they are happy and know the real values of life. They have a sustainable way of life. Who are we to teach them? We are destroying our planet, putting so much stress on our society. It’s time to learn from them.”

He wants to write a book and his new purpose is to promote "harmony between people, listening to one another and accepting of others' differences."

What is it about walks around the world that motivate people to promote peace and goodwill toward humankind? I've always believed that many of the prejudices we form and the biases against other races, cultures, regions, countries and societies stems from our lack of familiarity and understanding of them. If that is true, then Jean is a new Messiah of sorts, able to see the people of the world for who and what they truly are and hopefully he can relate that to all who can hear him.

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