For the first time in a long time I went to a concert. Having spent the better part of 9 months on a tiny island in western Sweden I figured a night out where I could dance my face off was in order. Now living in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, I found my opportunity (an Anti-Flag show!) and snagged a ticket to a good ol' fashioned punk rock show.
As I watched the opening bands take stage and a crowd begin to form, I couldn't help but occasionally glance at the door. It was at a show not too dissimilar in Paris where a bunch of assholes stormed into the concert hall and killed over 80 people. Now, statistically, I would be much more likely to be killed by a car as I walked home, or even by a falling stage light at the concert itself. But with the inescapable saturation of fear permeating from ever corner of the modern day media machine I found myself giving wayward glances to the front door as my mind haphazardly pondered the many What If's it concocted for itself. If it happened in Paris it could happen anywhere, right?
Two hours later my fears were forgotten. I was drenched in sweat, some of it my own though most of it washed over me from the shirtless vikings moshing about. The band, their final song about to be played, asked the crowd to come together. They asked each of us to introduce ourselves to those around us, to embrace one another – and we did. Arm in arm we all danced and sung that final song together. It was an act of peace, an act of unity, and an act of love. Bullets wouldn't stand a chance.
Terrorism has weaselled it's way into pretty much every topic of conversation these days, and travel is no exception. Many of us in the west have the privilege of NOT living in a war zone, and so when we travel we ALSO have the privilege of visiting generally safe countries. Yet the media would have us believe that it is now unsafe to, well, go anywhere. Blanket travel warnings are being issued by western countries and there have been a slew of flights recently rerouted due to terror threats. Hell, Brussels was more or less shuttered for several days as it hunted down potential terrorists hiding in the city. The world is being painted as a scary place to be, and it was with all these things in mind that Christine recently asked if we should reconsider our upcoming travel plans.
This month we are set to fly from Sweden to Canada. Both countries have been openly threatened by ISIS, and the city we now live in is the European city which has contributed the highest number of people to violent extremism abroad (in proportion to its population). Understandably, Christine had some concerns...but I couldn't ignore the facts. We in the west are still more likely to die in a plane crash caused by mechanical failure or pilot error rather than one brought down by some asshole's shoe bomb; we are more likely to die en route to an airport than from some asshole with an AK-47.
Now, assholes are always going to exist and they will always work hard to shit on your plans. That's what assholes do – they shit on things. Whether they do it in the name of one religion or another is irrelevant. What IS relevant is this: we must refuse to give into the fear they are trying to sew. I refuse to cancel my travel plans based on a vague, unlikely fear. I refuse to stay at home, refuse to avoid restaurants and concerts – at home and abroad – in the off chance someone tries to shoot them up. And you should too.
I don't want to be afraid when I travel. I don't want to have to perpetually glance at the door when I'm out, worrying about phantom assholes and their insane schemes. And so I wont. Because the world, for the most part, is full of pretty decent people. Be aware? Yes. Be assertive? Definitely. But afraid? No thanks. The world isn't as scary as we've been told. I've been around the world, and there are far more good people than bad.
So I'm just going to dance to a little punk rock and call it a day