Most of this terrain would be well under snow by now, but I thought I'd reflect on this peculiar day. The plan was to meet two friends at a backcountry campground, a 14km hike separated us. As I set out I met a group of five American men and decided to join them some of the way.
They seemed like nice guys, we talked about hiking, travel, and photography. Inevitably, however, politics came up. Something I wasn't too excited about in this situation, I mean one of the perks of being immersed in the wilderness is the typical absence of such discourse. These guys were very religious (two were pastors), conservative, and strong gun advocates. On the political spectrum, we stood on opposite ends. This somewhat soured the relationship, but we moved on.
As we hiked out further, the conversation steered towards the impressiveness of the landscape. We passed lakes, mountains, and hikers on their return journey. We were all in an elevated mood.
Eventually we reached a fork in the path, I would be going one way, and they the other. They asked whether they could say a prayer for me. I was taken aback, but did my best to retain composure, and politely accepted. We all sat down, one of them spoke words of thanks for our chance meeting and wished for my safe return, this was concluded with a communal amen. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.
As I reached the top of a nearby hill, they were out of sight and everything was silent. It was a perfect moment to reflect. I liked these guys, they weren't stupid, they were nice people, they only wished the best for others. Then why did we have such different beliefs?
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter, politics is one of those things, no side is entirely right. While this exchange didn't change my personal beliefs, it made me more open to those who think differently, who propose alternative solutions.
I've certainly been guilty of it but I think there is too much aggression in politics, a desire to discredit others and their intelligence, sanctimonious remarks and hubris are all too common. People shouldn't be attacked for having an opinion, unless it is truly coming from a position of hate.
Love, peace x