Quite a few years ago now, I was part of an online triathlon forum called slowtwitch.com. It was an, ahem, interesting place, relatively early in the development of internet forums, full of an incredibly disparate group of people around the world, from all backgrounds, religions and modes of life. It had it’s share of arguments, some of them vehement, it had differences of opinion all over the place, but we shared a common love of our crazy sport and we pooled our knowledge, shared our triumphs and pains and cheered each other on. If there was really a problem for someone, in the sport, in each others’ lives, we gathered together and we helped. Sometimes it was as simple as compassionate words, sometimes we raised money and sometimes people just travelled to be there for support.
At one point, we decided to get some clothing printed so that we’d recognise each other on the start line or out on the courses, a way to come together to chat, or to cheer someone on, or just to be able to wave and also to raise some money for a good cause. A logo was designed and one of the members, came up with a phrase that stuck. He called us ‘The Peaceful Tribe’ and that ‘We are more the same than we are different’. We had it printed on the gear. I still have mine, a T-shirt, a hat and sweat shirt. I still wear them occasionally and I still believe in the phrase.
I’ve travelled the world a fair bit over the years, 44 countries at last count. I’ve travelled through war zones, I’ve lived in a moslem country, I’ve spent time in the first and third worlds. Everywhere I’ve been, people have been overwhelmingly kind and generous, helped me for no reason, shared food and time they couldn’t afford, gone out of their way to get me where I was going, shared their culture and beliefs and wanted to learn about mine. We’ve often talked in the only common language we shared, that of smiles, hand gestures and laughter and somehow we’ve always got on.
I’ve had a few bad experiences along the way, usually with people wearing uniforms or carrying guns, I’ve been ripped off once or twice, I’ve been flat out robbed, I’ve once, very carefully, negotiated down the wrong end of the barrel of a gun and often been frustrated beyond belief but, overwhelmingly, people have been kind and good.
Last night I danced alongside every colour of skin imaginable at Above & Beyond, everyone brought together by a combined love of our music.
When you read the news today, remember that, as always, it’s a tiny minority of people who would wish you harm, that there’ll be there anywhere you go but remember that the vast majority of people are good and wouldn’t wish harm on anyone.
Spread love, not hate and try to understand that more than anything else, ‘we are more the same than we are different’.