On the day we were leaving New Zealand to fly back to the USA, our flight was delayed.
As we sat in the tiny waiting room of the Bay Of Islands airport, passing away the hours until finally our flight was officially canceled, we had lots of time to talk with our fellow passengers.
It was Waitangi Day, a NZ holiday that has often been quite controversial.
In New Zealand, Waitangi Day marks the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.
Representatives of the British Crown and over 500 Māori chiefs signed what is often considered to be New Zealand’s founding document.
Many of the descendants of those Maori chiefs view it as the day the British crown stole the land and rights from the native Maori who had already lived in NZ for over a thousand years, in return for empty promises.
That day, the airport was full of politicians who had come to the Far North to give speeches, attend meetings, and make presentations at the Waitangi events.
It is not often that one gets a chance to have the friendly ear of so many politicians, and I was not about to miss my chance….
After I apologized to them for the election of Donald Trump as our US president, we all became quick friends.
We laughed and commiserated about the state of the world, and about the rise of nationalism all over the world, which is the cause for Brexit in the U.K. and many other social problems around the world.
People just do not get that we are one small green and blue planet, filled with the same human race, with people who are so similar in all ways, who share common, NOT separate interests.
The rise of nationalism in NZ leads communities to exclude visitors unless they bring direct economic benefits, to believe that they have separate interests from other communities around NZ located just a few hours away from them, which is almost laughable, if it weren’t so sad.
We talked about how different religious beliefs divide people, and how bad government policies all over the world lead to ruined lives.
I told them that I still find myself apologizing, as an Israeli, for cruel and unjust Israeli government policies, even though I’ve not lived in Israel for over 26 years.
People still look at me with blaming eyes, not caring to know that when I did live in Israel, I was a peace advocate, protesting and marching in demonstrations for peace, equal rights and religious tolerance.
So many people have lost sight of what it means to be friendly and good in the world.
That day at the airport, the politicians tried to reassure me that NZ is still populated with friendly people who DO see that this rise of nationalism is very destructive to our global future as a human race.
They even tried to convince me that my plans of relocating to Japan are not exactly idyllic either.
They pointed out that Japan is still emerging from being a sexist culture ruled for centuries by men who objectified and mistreated women.
They pointed out that as a woman, I would be discriminated against, and would not get residency nor legal rights to stay in Japan so easily.
Japan is still a close-knit society which is hard to penetrate…. or at least this is what they suggested to me.
It felt SO GOOD to talk with level-headed people who made so much good sense to me, even if my hopes are that my own reality in Japan, will be different from what they believed it would be.
It is getting more and more rare for me to find people who can see things with clarity, and to converse with people beyond their own prejudices and biases.
It is really not that hard to be aware of what you are doing and to be friendly.
Yes, one has to become REAL and not full of egotistic self-projections and misperceptions, but all those are valuable tools in life, that one must develop along the way….
One must walk on this earth with the feeling, that NOBODY, absolutely nobody is a stranger to them or has different feelings than theirs.
All people living on this earth share similar desires and similar wishes to live in harmony and to enjoy peaceful lives.
Making friends is such an easy thing to do.
The only reason people use online dating services, or try to make friends online, is because they have forgotten how to be REAL and relate to others from that same heart place.
To make friends as you travel around the world, you do not have to be overly chatty or to hug everybody, but it helps if you have inner warmth and a tender heart.
People have very different ideas about friendship, and different ideas about how to run a country, a community or a workplace.
People who think similarly, become natural friends.
They share similar ideas about life and act in similar ways.
Many of those relationships can be very short, but some can continue over a lifetime.
Some relationships are more “Soul Brotherhoods,” rather than just friendships.
I have one such soul-brother in Indiana in the USA.
But before I tell you about my brother in Indiana, I want to say that friendliness must stretch beyond our immediate community, or the people of our own tribe, religion, or country, and embrace the whole world.
In order to develop global friendliness, it helps to actually DO good and friendly things towards people and do it often.
The day after we landed in Colorado, we drove to our local airport to return the car we had rented at the Denver airport.
While Jules was inside dropping off the rental car’s keys, I waited with our jeep outside by the curb.
A young man came over and asked me if I knew how to get to a hotel located in the nearby town of Eagle.
He told me that the information booth at the airport had told him that it would cost him over $100 to hire a taxi and that there were no buses running at this time of night.
I knew he was telling the truth, since we live in an area that has no Uber or Lyft and no local taxis.
A taxi would have to drive over from the nearest larger city to pick him up, and that would cost him $100..
I suggested that we drive him to his hotel.
For us, it was only a ten minute detour.
He said he was thinking of walking the fifteen miles along the snowy road to his hotel.
It would have taken him the whole night to walk there.
He was so grateful and offered to pay for our gasoline (which we adamantly refused), and finally I just told him:
“That’s OK, man, we HAVE to be KIND to each other in this world!
This is how we must behave and how we must live!”
With near-tears in his eyes, he admitted that back in San Antonio where he was from, he also often stops to help when he sees somebody with a flat tire.
He said he helps them change their tire for free, since his parents have an automobile garage and he knows how to do it quickly.
We chatted all the way to his hotel and he told us about his wife and two young children, and that he had come to the mountains of Colorado for a court hearing the next day.
I have to admit that I no longer travel the world solely for my own enjoyment.
I travel the world in order to help make it a friendlier place.
Everywhere I go, I make a conscious effort to be an ambassador of goodness, taking a stand against injustice, or actively breaking the patterns that keep the people of the world in alienation and isolation.
Most people do not realize how they themselves contribute to making the world an unfriendly place.
They do not see the connection between their ideas and how it leads to a sad and lonely world, because they believe they are acting out of patriotism or nationalism, simply “protecting” the “health” of their communities and of their nations.
Many communities do not realize how promoting their own self-interest can lead to wrong thinking, unfriendly behaviors and mob mentality.
The funny thing is that many of these people are often sweet and well-meaning people, just unaware of where their ways of thinking can lead to.
Years ago, I read a series of books by Peter Mayle, about his relocation from a high stress job in cold and grey London, to a life in sunny, rural Provence, in France.
In the last few books, he made observations about the fact that the French people living in the beautiful countryside, had become very unhappy with German tourists.
They were happy to have tourists come and eat in their village restaurants, shop in the local markets, buy and support local wineries, or stay in the lovely inns in the countryside, but the Germans were not doing any of this.
According to Mayle, the German tourists were driving their families across the border in their own cars, bringing with them EVERYTHING.
The German tourists bought nothing in the local markets.
They brought their own potatoes, their own German beer, their own butter, their own sausages, canned food, grills, pillows and blankets.
In other words, the German tourists were not bringing any economic benefits to the French countryside.
They stayed in state parks or by the side of the roads, which enraged the locals living in those picturesque villages.
I still remember reading his descriptions years ago, and thinking to myself that this indicates a very unfriendly global future trend, that is based on a sad misperception.
In other words, welcoming tourists ONLY if they “help” the local economy, is short sighted and can lead to mob viciousness that can spread like wildfire all over the world.
It leads to a sad, unfriendly and over-regulated world, in which people forget that tourists are not walking wallets or an “industry” bringing money, but are actually GUESTS in their country.
Let me explain:
The Berlin Wall fell in November of 1989.
German people from both sides, but mostly from the eastern side of the wall, were finally free to go on vacation wherever they liked.
They had little money but were filled with the desire to enjoy some sunshine, to sit on sunny beaches, and to celebrate their freedom and life.
Many young German people from both sides of the Wall, suffered from the shame and trauma of their nation’s Nazism, their cruel and inhumane actions amidst the ravages of the second world war.
The newer generation was overwhelmed with guilt and they simply wanted to go away with their families, to show their young kids other parts of Europe.
They had little money to spend, so they packed everything into their cars and hoped to enjoy a cheap but fun vacation.
Little did they know that the rural people in the countries they wanted to visit, were already viewing them as a “problem,” and quickly working on a plan to “protect” their countryside from them.
I have seen this occur in New Zealand as well.
When we moved to rural NZ, people were so friendly and tourists were warmly welcomed.
Locals helped tourists, invited them to sleep over at their homes, and gave them part time jobs to help them pay for their vacations.
Even Jules and I helped in this way many WOOFERS (“Willing Workers on Organic Farms”) who needed part time jobs, or who had suffered a misfortune, having been robbed and needed to make money to continue their vacations and go home.
Tourists used to leave NZ feeling like they had been to paradise.
Nowadays, you hear many different stories from tourists….
Tourists being assaulted or raped, robberies, and incidents of road rage are common, and stories about how RV tourism degrades the cleanliness of the rivers and sea are all over the news.
Many of us free-thinkers and miracle workers have stopped talking altogether, since the election of Donald Trump and Brexit.
I know I stopped talking and writing, because I realized how many of my art collectors are actually Trump supporters who WANT what he brings to the table, which is more separatism, nationalism and promoting the interests of small elite groups.
When Nazi Germany was rising on the promise of “making Germany great again,” it was those who spoke out against the injustices and who spoke for human rights, who got hammered down.
Those who spoke out about the fact that the Jews had equal rights as fellow human beings and had basic human rights to practice their religion, were the ones who were abused, ignored, and finally ostracized, their businesses boycotted or their jobs lost.
Nowadays, I heard a lovely sentiment encouraging ALL Americans to sign up and register as Muslims, if that law comes to pass.
I fully support that, but I can also see how my life would become much more complicated if I were to sign up as a Muslim, in solidarity with my Muslim brothers and sisters all over the USA, which I DO FEEL with all my heart.
When the world becomes so full of small people, it is the philosophers and he visionaries who speak up for the grandeur of unity and love, who get persecuted.
In his time (the 1500’s), Nostradamus, who was a medical healer, a mystic and a visionary, had to write his predictions in quatrains full of hidden codes and astrological references, in order to escape the Inquisition and the wrath of the narrow minded religious figures who had political control during those times.
Back to the story of my brother in Indiana:
Once while I was doing art shows all over the USA, I decided that it would be a good idea to buy a recreational vehicle.
My husband at that time was not a very good driver and while we were driving through Indiana, he did not see the flashing red lights indicating that a train was coming, and he drove full speed into the path of the crossing train.
At the last minute, when he saw the train, he veered our RV into the corn field nearby, avoiding a collision by a hair’s breadth.
Our towed RV was damaged, and we had ruined a big part of the corn field which was ready for harvest.
In no time, the local police had arrived along with the farmer whose field we had destroyed.
I was shaking like a leaf, but we were unhurt.
The kind farmer invited us into his house for a cup of tea and to calm my nerves.
The policemen investigated the road and proceeded to question my husband.
After a series of questions and answers, (during which I kept silent and allowed my husband to answer the policeman’s questions), it was concluded that my husband was driving recklessly.
The policemen turned to the farmer, and told him that he had the right to sue us for damages, to recover the cost of the commercial corn we had destroyed.
He was not a rich farmer.
The living room of his house in which we sat, was very spartan.
The furniture was old and cheap, and the house was just a simple farm house.
The farmer was dressed in blue overalls, wearing a John Deere baseball cup.
No doubt he could have used the money that would have been his, by suing us…
When the policemen turned to him and asked:
“Would you like to sue them for the damage to your corn field?”
My brother in Indiana, the poor farmer whose field we had just ruined, got up and said:
I will NEVER sue this woman.
Look at her, she is shaking like a leaf.
HELL, I want to HELP HER!”
And that was that.
He sent the policemen out of his house, shaking their hands and telling them he will take it from here.
He went into his workshop and got some equipment and his tractor.
He fixed the hitch that connected my trailer to my van, and reconnected them again.
He then towed my van and RV trailer our of his field and got us all set up and ready to go.
He even fixed us lunch of fresh sandwiches and a salad, and smiled at me as I thanked him a thousand times and a thousand times more.
I gave him some gifts, t-shirts with my art painted on them, and a painting of mine.
We hugged like a brother and sister, with real tears when we departed from his house.
Since then, I have a brother in Indiana.
Yes, he is neither an educated nor a sophisticated man,
Yes, he wears oil-stained blue overalls
And an ill-fitting orange John Deere hat,
And he most likely voted for Donald Trump…
But I have a brother in Indiana…
Whom I will LOVE FOR LIFE…..