From Geneve – The Miracle of the Kindness of Strangers and Global responsibility / 17.09.12

I am Peter, who joined Andrew on the first Fueledbyrice trip.  This is my first post on this blog and I will keep it simple for now.  I have been impressed with my team mates reflections from the last two weeks.

As we rest for the second time this trip, now in Geneve with a bicycle and urban planning enthusiast who has done work in Portland and Minneapolis among other world cities, Michael, I am again reminded of why traveling by bicycle is so rewarding and unique.  Not only is it the cheapest and healthiest way, but it allows, like no other means of travel that I have experienced, one to meet strangers and experience the miracle of their kindness.  But in order for this to happen, we must do something that many Americans and increasingly, the global middleclass and wealthy, are very uncomfortable with: make ourselves vulnerable by first admitting we could use help and then, in some cases, asking for help, and finally actually accepting help and hospitality.  Although this can be difficult at first, it is this process that allows for a rich interaction between people we meet, be it asking for water (Ute and Johannes), directions (many), or hospitality (Claudia, Jess and now, Michael).  THANK YOU so much for your generosity!

Ute and Johannes generously invited us in for coffee and breakfast after we simply asked where we could fill our water bottles, all early on a Sunday morning. THANK YOU!

Breakfast with our host, Michael, in Geneve


Dinner with our host, Michael in Geneve. We prepared a multi-course dinner for him.

Preparing dinner for our host, Michael, in his kitchen.


Dinner we made for our host, Michael – Soup, Salad, and Curry. Not pictured: icecream with homemade nectarine sauce for desert.

Our host, Michael’s beautiful home. THANK YOU for your hospitality!


The first Fueled by Rice expedition renewed my hope and faith in humanity through our face to face encounters with people across Eurasia, and I am thrilled to see similarly inspiring interactions just in our first two weeks on this journey.  I have seen that so many people are aware and concerned about the emense challenges facing us as a global community, from so-called “un-educated” rural China and India, to hyper-civilized Europe.  I am hopeful that there is already such mass awareness of our interdependence on everyone in the world, that what people do in the US and China and elsewhere has global implications – one’s choice of transport, housing, heating system, products bought, and life style choices in general, matter, and matter a lot.  This awareness of our global citizenship, impact, and thus responsibility, is an important first step to changing one’s behavior and working to create innovative solutions to environmental and poverty problems we all face as a global village.

The fact of the matter is that we are all in this together, and it is precisely this identity and orientation that we need if we are to succeed as a species with peace and prosperity.   Cooperation and mutual respect are absolutely critical.

I am saddened by the lack of such respect shown in the now infamous anti-Muslim video that has sparked protests and violence across the Muslim world.  Freedom of speech comes with responsibility and ought to come with respect.  Gandhi would say such material strikes hatred and fear into our Muslim brothers and sisters and needlessly agitates a violent response.  The global community, and especially the Middle East and North Africa, does not need this kind of vilification now.

Albert Einstein wrote,

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest–a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”


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  1. Sandy Ehresmann said on September 18, 2012 at 2:06 am

    Thank you, Peter, for your gentle reminder that behavior comes with consequences, and freedoms require responsibility. Indeed, no man is an island, and today, all of humanity is intertwined globably in an instant. May this trip encompass the best your group has to offer as you encounter those who are first strangers, but then become good samaritans to you. May their lives be blessed as their acts of kindness bless and nurture you. Look forward to future writings. With love, Mom

  2. Barbara Sullivan said on September 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Thank you for all the lovely pictures and the inspiring words. Peace to you and peace to all who befriend you.

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