the del Norte/Primitivo route.
Spain: From Irun to Santiago de Compostela, 500 miles.
Post 37; July 8, 2016, Friday.
Day 24: Oviedo. On The Camino Primitivo.
What if Obama and Putin had to do the Camino?
I can easily summarize one of the main themes of the Camino, when it comes to politics: no one from anywhere is proud of the leader of their home country. No one. Not one. Everyone expresses great sadness and frustration, and still acknowledge that they usually vote, but see such limited purpose in it. The world is simply not producing great and honorable leaders. Or, to put it another way, leaders that close the divide between opposing viewpoints and positions. Leaders that can bring lasting compromise and reconciliation. And the world suffers, and each individual suffers in one way or the other.
What if Obama and Putin had to do the Camino? Is there a place to start making the world a better place? What if Obama and Putin simply had to leave their cushy and “protected” world behind and spend six weeks together like every other pilgrim, walking the pilgrims’ way, day by day, step by step, with 20lb backpacks, hiking poles, and doing what all pilgrims have to do: trek about 20 miles a day through every kind of weather, find an albergue to sleep in, take a shower if the line isn’t too long and there’s hot water left, find a meal, wash your clothes, talk a little with your new friends, share stories, look for ways to help each other make it through the day and night . . . together. Like all pilgrims, eventually they would establish a bit of a pilgrim family, because as you randomly meet the people who started on that first day just like you, you eventually realize you go through the same stages of the Camino at roughly the same time. And you like everyone. Everyone shares, everyone gets along, everyone is excited that they took this challenge.
When you know that so much of what some of the pilgrims are dealing with is caused by horrible country and worldly leadership, what would be the best way to force our two most powerful leaders to meet and set goals with the average kind of completely random mix of great people from all over the world of every possible persuasion, that are persuaded to love getting along and helping each other?
You talk when you trek. That’s so natural. You help when you trek. That’s so natural. You work together to look for the arrows on the path, not get lost, find water, find food, adjust things on your body and backpack, help with injuries and medical needs, give consolation for your last fall, your twisted knee, and your humbled spirit, because maybe you thought you were in much better shape than you are. You lift each other up, as they deal with personal matters, health issues, relationship issues, life life life, and you always realize . . . at the end of the day, you are the same as the person next to you on the path, or sleeping on a bunk bed in a cramped albergue, and the politics at home are relatively meaningless. I wonder if Obama or Putin, as they spent some time in Bilbao and toured together the Guggenheim museum, if they would realize that a nuclear bomb is meaningless, and could certainly render so much human creativity, goodness, kindness, effort, cooperation, designing and building of the Guggenheim—completely worthless. Perhaps they would say to each other by the 10th day: you know, the stockpiles (of weapons) are useless. Let’s build something together, you and me. Let’s get a great museum of peace started. Let’s bring it all together, the relics of peace, the relics of people getting along, the relics of those that love, and those that loved. Or, how about, if we start a new United People. One that says if you are part of this group, you must pledge to love and accept everyone and every country. If you want to annihilate another country you can’t be part of our group, because we want a better world, and all are welcome. This world is for all of us. All of us.
Obama could say to Putin, what if we decide that each other’s opinion is no longer important. We shall hear each other out, we will be patient, and listen to each other, but then what’s important is yours, and my, ideas for resolution and compromise. The bi-polar nature of all discussions, arguments, wars, battles, fights, talk shows, and coffee chatter doesn’t matter. Talk of reconciliation—matters. Your opinion, my opinion, does not matter. Tell me how we are going to resolve this matter for our citizens, our Camino friends that inhabit the world. Let’s enjoy the beautiful types of countries and people, and enhance and cultivate the good, and slowly get rid of the old and locked in.
Putin could say to Obama, after two weeks on the Camino, you know, I want to thank you for catching me that time I slid in the rain, and Obama would say, and the time you caught my backpack before it slipped into the river, and by the way those French guys are funny, yeah well, what about those Japanese girls, man can they mix a salad!, I thought I was in good shape, nope, yeah, me too, hey thanks for teaching me the string method of getting rid of a blister, yeah well, I never even knew how to wear a backpack until you taught me . . . and, anyway, I need to tell you something . . .
“I want to work with you to make this world a better, safer, and friendlier place to live. Will you work with me?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Hey, I’m excited.”
“We still have a whole month left on the way.”
“Me too. Can I adjust that strap on your backpack?”
“Yeah, it’s choking me a little.”
“Let’s get a drink, I’m thirsty.”
And they share water, from the same bottle, they hug.
Pilgrims on the Camino. The Camino of life.
And friends for life.
And when they’re friends, Camino friends,
the world is a safer place.
. . .