Seeing the world in the way I have has made me more tolerant yet also hardened me. The events Osama Bin Laden set in motion with what then seemed a culmination on 9/11 now are a prelude in an effort that has ignited at least as much self-imposed damage to civilization over the past 15 years as that from Islamic militants (choose the term that you will, their actions speak).
An overwhelming challenge with so many facets can lead to despair of being able to make any difference. I refuse despair and believe even the smallest effort has value. The friendly interaction I have with an elderly man in a skullcap in Cameroon who rushed to my aid after I’ve been robbed. The interest I show visiting a historic mosque. Bringing my wife to Saudia Arabia with her walking side by side (see my take on Riyadh and Jeddah).
Next month I will be on my way back from Africa via the Portuguese Azores (thanks United routing rules!). I have a forced overnight in Europe to pick up my flight back to New York. The many options scrolled down my screen: Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, etc, etc.
I alighted on Brussels. Not the ideal routing. A 4-hour stop in Lisbon and midnight arrival to Brussels. Still, with current events, with the city reeling economically, with airlines cutting and running, it seemed worth that small effort. A morning walk in the town with smiles to share. A hotel bed occupied (I will try the new Radisson Red). A plane seat occupied.
Readers, what should I do in my morning in Brussels? I have visited other parts of the country, the WWI sites around Ypres, Waterloo, the WWII sites of the Ardennes, never Brussels.