Never Again

Ludovic Hubler spent five years traveling the world for the challenge and joy of opening his heart to this planet and the people that call it home. He plans to write a book about his experiences, and with his permission, I offer this excerpt from his learnings.

Never again will I act without thinking of the consequences of my actions for the environment, and never again will I allow my government to ignore the challenges of preserving this planet. From the sight of deforestation in Honduras, Brazil or Indonesia to the sight of the glaciers melting in Antarctica or the Great Canadian North, I realized during my journey to what extent human beings are in the process of destroying this beautiful planet. The English weekly "The Economist" recently wrote in one of its columns, "Will individual ignorance and selfishness lead to collective doom?" That’s a question that I frequently ask myself today. Every one of us has a role to play to avoid this collective failure. To this end, one of the greatest priorities, which will at the same time help with other sensitive subjects, is the promotion of alternative energies.

Never again will I complain about what I don’t have. This tour of the world allowed me to meet with people who have nothing (neither drinking water nor electricity, etc.) and who nonetheless kept smiling, offered me hospitality, and never complained about their lot in life. I will ensure that, from now on, I will never forget these people who brought me so much and helped me gain perspective on my personal problems.

Never again will I forget the fabulous achievements of all the people working in the shadows (often on a voluntary basis) trying to make the world a better place. Before leaving, I didn’t even know what the words "NGO" meant. After visiting around a hundred of them, meeting formidable individuals trying the change the destiny of the underprivileged, I have but one single desire: Make my modest contribution to their efforts and encourage each one of you to do the same.

Never again will I forget the luck I had to be born in France. Thank you, Papa, thank you, Mama. How many people have reminded me during these five years how lucky I am to have had access to a quality education, to have a passport which permits me to move freely throughout the world, and to have a strong currency which makes such a trip possible. I would like it if, in the not too far future, there could be some reciprocity in travel opportunities for the people of the world. It’s not the case today and I hope we will soon understand that lots of the world’s problems could be solved by fostering more equality between the different countries of the world.

Never again will I judge anyone based simply on physical appearance, nationality, religious beliefs, or on stereotypes. If my tour of the world taught me one thing, it’s that we are all the same, regardless of the colour of our skin, our religion, our race, or the football team we support. Every one of the six and a half billion citizens of this world (or the vast majority anyway) share the same basic needs and desires. Every one of us is searching for happiness, security, love, the ability to have children, and the will to allow them to live the best future possible. Diversity is enriching, and we should all learn about each other.

Never again will I let myself be brainwashed by sensationalism and bad reporting in the media. My recent stays in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, or in Colombia, showed me to what extent the perception I had of the inhabitants of these countries was totally biased by the insistence of the media that the activities of several national characters represented the majority of the population. It’s simply not true.

Never again will I refuse to offer hospitality to a traveler passing through, or to a friend in need. Apart from the fact that I am indebted for a while to everyone who has offered me hospitality during these five years of traveling, I can see how much the western world has to learn from Latin America or the Middle East in this regard. Thank you, by the way, to Hospitality Club and the Couchsurfing Project that made my tour of the world much easier and much more interesting.

Never again will I buy products without thinking of the consequences of my act of buying. During the presentations that I gave in various schools and organizations, I often tried to promote fair trade and explained how to be a responsible consumer. "To buy is to vote." From now on, every time I buy a product, whatever it may be, I will ask myself the question, "What kind of enterprise am I supporting?"

Never again will I fear starting out on a big project. The quote from Oscar Wilde, "Wisdom means to have sufficiently big dreams so as not to lose sight of them while pursuing them," is what pushed me to start out on this adventure, and it has proven itself to be the leitmotiv for me all along the way. Similarly, the quote from Dominique Glocheux, "Life is not a restaurant but a buffet, get up and serve yourself" always stayed with me, etched in my memory.

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