It’s Independence Day, or July 4th, in the United States of America. A day when we are supposed to pause as a nation to reflect upon our history, throwing off our British oppressors, and founding a new nation that cherished the ideals of freedom, democracy, equality and much more. But usually people set off fireworks, cook alot of meat, drink alot of beer, and don’t think anything of it. And woe be to anyone like A Dude who declares himself a citizen of the world. After all, the location of my birthplace was a completely random event. I could be Swedish, Afghani, Congolese, Inuit, or even from New Jersey. The horror!
Today’s blog was going to be a review of my statistics about my blog. And that just seemed frivolous, as things do when you’re having deep thoughts. So as I went on my 25-mile ride, with people setting off fireworks all around me, I couldn’t help but think about the dichotomy, contradiction even, between those historic ideals and present, very ugly realities. With the backdrop of the World Cup on my mind, and given how few people still actually read my words, I decided to throw in my two cents about how wrong it is to treat immigrants like second-class citizens, and the dangerous path toward neo-fascism the U.S. appears to be on.
Back on February 5, I wrote a post titled “What the Super Bowl Can Teach Us About Sports Cycle-ology”. The quadrennial soccer / football spectacle that is the month-long World Cup began June 14th, which very many people who are not living in a cave know. After watching all 14 games over the last five days, I’ve been thinking about the lessons soccer aka football can teach bicyclists. (I’m from the US, so I’ll call it soccer.)
THIS POST IS SPOILER FREE IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN ALL THE FIRST 15 GAMES!
Ramadan is the month-long holiday of day-time fasting, prayer and other practices observed by people of the Muslim faith. It ended yesterday, making today Eid al-Fitr. What does that have to do with me and bicycling? I’m glad you asked, so I’ll tell you. Recently I wrote about self-compassion. And then I met a man on a bike ride who was only riding at night. When asked why, he said it was because he was observing Ramadan. No water or food until nightfall, and then biking? To me that was impressive because it showed some serious dedication to both his religion and his sport. He’s a Nigerian living in Texas.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in Kenya, a fellow blogger posted a story about encountering a poor woman on the street. She too is an African Muslim who was observing Ramadan. But despite the blogger being charitable and giving away some of her money, the beggar still berated her, and told her it was not enough. One of the teachings of Islam is to be additionally generous during this month, and so she grappled with doing that but not receiving the gratitude she expected. The two encounters were too coincidental not to share.