Kelvinwright's Blog

postmodern thoughts

World Youth Day – Jornada Mundial de Joventud

I feel fortunate to have lived this grand event. Whilst not at the actual masses, I have walked through the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in an event that I may not ever experience firsthand again.

After several months of protests, hatred, complaints, and illegal camp outs around Madrid, it has been refreshing to see hundreds of thousands of young people happy, singing, mixing cultures and sharing international experiences.

I have been on Madrid’s Metro on a Friday or Saturday evening and felt fear that something could kick off at any moment, tension and aggression fuelled by alcohol and intolerance against those who appear “different”. I have experienced many times the London Underground, the New York Subway, and the Madrid Metro during rush hour, trains filling to collapse, people pushing, shoving, and anger building as tensions are stretched to the limit. However, yesterday morning, a Saturday when the Madrid Metro would normally be quiet, I found space hard to come by. The Pilgrims, as any other day, did not push, they did not get angry. They waited patiently for the next train if they could not board, or humbly said sorry when they accidently pushed or touched somebody. Their behaviour was impeccable, and something that hopefully other Metro users could learn from.

The other side to this has been the angry attitude of the few that decided to confront and abuse and on occasions attack the pilgrims. The same people who illegally camped in Madrid’s Sol square during 2 months before finally being moved. It was poignant that the Pilgrims prayed for them, rather than screaming back with the same abuse.

But putting to one side the political or religious angles that one could take, it was a pleasant change to see in the 21st century that young people could meet in a vast number and be joyous and happy without the requirement of alcohol. It was a pleasant change from major football tournaments, where there are also huge numbers of people from different nations together – here in Madrid young people mixed, shared their international experiences, and exchanged flags. If just one thing can be learnt from this WYD/JMJ it will hopefully be the ability of the human race to respect different viewpoints, to put hatred and racial differences to one side, and to realise that we are all unique.

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August 21, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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