To Whom It May Concern - My Current Subscribers and New Readers in the Reddit Community:
What I am communicating below I have also shared in part under the sub-Reddits "IAmA" and "Bicycling". I understand that I am new to the Reddit community. Nevertheless, the responses I have received thus far have been pretty disappointing. I would really like more feedback than just up or down votes, because, as necessary, I am willing to learn how to communicate more effectively, in general, and in the Reddit environment in particular.
I know I can come off as "odd" to people at first, but once they get to know me, they realize I am "for real", that I really am a decent, sincere, passionate, and compassionate person, and one who really does want to make a difference in the world in the best way I can, or think I can.
Not to be overly dramatic, but I'm choking-up, crying even, as I write these words, because I'm thinking about all that I have been through, and deliberately chosen to put myself through over the last several weeks and months, in order to do just that: To make a difference in the world - To live my life according to the principle of non-aggression and to REALLY help bring about World Peace, through very deliberate and intentional effort...a lot of effort...and with the knowledge that more effort, even extraordinary effort, will be necessary in order to reach that goal.
In many of his talks, author and Peace Leadership Director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Paul K. Chappell, points out that all too often, people believe "World Peace" is a naive dream, a joke answer to a beauty pageant question. I follow his logic, however, when he points out that thinking we can continue the way we are going, and survive as a species, is even more naive.
Here come the tears again...as I am feeling how much I Love Human Beings - my "species". And I Love this planet, and I don't want to see humanity, or this planet destroyed by anyone, for any reason. That is why I am doing what I am doing.
It would seem by the responses I have received thus far on Reddit, that at least some people think there is something wrong with that, either the "naive dream" of World Peace, or my particular approach to trying to make that dream a reality, or my way of writing about it. Again, hard to say what their "issues" are by a total of up or down votes and not very many comments or questions.
I am sharing this post with the "Anti-war" Reddit, because, I'm thinking, maybe I'm just trying to communicate with the wrong groups of people on Reddit. Or, at least, I should start with people that might be slightly more inclined to hear me out, rather than throwing myself to the "pack". Maybe those early decisions and postings were more naive on my part, even if I do not feel the same applies to my conviction that world peace is possible and that I can do something, even lots of different things, to help bring it about.
As the saying goes: Live and Learn!
Given my endeavors of the last several months, that statement could not be more true! Because I have Learned A Lot from all of my life experiences of late, probably more from the mistakes I've made (like not knowing how to price things for maximum returns as a seller on e-bay) than from what I have done well - like keeping myself safe on my bicycle, alone, on the road for over 60 days and 1200 miles now, from Jacksonville Beach, Florida to Houston, Texas.
For members of the Reddit Anti-war forum, you might find this blog I wrote some time ago relevant: The Power of Love and the Principle of Non-Aggression and the follow-up to that, Evolving Plans - NAPF Conference in July 2012.
The "evolution" process I mention in that latter blog has brought me to where I am now: 1) As I mention above, I have completed 1200 miles of my cross-country bicycle trek. 2) I have published over 50 blogs since the inception of the idea to ride across the country. 3) I have raised enough money to get me this far, maybe a little further, but I am going to need a significant financial boost to get me to California in time for the workshop. 4) I made a deal with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation to sign-up new members in exchange for credit towards my workshop tuition. This has proven to be a lot more difficult than I expected, in part because I have not had the venues where I could meet and talk with a lot of people at once. Instead, I have signed-up most of my Couch Surfing and Warm Showers hosts (with about 30 different stops so far), the "hosts" of the various camp-sites where I have stayed, even clerks at the motels and hotels, where I could. I have also signed-up a few random people that I have met "on the street". But, even over 1200 miles, that has added up to only 150 people, or so, and I need at least another 270 new members to "close the deal". Most recently, the NAPF did give me the option to sign up 100 of those remaining members prior to July 21st, and the rest after the workshop, as I plan to continue my cross-country journey from Texas to California.
Since I've been on the road, my expenses have come from the few hotels and motels I've stayed in ($220); and campgrounds ($45), cycling gear/maintenance ($85); "admin" - some shipping, printing, money transfer fees, ($150); food/electrolyte water, toiletries, bug spray, and sunscreen ($585). All that comes out to about $18/day and slightly less than $1/mile.
I think I left Jacksonville with just a little over $200, sold most of my portable solar gear to one of my hosts in Seacrest, Florida for $340, and the rest of my expenses I've had to cover with donations. According to this website, What It Costs.com, costs for cross-country bike trips in the U.S. can range from $2500 to $8600, so I am definitely coming in on the low end of that range so far.
In addition, I opted over a year ago for a much cheaper (in the long run) pay-per-use phone, and no Internet service for that phone or my iPad. Unfortunately, that has made it a lot more difficult for me to be as consistent with my blog updates, or figuring out where I am or where I need to go (with no on the road GPS service), or even to contact potential hosts, but I am doing the best I can with all of that.
By now you may be wondering, why did I not make sure I had "enough money" to do everything before I left? Well...1) It would have been hard to know that amount without the day to day experience. 2) Having never done anything like this before, I did not want to ask too many people, or other major sponsors, to support my efforts until I had proven more about my abilities to do what I am doing. 3) Once the NAPF Workshop became my goal, I had a limited time-frame in which to complete my ride, so I had to get on the road. And as experience has shown, I should have left even earlier than I did, but...I was having to fundraise right up to the day before I left Jacksonville, when I sold my '73 VW Super Beetle...for $300. One more trip to the grocery store, and that left me with the $200+ I mentioned leaving with earlier.
As for now, my most critical "needs" are: 1) To sign up another 100 people as members of the NAPF before July 21st. Those names need to go through me, in order for me to get credit for them. (This has been another one of those frustrating challenges because there is no way for people to offer a reference to me when they sign-up or donate directly through the NAPF website.) Consequently, if by chance you, as a reader of this post, would like to be one of those New Members, I need you to send me your Name, E-mail Address, and Zip Code, via my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Membership is free. You will receive the NAPF "Sunflower" newsletter once per month and you may hear from me, although, thanks to Yahoo making it very difficult to send out mass e-mails, it is actually a lot of work for me to update people that way...or put out requests for donations. Consequently, I can promise you I won't be bombarding you with e-mails, and I am not a "big company" that sells info to other "big companies". And I don't ever plan to be, so your info is as safe as it can be in my Yahoo contacts list.
2) I have priced air fare on Southwest from Dallas-Love airport to Los Angeles (LAX) at $159 one-way, plus $48 for a shuttle bus from LAX to Santa Barbara. That money I need ASAP in order to take advantage of lower costs with advance reservations and I can pay for my plane ticket directly out of my PayPal account. If you would like to make a financial contribution to my efforts, especially for this immediate need, you can do so through the PayPal "Donate" button located => over there => in the right-hand column of this page. (After the workshop, I will be spending some time with another relative that lives in the area before returning to Texas. Clearly, I will need air fare for that return flight as well, but I am focusing on my "immediate" needs with this particular post.)
In exchange for your support, I promise: 1) I will not give up my personal struggle for Peace in this World, 2) I will not give up on my goal to attend the NAPF Peace Leadership Workshop in Santa Barbara, and 3) I will not give up on my goal to complete my bicycle ride across the U.S. and continue to "Wage Peace" in whatever way I can after that.
Furthermore, I will not give up on my species, and all the human beings I know and love, and those I have yet to meet... and ride my bicycle into the woods to live out the rest of my life, alone, as a primitive survivalist! : )) (Although, thanks to Tom Brown, Jr. and a couple of weeks of Tracker/Survival school, I might just be able to do that if left with no alternatives that allow me to continue to live my life freely, and without aggression towards my fellow human beings, and with "work" that is genuinely meaningful to me!)
I know a lot of people out there who would also like to "run away" from all of this, but I have realized that isn't really the best option. We are here, we are all in this together, we have this truly amazing system for communicating with one another and sharing information and resources, and Now Is The Time, if ever there was one, to make this world a better place for all of us to live, and grow, and learn, and most importantly to Love and Be Happy for generations to come.
So with respect to my own "Life Work" as I see it now: I am completely convinced that the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and especially Paul K. Chappell, are on the right track to Change the Way People in this World THINK about Peace, about personal and national "security", and especially to change the way we think about who we are (and are NOT) as human beings. I know, that even with my strong background in social science and psychology, I learned so much more from reading Paul's books - so much more that is of Critical Importance right now. Yes, I wanted to ride my bicycle across the country anyway, but the understanding I got from reading Paul's books, and the encouragement I received from the NAPF, is what "tipped the scales" as far as my Actually Doing what I was otherwise only "thinking" about doing, and "planning" to do.
But, honestly, all I have ever really wanted to do in my life, and it is truly heart felt when I say this, with tears rising to my eyes again...All I've ever really wanted to do was to Be of Service to others. I've done so in smaller ways throughout my life, but now I want to do it in a Much Bigger Way - I want to help bring Peace to the World.
Just because achieving World Peace is a much bigger challenge, does not make it less important, or "naive" to try to accomplish. On the whole, human beings have as much of a history of achieving greatness as they do for destroying themselves. I would rather stand on the positive side of that ongoing story, rather then the negative. At the same time, I am humble enough to know that this is going to be a Group Effort. I realize there are limits to what each person can do by themselves. Nevertheless, I am definitely willing to do whatever it is I Can Do, and that is what I Am Doing right now. Trust me, this Ride of My Lifetime is taking everything I have to give...and I wouldn't want it any other way.
What about you? What are you willing to do to make World Peace a Reality?
Pedaling for Peace
On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.