Ever feel like you’re somewhere where you shouldn’t be?
Yesterday I was running on the Coal & Coke Trail outside Mount Pleasant when I found myself in the midst of hunting season in Western PA. Orange-clad hunters with rifles patrolled the woods on either side of the trail.
This isn’t abnormal this time of year…after all, the PA hunting season is short and the interest, strong (i.e. supply and demand sends hunters and the hunting-inclined out in droves), and I’ve certainly seen hunters out and about during my daily runs.
But I felt particularly vulnerable this time around.
Yeah, I was wearing bright red and running in a b-line down a wide jogging trail, and I realize that hunters for the most part are very careful with their rifles. Most of the hunters I saw even acknowledged me with a hand wave or a tip of the cap.
Still, if former Vice President Dick Cheney can accidentally cap his friend while hunting in the woods, what’s to stop one of these hunters from taking me out in err?
But as much as I was uncomfortable with the situation (and believe me, I won’t run on the CCT—off limits to hunters and firearms as it is—until hunting season is over), I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to daily run through life’s trails in fear.
What is it like for children in Palestine, who must walk to and from school with peace activist accompaniment through hostile Israeli settlement zones?
What is it like for young girls in the Afar tribe of Ethiopia, who must approach adolescence and the violating practice of female circumcision?
What is it like for Ugandan boys at risk of being abducted and forced into military service?
What is it like for girls in India, Thailand, the Philippines and elsewhere who are forcibly trafficked into brothels as prostitutes?
What is it like for people living their daily lives in war-ravaged and poverty-stricken places like Iraq, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sudan, and Colombia?
But lest we think these lives lived in fear aren’t lived close to home, take a look at our own situation here in North America:
What is it like for students who are gay and lesbian, fearful of bullying words and actions that can hurt or, worse yet, kill?
What is it like for undocumented immigrants who must live in the shadows, knowing that at any moment they may be separated from their family, community, and livelihood?
What is it like for high school youth to watch their classmates gunned down at school and in their neighborhood streets?
I’m not interested in debating politics or ethics here, and I’m certainly not writing this to call out hunters (honestly, their presence on the CCT seems suddenly insignificant).
But let’s pause for a moment and consider what we allow—and sometimes, create—to plague the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters around the world. Because we need to respond with love and creativity…and with urgency.
They shouldn’t have to run in fear.
NOTE: Visit the links to organizations embedded here to learn about ways you can respond in specific ways to the needs of people mentioned in this post.