September 17, 1998
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
The past two weeks have been hectic. I almost had a nervous break-down two nights ago. I had spent three entire days creating a poster announcing my slide show, then, at three oclock in the morning, as I was placing the last graphic, my lap-top told me it was experiencing an error, and I had to restart the computer. I lost my entire days work. I wanted to cry, but just said "screw it!", and went to bed. My first slide show is on the 20th(which also happens to be my 21st birthday), three days from now, and I still have a ton of work to do to get ready. I also had a miserable day, because I got emails from two separate individuals telling me that I am a jerk, because of something they read in my journal. I get very little negative response from my website, but when I do, I take it seriously. I figure that for every person who emails me with a negative comment, there were ten people who thought the same thing, but didnt bother. This is what the first email said:
Hi. My name is Eric. Ive been following your adventures on your site for a couple months now. As someone who is also into independent, low-budget travel, I was thoroughly enjoying reading your journals. What you are doing definitely takes a lot of courage, intelligence, and persistence. Then I read this passage in your latest update:
"Queers, like Sean, go to PCRS because it "embraces diversity", and he doesnt
have to deal with the fact that he is a sinner... because they dont talk about sin. They just blab about "wholeness" and "oneness" ... whatever that is suppose to mean?
I thought the whole thing was a big joke. The class that Julie was a part of, and I sat in on, was called "Sharing the Journey". The attendees sat in a circle, and talk to each other about "their place in the universe". [For the record: I do not dislike gays. The Bible says... "Hate the sin... love the sinner.", and thats the philosophy I follow...]"
I realize that a lot of homosexuals refer to themselves as "queers," so maybe to a black person as a "nigger" despite the fact that many blacks often call each other "nigger." But I sense that you were not merely appropriating the word for yourself, but that you were using it in a derogatory sense. This was confirmed when I went on to read about how you believe homosexuals to be "sinners." This disgusts me. I do not understand how a person who would undertake a journey such as yours could be so close minded and homophobic. Most independent travelers that I have met travel to meet different types of people and learn about them, not to criticize them and call them sinners.
Your statement, "I do not dislike gays. The Bible says... "Hate the sin... love the sinner." is just so ridiculous. How can you call someone a sinner because of whom they choose to love and then say that you do not dislike them? How would you like if someone said to you, "Well MAX, I think youre a sinner and should and will burn in Hell for eternity, but other than that youre a SWELL guy! Lets go bowling!"? If homosexuality and homosexuals disgust you, admit it. I would have more respect for you if you just came out and said it.
By now youre probably thinking, "aw geez, another goddamn pc liberal a**hole."
Think what you will. I do not deny being pc at times(but know this: I am NOT trying, nor am I interested in censoring you or your language - get that straight, ok?.) To me, pc = being sensitive to other humans.
Are you interested in meeting interesting people and embracing other cultures? Or are you just interested in finding yet another free place to lay your head, a fridge to raid, and a phone line to use?
I actually wish you good luck, and a safe journey despite my objections regarding your attitude towards homosexuals. However, after reading that last passage, solomax.com will not be getting my donation.
Please feel free to write back if you would like to discuss.
This was my response:
Im glad you are enjoying my site.
Thank you for contacting me. I have given your comments serious thought and I have decided to remove that term, as it was in fact inappropriate. I apologize for offending you.
I like Sean. He never did or said anything unkind toward me. I should not have said anything that would reflect poorly on him. As for being a sinner... as humans, we all sin... including me.
Eric... because you have been reading my journal... I know you know Im not like that. There are VERY few people that I dont like. And I wouldnt say anything on purpose to hurt someone unless they f**ked with me, like Ed and Julie, and Nadeen from the Black Canyon. I didnt deserve to be treated the way those people treated me. I dont expect people to help me in every way they can, or even at all, but I do want to be treated with respect. When people treat me like trash... Im not going to sugar coat it... or pretend like it didnt happen. I tell it like it is. I dont always come out looking good either. Sometimes I get egg on my face too. But its real life... and we need to deal with it.
Remember, this is my personal journal, I dont write two versions. Im letting you get inside my head and experience life as I see it. If a person does not like the way I think, I want them to communicate with me(as you did) and tell me how they feel, so that I can see things in a different light, and possibly change my way of thinking... if that is the right thing to do. There may have been others who read that and thought, "MAX is an a**hole!", but didnt bother emailing me. Those people are never going to change anything. The world will go on as if they never existed. Im glad you are not one of those people.
I really do want to get the MAX out of life, and I do not want hate, and other negative thoughts, clouding my vision.
Thanx again for correcting me, and Im sorry for letting you down.
...I make mistakes too.
This was his response:
Hey there. Thank you for your thoughtful response. I read your note a few times and it really made me think. I guess I should have given more consideration to the fact that this is your personal journal, not just something that you write for the Web. I started thinking about what some people may think about me if they read some angry passages from my journal if it were to be published. I suppose I would get similar reactions from people as the one I gave to you. Now maybe I think I may have jumped the gun a bit in "attacking" your journal entry.
"If a person does not like the way I think, I want them to communicate with me(as you did) and tell me how they feel, so that I can see things in a different light, and possibly change my way of thinking... if that is the right thing to do. There may have been others who read that and thought "MAX is an a**hole!", but didnt bother emailing me. Those people are never going to change anything. The world will go on as if they never existed."
Its funny that you say that. After I first read the passage in question, I was a bit disappointed and went out from my office to grab lunch and I thought, "Maybe I should write that dude a letter about that." Then I thought, "Nah, it wont make any difference - it will be like talking to a brick wall. Why bother?" Then for some reason I went ahead and wrote it yesterday. Im glad I did. Hopefully I made you think a bit about it. You sure made me think about it. I was happy to read that you are reconsidering your stance, if I understand you correctly.
I dont want you to feel like you cant express yourself truthfully in your journals. This is such difficult territory. I even question whether or not you should remove the term or passage. Maybe something is lost when people start to edit their own thoughts. But maybe that is the price of publishing your thoughts publicly? I dont know the answer.
"I dont expect people to help me in every way they can, or even at all, but I do want to be treated with respect. When people treat me like trash... Im not going to sugar-coat it... or pretend like it didnt happen. I tell it like it is."
Yes, I totally agree with the above passage. You shouldnt feel that you have to "sugar-coat" your feelings in any way. I just felt that the "queers" passage was indicative of some kind of prejudice you may have against gays. Im not sure if it stemmed from your religious beliefs or what, but I personally believe that people should be treated equally regardless of race, sexual orientation, etc. and just because someone is gay doesnt make them worthy of the term "sinner." Maybe in the Bible it says that, but I believe that is so wrong. Murder is a sin. Theft is a sin. Loving someone should not be a sin. (Please do not think I am attacking your religious beliefs here - Im just trying to clarify my point.)
Anyway, Ive rambled on long enough. Maybe we can agree to disagree? Regardless, have an AWESOME trip down the Baja Peninsula and onwards. Do you think you will return home again before the entire trip is up, or will you just keep going from Baja onwards? I wish you the best of luck. Better study that Spanish! Take care.
I felt that the issues we covered in that email exchange were very important for others to understand, so I emailed Eric back and asked for permission to publish them in this journal - which he granted.
The other email I received came from a woman I met on the Colorado River, who is a friend of Nadeen, another woman I met at the same time, and who now wishes she had done something else that weekend. Nadeens friend, who is an awesome person, asked me to delete an interesting experience from that weekend, which I really dont want to do. I dont want her to be angry with me, and lose our friendship, but I also want to keep my journal honest, and give others the complete story. I could delete it from the web journal, and save a complete version for myself, but I think my web site viewers would find my journal very boring if I only told them about all the nice people I met. Thats what makes it an adventure; sometimes I meet cool folks and have awesome experiences... and sometimes I get screwed.
If I write something in my journal that reflects poorly on a person that I have met, I dont think people should take it too seriously and get upset. Everyone has many different sides to their personality, and maybe I experienced a side of them that was just having a bad day. Or, maybe I upset them off and I didnt realize it. Usually, if I do something wrong, Ill be sure to let you know about that too. I have nothing to hide. Making mistakes is a normal part of life. The important thing, is that I carefully examine the lesson to be learned, and be sure not to make the same mistake twice.
And lastly, why would I lie by saying that someone treated me like trash if they didnt? A guy in my position certainly cannot afford to make ememies. I need all the help I can get. However, if a person does treat me like trash, I dont have a problem with publishing it in my journal, because I never want to spend any time with those people again anyway.
Its now 1:39 in the morning, and I have a lot of work to do tomorrow, so I better hit the sack soon. Heres a quick summary of my past week:
Sunday, I went flying with my friend Ross in Sussex, then went to see the anual hot air balloon festival that was taking place there. The balloon that stole the show was of an RCMP officer on his horse. It was a jaw-droping site. It is hard to explain, so Ill try to get my slides scanned, and on this page, so you can see for yourself.
Monday and Tuesday I had several meetings, but I mostly worked on creating my slide-show poster. Patrick, a guy I met at Applebys Image Center, went totally out of his way to help me with it. For that I owe him big-time. Im going to take him rock climbing. Im sure hell love it!
Yesterday, I went to the dentist first thing in the morning, and hopefully I wont need to go again for another three years. I hear some dentists in Mexico and Central America can be brutal. I spent the rest of the day putting up posters around town, and the evening at K100, a local radio station, with Denise, one of the DJs and a super cool chick, and she helped me mix the sound-track for my slide-show.
Today, I had a meeting at Irving Oil headquarters, and a bunch of other errands to do. This evening, my ol' pal Jolene called, and asked if I would go for a walk with her on the beach. She was looking for encouragement and support - which I gladly provided. She is a extremely talented singer and musician, who wants to put out a CD, but is having doubts that she will be a success. "Nobody fails at anything... until they quit.", I told her. I think thats the key to all success. She is a better singer than a lot of female artists I hear on the radio. The only reason why they are on the radio and she isnt, is because they were willing to take a risk.
Ive being writing my favorite quotes in a book since the age of 13. Many of them are my own, but most are from other individuals. A few minutes ago, as I was flipping through the book looking for material for my slide presentation, I came upon a poem which seemed very applicable to Jolenes situation, and mine, as I struggle to publish my journals in an honest and open manner, without hurting others, or facing hostile criticism.
To laugh is to risk appearing the fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental,
To reach out for another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self,
To place your ideas, and your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss,
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing... does nothing... has nothing... and is nothing!
One may avoid suffering and sorrow, but simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, or live.
Chained by the certitudes,
The individual is a slave
And has forfeited freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.