World's Most Dangerous Places
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photo copyright © Robert Young Pelton

 

You travel to understand, to seek out firsthand what is happening in places around the world. After being in all these troubled places don't you feel pessimistic about the future of the planet? Do you see it just getting worse or is there hope? The planet is pretty much a rat cage. The lesson of history is that each great fat empire loses touch with what made it strong and a hungry determined group will rise up and destroy it. Right now we live in a global economy that requires massive consumption and exploitation of cheap labor and resources. There will come a point at which there will be too many needy clamoring at the base of our ivory towers and we will be too scared to come down and find out what they want.

Dangerous situations tend to bring out the true character of people, stripping them of their masks in normal day-to-day life. Does living in California and the contrast that it provides to the places you travel to help you better understand things? How long until the culture shock fades away?

I enjoy the purity of dangerous areas. I also enjoy the intensity and purpose. California is about as far away as you can get from that. If only everyone was required to spend just a few days a year in the real world. We might actually smile and wish each other good morning or talk about the weather!

Have you ever been to Brazil?
No, but I have been to Colombia and Peru. I would like to very much.


You've been in close contact with very diverse cultures and beliefs. Do you have a religion?
I am not religious because religion is typically a replacement for free thought. I am very moralistic and I enjoy learning about and understanding religions.

Any regrets?
Not really. When I am on my deathbed (inshallah!) I won't have any regrets. Maybe that I wish I had more money and more time.

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