If on a winter’s night a traveller
Friday, 17 February 2012
When I travel, I play a game. I imagine I am an ambassador, an appointed representative of Europe, the place where I live. I wasn’t always an ambassador of Europe, of course. I began life as a simple traveller, trying to get from A to B.
Growing up, I quickly went from being a traveller to an adventurer. If only flight class upgrades were so easy! I like to think I remain an adventurer to this day, sometimes performing feats of derring-do like Indiana Jones. At other times, I am an ambassador, establishing first contact and building relationships between us and different species across the galaxy like Jean-Luc Picard.
On Being an Ambassador
So what does being an ambassador mean to me? My idea of an ambassador is my dear friend John. By the time I met John, he had already retired after a lifelong service to the British Government and her Majesty the Queen.
John was a tall man, always well-presented. He was soft spoken, polite and amicable. Most memorable of all, he was humble and fun. He always knew exactly how to put people at ease, from small children to thorny politicians.
John was the kind of man who went riding with Lawrence of Arabia in the desert. He was certainly good at his job. And he was good because he cared for the work he did and the importance of acting for the greater good.
An ambassador understands their responsibility to others and behaves accordingly, both with those they spend time with as well as those they will never meet. Most important of all, they understand their responsibility to themselves.
An ambassador remembers to look up to the sky and into the horizon often to keep things in perspective. Do this enough, and you’ll start recognising the different flags of sky.
If life is a journey, and I believe it is, then where does an ambassador of Europe go next? I’m working towards becoming a citizen of the world some day. And after that? Ambassador of Earth of course! By the time that happens, I hope to have acquired the necessary knowledge, skills, experience and humility to explain why humans are a valuable asset to our wider ecosystem that is the universe. I also hope to be fluent in the universal language of friendship, mutual respect and understanding.