Our freeconomist friend Saoirse, he of the pilgrimage to India fame, managed to cross the English channel… twice.
After making it over to France, Saoirse and companions realised that actually they dont speak french, nobody knows who they are or what they are doing, and the French dont get it.
I really feel sorry for Saoirse, I have mixed feelings about his pilgrimage, I admire the freeconomy principle, and thus I have a lot of time for the notion of raising awareness for it, but there are elements of his plan, which I feel are either too naive at best, or at worst ignorant and patronising.
In this instance, I am not sure which is the case, perhaps lets err on the side of naivete. But to cross to France, and once there to realise actually not many people speak English, and they all think you’re a freeloading backpacker…? Yeah, that’s a problem.
So Saoirse and his friends, after some soul searching, gave up. And bought tickets to come home. Oh dear. Once back in Blighty though, our man has a change of heart, buoyed by the encouragement of his friends, he confesses his sins, and renews his vows, he will continue his pilgrimage, but first he will walk around the UK…. oh and learn French.
Assuming Saoirse stays true to his plans, and in a year or so heads back over to the continent, I am hoping that he will have taken the trouble to consider wide cross cultural communication issues, not everyone speaks English or French. Some borders are not crossable legally without a purchased visa too, something else to overcome.
As much as I support his principles, and agree with the basis on which he wants to do this pilgrimage, I fear this is not going to work. The reality is that in some ways the French are right, he is just another freeloading backpacker. He is depending upon gifts from well wishers rather than trading skills and so on for his dinner. Moreover the food he eats is produced as part of the global economy – it is not so easy to opt out of the system. That’s why it is ‘the system’.
There are many who make prophetic statements, and I hope there always will. But this one has a number of problems which I fear will not do the philosphy of freeconomics much good.
If you want to read what the man himself has to say, go here.
One thing I’m unclear about though, and it would be good to get someone elses take on this, is he saying he did get a free ride over the channel to France? Or did his friend’s mum pay for it? I found that part a little confusing.