The vanishing hitchhiker
Phil Wyman has blogged about the vanishing hitchhiker here: Square No More: The Death of Hitchhiking, the Death of Trust?
Phil was talking mainly about the American scene, but I think the same applies here in South Africa, and in lots of other places. As I commented in Phil’s blog, I think an important reason for the death of trust is the increase in vehicle hijacking. Drivers see a hitchhiker and wonder if it is hitchhiker or a hijacker, decide to play it safe and drive on.
And like Phil, I think it’s rather sad.
In my youth I went to a Christian student conference at Modderpoort in the Free State, which must be one of the coldest places on earth (in winter). There was a priory of the Society of the Sacred Mission (an Anglican religious order) there, and one of the SSM Fathers was Victor Ransford. We were told that at one time he hitchhiked halfway round the country with a Christmas tree. One man who gave him a lift said “I wondered if you were Anglican or Roman Catholic, and then when I got close, I knew you were Anglican.”
“How could you tell?” asked Fr Victor.
“By your socks.”
At the same student conference one of the speakers was a member of another Anglican religious order, Brother Roger, of the Community of the Resurrection. He spoke on Pilgrims of the Absolute, and extolled the beat generation vision of a rucksack revolution, of the Dharma bums who would hitchhike from place to place to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out eternity.
I never really realised my ambition to be a Dharma bum, but it is sad to think that it is that much harder for anyone to realise such a vision nowadays, or at least the hitchhiking part of it. But some parts of the vision are still alive. There are people who have a vision of urban monasticism and similar things. In the mean time, let’s pray that the vanishing hitchhiker will reappear.