Posted by Peter McCormack on Jun 01, 2018

Journalist and Former Hostage finds the Value of Humor!

“I might be one of the only people to have taught yoga to Somali pirates.”
A former resident of Redondo Beach, author and journalist for The Guardian and der Spiegel, Michael Scott Moore was held hostage by Somali pirates for 2 years and 8 months (977 days) from 2012 to 2014. Living in Berlin in 2012, he had been in Somalia researching for a book after reporting for der Spiegel on the trial of a group of pirates in Europe...
After 10 days of reporting, he was returning from dropping off a colleague at Mogadishu airport when he was ambushed by a group of a dozen gunmen in a “Technical” (a pickup truck armed with a machine gun). With his wrist broken and his glasses smashed, he was bundled into a waiting SUV, and spent the next 32 months captive in the Somali desert, in urban prisons, and on a hijacked tuna-fishing vessel.
“How can I find humor in that?
Well, a sense of humor certainly helped!”
Michael took some of his approach to dealing with this catastrophic situation from the writings of American essayist Richard Mitchell, who said, “To be sick, or to suffer, is inevitable, but to become bitter and vindictive in sickness and suffering . . . is not inevitable.” Michael found he had to practice active detachment while imprisoned, avoiding any inclination to try to grab a spare machine gun and fight (“It would have been suicide”), and yet wondering at the apparent contradiction of his captors praying five times a day while practicing criminal acts.
“Practicing detachment made me susceptible to moments of joy. I learned that the power to survive is within person and does not come from outside.
Laughter can help to reduce pain.
Laughter can ease stress.
Humor has something in common with religion in that it requires stepping outside of yourself.
I had to forgive my guards in order to survive. ‘Being right’ is not the right way to survive.”
A ransom of 1.6 million dollars was paid by his mother and others, and Michael came home. He came home, he says, “to a new world of Muslim bashing that I could not identify with. If I had made that ‘Us and Them’ distinction when captive I would have picked up a gun and felt justified in doing it . . . but I would not be here now.”
The Desert and the Sea, Michael’s memoires about his experience, will be released on July 24, 2018.