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Leon McCarron: If I Ruled the World

Leon McCarron: If I Ruled the World

Adventurer Leon McCarron travels the world on bike, foot and boat, aiming to tell the stories of people and places that rarely get a platform. His book The Road Headed West is available now.

If I Ruled The World...

...I’d redistribute wealth to ensure basic human rights for all

My first move would be a classic Robin Hood manoeuvre—take from the rich and give to the poor. On my travels, I’ve seen a lot of poverty in places such as Cambodia and also in Iran because of trade embargoes. When you put these restrictions on a country, it rarely affects the people at the top—it affects the people in the rural areas out in the mountains. I’d remove the governments and rebuild them from the ground up.

...I’d revamp the traditional mentality of careers

I think the “go to school, go to university, get a job and work until your 65” concept is out of date. The whole system needs a shake-up. The world is very different to what it was 20–30 years ago. There are new ways to make a living and we have different needs. We need to take our focus away from chasing wealth and look at our skills and what we can do to make a positive change. Happiness is undervalued and I think it’s important to challenge ourselves and do something unpredictable. I had this dream that I wanted to cycle across the US and make a film about it, and the bravest thing I’ve done was leave a secure job at home and go and do it. I had £2–£3 a day to live on for 14 months, but it was the greatest decision I ever made. 

...I’d ban advertising 

The older I get, the grumpier I become with endless ads on television forcing cars, soap and watches down my throat. When I walked through the Empty Quarter desert, the best times were those when I was surrounded by nothing and completely free from the man-made world. It’s a rare privilege. 

...I’d implement an adventure school 

All the skills I have in life have been learned on adventures, from how to fix my bike to finding a bear outside my tent in the middle of the night. It taught me a lesson in complacency. Running, hiking, cycling and camping is great for the mind, body and soul. It forces us to face our fears and embrace them. As a final test, after adventure school, everyone would have to survive 48 hours on their own in the wilderness. Once you passed, you’d be released into the real world. 

...I’d get rid of coins

Coins really annoy me. They fill up my pockets and fall out when I sit down. I’d scrap all coins and stick to notes—or, better still, plastic. Money is a great transporter of germs, so we’re better off phasing it out. I enjoy collecting notes from each country I visit, but I think I could make a compromise. 

...I’d abolish petrol-burning cars

Bikes are much more fun. Big cities in this day and age aren’t designed for navigation by people; they’re made for cars. This needs to change—bike lanes and footpaths should take precedence. I saw a lot of people travelling by camel on my adventures, but I’ve never really got on with camels—they’re too grumpy, they don’t listen and they spit at you. I think bicycles are the most efficient and most enjoyable method of transport ever invented.   

...I’d retire to a cave

People don’t know how to be on their own any more; they don’t know how to walk from one place to another or wait for a bus without checking their phone. I’m quite a sociable person, but I think there’s a lot of value in spending time alone—it gives us space to find out what we really think about things. We don’t have much opportunity to do that now because we have cut that thinking time out of our lives and spend it in front of screens instead.

Watch Leon in Action...