Sunday morning 10 am; February 2017. I woke up and had my usual routine. Fresh coffee in the mug, sit in front of the office, a ham & cheese toast for breakfast and then open my PC to read the news. I have been doing the same routine every Sunday for more years that I can remember. Thrilled to be up-to-date with everything around the globe, learn some potentially good news, comprehend the evolutions of the political stage, I contemplate about serious issues. Enjoying myself being wired with reality. The power of the age of information.
This Sunday was a little bit different, however. First news on every site was the attempt of Trump to reintroduce his recently banned Immigration Law, known widely as the “Muslim Ban”. As I started reading, it struck me; I could not recall when was last time that I read some encouraging news. Could I be exaggerating? Could I be just wrong? Maybe I was discouraged by the scenery we are forced to live within during the last years.
But no. This was not the case. I had another sip of coffee. And I realized the ugly truth;
In the age of Brexit, Donald Trump, Putin, fake coups by Erdogan, Marine Le Pen, Bebe Grillo, the huge Recession, Euroscepticism, the common group on every one of the above is one:
The moral waterfall that our society has undergone
How many times during the last years the exact incident which deemed impossible to happen did indeed happen? Almost every time. The Greeks cannot vote for no. The British cannot vote for exit. Trump cannot take the nomination. Trump cannot win the elections. Renzi will not lose the referendum. And now we say Marine Le Pen won’t win, it is impossible. Well, honestly, I would not bet not one single penny on her opponent to win.
What we have failed to realize as a society is that the unacceptable has become the new normal. The insulting has been regular. Hate is being regulated and even promoted. And this is because of us. The patterns have changed, the norms have been violated and altered and the new ones who have unfortunately prevailed are characterized by the word protectionism.
Let’s face it. Trump is not the issue. Brexit is not the issue. All the worrisome incidents that have taken place are not the main issue. It is the force that drove them to happen. It is the people, that seem confused by the amount of freedom that has been granted and attempted to be promoted worldwide. Freedom is power of course. And now people seem to be denying this power, not knowing exactly what to do with it and opting to return it to politicians with a more fierce and strict agenda. I am afraid that people could be afraid of values such as freedom. Cause with freedom comes responsibility.
Gender equality. LGBT respect. Religion neutrality. Refugee asylum. Time bombs in the hands of the planet’s leaders. And what did we choose to do as societies? Tell them to press the button.
We, the western world, the so-called “advanced part of the world”, The cradle of democracy. EU and USA. USA and EU.
It makes me feel very sad and angry simultaneously. I really cannot understand how we got here. I mean, as an example, ISIS is using the weapon of religion to brainwash people to attack the “bad Christians” and what do we do? We insult their religion, mock them and then hate them. Think about it. First, Charlie Hebdo. Then, the ban of the Burgha and the Burghini. And then, as a final act, instead of trying to enlighten people that have been brainwashed during all their lives, children 12 years old who “fight in the holy war”, instead of embracing them and helping to bring change, what do we do?
We bomb them with drones. We hate them. We forbid entrance to the refugees who seek asylum. And then we vote politicians who are dangerously close to the far-right wing to govern us and make those “harsh decisions that we want to be done by people who have the guts to do it”.
This example says everything.
I really do not know what needs to be done for the world to recover from their wounds. I do not know how can I respond to people that say and support strongly that “democracy is overrated”. I do not know what to do about even friends of mine that are prejudiced against gay, Muslim or anything else that is just simply different.
I just repeat the same thing; different is not bad necessarily. We have high education. We are introduced to an incredible amount of information. We can use all this tool to promote values that have actually helped our society grow exponentially the last century.
- I am born as a member of the EU and I enjoy just traveling around Europe, knowing new cultures, exchanging ideas and having privileges unknown to the previous generation. Please, do not take this away from us the millennials and the Generation of 1990s-2000s based on xenophobic obsessions.
- My two best friends are gay and lesbian respectively. They could be free when they just spoke to people about it. I am honored to have witnessed this. I love them and I do not even care what they want or prefer sexually. It changed nothing for my life when they went out in the open. But it changed everything for them.
- Finally, last week I had a haircut near my home in Brussels. It was rather late during the day so the only hairdresser’s I could find open was one in the so-called Arab neighborhood of the city. When the barber started cutting my hair, he asked me where I am from. I responded that I am from Greece. And then it happened.
He stopped, looked me in the eyes and told me “Thank you. You are the most beautiful people I have ever met. I was on the island of Lesvos last year, trying to get political asylum. I am Syrian you see. And even though I was on a foreign island, a poor island with almost no resources, the help and support that the locals offered me and my family was amazing. Thank you. I will never forget what you have done for me.”
I had a final sip of my coffee then, back at home, last Sunday. And I was smiling.
Maybe hope is not that far away as I thought