The world is shifting. Not the world as a planet, but the world as a society. The status-quo may not have been ideal. We all enjoyed giving it a good kick every now and then, but at least you knew where you stood. There was left, there was right. There was socialism and there was capitalism. Tick a box and join your crew. Easy as pie.
Last week, while casually conversing with my co-workers, I accidentally cruised into the “Black Pete”-discussion again. I tried to change it’s course, tried to keep it short and friendly, but in the end I found myself exactly where I didn’t want to be. But as I had promised myself (and have declared openly on this blog) I will not be running from socially uncomfortable discussions without having planted my (more moderate) opinion for those around who may still be open for it.
After my little chat had died off into an uncomfortable “agree-to-disagree” truce, I took a sticky note and wrote down the following sentence to remind me to blog about this later on:
To maintain and protect our friendly, open-minded, “everyone-is-welcome” society we must incorporate an element of intolerance (as a guard dog?) to keep out the (truly) intolerant
I remember we used to say Holland was one of the most tolerant places on earth. We used to pride ourselves in this. I think we still do. Even last week I read this article naming the top 5 women-friendly cities of the world and Amsterdam was right there at the top, saying:
Amsterdam, It’s not only woman-friendly, it’s everyone-friendly – gay, straight, old, young, black, white, Asian…
That’s great! Or does it only show me how messed up the rest of the world really is….?
So now I’ve got my brain all in a knot and my thoughts fighting eachother in cartoon-style cat-and-dog hustle and bustle. Because let’s be honest… Isn’t tolerance kind of strange word to be proud of? It doesn’t imply acceptance or inclusion. I think we would have quite a hard time looking ourselves in the eye and declaring in truth that we are open and welcoming as a society. And then again, tolerance is a good start, I guess.
So then I ask myself:
How active do we have to be in including outsiders into our society?
How protective should we be of our culture (and thus, how open to intercultural exchange)?
And then, finally the question that has gotten me most confused:
What if our inclusiveness allows intolerant elements to blossom and in the end threaten our very foundations?
In the ideal world I would have hot chocolate and sandwiches being served at our borders and let new comers tell us their story so we would know how best to assist them in finding their feet in our little flat nation.
But what if the newcomers take our hot chocolate but make us out for fools behind our backs?
How well do we expect people to integrate into our society?
What elements of their culture do we allow and of which do we disapprove?
And even if we disapprove, what then?
Do we kick them out?
Do we put them through brain wash programs so they learn to think like us?
That’s bloody creepy! So many questions and I don’t have any acceptable answers yet. And even if I did, it’s not up to me… or is it?