A very cathartic weekend to you

By Marco De Angelis
By Marco De Angelis : Terror’s curtain of death spreads

How do you react to terror? A great part of me wants to give them as little attention as possible. They do not deserve my tears. I will not admit I am afraid. I will not let hate bleed into my heart, even though its poison is all around me. On the other hand I do not want to become indifferent. I want to feel and see and know it all, even though it is  so very tempting to close my eyes and (try to) forget.

The thing that keeps poking Mr Cynic awake in my mind every few minutes is the “pray for Paris”-campagne so many are supporting online. I appreciate its intention, but all the while I think: What good will THAT do??

By Marco di Angelis : The difficult path of tolerance.
By Marco di Angelis : The difficult path of tolerance.

Why pray? Religion is partly what got us into this mess! What do you think god is going to do about it anyway? He stood by while it happened and now you ask him to… to what? To heal the wounds? To give us the strength to carry on? You don’t need someone to GIVE you strength, you already have it. What you need is a kick up the ass! Or a hug… yes, maybe a hug is better…

And while we’re at it, why are you only praying for Paris? Shit is hitting the fan all over the place. If you think prayer is the solution, pray for Beirut too! Pray for the airplane victims in Egypt, pray for Baghdad, pray for Thailand. Hell, I don’t even know half of the places this stuff is going on…

So don’t fold your hands and trust some almighty cloud dweller to fix this mess. It’s up to you and me. Don’t let your thoughts be led by fear or hate. Do you feel any negativity towards your hijab wearing neighbor? Check yourself: what is this feeling based on; have you every actually spoken with her? Give it a try! Or just throw a smile in there. It won’t fix the world, but it might steer us away from this self fulfilling prophecy. It’s a small and easy gesture and I assure you it will do more good than your bedside prayer.

Also, let’s stop calling that group of hateful cutthroats “Islamic State”. They do not deserve to be acknowledged by this name. They are neither worthy muslims nor do they have or deserve an actual state. They are the Daesh. If there were a way to acknowledge them less, I would.

I don’t feel like predicting the future right now or finding any justification for last night. I clearly have no solutions for this either. So yes, this blog may have been a pretty futile undertaking all together and I apologize if you feel it was a waste of your time. I guess this is what they call catharsis.

I tolerate you. :) Happy now?

us-vs-them-295The 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

tolerance

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….?

fightSo 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?

brain-washingHow 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?