One of my favourite quotes comes from someone I meet in my first year of University. He was there on an exchange in Canada, we meet each other and added each other on Facebook. As he graduated back home in Europe, he posted a rather interesting post.
“We are a new generation of students/employees, living on the fast lane, travelling between timezones, having friends and significant others on the other side of the globe. For us borders are an old fashioned concept. We are the children of globalization. We see the good in each others culture and customs, we don’t judge, we accept, we adapt. Maybe we are the future. A future free of wars and diplomatic tensions. We might not have realized this yet, but we live the life our forefathers worked so hard for…Or maybe these are just crazy thoughts of a sleep deprived man…” – His post
When I saw this quote I could not help but to feel proud of the world we were creating. I thought my gosh he is right. I love learning about new cultures and growing up in a different culture than my parent’s I learned to take the best of each, recognize the failures, challenge them, combine them, celebrate the good parts, celebrate the wins, adapt, and most of all love them.
It is astounding to me that within a couple of years of reading his statement I would hear in the news that a political figure was shot in the head for being pro immigration here in Germany. And then a couple more months to hear that this past week in America a full stadium would chant: “Send her back!” talking about an American citizen. Send her back where? The land where her parents where born? Because let’s be honest SHE IS HOME.
This is perhaps one of my greatest fears come true. Through out my life I have encounter single cases of uneducated and closed minded people but never in such a scale. It never surprised me because let’s be honest for a moment. No matter in which country you go to, it is human basic instinct to fear the unknown and what we don’t understand in order to survive. But I thought that we had become more evolved as I also meet even more people who are opened minded, who cared to educate themselves rather than be driven by fear of the unknown and classify people by the stereotypes.
If we went by the simple stereotypes that we see on TV then this would be an extremely sad world. All we would find would be the negative. But I’ve learned that generally TV and news tend to show the worst because it is what sells. If it’s a good news story it cannot be longer than 1 minute and 15 seconds because then people get bored and change the channel. Crazy right? But that is a statistic. That’s a hard fact to swallow.
Here is another one. No one culture is perfect. Humans are not perfect. I’m not perfect. But at least i’m trying to be a better person each day. But I’ve come to learn that if we open ourselves to the possibility to look for the good rather than focus on the bad we can co-exist and strive. Some of the greatest discoveries have been when there has been a mixture of cultures. When we have learned from each other rather than when we have attacked each other.
World wars, civil wars, wars, extremism, genocides, ethnic cleanses, a culture of racism, and a culture of classism does not happen over night. They brew and grow by stroking and manipulating fear.
There is a saying that says that you can gain power by fear. It’s been demonstrated a million times. They even sometimes throw it out on popular TV Shows. I know this is over and done with but if you’ve ever seen Gossip Girl there is a scene with Blair and Jenny. Where Blair tells Jenny: “You can’t make them love you but you can make them fear you.”
What Blair doesn’t know yet or has not learned it is that you may gain power by using fear in your enemy. But leading that way is dangerous because as soon as the other party does not have anything to fear/lose they will get out of under and destroy the other person so they don’t have to live in fear again. While leading with love and caution creates loyalty and a way more effective system.
I know it is more comfortable to stay in with what we have learned and our comfort zones. It is easier to stay quiet and not be uncomfortable by touching controversial topics. It is easier to say it is useless, or a waste of time, or that it doesn’t matter because they are radicalized and won’t hear anything anyways. It is easier to say it will pass, so there is no point in doing anything. This is nothing new. Ruth Bader Ginsburg said once: ” Rabbi Alfred Bettleheim once said:’ Prejudice saves us a painful trouble, the trouble of thinking.'”
I have meet many people of different countries and I can tell you one thing, if you look pass the stereotypes and see the person for who they actually are, one will see there is not a one mold fits all. So take a chance and respectfully discuss and try to find common ground.
Because what I’m seeing right now cannot be better illustrated than by a quote from Erwin Griswold in On The Basis Of Sex, : ” [you] are deciding what kind of country, what kind of society [you] want [your] children and grandchildren to grow up in. You make sure the [world] sees what’s at stake is [your] family.”
I know it’s hard to speak up. I know it is more comfortable to think of this too shall pass. Nothing like WW2 or anything that bad can happen again. However, I’ll leave you with this quote.
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”- John Stuart