Break the Silence
On the 12th of August, nationalists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia. During riots between right-winged supremacists and left-winged protesters, a woman lost her life. Being German, I'm confronted with the history of our country wherever I go. I have learned which role silence plays when dealing with fundamentalists, thrilled with dangerous ideas. We owe it to our history to not keep silent.
Now here's what I think.
We need to talk
Physical violence must not be the way we choose. Whenever a peaceful protest escalates in fights, burning cars or worse, it sustainably harms our community of peace-loving on our quest for equal rights. Violence must never be the language we speak, if alone to stand out against those haters, who use their physical strength to oppress.
Yes, it is quite a thing, to tackle bigotry with talk. But while there are people we can waste our breath on, we should bear in mind, that not all the fools who march with the alt right are bigots.
There are those who may not be smart enough to realize what and who they fall for; there are those who are not brave enough to stand up against their closest friends and family; there are those that are victims of systematic manipulation through their environment, teachers, parents, idols.
By turning our back on every single one of them, we push them further away from us and away from the chance to find a way out. We push the right winged together, strengthen their bonds and increase and confirm their feeling of injustice.
I think we need to talk.
There's this quite interesting paradox of tolerance by the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, which frankly says:
=A tolerant society must not tolerate intolerance, or the intolerant will eventually wipe out tolerance entirely.=
Sure thing. So we'll not going to tolerate fascism, but what is the point in shouting Nazis out? To be honest, this is not a very realistic thing to demand. Where do we want them to go? And where did they come from in the first place?
It is we who produced them. Our society, our politics, our neighborhoods that failed in communicating the right values, that failed while neglecting minorities and that failed while not caring about each other. Shouting Nazis out is like transporting our nuclear waste just across the next border, taking off any responsibility.
Now here is what I think will come closer to a realistic version of Nazis out:
We need to teach
Obviously, most damage could be prevented if we could teach our children right from wrong. Unfortunately, that is not everyone's intention. Cultural inequality is a tremendous issue in our schools, it's however not a big issue for politicians. While the upper classes benefit from this system, it is them who run the politics. This in turn increases cultural gaps.
We need to find a way to make our schools a safe place for our children to grow up. Not only physically safe, but safe for their minds and souls, so they are not poisened with fundamentalist and non-free thoughts that kill their creativity or racist ideas that kill their humanity.
We need to learn
It's sometimes hard to recognize a problem, it's however much harder to recognize the real root of problems. We're good at pointing the finger and blaming others, that's just the most easy thing to do but not very constructive. A better approach may be empathy; the ability to see and feel things with the others' perspective. It's something that can be learned; by observation, by asking questions and by listening. By taking the other serious and by not taking yourself too serious.
We need to endure
This is a battle and it's raging ever since the first days of the human race. It's not likely to we over tomorrow, so don't loose hope, thinking it's not getting better. There's just one chance and this is do it.