In a world where I am not sure if and where I belong and a world that makes me cry more often recently, I am struggling to find positive thoughts to express myself… So today’s thoughts shared hopefully will help me be optimistic and cheerful again, maybe you too.
It has always been there; the belonging issue…especially the first couple of years in another country. My one foot was there and the other one was here. And trust me the two countries are very far from each other so the position was always very uncomfortable. Now, ten years down the line, things are better in my everyday life. I know where I belong. I don’t belong in geographical place; I ‘belong’ where my men are. But every now and then, a political incident, a statement in the press, a voting result and I am again hanging there not knowing where to go, where I am welcome and where not. Surely it is not only me. In current times, globalisation has been a constant presence in our lives. Look around you: surely someone in your family, or extended family or most probably you do not stay where you were born, or even if that is true, look at the goods around you…surely you enjoy a German beer every now and then (see? I changed the coffee/wine habit of past posts….), or a nice piece of sushi, and surely you all love tzatziki… (hmm hmm)…. So definitely, globalisation has hit us all somehow.
But before I go on about the issue of immigration, banning of people of certain beliefs, religions etc (because trust me, I am not going to be nice…), let us get back to the sense of belonging. So indeed learning to belong and adjust in your environment’s conditions is a crucial skill nowadays. But so is the skill of using your right and freedom to choice. This is something that has come back to my mind repeatedly in the last couple of weeks (and a bit before…yes yes during June –July last year…remember what happened then?). As much as I CHOOSE to be in a different country, that country can CHOOSE to not have me here, right? Oops, there is the issue again… So the two are connected?!?!?!
I am starting to put things in perspective slowly but surely… Everything that is happening in the world had to do with freedom of choice. Right… Two issues with that. One is when does my (yours, his…) freedom stop? I read a protester’s sign yesterday “No one is free when others are oppressed”. But then again oppression is a very subjective matter. My students might feel oppressed because in class they have to follow rules. As social beings thus, we have to follow rules and laws of the country we live in. We have the freedom to protest against things we don’t like in most countries…where real oppression does not exist (refer to the dictionary’s entry “dictatorship” – right or left - ) and we have the freedom to vote. Freedom, hence, has a lot to do with the majority rule that we need to accept and respect. Fine and well and I am so happy about this – I am a Greek remember? We invented Democracy…hmm…
So then why does the world end up in a mess so often? Choices…Choices…. How do we make our choices? Do we think as rational agents, as selfish brats, as striving for survival individuals or something else? When does the wisdom of a choice kick in someone’s life? Surely, Big boy did not have any choice in the extra curriculum activities we chose for him, or my Baby boy has absolutely no choice in which school he will attend. So it is something that comes after we become adults, right? But are we prepared for that if for our first at least 16 – 18 years of life, someone else makes most of the decisions? I always wonder if our education does indeed prepare adults that are compassionate, humane and kind. We are failing in that. Recently, voters - people decide who to vote, or about their own choices, without thinking of their fellow human beings (let me not go on about animals, the environment etc.). Our education systems fail to educate our kids to go and sit with the shy, weak child and ask “are you ok?”.
By no means, I am not saying that future adults should make all their choices in life based on others’ feelings; no not at all, all I am saying is that all choices and decisions should have an underlying motto “my freedom ends where your freedom begins”. In essence, then, we will elect leaders that will protect our human rights; we will run responsible businesses; we will fight poverty and hunger together. Each of us the way we can and with the tools we have. And before I am criticised for being in “pink cloud” again, it is the mentality that needs to be changed when we do business not the fact that we want profits. OF COURSE, we want profits…OF COURSE, we want salaries…OF COURSE we want money in our pockets and OF COURSE, I want to buy a new pair of shoes… But the world would have been different if we did that without hurting others.
And nobody should take this dream world away from me and my kids. The role models for that world are already out there. They are the heroes that speak out in words and actions in difficult situations. And yes in a sense, we need shitty (oops…) situations to have these heroes stand out from the crowd, to allow them to make a difference, and why not to help these exceptional humans to make the world a better place for ALL. Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Malala Yousafzai did not stand out while being happy, content and eating popcorn in front of their TVs. They stood out for their own freedom of choice against all odds during tough times.
Now I feel better…Now I feel stronger. I do not have many tools to help, but I have a bazooka in my hands. I educate people at work and I raise future adults at home. I aspire to see them building a world where everyone belongs, where everyone is as happy as can be, where no one has to worry about whether he/she will be allowed to come back home, where no one has to choose between seeing their dying mother or keeping their job, where no one has to escape war (because others are making money of it), where no one has to explain themselves and their beliefs and faith, where no one is automatically categorized as good or bad based on body characteristics, where everyone has real, true freedom of choice.
The rest of the world can be cynical, I choose to dream…