Radically thinking as a species

“What would change the direction of today’s civilisation? We must develop a new understanding of the true purpose of our existence on this Earth. Only by making such a fundamental shift will we be able to create new models of behaviour and a new set of values for the planet.”
Vaclav Havel
Eroles Project 2016 is about to start. This year the topic of our programmes,borders, tries to respond to the humanitarian decline of our system. The focus could be understood as distant and separate from last year’s topicclimate justice,where we raised awareness and created actions in the run up to the United Nations Climate Talks (COP21). But for usbordersis strategically chosen. There is no way we can address todays urgent problems if we do not see the fundamental links among them.
The exploitation of the earth, of migrants and of unpaid care work (mainly undertaken by women) are the casualties of a system based on consumerism, short term results, competition and “power over”. The effects of climate change and the war on resources will maintain if not increase the influx of people forced to leave their homes. This will not stop unless there is mass reflection (and action) on the implications of capitalist culture and its core beliefs that our behaviour is not inherently responsible for today’s climate and migration crisis.
Moreover this core belief also influences how we act as NGOs and civil society. Both aid work and development have suffered from a colonialist, hierarchical, assistentialist strabismus, due to a lack of deep reflecting and understanding of root causes of problems and a inherited obsession with symptoms.
After my career with the Red Cross and my time in Calais this year I feel ready to begin hosting and facilitating this summer’s programmes. Keen on enquiring with other participants into these questions that involve both looking inside myself and around me.
I’m reading, researching and grounding the experience before the first course begins. I go through webpages of NGO´s, movements, reports, articles…searching for something that calls my attention. Something different.
In my search I come across a piece of writing by Elodie Francart. I met her during PlanB for Europe where she was speaking about her experiences with the Welcome refugees Network in Brussels.
Puta Europa is the title of Elodie´s article, Elodie´s shared experiences at Idomeni, Greece.
Puta Europa is the anthem of Europe´s failed humanitarian duty, and human responsibility. Reading her article my stomach contracts, I feel the rage of both Elodie and Abood, my body experiences the symptoms of their frustrations, their sadness, their anger.
Abood ripped of his sovereignty. I crumble to Aboods fragility of body and mind, about to collapse. Incapable of understanding what is happening to him, around him. My mind blanks, jaw tenses, animalistic, my body is ready to react, a response of that amount of unfairness cracking myself.
I feel Elodies frustration in my throat as she unravels her thoughts, what do I do!?? Incapable of understanding how can we have reach this level of inhumane behaviour.
What are the core beliefs that we behold as a civilization that produces this type of treatment? A banal evil that is reflected in all of us, the police border, the politician, the compassive(1) majority letting this happen, our inherited learned helplessness.
Our core values dismantled? A value system hijacked by the premise of separation. A tremendous fear attaches to our bones, fear of others, the different, the less, fear of scarcity, fear of myself, fear fear fear. Fear because in separation we are alone.
A paradigm of thought taken over by economic neoliberal philosophy, where more for me is less for you, where profit now and soon leads to a short term, linear, narrow ways of acting. These are the roots upon which our civilisation stands today. Is this what we have become?
It is not exclusively European, it is not exclusively in the DNA of politicians, lobbyists, bankers… It is in the marrow of our skeleton as a society. I feel it too, in me.
When we begin to separate ourselves from that which we are, we immediately open the possibility of losing our sense of innate responsibility, our kinship to existence and to others.
But there is more to our way of understanding what it is to be human. I feel also the non separation of indigenous cultures, and the interconnectedness of our buddhist brothers and sisters. “It is said that we are placed on the earth (our Mother) to be the caretakers of all that is here. Because we are a part of Creation, we cannot differentiate or separate ourselves from the rest that is.”(2)
I feel my body changing and my soul too as I experience the pain of Elodie and Abood. I feel the wound of hatred, racism, colonialism, violence that my generation is enduring, my brothers and sisters in Eritrea, Syria, Afghanistan, India, Somalia, EEUU, Europe… The wounds on those who are attacked and the wounds of those who are attacking, as they make us all bleed.
I feel also the compassion, the love, the friendship and care.
And I wonder how many generations(3) will feel the wounds of today´s egoistic foolish political decisions, a bit of money here, votes there, a trace in the land that once I called my country…
I wonder how much it takes to shift from separation to union, from short term immediacy to seventh generation thinking. From thinking as a country to radically thinking as species.
(1) Compassive, a word to name an increasing phenomena, when people feel compassion and empathy but remain utterly passive in its actions to change the situation.
With gratitude to Elodie Francart for taking the time to speak with me and share her experiences of working in Idomeni. Her article Puta Europa can be read on facebook.