How to Fight against Fear, Hate and Division

photo: Barbara

If modern politics were a telenovela, it would definitely have lots of avid fans, but also sworn detractors, who would wish to live just to see its cancellation. Yet, all of them would agree that the plot is not by far predictable or uneventful. Indeed, what is happening in the last few years in our privileged microcosmos called the West, is both scary and thrilling in the same way a traumatizing horror film would keep you at the edge of your seat or make you want to protect yourself behind your pop-corn. As fascism – or rather far-right conservatism to put it mildly – emerges steadily in countries that used to stand out for their respect and love towards life and its thrilling diversity, a gloomy pessimistic futures seems to lie ahead.

The most hurtful repercussions of this phenomenon seem to be three. Starting with divisiveness, we are all unconsciously grouped into squads based on our beliefs on social and political matters. We prefer standing exclusively next to the like-minded ones and right opposite the ones we disagree with. We constantly, proudly and fervently claim that there are way more differences than similarities among us. We have no love to give, only rants in support of our beloved “ideology”. This is exactly where the second consequence of the current affairs arises: powerful hatred and the urge to scream at everyone that might provoke us. To top that, fear lurks around the corner and renders us inactive and unable to cause any change that goes beyond the social media.

photo: Barbara

It is especially when everything seems to go South, that unity among us gains in significance and makes us realize that what humans excel at is not just abusing the planet and all the species that reside on it, but also communicating with each other in the essential way of carefully listening to each other and understanding instead of nodding their head and waiting, until their partner finishes talking, so that they can start preaching. As utopian as it may sound, I do believe that there is good inside us, that will stop us from keeping to isolate ourselves from the rest of world and urge to step out of our bubble and love each other, work with each other, pour our souls into expressing ourselves through art, destroying borders, labels and “walls”.

So when you call your cousin to see how he is doing, start a conversation with him and try to understand why he thinks that refugees are ISIS fighters in disguise. Granted, it is hard, but it is a necessary step forward. The latter cannot be said about our beloved habit to congratulate ourselves on our identical beliefs and convince ourselves that we are superior and happy to live in our perfectly constructed bubble. Shaming each other because of our different beliefs or what we voted solely manages to drift us apart.

Warm-up at Voo Store, photo: Ana Santl

Another suggestion what you can do to fight against the hatred and division is to continue to do the opposite: Spread love and support. Last year on the height of the refugee crisis when it was the number one topic in the media so many people got involved, gathered donation, invested time in charitable projects. Even though the media has moved on now and we might be tempted to think we’ve done enough and the crisis is averted, it’s actually not true and we have to continue to do give our support. You can do this for example by donating for the #helpdonthate campaign that was initiated by Blogfabrik and that gathers funds to support smaller charity initiatives like Jugend Rettet, Give Something Back to Berlin or Start with a friend. Additionally, we compiled a list of supportive community projects for refugees and Berliners. Stil in Berlin organized the third warm up event a few weeks ago in the heart of Kreuzberg, where people will brought their warmest coats and shoes to help those in need.

As mentioned above, art is another powerful way to deconstruct fear and turn hatred into incessant fruitful conversations. Whether it is through painting, music, film, theater, literature, photography etc. art has the ability to alert and awaken us, show us different perspectives, move us and transform us into the best version of ourselves. Nowadays more than ever, artists have the invaluable duty to serve this purpose. See for instance the street art poet Barbara and her funny posters in the streets, or the hip-hop duo Pilskills and their new song Kalimba.

It goes without saying, therefore, that especially nowadays it proves to be unthinkable to be ignorant and shape opinions that are not backed by facts. It is our duty to question, to ask, not to take anything for granted, to stay informed not just about what our liked media outlets serve us on our silver news feed plater, but in a more rounded, multi-faceted manner. Nuit Debouit, for instance, is a social movement that started in France owing to the omnipresence of social injustice caused by state actions and managed to expand into various European cities creating the forum for civilians to discuss and exchange opinions on current social problems. DEMO is a youth movement started by a young journalist from Berlin aspiring to amplify democracy by education, connection and communication and the exchange of ideas through workshops, concerts, exhibitions and reading events.

As you can see, opportunities emerge constantly and vary. The last necessary ingredient our collective recipe needs is our will-power.

photo: Julia Seeliger / CC

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