We’re in this together

26 Jul

I’ll admit it: deep inside I sighed with relief when the man behind the cruel attacks in Norway turned out not to be a Muslim fundamentalist, but a self-proclaimed crusader. And I was not the only one. “Everyone immediately thought it was an Islamist attack, they pointed the finger at us”, a Moroccan Norwegian told Al-Jazeera. Right after the breaking news came in, terrorism experts were ready to share their theories. Norway was supposedly on Al Qaeda’s black list, because of a pending extradition of an Iraqi Mullah, the publication of the Danish cartoons and the Norwegian troops in Afghanistan.
It made me think of that day in May 2002, when I was in Cuba, on the phone to the home front, hearing about the murder of Dutch populist Pim Fortuyn. “Don’t tell me it was a..” “No”, my mom said. “His name is Volkert”.
Two years later I got a call while I was living in Tunisia. “Have you heard? Theo van Gogh has been stabbed to death!” And again, that same question. It wasn’t.. was it?
Polarisation is a dangerous poison. It turns people into monsters. Hopefully, tomorrow’s leaders of the Utøja generation will have enough antidote to meet the future with an open mind. Without fear, without hate, without poison.
Last week I met with Dutch youth throughout the country for a project. We talked about their dreams, hopes and the state of affairs in our country. What they’re proud of? That there’s room for everyone in the Netherlands. Even though they see an increase in fear for “the other”, the vast majority of the kids I spoke are not worried about our future. Multicultural society? No problem! “We’re in this together, anyway” , said one of them. Indeed, we are.

2 Responses to “We’re in this together”

  1. Lynda July 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    Heel goed gezegd en prachtig geschreven!
    Mijn complimenten!

    • kirstenvandenhul July 27, 2011 at 9:55 am #

      Hartelijk dank Lynda!

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