we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
From 'The Mower' by Philip Larkin
These are the last lines of a poem that has a hedgehog dying in a mower. I couldn't bear to post more of it. I just hate it when animals die, even fictional ones.
(There's a story, my grandfather told me once, in which he and I walk on the streets of Rotterdam. I imagine us holding hands, though the story doesn't say so. I am six year old and I ask him: "Grandpa, why do people hurt animals?" He is of course from a practical, survivalist generation and answers that if I want to grow I have to eat meat. To which I said: "Later when I'm grown up I'll be boss of the world and I'll make sure no one hurts animals."
I tell this story now as a joke, how I want to become boss of the world. But in truth, it's not a story about dictatorial tendencies but about hating to see animals suffer. And yet I stil eat meat.)
All this just to say...
We should be kind to each other. Things are spinning out of control so fast. It seems that in the US, in the Netherlands, in Great Britain as a white person you can either be a racist or a traitor. Really, are these the only two flavors? And since when is it treason to want people of all colors (and of all natures and of all religions) to have the same rights? Both the US, the Netherlands and England have long democratic traditions - how is it treason to want to improve your country and make it true-er to its credo?
Then again, racist is a term that shuts down the conversation as well. True, lots of people on that side of the discussion are racist or at least they say racist things. But this week I read a conversation between a British father (Leave) and son (Remain) in which the father pointed out that lots of people have real problems with immigration. Because cheaper labour means, well, cheaper labour and thus, lower wages. I think that's a valid concern. For everyone, because lower wages affects immigrants as well. Are we really ok to have a second-class citizenry (of any color) that has less rights, less money?
Kind We should be kind to each other. If we really mean it that only love can conquer hate, that must be more than just a command to the people who we think are wrong to stop hating. Then we must love the people we hate. In my case, that means I have to try and not hate racist people and see them for what they are: people who say or think racist things. Things that they think or say but that do not, necessarily, define them.
(Also, an interesting piece in Dutch, about how taking each other to task doesn't really help).
We should be kind to each other. We should listen and try to see that we, each of us, is more than the color of their skin, or their opinions. We are more than the label others (and we ourselves!) so greedily use to pin us down. I am more than my skin, more than my nature, more than my opinion. I am 32 flavors and then some.
And so are you.