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Salaam Aleikum

By Willemijn Kemp – Salaam Aleikum

“Mankind of old faced absurdity, and escape this through religion. And today again, man faces absurdity; but how can he escape this time?”

Naguib Mahfouz in Adrift on the Nile

The week after the Paris attack I was invited as guest speaker at the Heliopolis University of sustainable development in Cairo. Due to the negative and downwards spiral we all tumble in because of the current global circumstances and dynamics I decided to start one of my courses with some explanation of what is happening in Europe nowadays.

The outcome of the first round of the elections in France and the difficulty of being a Muslim in the same country emphasize the importance to start, maintain, strengthen the dialogue with each other. The only way to develop mutual trust is to get to know each other and learn that differences are not scary, but enrich society.

Today’s problems are as old as mankind. Today’s wrong decisions have been made for the umpteenth times as well. The only solution for current global troubles is to believe and trust in the goodness of yourself and the other. Again and again, even if your trust is tested through disappointment. This is the only route towards a future, which has a future for humanity. Other routes offer nothing but death.

I planned to write the story for the course in Egypt on Saturday the 14th of November. This turned out to be the day after the Paris attacks… It changed my mind about the introduction. Why? Because when we look to the world from a global perspective as we do, it might be of use for mutual understanding to share something about the status of Europe nowadays.

From that day on Europeans started to realize that today we already live in a different world. Contrary to the risen consciousness in Egypt that the world has changed, in Europe we have tried to continue to live the way we have done for decades. People act as if there is a transition coming, instead of already happening. As if change is still behind the borders of Europe. But the borders are not clear enough so we built ourselves fences, for we have to keep changes out of our backyard…

Of course there are quite some persons more or less aware of global developments effecting us all. Who are not afraid to lend a hand or try to support this developing consciousness in another manner. For the past half year I have been working with our Dutch former prime minister Ruud Lubbers. We talk about his concerns regarding to climate change. In the Netherlands, in Europe, in my view, still reasonably few people realize climate change hurts all of us. In Egypt people experience it at first hand. For instance heavy rainfall in Alexandria or drought in the south of Egypt.

The second issue that I want to address briefly are refugees. Even though most of the people move within the boundaries of their own countries…

Refugees 1

And we do not talk about millions entering Europe… in contrary to other countries

 

Refugees 2Refugees3

We are building ourselves fences. Only half a century ago we cracked down fences on the same places. In my view it is not about keeping refugees outside.

It has to do with an underlying urge to deny the global challenges we have to face. Together. It has to do with the fact that most Europeans do not know what to do with changes. Our current Dutch government deliberately undermines the European rules for support to refugees in order to ‘serve’ the right wing of voters and in doing so make sure the leading party will win the next elections in 2017. In this respect I feel ashamed for my country and for being an European.

We have to start to live with the fact that together with globalisation in markets, in mobility and communication technology globalisation comes in challenges as well! For we are all one. With each other, with nature, with the earth. So we have work to do. To face the challenges together. Not with divide and conquer techniques, not by spreading a message of fear or live this fear. Those ways are not solutions.

Our biggest challenges are inside of us. That is where the real jihad takes place. We have to be or become examples of hope and unity, of inner strength and integrity. Expressions of love for the earth and all its living beings. And for people who believe an expression of love for our Creator.

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