A World Divided

A few years ago I was visiting a castle in France when, all of a sudden, I had to witness a conflict between two small groups of what-looked-to-be-quiet, harmless pensioners. French is not my best friend but, among their violent exchange lines, I could identify and understand two name-callings which seemed quite brutal, accusatory and shameful under those circumstances : “sarcoziste” and “monarchiste ”.

I was shocked because up until today my opinion has been that our political beliefs or preferences shouldn’t define us. People can never be labeled or separated like this, based on the natural differences between them such as gender, race, religion, education, political beliefs etc. We cannot move around and have people call us “men” or “women”,whites” or “blacks” ,“muslims” or “orthodoxies” ,“graduates” or “undergraduates”, “basisti” or “uselisti” etc.

Someone’s true identity is established and should be judged by different accomplishments and values and the personal relationships between us should not be affected or corrupted by our temporary inclination to support one side of the story or another. I don’t think that we should put the blame of this generalized discontent or enmity on a certain political figure or group. Each of us is responsible for allowing somebody , the media or the “system” to use and abuse us or our rights. Each of us has the right and the obligation to make the right choices, promote the right values and make the right difference in their families, local communities and society...

So, as an educator, I am asking a few simple questions : how can peace and harmony be achieved with so much fighting and insulting? How can we love our country, our people, how can we appreciate and respect ourselves and the others when we don’t know who they really are? How can we understand their opinions when we are not ready to accept their different ways of thinking, feeling and acting? How can we cope with our lives, with the joys and gifts of the present if we are slaves to dehumanizing tensions and bad influences ? How can we ask to be helped by others when we refuse to help ourselves? How can we see the truth if we are blinded? How can we feel any love at all when we let anger, hate, hostility and anxiety control our hearts?

My conclusion is that in times of hope or despair, hatred and contempt cannot be the right attitudes. We have all learned about the benefits of tolerance and solidarity. So, instead of negative feelings and attitudes, let’s all remember to smile and hope and trust, if not for us, at least for God and the future of “the better angels” of this nation. Let's remember how to be proud and how to live together like a family, not like enemies. I know I don't want see any more pain. Do you?

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