November 07, 2015
In these times of encroaching nationalism, many people feel they can only be ‘one’ at the exclusion of the other. Duality and ambiguity are less tolerated, as people feel forced to explain and defend their stance. This is not just a phenomenon of the Balkans or other ‘wild’ areas; To the astonishment of many, in the run-up to the referendum in Scotland many felt uncomfortably pushed to show their colors. Also in Catalonia, we see a growing chasm between independistas and the rest who harbor varying opinions about their connection the rest of Spain (or Iberia, depending who you talk you).
Radical nationalism suffocates the public space where people feel safe to express themselves. Self-censoring rears it ugly head and people retreat to their private space for open dialogue. This is where the invisible apartheid starts, where people pull up fences and fester their antagonism entre nous. This is a slow process, often decades in the making, and it exceedingly difficult to reverse it as people start to accept this new reality as the only truth. Dialogue has become useless because people cannot relate to each other any more.
This is the big disease in Europe, the corrosive impact of tribal and ethnic politics on civil society and the European Commons. This is also what we have seen in embryonic form when we brought together Catalans and Spaniards. There was a gaping void and nobody managed to cross this as the room filled up with reproaches, myths and anger.
We have no illusions we can fight this trend heads-on. That is why we focus on the local community and the local economy. At this level we can build bridges, mobilize resources and show people they have a lot to gain from collaborating. Instilling a collective sense of confidence, achievement and autonomy is best antidote to the lure of blame and victimization.
So instead of just talk we want people to mobilize their talents and resources around a shared future perspective.
The essential challenge is to transform the isolation and self-interest within our communities into connectedness and caring for the whole
Peter Block, author
We truly think your money is well spent here. And if your grant is substantial, your are welcome to witness how it works.
“Food, at the moment, seems to be the only unifying force in this highly fractured place” Ottolenghi