I was one of the fortunate people to have witnessed the fall of the iron curtain when the wall came down between East and West Germany in 1989 and some months later saw the abolishing of apartheid in South Africa and the release of Nelson Mandela.
It was an epic and optimistic time in history when the “isms” of ideology seemed history. We seemed on the verge of creating a new world order of peace and a common humanity sharing the values of tolerance beyond ethnic and national boundaries.
The current political narrative however seems a gigantic step backward with nations walling themselves off and politicians running a rhetoric that reminds dangerously of the 1930s when minorities like the Jews were blamed for all the economic ills. And, we only know too well where that led to.
For too long have we been complacent, enjoying one of the most prosperous and peaceful periods in human history. There have been wars and there are still wars going on but its nothing compared to the two world wars, and the civil wars and religious conflicts of the dark Middle Ages that wrought havoc in Europe.
What transpires in the outer world is very much a reflection of the collective unconscious mind. We are at the moment at the crossroads where on the one side we have the future-orientated globally thinking, broad-minded part of society espousing mutual tolerance of diverse races, cultures and religions.
On the other side is the backward orientated “me-and-my-nation first” culture of bigots and nationalists, who have not understood that the very basis of our current prosperity is rooted in close trade and cooperation between nations. The losers of globalization are told their jobs have been taken by immigrants. The truth is that robotics and technology has been responsible for job losses. There is a perceived feeling of loss of culture and identity, interestingly enough often in areas that hardly have any foreigners.
Culture and identity is never static and always in flux . We pick up food, music, and clothing habits from many cultures. Even the major religions have integrated a mix of different beliefs and traditions.
Building walls is not the answer. The real challenge is to confront the inner walls built with the bricks of fear, the very distorted and colored perspective of the past and underlying prejudice.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant