A world of victims

Saturday 6 February I went to a congress about human rights, globalisation and development, organised by the Student Association for International Relations (SIB). Tariq Ramadan gave a very interesting lecture. At one moment I thought: I am glad that I live in this time, that I can hear his lectures. What he is saying is new, he is a special philosopher. His lectures help me to develop my thoughts. I thought of Levinas who was glad to be there at the time when Heidegger gave his lectures in Freiburg. Heidegger was also different from other philosophers at that time. He came with a new vision. It would have been nice to hear lectures from Aristoteles, Spinoza or Sartre. I was also too late to be present at a lecture from Levinas. But for Ramadan it's the right time. Maybe his ideas are not that interesting as pure philosophy, but I think they are important in the field where philosophy, religion, society and politics come together. He probably doesn't belong in the historical list of great philosophers, but for me personally his ideas are important.

It is strange that there is so much criticism and suspicion towards Ramadan. When you see on the internet how many times Ramadan is called a wolf in sheep clothes, speaking with a double tongue, you start to think that it must be true, if it's said so often. But I think it's not true at all. Ramadan said before that a good Muslim is an invisble muslim, for islamophobes. Ramadan is not invisible at all. The fact that Ramadan is a clearly visible and outspoken, that alone is enough to make islamophobes afraid of him. His ideas are not extreme. In his lecture from last Saturday he hardly spoke about the Islam. He is not obsessed by the Islam, as opposed to the islamophobes that criticize him.

Below I will give a summary of what Ramadan said at the SIB congress:

Respecting human rights means to protect the dignity of human beings. This implies on the one hand rights and on the other hand responsibility / obligations. Nowadays there is too much an emphasis on rights and too little on the responsibility to protect the dignity of human beings. The idea of universal human rights is a complicated issue. What is considered universal depends on the notion of man. Is it a white western heterosexual man or a black African lesbian woman, for instance?

Between a believer who believes in one God who created all humans and an atheist who only trusts human reason, an agreement is not possible. This can be compared with a mountain. We can agree about the values at the top, which are truly universal, but we use different routes to reach the top. A dogmatic mind expects us to take all of the same road towards the top. We need an attitude of humility: I know that there are other routes to the top than my own, I respect that. Human rights have to do with power, with the use of words, a dominant discourse. People who have no power cannot protect their rights. It also has to do with trust. We need to show humility, respect, to be consistent and to be self-critical.

We live in a world of victims. People are afraid of immigrants, afraid of violence, they consider themselves as victims. A world of victims means the end of human rights, because people don't take responsibility for their actions. How can we nurture a sense of humility towards the truth (we don't posess absolute truths)? How can we stimulate people to take responsibility to be active citizens who implement their values? We consider ourselves as victims of "the other". This leads to polarisation of "us versus them". When these sentiments arise, populist parties become more popular. This is an ideology of emotions / emotional politics.

We need good education to teach children ethics. We need an intercultural coming together, to take responsibility for our future. Philosophy, spirituality and religion can nurture our minds with ethics and a sense of responsibility. Education can tell children that they are responsible for who they are and what they do. Serve yourself and serve your community. If you don't do so you can be economized by your fears and by other people, you become victimized. Martin Luther King had a dream, but he didn't only dream, he also acted. And we need mutual trust. People create virtual walls around themselves. The most dangerous jails are the ones of which you don't see the bars.

It's not that there are no victims in the world, but to nurture a victim mentality is another thing. We can nurture a sense of responsibility: "Ok, you are victims, but you can strive for justice." However, we should not be obsessed by justice, because then we become victims of our own obsession.

Show compassion for yourself and others, forgive yourself and others for mistakes. We need a philosophy of pluralism. In te political debate we should be at the same time humble and ambitious, humble with regard to values and absolute truths, and ambitious with regard to changing the world. We are responsible for changing our mentality. This is what I expect from social movements.

Here you can watch the discussion.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?