The first time I heard Slow Up by Jacob Banks, of his debut album Village, I had goosebumps and I may have had a tear slowly roll down my right cheek. It is thought-provoking and it brings up all of these memories and emotions of people that you connect with and makes you want to just call them up. It’s everything I love about storytelling – it’s power to connect us all because our condition is common.
What I learnt from a soldier,
every man is a son to a daughter,
and we only remember when we see the blood. – Jacob Banks
I often wonder how we switch from being these blissful young beings who have so much love for everyone to individuals that have the capacity to hate? Like what switch goes off in our psyche that blocks our ability to empathise or show compassion. I am Danish by birth however my family and I had ended up moving to Malawi when I was about 8, so I didn’t grow up in Europe post 9/11. However many people that I know did and let me tell you politics and media, and as a by-product society as well, changed subtly but swiftly and here we are in 2019 where just in the first 3 months of the year there has been a village of Muslims killed in Mali, mosques attacked in New Zeland while the Uighur and Rohingya Muslims are still persecuted for their faith.
Now for Özlem Cekic, Denmark’s first female Muslim poltician, her term in government was one riddled with death threats, harrassment, hate mail and restraining orders all because some people didn’t like their own perception of what she represented. So when her son one day asked her ‘But mum why does he hate you so much? He doesn’t know you’ it began a series of thoughts and events that led to her establishing Dialogue Coffee, where she began to have coffee with the same people who had sent her hate mail over the years. Why? Because each one of us have prejudices against those that we believe to be different from us. We demonize without realising it, however in order to build bridges we have to be able to reach past our opinions and have critical and challenging conversations and find our common humanity.
Genetically you and I are 99.5% the same, so it really shows how highly we think of ourselves that we could deem someone else’s existence right or wrong. Faith, colour, sexuality, ability etc, the absolute audacity and self-righteousness it takes for any one of us to look down at someone else for their collective choices as if we’ve ever audited ourselves. I believe that we all have the capacity for good and bad in us but we are inherently good. That our default settings are in a state that aligns with goodness, kindness, compassion and love, which would mean that everyone is redeemable.
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
Many times people will define someone by their actions, and if that was the right thing to do, would you be redeemable? This ultimately creates much shame in a person to the extent where someone sees themselves as a failure. You did something horrendous, but you are still a person who at their core is more similar to me than different…let’s step into each other’s shoes. This is what empathy is, and so wouldn’t it be so much wiser for us to lead our lives in such a way?
What kind of person will you be remebered to have been?