Coming from (post)conflict area is not easy – wars or conflicts make you a different person. You grow up faster; learn to live with less in life and with constant fear of poverty and loosing home. What is worst – you are learnt and expected to hate the Others - those on the other side… of the gunpoint, different then you with their habits, language, culture, history. If you don’t, you don’t fit in anymore in the concept Majority is serving you as the one and only possible. You also become the Other.
Hate is a strange thing. It sucks out all the energy out of people and makes them do things they would never think of. Conflict may last some time, but hate stays as it goes from generation to generation, embedded in your DNA. Wounds created by hatred never heal. And it takes you further, building your group/national identity as The Only One possible, above all the Others. You either accept it together with the pre-defined social norms of behaviour, or you are out.
It takes a lot of courage to stand up and resist to opinion Majority has created for society – whistle-blowers, “watchdog” activists are often facing serious problems, even death threats because of expressing their opinions about conflicts and Others. But sense of justice is very often stronger than fear. And this is how the change happens.
Understanding the differences is one of the ways to overcome hate Majority has built inside of you. Understanding that the Others are similar to you, pushed by their Majorities, society and system to hate You as well might be a start of a healing process.
In 2015, YEU will gather youth from (post)conflict areas of Balkans, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Cyprus to speak about peace-building, intercultural dialogue and struggle against all forms of hate speech in neigbouring regions.
By searching for a common understanding of human rights, including freedom of expression we will try to provoke the change of mind-set in (post)conflict areas.
We will travel to Vukovar, Croatia and Nicosia, Cyprus and try to understand how to prevent new Vukovar or Nicosia happening again to/in Europe. Or to the world. We will speak about human rights, hate speech and use methodology of theatre of the oppressed and prepare a Train of tolerance tour which will symbolically travel through ex-Yugoslavia countries provoking discussions and striving for social and mind-set change of youth regarding all forms of hatred and hate speech.
This one year process called “Excuse me, is this hate yours?” is supported by European Youth Foundation of Council of Europe. Interested to join it? Follow YEU Newsmail for more information.
Tamara Gojkovic, YEU Secretary General