Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Word

I can't help thinking about the word and how "the word" spoken or written empowers the speaker or the writer. I found myself talking about this and about the "glass wall" that exists in this society. It's a wall people like me come up against everytime we try to make connections.

It is sad to note that this disconnectedness exists even within the church which is the body of christ and which in my own mind means "family". However, I find myself wondering if the church body as I see it here, is indeed my family. I still don't know how far I dare to go in answering that question. At the moment, I still feel excluded, a stranger wandering around on the periphery, seeking for an entry into what I believe should be sanctuary for strangers like me.

It's a puzzle I keep picking away at. This culture, this society, and how tradition and belief seem so intertwined that it's difficult even for the most visionary people in a church to break through the "glass wall" of tradition and what has always been. I keep thinking that something has to give...something has to change in the way we look at each other.

And I go back to "words" and how they empower us and give us the possibility to break down the wall of glass. Words, in my experience have the power to shut people outside the circle of acceptance and brotherhood. Likewise, I believe that words can be used to open the circle to include, to accept and to embrace the rejected.

In my mind, I couple myself to that group of the population carrying the label "allochtoon" because what affects this group, affects me. Some try to differentiate and say the word is used to refer to Morrocans, to Turkish, Antillians and other races. In turn, I say, but this word is also used in reference to me. I may bear a Dutch passport but to those who see my brown skin and who hear my accent, my stumbling about for words when I speak, they think "allochtoon".

As my son came home one day and said to me..."mam, you are a vreemdeling (stranger)".

And yes, I am a stranger, a foreigner, an outsider in this society. Nevertheless, that does not mean I am of less value.

The Netherlands used to be known as a tolerant country, but I can tell you this, it is not what it appears to be. Beneath the surface there is so much resentment and intolerance. A great deal of animosity is directed towards the allochtonen. In a way, it's like sitting on a powder keg. Everyone is short tempered these days. If you look at a person in a way he doesn't like, you could just as easily find yourself the victim of aggression.

Something I fear : When the powder keg explodes what form will it take?


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