Tag Archives: Vreemdeling

Trans-ability and Identity and Political correctness

Man likes to put a label on everything; The last few years they have done very difficult about that. since the 1980ies politicians and several pressure groups have been doing difficult about certain names given. This made that today for mentioning certain groups of affected people we can not even use one singular word any more but have nearly to use a whole phrase to denote about whom we are talking. In many cases the word which were made because one word would have been offensive has now become a not to be used word itself.

Two poor disabled Tanzanians in Dar es Salaam ...

Two poor disabled Tanzanians in Dar es Salaam city on Eid day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some ideal examples is the word for a brown coloured person, once to be called ‘black’ than “neger” or ‘nigger’ than, ‘negro’, ‘negress‘ or ‘African/American/(European) black person‘, ‘negride’ or ‘negroid’ and when “kleurling” or ‘coloured’ was not any more allowed to be used people had to search for other ways to describe or talk about some one with an other skin colour or with an other tan.

The same for those who are not of the original place, which in the past could be called “non-locals” a “foreigner” or  “allochtoon” (“allochttones”), but that last word has become a jinx not to be used any more. Even “stranger” may not be used and some find “immigrant” also offensive for all those who enter now the country. (Nobody dared to use the old word “alien”, but perhaps it once could return again. – joke)

Today the problem also arises by people who have a certain disorder or a handicap. In English that may be an offensive word for denoting  what until now was called a ‘person with a physical or mental  disability’, but this may not be said either today. We can find already people who shiver  when the word “disabled” is used. As such one could say

 He lost his leg when he was ten, but learnt to overcome his handicap.

It was considered that when something happened to a person which caused to weaken a person or got him so gravely damaged, or had the person diminish, as in quality:

an injury that impaired hearing/seeing/walking

English: Handicap sign , Dryden, Ontario, Canada

Handicap sign , Dryden, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The handicap or impairment, disability, disorder, defect, ailment, afflictioninfirmity, disablement, for many was or is considered so negative that except affliction, they may not be used any more, and handicap may only be used for  the advantage or disadvantage in a sportsgame.

a contest, esp a race, in which competitors are given advantages or disadvantages of weight, distance, time, etc., in an attempt to equalize their chances of winning

or in Golf the number of strokes by which a player’s averaged score exceeds the standard scratch score for the particular course: used as the basis for handicapping in competitive play {The Free dictionary Encyclopedia on ‘handicap’}

Some people are against the words handicap and disabled. Some would take up the larger cause of having become “differently-abled” rather than being disabled. But that “play on words” has not been all welcomed, as some consider it offensive.

The question is for many is a person in the quality or state of being infirm. Infirmity implying that the person would be personal failing:  foible. Many start considering when speaking about a disabled person or some one in infirmity this would or should mean one considers that person like having something negative or bad; a negative or bad affection, ail, ailment, bug, complaint, complication, condition, disorder, distemper, distemperature, fever, ill, illness, disease, malady, sickness, trouble one does not want to be confronted with. and there lies the problem. It is more from the user of the word, the person looking at the person who is not like him, that we can see the issue being in the ego of that person, his selfishness not willing to come to be confronted with something which has a connotation with something negative or bad which also could come over him or her. It is more that when using such word it could become to him or her as well as a contagion, contagious disease; contagium, infection; attack, bout, fit, spell; debility, decrepitude, feebleness, frailness, lameness, sickliness, unhealthiness, unsoundness, unwellness, weakness; malaise, matter, pip; epidemic, pest, pestilence, plague.

We have come to live in a time and society where there is no place at all for feebleness and frailness, or infirmity. Physical weakness or debility, frailty is totally shunned. One does not want to see or to be confronted with people with a quality or state of being infirm; feebleness or weakness.

Those who use the words “differently abled” often see the terms “disabled” or “disability” as potentially hurtful or offensive. Today for many it is a taunting to use “Dis” which means “not,” and includes a negative look at some one or something. So calling someone “dis-abled” must mean that a person is “not-able” or even “unable to do anything,” “incapable of ever doing anything functional or useful or desirable either by others or by themselves,” and therefore, it is wrong to call people disabled. There are people who find we could talk about challenged, differently abled, or exceptional people, but for sure should never speak about impaired or incapacitated people, but they do not like the use of ‘disabled‘ either, though this was just a few years ago the clear preference in contemporary American English for referring to people having either physical or mental impairments, with the impairments themselves preferably termed disabilities.

more recent coinages such as differently abled or handicapable tend to be perceived as condescending euphemisms and have gained little currency. · The often-repeated recommendation to put the person before the disability would favor persons with disabilities over disabled persons and person with paraplegia over paraplegic. Such expressions are said to focus on the individual rather than on the particular functional limitation, and they are therefore considered by many to be more respectful. See Usage Note at handicapped. {The Free dictionary on ‘disabled‘}

De Kreupelen- The Cripples, Pieter Bruegel, 1568

Taking the “negative” term to mean a negativity over the whole line is what brings us in problems. Lots of people can not see the “dis” or “not” does not have to be a “non” over the whole line but can denote part of the matter, partly not able to do certain things, instead of not at all being able to do things. In Bible-translations the words ‘crippled‘ and ‘lame‘ came under discussion and like ‘maimed‘ they are not considered appropriate any more to be used. And many do not want to use the word ‘mutilated‘ either for damaged people. at the moment nobody has yet given objection to the word ‘bedridden‘, but with the amount of elderly bounded to the bed this can perhaps soon change.

All that what we call ‘political correctness’ is going to make life so much difficult. Why not call the things by their name and allow to have many synonyms be used by all people? It are those who see something bad in it who have a negative mind, and not the other way round.

Writer, dreamer, activist/organizer, and speaker/educator Lydia X. Z. Brown writes

Speaking from a purely objective standpoint, we as humans are all differently abled from one another. Some people are better at math than other people. Some people are better at public speaking than other people. Some people are better at cooking or even remembering to cook than other people. Some people walk and some do not, and of those people who do walk, not everyone walks in the same way. {How “Differently Abled” Marginalizes Disabled People}

This is something we do have to accept and have to live with. We as human beings do have to accept that we all may be different, though we are all created in the same image of God. In each of us is something which is a high quality and something of lesser quality. We have all our good and our bad points.

Today with the political correctness we can see that many have become afraid to use a certain word because some may come to implement an other meaning to it than they or some may become offended by the use of such word. By looking for a language that seems intended to give the least amount of offence, especially when describing groups identified by external markers such as race, gender, culture, or sexual orientation. No wonder the concept of political correctness has been discussed, disputed, criticized, and satirized by commentators from across the political spectrum and from the cultural and social field, because such looking for new words and doing away with accustomed words shall make it in the end impossible to just use one word or one term. Altering language usage can change the public’s perceptions and beliefs as well as influence outcomes but also contributes to the idea that one or an other word would be bad to use and has to be considered as offensive, and giving the idea to people that in the past those whoo used such a word had such twisted mind as the people who use that word today in the negative sense.

Those people who press to change the use of certain words are often people who themselves desire to eliminate exclusion of various identity groups based on language usage and or would love to target certain groups to reach their goal to exclude or include certain groups of people. We also may not forget that language also reveals and promotes our biases and that people are eager to make use of it to give their opinion over others.

Many people may forget that their word itself may be not the ideal word and would have a lot to be against it. that is proven by the words ‘neger, ‘niger’ and ‘negro’, when once this was seen as the more polite form to denote a dark skinned person it became a term of abuse and a nickname not to be used.

Today we see also that several people prefer to use the term “differently abled” for some one who does not look to have the same qualities as the mainstream citizen. The term “differently abled” used to refer to an individual disabled person is euphemistic. The intentions of the demander of another word may be polite or genteel. But often they do not manage with their mild, indirect, or vague term for one that is considered harsh, blunt, or offensive to find a resolute solution which can hold for many years. With the new term, proposed today we also find it is borderline cutesy and it diminishes the actual experiences of disabled people.

It suggests that the term disability should be uncomfortable and therefore should be avoided. What this does is further increase stigma against disabled people by discouraging discussion about disability and what it means to be disabled.

rightly writes an autistic and multiply otherwise neurodivergent and disabled, queer, asexual-spectrum, genderqueer/non-binary and sometimes read as feminine, and transracially and transnationally adopted east asian person of color from China (into a white adoptive family) person by the name Lydia X. Z. Brown, who also works to examine and challenge the privilege and power she holds as someone raised with middle and upper-middle class money privilege, a U.S. citizen and native English speaker, fairly light-skinned and mostly able-bodied (as hearing, sighted, and walking), raised in a deeply religious and engaged Christian community, educated in a private college and now in law school. She also has a fellow autistic activist/attorney who blogs at Silence Breaking Sound, and is mostly known in autistic/neurodiversity community for their work at the intersection of youth, disability, and queer/trans rights and justice.

Français : Tournoi Ultimate Fauteuil Handicap ...

Tournoi Ultimate Fauteuil Handicap International Nantes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wanting to put labels on everybody and on everything is something which has always been. Though in the past is was considered to be labelling people whilst now lots of people say they do not want to label people and therefore want to get rid of all possible connection of labelling.

using the term “differently abled” to refer to disabled people actually reinforces the idea that there is one normal way to be human — that there is one normal way to move, one normal way to communicate, one normal way to sense, one normal way to feel, one normal way to learn, and one normal way to think. It does not perform its intended purpose of suggesting that all people are different and that this is okay.

writes the author of Autistichoya.

R.H. (Rusty) Foerger who was born to immigrant parents in certain countries would be looked at with askance. Only because he was not originally belonging to that place where he lives know he would be looked at with disapproval, suspicion, or distrust. Raised by a widow since he was 15 months old after his father died in a car crash in rural Alberta he once more had a negative point for others when confronted with him. Over 30 years ago he met an East Indian woman with whom he serves as marriage mentors and teachers in their local church, where they have raised their now three adult children.

Having been been a lay pastor, teacher, missionary and mentor for over 30 years he recently retired after 33 years as a senior officer from the fire service, where, for most of his career, Rusty worked with families with children who set fires. (You can follow his writing on his blog called “More Enigma than Dogma” to explore “the enigma of our worth” and a prayer blog he curates titled, “Curriculum of the Spiritual Life.”

In his  previous occupation, on occasion he worked with burn survivors who would tell their story to allow students to emotionally grasp the outcomes of fire and burns gone wrong. He came to the conclusion that

Many burn survivors (survivors are adamant about not being called “victims”- since they continue to survive their burns) endure their burn injuries due to no fault of their own, but nevertheless have something to say about pain, burn prevention, and the permanent change to their lives. {Trans-ability and Identity}

In this day and age where we have so many cars on the roads and so many machinery at workplaces we are able to find lots of people who were confronted by the dangers of traffic and by the danger of those electronic monsters which do not stop when human flesh enters their big mouth.

Fires have always been part of human fears. Always there have been lives lost, but also people who could survive though in terrible conditions.

The person who tried to come to rescue when fires broke out has now entered the third third of life and is becoming aware of the role of elders today

“to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston).

He who is a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship, found burn survivors massively brave and fortified by surviving the initial burns, and the ongoing tortuous burn treatments – among the most painful a person can tolerate.

Burn survivors are not changed merely in appearance by their full thickness epidermis burns; their lives have changed relationally, and in ability. {Trans-ability and Identity}

He confesses that he too find it difficult to keep up with political correctness and the reasons for changing terms.

On the surface, innocently enough, the idea of promoting “differently-abled” was to focus on abilities that are “there” rather than those that are “not.” Thus organizations like the Excel Society state their vision as “Enriching Lives by Enabling Potential.” The word “able” plays into a lot of the thinking in order to “enrich” peoples’ lives. {Trans-ability and Identity}

He continues

In these days of our massive identity crises, in comes the new phrase and phenomenon of being “transabled.” Sarah Boesveld explains more in her article, Becoming disabled by choice not chance:

‘We define transability as the desire or the need for a person identified as able-bodied by other people to transform his or her body to obtain a physical impairment,’ says Alexandre Baril, an academic who will present on ‘transability’ at the Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Ottawa.

It is breathtakingly irrational for “abled-bodied” persons to deliberately “dis-able” themselves under the misbegotten notion that they are “trans-abled.” Surely this stretches the boundaries of identity beyond any sensible limits. And what can be said for doctors’ whose ethic somehow allow them to amputate limbs of able-bodied persons? Did they miss that class on the Hippocratic Oath?

Boesveld reports that “Researchers in Canada are trying to better understand how transabled people think and feel. Clive Baldwin, a Canada Research Chair in Narrative Studies who teaches social work at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B., has interviewed 37 people worldwide who identify as transabled.”

Baldwin insists that ‘We have to move away from pathologyzing people and appreciating the very real distress [transabled people] experience…’

Some of his study participants do draw parallels to the experience many transgender people express of not feeling like they’re in the right body. Baldwin says this disorder is starting to be thought of as a neurological problem with the body’s mapping, rather than a mental illness…

He suggests this is just another form of body diversity — like transgenderism — and amputation may help someone achieve similar goals as someone who, say, undergoes cosmetic surgery to look more like who they believe their ideal selves to be. {Trans-ability and Identity}

When referring to groups of people, there is nothing inaccurate with saying that within the group, each person is differently abled. This is true regardless of how many able or disabled people are in the group. It looks that today many people are afraid to be confronted with the reality of not everybody being the same or coming from the same background.

In 2015 Rachel Dolezal, the now infamous civil rights activist, made headlines in June because she misled people about her race. She identified as black, even though she is not of African-American descent. As a child she was a pale, straight-haired blonde, but then  her hair was dark and tightly woven, and her skin deeply tanned.

Hillary Crosley Coker, who describes herself as a light-skinned black woman, on Jezebel wrote

“You can fudge how people may see you … but you’re still born of your parents’ racial makeup, and Rachel Dolezal’s is Czech, Swedish, and German.”

For in her opinion,

“ethnicity isn’t something one can really move in and out of physically or mentally.”

Margaret Wente of The Globe and Mail wrote

These are funny times. Anyone who substituted “gender” for “race,” and said those things about Caitlyn (née Bruce) Jenner, would have been denounced from the rooftops as a hate-spewing bigot.

Instead, Ms. Jenner was lionized for her bold, courageous embrace of her true identity. No one dared accuse her (in the elite media, at any rate) of masquerading as a woman. Race may not be malleable, but obviously gender is. Enlightened people have decided that if a man feels like a woman, he’s a woman. {Race and gender: I feel therefore I am}

The whole race and gender matter made us in France and Belgium, as teachers, security officers and/or social workers not to call parents by the title ‘father’ or ‘mother’. Somebody in charge of a community  may be accused for being offensive or not willing to accept the liberty of gender when using those old familiar words for those who are at the head of a family … or should we say “where” at the head of a family.

Some may look at the want of being of an other sex to be something wrong or not appropriate, an illness or disfuntion in the brains or consider it as a disability. Others consider suchpeople wanting to change themselves as people who want to take on a disability.

The author of “the best of social justice” (blog), who wants to write about transability and self-identifies as being “disabled in some way,” looks at the

The Tumblr Transabled (who) sit on the internet and moan about how the disabled have things so much easier, and how we’re so lucky to be actually disabled. {Why “transabled” is bull}

notes that

most of the people claiming to be transabled choose deafness, blindness, or paralysis. All of those things can be romanticized, and I suspect that is part of the problem. I have not seen a single person claiming to be transabled in terms of depression, chronic pain, postural orthopedic tachycardia syndrome, or any other non-romanticized illness. I have never seen a transabled person whine about catheters, shots, pills, or literally anything else that affects people who are legitimately disabled. They have this view of disability existing on its own; they don’t see/think about the medical bills, inaccessibility, and condescension that is part of being disabled, and they can not say that they do because those are things they haven’t faced. The condescension and irritation leveled at the transableds is not the same thing as the anger and pity the disabled face every day. “People in wheelchairs are a drain on society” is a pretty common view. {Why “transabled” is bull}

She writes rather sardonically:

So, other than the perceived romanticism of certain disabilities (which I think of as Helen Keller Syndrome [sic]), why do people want to be disabled?

Part of it, I think, is Tumblr’s environment. Everything has a label on Tumblr. There are so many different types of romantic and sexual attraction I can’t keep up, and romanticism/sexuality isn’t alone. People label themselves with phobias, mental diagnoses, phobias, sexuality, sensuality, romanticism, gender, sex, pronouns, age, MBTI types, literally anything they can think of to make themselves seem interesting. It’s a constant strange contest

The overlabeling phenomena has led to what some call ‘special snowflaking’, whereby people feel the need to peacock every bit of their deviation from the norm in order to gain attention. It’s become almost a Strangeness Olympics, with points added for difference and docked for similarity. This is not being who you are, it’s announcing that YOU ARE SPECIAL! {Why “transabled” is bull}

How common are specific disabilitiesAll should know that disability is something to be avoided as much as possible, and when somebody is limited by what he or she can do with her body and/mind, there should be looked for ways to integrate in the contemporary working society.  Still we do have to consider a misfortune when people have something which the majority of the population would not consider a ‘normal’ thing. When a person is or has become disabled, it is something to be dealt with. It is not something to be coveted or pitied. Disability is part of who we are, but it is not something we chose to be. Who would choose to be depressed, or in constant pain, or in a body that refuses to obey commands, or who would love not being able to hear or to see? Though not feeling to be in the right body we would never consider to be a form of disability however it is also ‘not being able to be’ something or some one.

In that respect we should allow all people to be what they want to be and to give full respect in whatever they might choose to be and surely to consider a person who got something bad over him or her to see him or her as a full being, yet not able to do everything like lots of people would love it, still able to do lots of things and some even much better than those who we call able citizens.

How people look at those who are different is something which has to be learned from childhood. Therefore it is not bad that the industry takes this in account.

It is not bad more and more we can also find in toys puppets which have no arms or legs or who show some deformity in their body. In April 2015 after UK journalist Rebecca Atkinson noticed the lack of disability representation in toys she established #ToyLikeMe® and hoped crowdfunding would help to reach the necessary goals to be productive enough.


Rebecca had spent nearly 20 years working in TV production and print journalism (including Children’s BBC) and had always been interested in the way these industries represent disabled people, but this was the first time she had noticed the lack of representation in the toy industry. She called on some fellow mothers, and with their help, launched #ToyLikeMe on Facebook and Twitter to call on the global toy industry to start representing the 150 million disabled children worldwide. Read the full story in a Guardian newspaper article here.

 

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Please come to read

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Previous articles

Why I’m Angry

The Real ‘Choice’

Lessons I have learned

A quadruped amputee not stopped from wanting to achieve her dreams

I will not be defined

Though disabled in the eyes of society able to do great things

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Additional reading

  1. New articles for October 2011
  2. Living with some type of physical disability in the U.S.A.
  3. A boy named Lou

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Further related articles

  1. Political Correctness: Mission Impossible?
  2. The Sick, Our Everyday Heroes
  3. Delivering a Diagnosis
  4. Much in the capital city eludes the physically challenged
  5. Brands for a cause: Maltesers
  6. Mum adapts dolls to have disabilities so that ALL children can have toys that are ‘just like them’
  7. Our Most Notable and Favorite Disability Articles for the Week Ending January 6, 2017
  8. Don’t Forget…
  9. I’ve Moved
  10. Meet Houssaine: The Story of a Disabled Tourist Guide
  11. Its Own Kind of Joy
  12. The Things They Don’t Want To See.
  13. January 13, 2017-Lessons from a Disabled Cat
  14. Just Connie’s Year #12 : Dance Class!
  15. My Vision….not really knowing
  16. Letters To My Countrymen
  17. Melania Trump, Astrosplained

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Filed under Activism and Peace Work, Being and Feeling, Health affairs, Lifestyle, Political affairs, Social affairs, Welfare matters

Ga naar buiten. Laat de wereld binnen.

Ga naar buiten. Laat de wereld binnen.

COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Bewoners van Badjo-kamp...

Bewoners van Badjo-kampong Kajoa op Ternate Noord-Molukken TMnr 10005731 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vraag een reiziger naar zijn sterkste ervaring en er volgt steevast een verhaal van ontmoeting. Als we onbekende mensen niet enkel ontmoeten van aangezicht tot aangezicht, maar van ‘van hart tot hart’, dan ervaren we dat als bijzonder.

Op reis kent ieder van ons wel dat gevoel van weggetrokken te zijn uit wat vertrouwd is. Ver weg is alles anders. Ook de mensen. Plaatsen we ons op ooghoogte van ‘de vreemdeling’, dan leren we hem kennen met een open geest en komen we binnen in zijn leefwereld, dan wordt alles anders.

Het vertrouwen dat we geven, krijgen we.
In het toelaten van het anders-zijn van de ander ontstaat er een soort chemie. We moeten niet alleen kijken naar de buitenkant, maar blijven luisteren. Zo krijgen vooroordelen en vooringenomenheden geen kans meer en zal de ‘vreemde buitenkant’ plaatsmaken voor een ‘herkenbare binnenkant’.

We zullen ervaren dat in dat anders-zijn, ja, precies in de verschillen, de rijkdom zit. In deze zin zijn mensen die wij vooreerst ‘vreemden’ noemden eigenlijk een zegen. De enige voorwaarde is dat we ons hart openstellen en ons laten raken.

Zo worden vreemden vrienden.
Als onze samenleving pluralisme hoog in het vaandel wil dragen, mogen we geen genoegen nemen met een veredelde vorm van tolerantie, die verdraagzaamheid predikt. In onze multiculturele samenleving krijgt pluralisme maar kans op slagen als we op de ander toestappen en écht geboeid zijn in wie hij of zij is, ongeacht of hij vreemdeling, andersdenkende of andersgelovige is.

Interculturele dialoog rekent op authentiek pluralisme.
Het komt erop aan de waarheid aan de ander verbonden toe te laten, waarbij een ontmoeting ‘van hart tot hart’ de gouden sleutel is. Zo kan een kennismaking dicht bij huis een na te vertellen, rijke ervaring worden.

Er wordt enkel aan ons gevraagd naar buiten te gaan en de wereld binnen te laten.

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BZN Logo

Engelse versie / English version: Go outside. Let the world in.

Voorgaande:

Zit je in de put? Stop dan met graven!

Liefdevol blijven = Geen weg voor softies

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Rond ontmoeten en ontmoeting

  1. Ontmoeting
  2. Rwanda – Ontmoeting op straat
  3. Freek en Celinde koffieconcert
  4. Walking dinner
  5. Op bezoek
  6. wij zijn vrienden nu.
  7. Smulpaap 2.5
  8. Juanito
  9. Het toe-eigenen van ruimte
  10. Vergadering – Meeting
  11. Vakantietijd contacttijd

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Rond vreemdeling

  1. Het gevaar om niets te doen tegen de oorzaak en de kwaal
  2. Nieuwkomers, nieuwelingen, immigranten, allochtonen en import
  3. Gastvrijheid: een pijnlijke weg om anderen te verwelkomen+

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Rond verdraagzaamheid

  1. Moeten christenen andere godsdiensten ‘respecteren’?
  2. Republikeins congreslid boycot paus wegens klimaat
  3. Laten wij, de moslimelite, geschiedenis schrijven @trouw @ ShervinNekuee #strijdtegenIS @aeuphonos
  4. Juiste observatie van Felix Rottenberg over Keulen @parool #vluchtelingen #asielzoekers #eu #misbruikvaneigencultuuropvattingen #patriarchalesamenlevingislam

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Filed under Activisme & Vredeswerk, Bond Zonder Naam, Levensstijl, Nederlandse teksten - Dutch writings, Voelen en Welzijn

Gastvrijheid: een pijnlijke weg om anderen te verwelkomen

Met twee kerkgemeenschappen vragend aan hun gelovigen om aandacht te schenken aan werken van barmhartigheid willen wij het niet nalaten een boek over gastvrijheid voor te stellen.

De wereldwijde nettoimmigratiesaldi in april 2006

Robert Vosloo spreekt in zijn boek Engelen als gasten, over christelijke gastvrijheid.

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Gastvrijheid is, zou men kunnen zeggen, de openheid voor andere mensen in hun anders-zijn, voor vreemden in hun vreemd-zijn. Dit anders-zijn van mensen trekt ons vaak aan. We worden gefascineerd door hun andere wijze van kleden, praten, en het andere soort voedsel dat zij eten. Het is juist vanwege dit anders-zijn van mensen waarom veel mensen zo graag reizen. Daardoor betreden we een andere wereld en zó verbreden we onze eigen kijk op het leven. De verscheidenheid van mensen, culturen en gebruiken maakt dat wij tegenwoordig graag spreken over de rijkdom van verscheidenheid. Dat is toch ruimer dan de levensopvatting die mensen tot een grijze, homogene massa reduceert. We moeten inderdaad de verscheidenheid ten opzichte van mensen en heel de schepping vieren en daar vreugde in vinden. Wij moeten de ‘gave van het anders-zijn’ op een goede manier opvatten.

Tutu met zijn dochter Mpho Andrea in Nederland, 2012

Desmond Tutu gebruikt vaak het beeld van Zuid-Afrika als een regenboognatie – een krachtige metafoor die iets weerspiegelt van de kleurenrijkdom die anders-zijn en verscheidenheid met zich mee kunnen brengen.

De ander als bedreiging
Het is echter ook zo dat ‘de ander’ ons niet alleen fascineert, maar ook angst inboezemt. De term ‘de ander’ wordt in het theoretische gesprek gebruikt als een soort verzamelwoord voor mensen die anders zijn, voor de ‘niet-zoals-ik’ of de ‘niet-zoals-wij’. ‘De ander’ (zoals de term ‘vreemdeling’) roept vaak ambivalente gevoelens bij ons op. Wij denken vaak intuïtief dat we voor vreemdelingen moeten oppassen, dat zij gevaarlijk kunnen zijn. Aan de ene kant trekt het anders-zijn van de vreemdeling ons aan, aan de andere kant is er het gevoel dat vreemdelingen dragers van onheil kunnen zijn. De dubbelheid in onze houding tegenover vreemdelingen is ons van oudsher bekend. In veel talen is zelfs een sterke overeenkomst tussen het woord voor vreemdeling en het woord voor vijand (bijv. het Latijnse woord hostis).

‘De ander’ fascineert ons niet alleen, maar boezemt ook angst in
We hebben het gevoel dat het in orde is als we ‘hen’ op vlooienmarkten zien en bij hun kraampjes kopen of in hun restaurants eten, want de ontmoeting vindt meestal in het voorbijgaan plaats en daarna keren we terug naar onze eigen woonplek. We hoeven niet verder met vreemdelingen om te gaan. Zo worden ‘de anderen’ gemakkelijk geromantiseerd – zolang zij zich aanpassen aan ons en onze wensen, willen wij hen accepteren, maar op het moment dat zij ‘nader’ komen veranderen onze gevoelens.
(…)
De ander die nabij is: een geschiedenis over broers
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1939)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1939)

Als wij aan gastvrijheid jegens de vreemdeling denken, denken wij meestal aan hen die een andere taal spreken dan wij, of andere culturele gebruiken hebben. En gastvrijheid jegens de vreemdeling heeft zeker te maken met openheid jegens hem. De Duitse theoloog Dietrich Bonhoeffer herinnert ons er echter terecht aan dat degene die het dichtst bij ons staat en dezelfde taal met dezelfde accenten spreekt, soms voor ons de grootste vreemdeling is. Mensen in ons eigen huis (in het Duits: Heim) zijn vaak voor ons het grootste mysterie (Duits: Geheimnis). De oproep tot gastvrijheid heeft dus niet alleen te maken met de vreemdeling uit een andere cultuur, maar ook met oog hebben voor het anders-zijn van hen die dicht bij ons leven, die in onze ogen net zoals wij zijn.

Gastvrijheid vraagt ten diepste dat wij onszelf openstellen voor de ander en zijn anders-zijn; dat wij goed zullen zien dat openheid voor de ander niet betekent dat wij onze eigen identiteit prijsgeven, maar die juist verruimen. Dat dit niet zo gemakkelijk is leren we al uit een geschiedenis op de eerste bladzijden van de Bijbel, namelijk uit het verhaal van Kaïnh en Abel. Het is de moeite waard om stil te staan bij de geschiedenis uit Genesis 4. Abel was een veeboer en Kaïn een agrariër. Beiden hadden een offer aan de Heer gebracht. We lezen dat de Heer het offer van Abel aannam. Kaïn was daar woedend over. De Heer vroeg hem waarom hij kwaad was, en voegde er de waarschuwing aan toe dat hij goed moest doen en over het kwaad moest heersen. We lezen dat Kaïn Abel toch doodsloeg.

Gastvrijheid vraagt ten diepste dat wij onszelf openstellen voor de ander en zijn anders-zijn
Er zijn zeker veel manieren om deze geschiedenis te lezen. Sommige uitleggers wijzen erop dat Kaïn en Abel in veel opzichten gelijk waren. Ze hadden dezelfde ouders. Beiden hadden gerespecteerde beroepen in de toenmalige samenleving. Het gaat er in deze geschiedenis dus niet om dat de Heer veeboeren verkiest boven agrarische boeren. Kaïn en Abel hadden beiden passende offers aan de Heer gebracht. Bijbelkenners wijzen ons erop dat we iets van de gelijkheid tussen Kaïn en Abel kunnen zien als we naar de literaire structuur van het verhaal kijken. De volgorde van de namen worden afgewisseld: soms wordt Kaïn het eerst genoemd, en dan weer Abel. Toch was er volgens de tekst ook een belangrijk verschil tussen die twee broers. Wij zien dat aan hun namen. Bij de geboorte van Kaïn roept Eva uit: ‘Ik heb een man verkregen!’
Kaïns naam is dus een sterke naam. Het betekent zoiets als: ‘om te produceren’ of ‘om voort te brengen’. Abels naam daarentegen duidt op minderwaardigheid. Het betekent letterlijk zoiets als ‘zuchtje’. In de naamgeving van Abel ligt de suggestie dat hij bijna waardeloos was.
Wij weten niet precies hoe het komt dat de Heer het offer van Abel aannam. Mogelijk heeft het iets te maken met een refrein dat we door de hele Bijbel heen vinden: God reikt uit naar de geringsten, naar hen die door doelbewuste acties van mensen of de gang van de geschiedenis als waardeloos beschouwd worden. In het aanvaarden van het offer van Abel zit mogelijk iets van God die de dingen rechtzet. In het aanvaarden van het offer zien wij dat God omziet naar de geringen, naar de schijnbaar waardeloze ‘zuchtjes’.
Het is van belang om te letten op Kaïns reactie. Hij laat zich duidelijk niet gezeggen dat God Abel aan hem gelijk stelt door diens offer te aanvaarden. Een deel van zijn identiteit ligt daarin dat hij de belangrijkste is. In zijn boek Exclusion and Embrace merkt de theoloog Miroslav Volf op dat Kaïns identiteit diep gestempeld wordt door het feit dat hij een ‘niet-Abel’ is, dus doordat hij zichzelf belangrijker acht dan Abel. Abel is een bedreiging voor het zelfverstaan van Kaïn. Daarom meent Kaïn dat hij alleen kan zijn wie hij is door Abel uit te sluiten. In het verhaal zien we hoe de strategie van uitsluiting tot geweld, tot moord leidt.

ls onze identiteit bedreigd wordt, bouwen we gemakkelijk muren
Aan het verhaal van Kaïn en Abel wordt hier gerefereerd, omdat het iets van de crisis weerspiegelt die wij in ons samenleven met anderen beleven. Als anderen onze identiteit of ons zelfverstaan bedreigen, beleven wij dat vaak als pijnlijk en ondraaglijk. Vervolgens kiezen we gemakkelijk de weg van uitsluiting, vernedering of zelfs geweld. We kunnen de geschiedenis van de vorige eeuw lezen als een voorbeeld waarbinnen op zodanige manier aan de eigen identiteit vastgehouden is dat anderen (die niet zo zijn als ‘wij’) zijn buitengesloten en uiteindelijk ook uitgeschakeld. We kunnen in dat verband denken aan de talloze onderdrukkende stelsels en nationalistische ideologieën die in de 20e eeuw zo veel onbeschrijflijke ellende, pijn en mensenvernietiging gebracht hebben.
Iets van die logica bedreigt ook onze levensbeschouwing. Als onze identiteit bedreigd wordt, bouwen we gemakkelijk muren. Vaak gaat de ‘bescherming’ van identiteit gepaard met demonisering en uiteindelijk vernietiging van mensen (en dingen) die anders zijn. En in dat proces vernietigen wij misschien ook wat we willen beschermen. Of zoals Bruce Springsteen op de titelsong van zijn cd Devils and Dust zingt:
I’m just trying to survive!
What if what you do to survive
kills the things you love?
Fear’s powerful thing
it can turn your heart black…
It’ll take your God-filled soul
and fill it with devils and dust.
Terzijde: nauwkeurige lezing van het verhaal van Kaïn en Abel binnen de Verwelkoming betekent dat we de pijnlijke weg willen gaan om tijd en plaats te moeten leren maken voor de andercontext van Genesis 2-4 onthult ook hoe de aarde (adama in het Hebreeuws) onder de broedermoord lijdt. In een interessant artikel ‘Fratricide and Ecocide: Rereading Genesis 2-4’ beklemtoont Brigitte Kahl het feit dat de moord in het veld plaatsvindt. Het veld, zo lezen we in Genesis 2:5, is de plaats waar bomen en planten moeten groeien. Daarvoor is water nodig. Maar in Genesis 4 lezen we dat de aarde geen water krijgt, maar bloed: ‘Het bloed van jouw broer schreeuwt uit de aarde naar Mij. Vervloekt ben je nu, ga weg van deze plek, waar de aarde gretig het bloed van jouw broer uit jouw hand heeft opgeslurpt’ (10b-11). Kahl zegt over de aarde:
Zij opent haar mond om bloed te ontvangen, dat is dood, in plaats van het levenbrengend zaad uit Kaïns handen.
Van ploegscharen worden dus zwaarden gemaakt, in plaats van andersom.
Is er een alternatief voor de reactie van Kaïn? Kunnen we zó over onszelf, over onze identiteit nadenken, dat die niet de ander uitsluit en uitschakelt, en de schepping niet laat lijden? Met deze vragen moeten we eerlijk omgaan. Een levenshouding van gastvrijheid geeft wel een richting die als alternatief kan dienen voor de logica van uitsluiting. Dat betekent dat we de ander niet als een bedreiging zien, maar als een geschenk om te verwelkomen. Deze verwelkoming betekent dan ook dat we de pijnlijke weg willen gaan om tijd en plaats te moeten leren maken voor de ander.

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Voorgaande

Het gevaar om niets te doen tegen de oorzaak en de kwaal

Jaarthema voor Gereformeerde kerk in Nederland ”Vreemdelingschap en hoop”

Voor Katholieken ook een jaarthema rond barmhartigheid

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Aanvullend

De Falende mens #1 Voor en na zondvloed

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Artikelen over buitenlanders of vreemdelingen en gastvrijheid

  1. Buitenlander-plus
  2. Tering buitenlander
  3. De nepbuitenlander
  4. njederlands
  5. Vluchtelingen, medemensen in nood: welkom!
  6. Passie voor Gastvrijheid
  7. Zweden, het gemankeerde paradijs… deel 4
  8. Dé TIP voor een grieploze herfst!

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