First, it had the shape of an idea. Then, it became a location, a structure, a content. At the end, it was “a place to gather”, the relationships we have been able to build. When I am re-membering the conversations, the laughter and the secret insights carried by and made possible through this community @BST18 it feels painfully far away from a reality I am thrown into again – not having found my feather yet.
Europe! What a sparkling and sad name. The bewitching Phoenician princess, kidnapped and violated by conquerors, murders, dictators, slave traders and transnational companies to serve their inhumane interests. Protected and encouraged by illiterate and blinkered politicians in Rome, Munich, Vienna and Budapest who stand up to defend the prosperity gained on the back of others, proudly erecting the walls of a new fortress called Europe and cutting the last rescue bridges for refugees.
The wonderful and sharp-witted writer Christoph Ransmayr has recently called Europe “the heart of darkness”. In his speech he tells a story about his quest for the last Gorillas in the border region between Uganda, Ruanda and Kongo. A small wispy girl in a shredded dress, barefoot in the middle of nowhere, hefting a massive water can through the wildness without an obvious destination passes the travel group while changing the tires of their truck. This was the first encounter of being seen from far away. The second one was finally with a silverback, after hours of an arduous ascent, not less mysterious than the first one. He “looked at us, so long and deep down into our souls – or whatever Europeans might hold in their chests – that we suddenly felt like one of them.”
It is a different story about Europe. It’s a sliver of a story about the power of community.