Our lives may be filled with sadness, joy, tears, or success. We may make failures, I sure do, and the situation we face may be miserable. We may seek a common identity, either through nationality, religion, or something else. In dispair people might even find solace in ideologies when no options for them seem available.
The thing is, we always have a few options. No matter what you think, or what others tell you. The best thing to do, is to stay curious and respect others. Keep asking questions and challenge yourself. Don’t take any answer or thought for the truth. When you hate others the death of innocent people will never be a solution, but only the beginning of even more problems. History is there to proof you wrong.
Find dignity through respect for your neighbors, no matter how different our lives may be. Punishment causes more punishment, aggression leads to more aggression. Like Roosevelt said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Hatred will never succeed. After 4 years the youth returned to Utøya after Breivik’s killing. Beirut will always be a cosmopolitan city, no matter all the bloodshed the city and their people witnessed. European nations and xenophobes may demand closing their borders, but refugees will always seek shelter, protection and the perspective for a better life like refugees always have done so in the past. And Paris will always be the city of light, because their people will stay curious and be able to see the past and their future in perspective. Diversity is there not to be feared, but to be cherished. Because only diversity, in my opinion, is the solution.
Don’t question how the present and history could have bin, but what the future might bring to you and us.
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma