Monday, June 15, 2009

Arcadia

Actually I wanted to write here about Arcadia, where I have been a few weeks ago. Arcadia symbolizes the simple, happy life without sorrows. A world where one does not need to think about the future because the future will be happy, too. A world of shepherds and shepherdesses who find all the needs for life, all food and shelter, around them in a beautiful landscape. A world without sufferance and without suppression. You find this world especially depicted in pieces of art in the 17th and 18th centuries.
With these thoughts in my mind I passed the border of Arcadia on the Peloponnesos in Greece. However, what is the reality of Arcadia? It was a bit a disappointment, for I did not see shepherds and shepherdesses; I did not see even any sheep at all. In fact, the region was not fundamentally different from the others region on the Peloponnesos. I did not have the idea to be in paradise, although the landscape was beautiful, indeed.
But maybe Arcadia is something only in our mind. In the end we all want a better world and Arcadia is a symbol of such a world. It is another word for paradise, but then a bit more worldly. People have to work there, it is true, for being shepherds (or whatever that may be) they have a profession. People in Arcadia may have a ruler, a king. But ruling Arcadia is in fact a simple affair, a bit like Marx’s communist state. The conflicts of interest have been replaced by a simple kind of administration in the sense that it is a managing of practical relatively uncomplicated affairs. And what is essential, there is no discrimination and no exclusion.
Of course, I do not think that somewhere in the world such an Arcadia exists or could exist, but what I might expect is that people try in some way to build up a kind of Arcadia in the sense of a society where some of its minimal requirements have been fulfilled. Then we see Arcadia as a striving for a better world. However, after the recent elections for the parliament of the European Union, the Prime Minister of my country felt the need to say: My party will not cooperate with a party that excludes people. I think that this simple statement says a lot about the world we live in. It shows that exclusion happens but also that it is not something individual. It is not in the sense of “I do not like him or her” or “I do not like them”. It has an organisational base, for you find it back in what a certain political party stands for. It is a kind of “We do not like them”. Even more, the leader of the party that the Prime Minister was pointing to has said what kind of people he means with “them”: Muslims. This shows that we are not only far away from Arcadia, but that people do not want Arcadia. Or rather, they want it on their own conditions, which makes Arcadia implicitly impossible.

Once a got a letter from a new pen friend in an African country south of the Sahara. She wrote that she is a Muslim, but she added: “Nous ne sommes pas comme ├ža” (“We are not like that”), meaning that the Muslims in her country are not fanatic propagators of their religion, but that they simply want to practice their religion, without conflicts, in all peace, allowing other people to practice their own religions. Like the statement of the Prime Minister of my country, also the sentence “We are not like that” says a lot, for it implies: Do not put everything in one box; behind the same name you find big differences, and the Islam has many nuances. The remark of my new pen friend was not directed at me, however, for we had not yet talked about religion. But she knew how many people in the West think about the Islam, and she wanted to say beforehand that the word Islam covers a wide world of different ideas and interpretations. It is true, I think, but what I am afraid that those who want to exclude Muslims because of their religion apparently do not want to see this and to believe this. But isn’t it still so that we have to judge people because of what they do as an individual and not because of what they are or are supposed to be, so for the simple reason that they belong to a certain category? The opposite is the foundation of all exclusion and discrimination and the negation of Arcadia. And that’s what I actually wrote about.

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