Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

In response to the tragic event in Norway

To the people of Norway, in particular to the children and youth, Kids' Guernica would like to express condolence, as well as to the parents who are stunned by having a youth camp on a beautiful island transformed by one person going on a shooting spree into 'hell'.
At the same time, there were these horrific bomb blasts near and around governmental buildings in the downtown area of Oslo.
The prime minister of Norway is to be supported in his call not to let this tragic event defeat democracy.
Democracy is based on an open society in which people do trust each other, and carry on their duties in respect of the lives of others.
Since Picasso responded in 1937 after the bombardment of Guernica to this horrific fact that innocent lives were destroyed, this attack on civilians has become the signature of utmost cowardice.
It is most telling that those who commit acts of terror do not realise their cowardice. Rather they deem themselves to be heroes. But what is great by shooting and killing innocent children?
In reality they revenge themselves for what can be called an arbitrary life in which no lawfulness seems to exist. Such a lawfulness is to be experienced primarily through the arts, as it shows how laws of proportion go together with the artistic freedom of expression.
Unfortunately our modern societies have neglected this intrinsic value of culture and the arts as a way of bringing together people in a peaceful i.e. non violent way.
Altogether especially younger people, but not only experience the usual legal framework applied by states very often as being highly arbitrary. This is often due to an indifferent administration while other institutions, including the police, act not only in a most arbitrary, but equally arrogant way by presuming they have the power rather than in need to serve the people.
Once people feel one law applies to the rich, another to the poor, they experience this arbitrariness as if life itself entails no lawfulness, even though they walk slowly up hill while able to run down hill to verify, so to speak in their daily lives, the law of gravity.
As a result of experiencing too many arbitrary or indifferent decisions taken in response to their requests but also ways of acting, they begin to hate the system. A lot follows out of this.

After what happened in Oslo, as in the case of school shooting in Finland, the Scandinavian society has to face a dramatic turn of events. For too long certain problems within these societies have been ignored. Above all the event underlines once more and again the need to protect children and youth against the kind of persons the German poet Enzensberger has identified the men of fear or the 'radical losers'. In history, a prime figure of this category was Hitler who proved to everyone that he is but a loser. Unfortunately the proof means taking down with him many innocent lives.
We cannot imagine the shock of parents who had sent their children to that youth camp on that island. There are no words to express the sorrow or give something like a full proof explanation in order to comprehend the sequences of events leading up to such an act of cowardice.
Here Kids' Guernica has a task to give society another dimension to efforts to integrate not merely children and youth, but all persons at risk of being excluded, into society.

It did not go unnoticed that the Prime Minister of Greece, Jorgios Papandreou was asked at the press conference following the decision by EU leaders to grant Greece a second bail-out loan to face the debt crisis, was asked not merely about the chances of his government to manage this debt, but also about right wing tendencies in Greece due to the crisis. Important is that he did acknowledge this phenomenon in need to be dealt with. Other politicians should follow suit.

Violence against innocent civilians, in particular children and youth, is something in need to be questioned both directly and indirectly.

Following Enzensberger thesis as expressed in his book about 'Schreckensmänner - the men who create fear', there is a need for society to spot these radical losers before it is too late.
Enzensberger begins his description with the story about a man going on a shooting spree and everyone in the neighborhood being surprised because for the last 35 years he had been such a lovely and pleasant guy. The mask of innocence belies the fact as to what is happening underground.

In some way, it does relate to how Bernard Conlon assesses the Belfast situation. There the general public does not wish to acknowledge the change in tension poles between various categories of unemployed youth.
There is no public debate about intercultural complexities requiring quite other norms and adaptations, if to survive successfully within such a stratified society. If still based, for example, on a system of prejudice and stereotypical images, no one feels to have a chance to be both different and yet able to integrate oneself into a society artificially formed according to only certain success criteria. The latter are linked through money to a job which pays. Rarely is this mediated in terms of social responsibilities for the others. A manager kills jobs in a cold blooded manner but it is not identified by society as violence against those who stand to lose their job and risk therefore everything within that society.

There is still an even more contradictory position adopted by the European Union. It is presumed to become more intercultural, but still national governments seek to reinforce their national imprint and force upon both the majority and the diverse minorities a French culture, Britishness or German law. This single cultural presumption drives many into a radical position due to loss of integrity.

It is important to distinguish 'integrity' from 'human dignity'.
Integrity as a claim means to be a honest broker of reality. With it goes a certain communal pride as if knowing 'reality'. Such a claim is quite absolute in one sense and extremely superficial on the other. The claim has to do with the status one seeks within ones cultural sphere.
It can and does mean being successful as well in opposing official culture. What is missing in such an adopted position, and what Cassirer has underlined of being of utmost importance, is a friendly attitude towards the world. Without such a friendly attitude, it is impossible to be in reality the honest broker one claims. Instead all kinds of pseudo-theories in support of one's own position are reinforced by all kinds of negative exaggerations and unfounded arguments as if the state is enemy number one and politics i.e. the politicians enemy number 2 etc. The consequence of such a hostile attitude replacing a friendly one is that all social and political institutions e.g. families, school, but also the police and justice system are over demanded.

As always the case when hostile attitudes prevail, there are compensation mechanisms at work. They are designed to rationalise away own failures of integrating into society. Instead something else or the others are blamed. As form of expression in terms of anti-semitism, it could be the Jews who are blamed for all economic failures. Moreover, failure to integrate as expressed by not finding access to society with a status respected by others means also not to realize in a large sense such a just society is more or less a fiction, as is the European Union an artificial, but equally a necessary one. All the losses accumulated over time after failures after failures drive home but one conclusion, they bring about some other features best described as a kind of radicalization equal to becoming extreme in the full sense. What happens to the mind and the psyche is to sharpen a sense of not being able to avert even more failures. It reinforces a tendency towards gross failures at risk to become gross misunderstandings about not merely society but about oneself and the chances one has to integrate oneself in society.

Demands of society and answers given by some friends, neighbors, parents etc. are no longer in a balance. For nothing is compatible once the radical person is convinced nothing works and everything is lost.
Society is deemed to be corrupt and no honesty suffices. The radical loser faces thus a dilemma on how to react when filled with rage.

In such a case when rage leads on to revenge for having lost all senses of balance, then motivation to act in a final way becomes the only way out. Violence is then the only option left, but it is expressed by not merely lashing out. Rather it is executed in the worst possible way, in order to inflict the worst possible damage to society.

We have seen this in the case of the London bombing in 2005 with a society reeling from the fact that the bombers were not terrorists from abroad, but indeed homegrown. With that shock is linked the presumption growing up in a Western society would socialize the person in a way which would value freedom and respect for others. Naturally it can be asked if this is not a naive assumption, given the way life is experienced by many people, namely as rough and not at all friendly.
Above all the youth is caught between a fractured family home and a hostile school environment with many kinds of abuses experienced while seeking jobs and just growing up in a society not at all kind. There is missing above all the human spirit to say 'no' to such violence in time, that is before it is too late to safeguard the lives of innocent children and youth as now sadly the case in Norway.

Our full empathy goes with a heart rendering process. There is a need to understand why societies in the twenty-first century have to deal with the radical loser as general phenomenon.

Hatto Fischer
Athens 23.7.2011
Coordinator of Poiein kai Prattein


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