New mums have celebrated the disposable diaper for decades, as it liberated them from the nightmare of having to wash poo-stained cloth ones. But nothing lasts forever. At the Hungarian Sustainability
If police officers don't trust citizens, citizens won't trust police officers either. If police officers only strive to serve the demands of abstract legislations and their superiors, instead of the public – which they are supposed to be serving – then it's no wonder that the gap between the two parties keeps deepening. If we don't have good experiences with each other – be it the police, doctors, or members of any social group – it's no surprise that we prefer to avoid each other. We're not comfortable with filing complaints, bearing witness, and in cases where we must communicate, we try to keep it as brief as possible. And if we are a member of a group (such as the Roma, gay people, disabled people) that often faces rejection and contempt in other spheres of their life as well, we are even less likely to turn to the police; because the reason why we were threatened or beaten up, the walls of our houses were covered in graffiti, or our bikes were damaged is precisely the fact that we belong to the given group. But is it in the interest of the police at all to inspect the cases of victims of hate crimes as more than just simple vandalism or assault, and do the police even want to gain the trust and cooperation of citizens?
It's March 21st, World Down Syndrome Day. One in a thousand children are affected in utero, meaning Down syndrome babies may arrive to practically anyone's friends and relatives. Many people find children with disabilities difficult to approach, yet just like able children, they too can bring much joy, provided we are open toward them. In downtown Budapest, hundreds marched over Margit Bridge and gave a massive group hug to the theater building Vígszínház, to raise awareness for the power of joint action and care. By 2 PM a considerable crowd thronged the great fountain at Margaret Island. From kindergarten groups to elderly grandparents, hundreds showed up at Down Association's call on this sunny spring day. Organizers gave out white and green balloons to participants, and besides getting the crowd involved this gave way to some serious fun: whenever a balloon on a stick would pop, instead of freaking out the kids would wave their newfound magic wands.
On average, a woman dies each week in Hungary as a victim of domestic violence. Recently there have been years when the number of victims was as high as 70 a year. Women that cannot raise their voices any longer, fates that cannot change for the better any more. We can learn about their stories at the Muted Witnesses march that takes place on 21st November, where we can find them written on red female figures. Yet we still cannot see or hear the stories of over a million Hungarian women who are regularly abused by their partners, or who become victims of violence at their workplaces or in hospital. Or maybe we just don’t want to hear and see..? Just don’t let the tip of the iceberg poke our eyes out – the 70 dead women that cannot be ignored any more. Who are responsible for the violence, and what can we do so that women can live in safety?
Successful encounters, getting to know and understanding one another’s situation, finding common points, demonstrating equally valid points of view and messages, telling personal stories and listing objective facts, and numerous other tools are not sufficient against hatred. When a partnership-oriented approach, communication, and the demonstration of values are not enough, it’s important to face the conflicts and stand up for the interests and rights violated, which can only be protected by us, citizens.
The discourse of hatred often calls certain social groups useless. It can only be partially refuted through listing the difficulties a given group is facing. It’s a lot more effective and convincing to demonstrate that everyone is indeed capable of creating value and doing something that is useful for others as well. Each individual and group has different strengths. But if we map these strengths appropriately, and provide an opportunity for developing these skills and creating services and products related to them, we are able to provide actual results to prove the fact that there are no groups whose members are unable to create value for others.
The protection of the environment is the shared interest of all social groups – no matter how great the tension may be between them. Applying environment-friendly methods, recycling and the conservation of our environment is a cause for all of us, which may bring otherwise isolated groups closer to one another. For example, children and pensioners may make close connections through sharing their knowledge and methods with one another, while learning new things at the same time.
Creation can be learning, work, therapy and entertainment all at the same time. Through drawing, making a photo, dancing, making music or film, writing a story, acting in a play or crafting an artefact people can, on the one hand, forget the difficulties they keep worrying about day after day, and on the other hand, they can express the feelings and thoughts that are defining for them from a new perspective. Self-expression is therapeutic - whatever we are able to formulate through the tools of art we will be more able to realise on the level of words and actions as well. Through creative processes, learning often happens automatically and in a playful way, without the sense of any pressure. Also, creating a piece of art gives people a sense of success and empowerment. If the creative process takes place in a group, connections and cooperation may deepen as well, which facilitates the development of the social skills of participants.
As a Hungarian saying goes, not even the mother of a mute child understands what the child is trying to say. Then how could strangers understand us if we don’t convey our message to them? Most of us receive information about minorities from the majority and through mass media, so the perspectives of those in question often remain invisible to us. This is precisely why it’s so important for as many groups as possible to have access to the right preparation and tools, so that as many people can learn about their stories, perspectives, difficulties, sources of joy and goals as possible. Members of vulnerable groups have had the chance to learn the basics of photography, film making, or radio through numerous initiatives. Among others, Roma youth, inmates and the representatives of women’s organisations have had the chance to create their own materials.
It’s always easier to hate the members of one group or another, than to see through the complicated systems of society, politics and the economy. Scapegoats can always be found, but it’s not worth it. No society has ever evolved through attacking the weak and vulnerable. In order to see clearly, it’s important to have access to as many facts and data as possible, and to be able to point out the real obstacles and correlations through interpreting and analysing them.