Diversity as an antidote - Chronicle of Thursday 13th
Against hate, microphones and ears. The third day of the Biennial of Thought greased the mechanisms for strengthening democracy with more voices and more listening.
In the morning, everything came to a head when Carolin Emcke addressed the more than 300 teenagers who filled the Sala Teatre of the CCCB to ask them: "Has anyone seen the video of the boys from the Madrid high school? The murmurs of the students started up. Everyone knows what he means. "What do you think?" A girl raises her hand, then two other classmates. There is no more holding back. There is applause, whispers and debate. It's time for the microphones.
Barely 35 minutes had passed since the start of the event, enough time for the German journalist and philosopher to reflect on the seeds of hate with the invaluable help of sociologist and trans activist Miquel Missé. Some ideas: "Hatred is neither natural nor a human capacity: it is prepared". "This is not just about those who hate and those who are hated: there are people who make the decision to be public. "Each of us has the possibility to say no". "Societies don't think about similarities, there is always pressure to deal with difference". "Fighting hate takes work. Work. Work. "A democratic society depends on all of us, it needs us: every day we have to fight against hate".
Then, dress rehearsal of thought. Hands start to go up. Over the course of an hour, the detainees are discussed in class. About the need to know the history of discrimination that we carry with us. Of Nazism, fascism, Francoism, anti-colonialist music. And of the necessary coexistence with the diversity that constitutes us.
The students have shown that hatred is commonplace in their immediate environment, but they also have the ability to defuse it. They have questioned some of the speakers' interventions, they have cross-examined and confronted discourses, but above all they have opened up new perspectives to further explore the issues raised. "To what extent is the label that we consider to be discriminatory necessary to make groups that have been discriminated against visible? "How do we confront the codes used by the extreme right on the networks? "Can we be intolerant towards the intolerant? For Carolin Emcke, intolerance is necessary. "But I don't want the same words, the same fury and the same hatred of those who hate", she clarifies: "I don't want to be changed by the hatred of others".
In the afternoon, it's hard not to think back to the calls to value diversity from the morning session. We are back in the Sala Teatre, now, to listen to the American political theorist Jane Mansbridge. Introduced by Professor Josep Lluís Martí as a global eminence, Mansbridge has come to Barcelona to talk about the art of listening. "We humans are just learning to do it, and that's a good thing, because democracy is going through a bad time," she says at the beginning of her speech. According to Mansbridge, "our democracies are not designed to listen. Institutions encourage us to hate those who don't think like us, but they can also encourage us to understand them. How, for example, by providing spaces for active listening and political decision-making. To illustrate the idea, the author of Democracia. Amistad y pugna (Gedisa, 2021) illustrates what happens in the United States and Australia, where there are assemblies of randomly selected citizens who meet for a weekend to listen to experts on a given subject, debate and help draft laws. Mansbridge takes away the calculator. In spaces like these, a political representative can talk to 175 constituents for an hour via Zoom. If they did this twice a week for six years, they could listen to a quarter of their constituents. "When citizens leave these deliberative spaces, they feel that they have been heard. "And it is not easy to listen to people with whom we have little in common, but it is known," he adds, "that one of the best ways to overcome divisions is to engage in joint action. At his side, the theoretical and political doctor of legal philosophy Felipe Rey, both a translator and a great connoisseur of his work, will later say that what Mansbridge does is to "approach democracy from the possibility of friendship". What is listened to changes more than who listens, Rey repeated as if he had found the key to everything. "We can't grow if we don't listen," says Mansbridge: "We get stuck in the people we are if we don't listen. Think of children: they grow up talking and listening.
Friendship, hatred, divisions, school, the power of being heard... It all goes round and round in their heads, with the young people's hands raised in the air. These young people felt that Carolin Emcke and Miquel Missé had actively listened to them. And they were open to diversity. To listen and to be listened to. To respect. To grow. Against hatred.
I wonder how I will transform this chup-chup into words as I make my way to the Pati de les Dones at the CCCB. There, the outdoor meetings of BIVAC are already in the final stretch. "As we think better when we do it together, and we think better from difference", says the letter of presentation of the event, "we have called together ten artists, thinkers, writers and activists, from diverse contexts and with diverse views on the complexities of the present". Again, diversity. When I stand before the stage, Bittah and Míriam Hatibi talk about the refuge that must not be lost, about the difficulty of confronting prejudices in order to offer an unconditional welcome, about how to make life based on what gives us pleasure and is within everyone's reach. Later, the anti-capacity activist Oyirum and the psychotherapist and transvestite performer Personaje Personaje, listen to each other. "530 years and one day ago today, they invented the outdoors and divided us into men and women. We are expelled from the womb," she says. "You move in no man's land, I don't even fit into what is meant by disabled", says the other. They talk about labels that don't fit and the curse of binarism. And they listen to each other, above all they listen to each other. They call and listen to each other with the same morning passion.
Jorge de Miguel