After spending some time on developing the column of values in a series of my recent blogs now it is maybe of interest to have a look at how this may work since the death of Bin Laden.
I first came across the name Bin Laden when I got back to the Netherlands in 2001. We settled temporarily in the house of an old aunt of mine who had moved to an elderly home. Her house was for sale and we had to bridge 5 years waiting list to get into a rental house. Suddenly a morning in September I was called by my father that I had to switch on the TV as something was going on in New York. I tuned in at the exact moment the second plane was flown into the Trade Center building. Only a few years before I had stood on top of those buildings myself and the view of what was happening was not only shocking, it hit me personally for that reason. When a little later the buildings collapsed my horror was intense even more than my family who had never been there. That was the first time I heard about Bin Laden.
Aparently his name was already subject to issues in the Netherlands but in Spain where I had lived I had not come across him yet. Nor had I come across a huge moslim population s.a. in the Netherlands. Without any hessitation or difficulties I had always happily lived and worked in a multi cultural environment in a constructive and open way. I had come to the Netherlands with exactly that attitude. I did not know otherwise.
The combined effect of the attack on the buildings, a terrorist that claimed world leadership on chaos and the possible connection with moslims that live in the same street as me and my children caused a shock for me personally and the entire world. Suddenly one didn’t know who to trust anymore, not far away but extremely nearby.
Before 9/11 I walked the streets with my own identity and connected on equal and trust level with anyone, no matter what color, religion or origin, without a doubt in my mind. After 9/11 I was suddenly forced to reflect about important things like equality, safety, trust, cooperation…… The basics of the column of values.
One forces one self that 99,99% of all moslims are great people with the same worries and challenges as I have. But can I freely feel safe? Can I feel safe when this terrorist Bin Laden is out there creating an invisible virus over the back of the moslim religion throughout society? Who can I trust? No one anymore?!
When a year later the politician Pim Fortuyn was shot dead in the Netherlands everyone was relieved that the killer was not moslim. We sincerely feared a civil war if it had been.
Fear is something that one needs to deal with. You can be critical to yourself and pick up history books about the horrors committed by christians. But that was centuries ago. One can look at the nice islamic neighbors with whom you deal on a daily basis. But still this thing inside keeps asking if we reason the same about issues of life? Does our cultural herritage behave the same in a situation of fear? No it does not.
When the boms exploded in the underground of Madrid my 9 year old daughter was nearby with her mum. Again terror came too close. When you look at the video images of the youngsters with their back packs in the London subway you see boys that you see everywhere, every day. Who is the next bommer? The guy standing next to you at the bus stop?
Bin Laden was the hidden symbol of this virus, the mother of all evil that kept this fear and uncertainty alive. There are obviously people who wanted this to be kept in place. Fear is a great condition for dominance in an unsustainable and vulnerable world. It has been used to demand billions of dollars/euros for investment in fighting terrorism, attacking countries and get certain foreign policies through that would otherwise never had seen the light. Surely people ask themselves if Bin Laden ever existed or invented for material purposes just like Santa Claus is claimed to be a Coca Cola stunt.
The Osama Bin Laden effect, whether live or invented, is real enough to make the column of values collaps and get individuals to grasp back to the only securities they have: their own cultural herritage and identity. You can feel safe in what you believe in or have been culturally educated. You can feel safe when you close yourself off emotionally and physically from interrelation with others with the personal excuse that the level of safety in the column is not secured at all. People get individualised and focus on personal greed and external securities s.a. material wealth, aggression to others and total paranoia to continu with this process. While the symbol of terror and chaos is alive there is no incentive at all to change as the personal investment and risk is too large.
Global instability and crises are caused by numerous parallel issues that do have a common ground of fear. Fear for terror, fear for poverty, fear for shortage, fear for subordination, fear for lack of control ……..
Now Bin Laden is dead. This symbol of global terror is eliminated. It does not matter whether he was real or imaginary. He is pronounced dead. Naturally there are people who want to keep him alive to maintain terror. Others want his dealth to become yet another symbol for a cause. Whatever the motivation of people the disappearance of the perceived source of this virus of chaos is an opening for all of us to breath and look around to see if we can trust people again. Our neighbors cannot be infected by this virus anymore, not this one anyway, which places them again at the same level of equality as I. So we can interact again without reservations.
The effect of Osama Bin Laden is that the layer of safety of the column of values can be restored. Why should we not worry for Al Qaida? Al Qaida was a subsymbol of the mother of all evil on global level. Of course Al Qaida can still do some important damage but it consists of fragmented groups of wrong idealism that has no source of symbolic inspiration anymore. The global leaders of Al Qaida may be powerful but have not the image of devilish fear as Bin Laden had across the globe even before 9/11.
Bin Laden is gone and the careful process of recovery of values can start, starting with each and everyone of us, embrassing our moslim brothers and sisters as they can embrasse us again, eliminating fear while working together again on this higher purpose that unites us all: a safe, healthy and vital society.