DAY 146: Hard Working

September 24th, 2015 § 0 comments

There’s so much to write about all the time, I expect you find it too; it’s easier to do, in a mindless way, than to write (which might involve thought); so much sothat I spent last Saturday on a coach, a boat, a march, and back (Dover, Calais and the jungle11855837_513751402108344_4620320246344829727_n being the main points on the way) – and haven’t yet given you or myself the benefit of my analysis – such as it is. I’m not going to try to understand it; although here is the best guide I’ve found to what you can do practically, by Bristol’s Naomi Millner. Admirably, it begins by suggesting that you embrace your ignorance, a sort of negative theology which is bound to appeal.


Talking of which, I suppose I should wish you all the best for the various religious festivals that have been going the rounds. Consider it done. And pause to remember Hadil Hashlamun, another teenager 2015-9-22_hadil_hashlamoun_1shot at a checkpoint in Hebron. How long must it go on?

But before I go on, here is a letter with an impressive list of signatories:

Dear Europe,

you may have been listening to the declarations of our politicians and thinking that we are a little hypocritical and that we do not appreciate our EU membership. It may seem to you that we have forgotten our painful past, in which our fellow citizens had to involuntarily leave the country: 80,000 Jews during the Holocaust; millions of Germans, often antifascists, after the Holocaust; 25,000 Czechoslovaks in 1948; and nearly 300,000 people after 1968.

You may be wondering what has happened to the country that gave the world Karel Čapek, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, and Václav Havel. When did Czechs become so indecisive, skeptical, and cowardly? What happened to the ideals of solidarity, generosity, and humanism? Don’t panic! We’re not really that bad. That’s just the impression our political representation is giving off.

Please believe that we are in solidarity with people who were deprived of their homes, who are unable to raise and educate their children and develop their intellectual abilities in peace, who are unable, in short, to lead a completely normal life. And we, like you, are ashamed of the reaction and inaction of our government bodies, and so we decided to do something about it ourselves.

Hundreds of us went to help the people whose lives were in immediate danger. You may have met us in Vámosszabadi, Röszke, Horgos, Győr, Szeged, Tovarnik, Beli Manastir… Thousands of Czechs provided material, financial, and logistic aid. Thousands more sent warm clothes, blankets, food, and money. And we still offer beds and jobs to those who come to the Czech Republic.

We are Europeans who are disappointed with the slipshod approach of our government. Neither the government nor its citizens want to admit that a few hundred kilometers from our borders is an enormous disaster, held from the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe only by the activities of NGOs and volunteers. State structures, such as the army, civil defense, and emergency teams continue to stand and wait. We do not know what they are waiting for.

We are embarrassed by the attitude of the Czech authorities towards the people who find themselves on our territory and who are treated in a manner that is not in keeping with international conventions. We hope that their behavior towards the people who have been detained on their way to freedom and placed in detention facilities is a reflection of a miscalculation of the situation, the lack of information, and exaggerated fears, and not of malice.

Dear Czech government, dear Mr. President, stop being afraid. Please tell the people who are our cultural kin, more closely related than you are willing to admit, that they are not our enemies. Do not treat them like criminals. Let us work together to better address how we can help them. We want to be educated, cultured, and generous. So let’s act that way, even towards people in need. Do not worry, we will not abandon you in this. There are a lot of things we can do for you, so that you will have the strength to solve serious political problems that threaten Europe.

Dear Europe, don’t lose patience with us. We assure you, we are capable of doing a lot!

With thanks and best regards,
Citizens of the Czech Republic

Well, I can’t give the complete list of signatories without going completely beyond my self-imposed word count. I’m not Europe, and the letter isn’t to me. But here’s a sample of a truly enormously long list which I somehow seem unable to format properly:

Michal Berg                    businessman and councilor for the Green Party

Barbora Antonová                                                            President of Žít Brno

Tereza Semotamová                                                         Translator

Matěj Hollan                                                                     Deputy Mayor of Brno

Adam Hrubý                                                                      Information Sciences

Michal Sieczkowski                                                                              actor

Anna Bromová                                                                 student

Roman Petrov                                      musician

Šárka Pavlásková                                student

Matěj Opočenský                                 Evangelical pastor

Hana Macickova Cahova                   scientist

Sylvie Pospíšilova                                 manageress

Jitka Rabitsch Adamčíková                PR at OSF

Ludmila Pospíšilová                             guide children, personal assistant

Lamis Bartůšková Khalilova              mother house

Karel König                                             Hard working

Miloš Procházka                                   IT Analyst

Ryan Cole                                             Graphic designer

Lenka Krumnow                                 Germanistka

Nisan Jazairi                                        engineer

Kateřina Smělá                                 Marketing Assistant

Aneta Quraishy            Capacity Building Coordinator Europe Amnesty International

Janet Lavicka                                Traveler

Matthew Pollard                              tutor

Beáta Vitová                               Waitress

Eva Nyklova                                 this time "refugee" in Norway

Martin Pavlović                         Student Grammar School

Michaela Frankl                                             therapeutka movement

Tomáš Bečka                                     Businessman

Helena Pekarkova                                               Pensioner

Marcela mrazkova                                         research workers

Linda Růžičková                                                        on maternity leave

Tereza Magnan                                                         theatrical producer

Miroslav Durdil                                           Student

Dominika Czechová                              student rights


Miroslav Patrik                                          Civil activist

Barbara Lynn                                        Teacher / Consultant

Vratislav Houdek                                pensioner

Alice Břečková                                     student

Petra Kubešová                    2nd grade elementary school student

Filip Vancl                                           Shepherd and graphics

Martin Novak                                       driver

Jana Plecitá                                          culture

Šárka Míková                              on maternity leave

Michal Kubina                            paternity leave

Alena Rulfová                           Ecology education coordinator at Ekodomov, zs

Ester Šebestová                                                 student

Ivona Švihová                                                 Parental leave

Alena Kročáková                                               Mother

Renata Prochazkova            Business Development Manager at Cisco Systems

Lada Leszkowová                                      teacher, running cafes

Zuzana Jankova                                                     State employee

Tomáš Matoušek                                                      coffeehouse

Lukáš Mikšovský                                                      student

Majka Kalinová                                                            businesswoman

Vuong Do Bao                                                               ALL Student

Anna Seryjová                                                                accountant

Petr Syrovatko                                                          Investment Banker

Diana Novotná                                                       unemployed

Marika Kučerová                                                             mother house

Zuzana Kunstova                                                             accountant

Martin Srnec                                                      Basic School – Student

christoph drenk                                                               immigrant

Zdenka Schoenbaechler Kruzova                                      Barmaid

Bella Adamova                                                                          Mezzo-soprano

Irena Janigová                                                                            učitelka na MD

Pavel Bicek                                                                                   Festival Manager

Petra Šujanová                                             and traveling volunteer

Alžbeta Vicianová                                                                   student

Karolína Opatřilová                                                                 freelance

OH, PEOPLE!  or, lidé as I’m told you say in Czech: This is how you build a movement! Without distinction of rank or respectability, not putting the CBEs and the profs at the head of the list, interspersing the students and the hard working. (There seem to be too many people in design and IT and too few fixing Skodas, but we can surely adjust that.)

How many similar signs have I seen in the last two weeks of a new birth? The massive solidarity with the refugees at the jungle in Calais; the ways in which ordinary people have found it possible to help,12039363_702899569853625_5195343193073004220_n and to begin a new life. To quote Sonja Maria Jetter ten days ago:

‘The side effects of having 3 syrian refugees at home:
It’s late evening and I come home from a work trip, the house is totally clean, the laundry done.
Even though the kids are all still awake, it’s silent.
Everybody is relaxed and the atmosphere is peaceful.
I’m welcomed by 6 hugs and kisses.

(As this post was shared so often meanwhile, I want to add some background info: We are located in Germany and I´m a registered foster mother at the youth welfare office, so I took in minor, unaccompanied refugees because the authorities are quite overstrained at the moment.

But as a german in general according to our laws, anybody can take in adult refugees if there is enough space :) )’

At Calais, once I and the thousands of visitors had left, the police went in, trashed the camp and ejected many of the inhabitants – arousing a sharp condemnation from the usually careful Secours Catholique. I suppose the best we can say is that these months seem to mark a fundamental change in what ‘Europe’ is. The end result is anybody’s guess.

No space for a poem – or time to think of one – but out of respect for all those Czechs, here‘s Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance Op 46 no. 8 (Furiant). Welcome to all.


Leave a Reply

What's this?

You are currently reading DAY 146: Hard Working at Luke Hodgkin.