Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 14 - Let’s talk about culture and… humanitarianism


A great word for a great meaning. Today people are being awarded prizes and medals for being a humanitarian. Who is a humanitarian in the jurors’ eyes? I looked it up. Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Albert Schweitzer, and so many more, Goethe has been called a humanitarian too. I read some comments who people thought should be taken up in the list of these highly humanely acting people, and one said: Michael Jackson, yes, he said he should be included….Ha!

What is humanitarianism? Basically, it can be described as the acceptance of every human being for plainly just being another human, ignoring and abolishing biased social views, prejudice, and racism in the process, if utilized individually as a practiced viewpoint, or mindset. I ask myself, if this simple basic explanation is a reason to decorate people for, is it not a normal attitude one should have? I know that these great persons have done much more in their lives to be honoured like this. But I feel that in this simple phrase we may find the roots for our many worldwide problems.

Let’s closely examine our own attitudes for social views, for example. Do we really recognize people as our equals who have not the same education or standard of living? I know of the one or other artist who would not accept a self taught painter, actor etc. as an equal; the poor neighbour who never had a chance is not eligible in many people’s circles. Thus many try to live up to their neighbourhood to have a chic car, a house, for the kids an expensive school etc. and they get into debts for this stupidity. A car is nothing but a means of transport and not a status symbol.

Prejudice, how do we act in our daily thoughts and doings? We often say something we have not really researched for contents of truth, how often do we accept a note in the media as the absolute truth, a word in our ears by friends or neighbours about somebody or something. We can hardly avoid it, it is common practice.  We put labels on other countries’ folks and let it sink into our subconsciousness:  Chinese are yellow and are slaves; Germans eat sausages and sauerkraut, French people are arrogant. Greek people are known for their long siestas and English still suffer from the loss of their colonies. This way of thinking is dangerous because we place ourselves higher than the other and surround ourselves with like-minded persons only.

The next step is racism; racism for colour, religion or history. We say that we cannot live with the other species because they are without values, because they pray to the wrong god, because they have the wrong colour, and so on. Nationalism grows out of this stinking root, a rotten root. Nationalism makes poor because we deny ourselves the knowledge of the riches of another culture. It is like intermarriage. We have an example for the result of intermarriage in some Cypriot villages, where children were born with deformed limbs so intermarriage is forbidden now. You can also get deformed in your mind, there is enough proof of that in the history of our countries, and also recently. People don’t learn from such fatal mistakes made, we just have to look across the Mediterranean.

Let’s try a portion of daily humanitarianism, a sort of mental diet to become healthy again. Can we do it? We can. It was on Thursday that my friend and I were caught in the chaos of century rain around Kyrenia and along the Kyrenia mountains. Cars were caught on the highway, houses were flooded and shops suffered severe damages. But people came and helped each other; my friend and I were stranded in Nicosia and were taken up by a friendly family and were fed and cared for like refugees.

There are so many little people hardly anybody talks about who care for others and don’t think about themselves, their own comfort or safety. It is not the idea to collect money for a good cause only, it is our way of thinking, the respect we show to each other, the time we take to talk and listen to others. Only those are free who respect the freedom of others in their thinking and their actions.


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