People are people

by Hilla Duka


To my dear, dear boys: I’m sorry. Yesterday was election day here in Sweden, and of course I went and voted. I voted for a Sweden where people are not excluded because they have seen wars and hardships. I voted for a Sweden where everyone would have the same chances, where the world we leave to our kids is not polluted and filled with toxins. For a Sweden that would be better than the Sweden I grew up in. Sadly, almost 13% of this country’s inhabitants voted for something else. A country where we don’t see people as people, regardless, where those who’ve been through the worst should not find a safe haven but be turned away.


I have always told you that you are, first and foremost, people. You are Jewish because of me, Muslim because of your father, and members of this world most of all. I hope that you are too young to remember this election, and I hope that in four years time, things will have changed enough for people to realise that by putting yourself before everyone else, effectively there will come a time when you yourself are left out. That people are people, and our obligation as humans, if we want to stand tall and be proud, is to care for the sick when we ourselves are well, to care for the old when we are young, to welcome those who’ve escaped the hardest places in our world, when we ourselves have been blessed with a safe haven. This is the only way that we as people can walk proud, and it is also the only way we can hope that when we fall ill, someone will care for us. That when we are old, someone will care for us. That if our safe haven of a country will one day turn into chaos, where violence rules, someone will open their door for us.


I have willingly, in a planned way, left my home and my country to start over in a new place. It was still unbelievably hard for me. I had doors opened because of where I came from and how I spoke, rather than slammed in my face for it, and it was still so tough. I will never believe that anyone turns and flees their country in a manner that endangers their lives, just for the fun of it. And I will never stop believing that those who do, should find help, an open door, and the means to start anew. Because it will still be unbelievably difficult.


13% voted for a racist party, but I do not believe that all those 13% are actually racists themselves. I believe they voted out of unhappiness with the politics and politicians, and I can relate to that. I believe they voted out of a feeling of isolation, of being small and unimportant, and having very limited hopes for their own future. I can relate to that. I have very limited hopes for my own future. But we as people have a choice - we can choose to become petty and angry or we can choose to fight for improvement. But no improvement ever came from choosing pettiness over inclusion, from choosing the passive-aggressive cold shoulder over dialogue.


I hope that you will grow up to become adults who will stand against racism and injustice. And I hope that in four years, when it’s time to vote again, I will still be around, to put my vote to a party that is dedicated to fight racism and injustice, that will fight for equal rights for men and women, that will fight for a better, cleaner, safer world.



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