It is my longest relationship. I have had others, some for several years, a few months or just a weekend. I never promised I would stay, but I did, and it has been almost ten years now.
For the last six months I haven’t written anything. During this thrilling, terrifying, exciting and nerve-wrecking journey I haven’t read any thought-provoking books nor have l listened to any mind-blowing podcasts or engaged in heated debates about inequality and injustice (as I used to). So I simply no longer knew what to write about. I was blocked.
In 2010 I left my comfortable life in Sweden for a job opportunity in Belgium that I could not resist. I wanted to move out of my comfort zone and live abroad. I started working for the largest European network of civil society organizations, advocating for human rights. Before moving on, I would like to share three valuable things I have learned.
Why should you care about the Muslim head scarf ban? One could argue that I shouldn’t bother as at it does not concern me. Some would say Muslims would not agree with my Jewish background, sexual orientation, or my lack of religious faith. I care because when we speak up against discrimination and exclusion of others, we speak up for ourselves too.
I spent the winter holidays in Canada visiting friends in the city I once was a student, Toronto. Going back, more than a decade later, gave me the same feeling I had then as now. A sense of belonging to the city, regardless if I was visiting for a week, a year, or whether I happened to be born there.
“My desire to be well informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane”, were the words describing an illustration that was shared on social media. The fact that it went viral illustrated that many people, including myself, could identify with the feeling of not knowing how to process the fast pace information flow of news that surrounds us.
Imagine a hybrid of your professional profile on LinkedIn with a professional ‘dating-site’ that allows you to tick some boxes of what characteristics you are looking for, finds your matches and gives you the choice to swipe those who’s profiles you find most interesting. In other words, an online space for individuals to professionally matchmaker with a mentor or mentee.
I went to a place between comfort and uncomfort, order and chaos, knowing and not. I was in Athens experiencing ‘Art of Hosting’ (also called ‘Participatory Leadership’). l expected a training giving me tools to work participatory, instead l left with much more; a new set of glasses, insights and friendship.
Recently I met an old friend back in Sweden, Claes Schmidt/Sara Lund. Yes, he has a male name and a female name because he is a transvestite. Why? Because from time to time he wants to ‘get out of a man’s gender role’ or put differently, stretch the gender role of a man, which he considers too narrow.
Today I went to see the Broadway play ’Eclipsed’, a remarkable piece about women and war, by an entirely black female cast and creative team. If you have a chance to be in New York before mid-June I recommend you to go and see it. All performances are dedicated to the abducted schoolgirls in northern Nigeria.