About gratitude and diversities

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Azerbaijan

With art, we can change the world

How often do you think about the difference between growing up in a country like Denmark and a fundamentally different country? Where there may not be the kind of freedom that we here in this country often take for granted? I must admit that I rarely actively appreciate the Danish values – they are so much a part of me and my upbringing that I take them for granted. But sometimes I experience something, which makes me feel a profound gratitude of my life in Denmark.

Like when I a few weeks ago, down in my gym at 7 o’clock in the morning stood beside two women with another ethnic background than me. Their bodies were completely covered in a fabric. A black shawl covered not only their hair, but also their bodies, and when I stood next to them on the elliptical trainer, I could not help but to listen to their conversation. They were more or less just like me; the same interests, the same values. They talked about their lives (they studied), and their children. Right there I was grateful that I myself was not tied to some rules that dictated that I covered myself up. Surely, it must be difficult and even anoying to have to exercise with your body covered in fabric?

But every time I think thoughts like these, I also think something else; Who am I to judge what is best? Who says that they are in any way bored of their life or want things to be any different than they are? I just know that I am infinitely happy for my freedom – my freedom of speech, my right to vote, my right to work with what I want, my right to abortion, my opportunity to study, that there is room to be different in our small country, and although some would argue that there is a long way to go, we have in many areas of out society also equality between men and women! I am infinitely grateful. In addition, I almost always feel safe wherever I go in Copenhagen and Denmark. I’m not be afraid of not being able to get medical treatment if I get seriously ill – my doctor’s door is always open and I trust her, just as I also trust the Danish system and the Danish Government. I simply trust that no one deliberately is trying to cheat me, that people generally do the best they can, and that everyone would like to accomplish just one thing: to be the happiest that they possibly can!

The only thing I do not really have is something important fighting for. Or do I? Because in a way, that is exactly what I have: I can fight for the preservation of all these things. Especially our tolerance towards people, who are different from us, is important to me. Of course we often gather with those who look like us and behave like us, and we will probably always continue doing so. It is nice to be able to see yourself reflected someone who looks like you – it kind of reaffirms, that you are not totally off beat. But it is nonetheless so important to preserve the diversities that still exist among us, and not least the small subcultures and dialects, which after all still exist in our small country. I’m not only talking about the Danish subcultures, but also the newcomers. There should be room for everyone, including those who do not look like us by first glance. By opening up and trying to learn from other cultures, we also learn about ourselves. And the world gets bigger, more beautiful, more diverse and richer in every way; because we will be happier!

These thoughts and this post was inspired by a meeting with three artists from Azerbaijan, whose motto is: through art we can change the world. They stand for openness and tolerance, and I’m already a big fan.

You can read about my meeting with them on Lovecopenhagen.com.

Best,

Louise

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