The auditorium of Bilbao’s Eskualduna resounded with applause after the speech by the writer Eddie Glaude, one of the most prominent academics in the United States. “The toxic combination of selfishness, greed and hate has poisoned our way of life,” proclaimed the professor at the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, referring to hate crimes in his country. Glaude was in charge of opening the Wellness Summit, a pioneering initiative that brought together more than a hundred social entrepreneurs in the Basque Country at the beginning of June, to address self-care as a tool for transforming the world.
Glaude ended his speech with a heartfelt invitation to those present. “Each one of you is called to be a warrior of dreams,” stressed the 57-year-old academic, dedicated to the hope of a possible future for the next generations.
Ask. In his speech he pointed out that his country is going through a “civil cold war”, what did he mean?
Response. I thought it was important to begin my comments with the Buffalo and Uvalde tragedies. After the Civil Rights movement of the mid-20th century, the belief arose that the government was willing to take away privileges from whites and that they needed to protect themselves. Therefore, the culture of arms is anchored to that reaction. The war left elements in the country that reinforce the idea that the United States has to be a nation for whites. Those who fight for a multiracial democracy and a country that reflects what it really is become hated forces. There are people who are willing to discard progress in the name of those divisions and that puts the country on the brink of collapse.
P. In that scenario, what can be expected outside?
R. I don’t know and that’s why it’s something that’s so scary, because we still wield enormous influence and power around the world. The US economy is a great prop for the West. The instability has implications far beyond our shores.
It is important for those of us who come from communities that bear the brunt of the West’s arrogance to speak out
P. In a world that advocates diversity, minorities, well-being… Hate crimes continue to happen.
R. I wrote a book about James Baldwin, American novelist, writer, artist critic. He said that “the ugliness of the world is too often a reflection of the ugliness of ourselves”. Perhaps working to become better people is the precondition for a better world. There is an intimate relationship between our interior and exterior. We have to discover how to relate to each other differently.
P. Don’t you think that a Wellness Summit would be more relevant in places that lack that condition more?
R. We must understand the contradictions of the practice. Even I, coming from a minority community in the US, speak from a position of privilege. There is no pure site from which to engage with the world, all our hands are dirty. Still, it’s important that those of us who come from communities that bear the brunt of the arrogance of the West speak up in these places and try to set the tone. Yesterday I did not know that I was going to be the first to intervene and, realizing it, my intention was exactly that: to frame the tone of the conversation.
P. His speech was very impressive.
R. I grew up with the figure of the traditional black preacher in the US There is a form of their speeches that they call homiletics, with which you can spread emotion, passion. Not only is it entertaining, but it’s also compelling. He makes you think, but he also drives you forward. I’m a teacher, that’s what I work for.
P. What do you think is the biggest lesson for young people to face the challenges of today’s world?
R. What I tell my students in the classroom is that they have to dare to imagine a better world. They know from experience that the world is broken. The question they have to answer to themselves is whether they will go down the old paths or imagine a new world. Some turn to the old authoritarian and fascist order languages. For example, the 21-year-old in El Paso, Texas, who killed all those people in a Walmart because he thought they were replacing others. Each generation must discover its mission to complete it or betray it. Imagination is of the battlefield where you decide how you are going to fight and which side you are going to choose.
The great powers understand the dangers of dreaming. They want you to think that the world as it is is all you have
P. Have we forgotten to dream?
R. The great powers understand the dangers of dreaming. They want you to think that the world as it is is all you have. Slavery is one of the best examples of that domination. It’s about making you believe that you can’t be anything but a slave.
P. Have we gone from slavery as an economic system to being slaves to ourselves?
R. If we believe that material accumulation (making money, buying a house, having a nice car), being quiet, and adjusting to an unjust world is the way to peace, then yes. Internally, we will have reconciled ourselves with the most horrible thing in the world and that horror will turn against us. That is the struggle we all fight daily. At least the group of people who have access to opportunities; those who can barely stay afloat to put a plate of food on the table have no time to think about anything else, and the world sees them as disposable.
P. Many believe that things will not change, that they will even get worse
R. We are more powerful than we suppose. An ant is nothing, put a thousand together and see what happens. That means reaffirming solidarity on a daily basis in search of a fairer world. As far as I understand, that’s what the Wellness Summit is trying to do: insist on a different way of being in the world. A new understanding of what it means to have a good relationship with others, which begins with having a good relationship with ourselves.
P. How do you fight disappointment?
R. James Baldwin had a formulation. He said that hope is invented every day and you know that if you have to invent hope every day, you have to come back from disappointment every day.
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Source: EL PAIS