A Diversity of Voices, A Unity of Values

At the Global Voices Summit internal meeting. PHOTO: Georgia Popplewell

On my way home from the Global Voices Summit 2017 I reflected upon my experiences, emotions, feelings and plans. I wanted to make sure that every single ray of wisdom and sincerity that had radiated throughout that week would stay in my heart and inspire me towards the future.

I thought about the ways a humble translator like me could contribute constructively to Global Voices’ very special mission of making the world a better place—a place where equity, diversity, empathy, compassion and so many other values prevail.

My thoughts were continuously interrupted by the endless security checks at every airport in every country I traveled through on each leg of my journey. And not only the ones to which I myself was subjected.

Among the scenes I witnessed was one where the inside of young man’s shoe was probed inside with a sophisticated metal detector while the owner stood by barefoot, in great embarrassment. I observed people being made to open their bags and have their intimate items of clothing and even their toothbrushes inspected by strangers.

I myself was made to go through a face-recognition frame and was manually searched by a policewoman. I was scared, as it occurred to me that even though I had removed everything from my pockets and ensured that I had not packed deodorant, toothpaste or any other item that might raise “suspicion”, I had no idea of the composition of the soles of my shoes. I had no idea if the contents of my luggage would satisfy the security personnel, and if I would make it to my destination and see my family.

I was relieved when the queue was segregated into the “fortunate” EU passport holders, who were allowed to go through while and the rest of the world endured yet another security check. I was among the selected privileged few permitted to escape one extra humiliation.

Later, on the airplane, I saw the young man whose shoes had been searched. He seemed to have brushed that experience off. He’d moved on.

Like we all do. Life is too short and precious to care for such trifles. But is it really?

If someone accidentally pushes us while trying to pass by we expect to hear “sorry”. That is normal in societies where mutual respect is of the core values and where human rights are enshrined in law, including the right not to be pushed. That is the way it should be in a society where people care for each other.

Yet when the system that we live in continuously pushes us around, humiliates us, turns us into a herd moving towards the security gates to be scanned and searched, to obediently emptying pockets and remove shoes, belts and anything else that looks “suspicious”. Is that not what they do in prisons?

Returning home from the Global Voices Summit after spending a whole week among these wonderful people who sometimes put their lives at risk, who open up the very sacred corners of their souls to deliver truth to their readers, the world “outside” just did not seem to fit with the multiplicity of values that form the heart of the Global Voices community.

Leaving the Global Voices Summit of Global Voices was like walking away from a paradise of genuine friendship, from inclusiveness, diversity and mutual love and respect. It meant no longer looking into eyes that do not judge, or experiencing a sense of community that does not segregate you by nationality, income level or any other imaginable—or unimaginable—method.

But returning home from the Summit of Global Voices has also meant taking a part of all of that back to my country, to my home, to my society. It has meant keeping in my heart and in my soul the spirit of that week. It means not being able to look at the world in the same way as I did before. That would be impossible.

The diversity of thoughts, ideas, the move towards the truth, justice and equity, the multiplicity of voices and the unity of values coming out of the brainstorming sessions at the Global Voices Summit now lives in each one of us like droplets of wisdom as we strive to make the world a better place, standing against humiliation, the deprivation of human rights, the disrespect of us as persons, and highlighting the voices of those that have been segregated from society. The values of Global Voices oppose the sense of a herd, standing instead for a sense of community where diversity, inclusion and empathy form the core.

As I stood in those numerous humiliating queues at various airports, those are the things I was thinking about, and they gave me the strength to maintain my dignity and look positively towards the future. They gave me hope.

The wonderful journalists that go the extra mile to deliver truth and meaning through Advox, the Netizen Report, Rising Voices, The Bridge. The humble translators who proudly and enthusiastically work on delivering this truth across cultural boundaries.

We deliver our message across the world and into many languages, cultures, ethnicities, while also bringing messages from many languages, cultures and ethnicities. We make indigenous voices rise so they can teach us the things we no longer remember. We fight peacefully for the rights of our fellow human beings and we bring positive changes to their lives.

The global spirit of diversity of voices combined with a unity of values—this gives me hope that in years to come these values will form the core of every society and community, and no system will be able to touch or destroy them.

I am proud to be part of this and at the same time to retain my own uniqueness, to keep my independent voice, as we all do in this polyphony of diversity.

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