Module 15: Harvest From Our Journey

Refugee crisis, climate crisis and global citizenship

In Europe, especially since 2015, we have had a flood of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, various African countries and Ukraine, fleeing from poverty, war and terrorism. There is also considerable scientific evidence supporting a connection to environmental degradation, climate change and international tensions (see Burke et al. (2009), Hsiang, Burke and Miguel (2013), Kelley et al. (2015)).

Climate change, especially global warming, is for the most part caused by our industrialization and consuming behavior in modern life, leading to too much CO2 emissions. For example, there are some ongoing international research projects that seek to explore public understanding and behavior in relation to meat and dairy consumption and its impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Too much meat and dairy consumption does not only have a serious impact on climate, but also poverty, conflicts and refugees. Our unhealthy eating and lifestyle is leading to physical and mental illness, not only locally but also globally, not only concerning myself and my family, but also our neighbors and fellow human beings all over the world (Hicks, 2011). This global crisis (e.g. waves of refugees, wars and genocides, poverty and hunger, environmental degradation) entails numerous aspects and perspectives, but they all seem to be interrelated, and especially connected to climate change, which is, furthermore, clearly embedded in and derived from our behavior in daily life (Welzer, 2017). In view of this overwhelming and perhaps depressing picture, we put the question to us all, especially in the advanced, industrialized countries: What is our responsibility as global citizens?

Our responsibility begins with our imagination

“It’s all a question of imagination. Our responsibility begins with the power to imagine.”

(Haruki Murakami)

“In dreams begin responsibilities.”

(W.B. Yeats)

As Murakami and Yeats we believe that our responsibility begins with our imagination. Taking responsibility for our lives and our actions. We have to imagine that we have some control over our circumstances, whether good or bad. Our actions matter. Our choices matter and so, through our imagination, we can then develop ownership of our actions and thus create order.
Moreover, the potential that imagination opens up also requires our responsibility. If we imagine ourselves running a marathon, then it becomes a responsibility to work towards that imagination. This is true with creating art, traveling, setting goals, and so on. We have to imagine it first and then bring it to life.
Can you imagine something which connects you and refugees?

Connecting refugees – Imagine a campfire

Communal fire is an ancient tradition which has been around for centuries. Since the stone age we needed fire to cook food, save ourselves from the harsh weather but one of the most important benefits of fire is the “ambience it creates”.

Which is why it’s important to bring back this traditional ritual in our modern lives. Even watching a candle burn can have a profound effect on us! Sitting around a campfire with friends or family members, watching the flames dance and flicker into the darkness, it becomes easier for people to open up and share their stories with others — and this can lead to deeper connections than ever before.

Sit down in a chosen place, you feel at ease
maybe outside in nature.
Think back, let appear in your mind’s eye again the videos you have seen,
the voices you heard, maybe also
some of the thoughts and feelings
you had during the whole process, the series.
Now imagine you are sitting around a campfire,
next to you are sitting some of the other participants of the process.
Slowly Alexander, Hussein, Imane, Prosper, Sultan, Mohamed, Jelena, Olja, Ibrahim and Shahab join you.
and take also a seat at the campfire,
As time goes by, other people join in,
friends and family of yours, brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents,
also friends and family of the refugees, siblings, parents, children, grandparents.
We are all sitting around this big campfire,
each of you has brought something to eat and to drink,
we share what we brought with each other.
Laughter, singing and voices in different languages are buzzing through the air,
foreign and familiar sounds from many languages are mixed together.
and the longer you listen to them,
you begin to understand on a deeper level what is being said.
They are wishes, wishes for all of us,
to a now and to a future,
in which we live together in peace,
where everyone has a right to be
a home and a job,
and enough to eat,
Wishes for a now and a future,
in which we live according to human rights,
and no one is disrespected because of gender, sexual orientation, origin, or religion etc.
Wishes for a now and a future,
in which we care for our beautiful earth,
which we share with microbes, minerals, plants, animals.
We are all humans in a big family of living beings and organisms.

Outlook toward the future

The campfire is over and the small fire is still burning under the dark sky with countless stars. Although you are very tired and want to sleep, you want to write some lines in your diary. Maybe you can write “What do I want to do after the campfire?”

If you want to get more information about Global Social Witnessing workshops, training, research and publications, please write your answer to the question – what do you want to do after the campfire? – and send us by clicking “submit”.

Module 14: Afghanistan