This piece took me a while to write because I found it hard to express what I felt about Manchester.
I am from a mixed background; with a Greek Christian mum and an Arab Muslim father. I was born in East London. Growing up was crazy because we are all loud, opinionated and convinced that our religion is the right one.
And I wanted to write from the heart. So here it is, open and beating.
My heart is heavy, if I am honest; it has been heavy for a long time.
I am from a mixed background; with a Greek Christian-and-sort-of-Buddhist- mum and an Arab Muslim father. I was born in East London and I’m currently based in Greece. Growing up was crazy because we are all loud, opinionated, like to sing – sometimes out of tune – and convinced that our religion is the right one.
It got me thinking from early on, what does it mean that what you believe is the right belief? Because from where I stood, in the middle, in between, with one foot in the East and one foot in the West, I could see the beauty of all three cultures: Greek, British, Arab.
And although I had friends and family who identified firmly with one side of the fence, I am delighted in discovering that we have more in common than we do differences.
Have you ever bonded over an Arab-influenced Greek hip hop beat while eating fish and chips?
Ever ordered a halal Indian takeaway to watch BBC’s Sherlock and then marathon binge on classic Bollywood? Ever listened to a church sermon and then the call of the Imam and felt goosebumps for both?
I learned to love contradictions. I learned to love that space in between; the space that is chaotic, the space that defies definitions, that space that transcends labels. The space where the chaos of creation can roam free.
Here’s the thing. That space is scary. The only constant in this void is change and change is something that doesn’t come easy. Sometimes we have to give up deeply held notions and beliefs we’ve had since childhood. Sometimes we have to give up our feelings of righteousness. And sometimes we have to give up the very concept of right and wrong.
Yes, fear is fucking scary. But what happens if we start to listen to people’s stories? What if after we strip away the different perspectives, ideologies and packaging, we find that we share the same fear, pain and achingly human vulnerability? That it’s the same loves and joys and loneliness and heartaches all along?
I know a lot of ‘inbetweeners’ and because of our genuine understanding of contradictory beliefs and our ability to feel like we belong everywhere and nowhere simultaneously, we usually prefer to listen and not speak.
But I feel that now it is time to speak. Because the world is dividing in to two; Us Vs Them, and a new voice needs to be heard. The voice of those who live, and experience, the common ground where all humans meet; no matter where, or who they are.
It is time to listen to someone who has lived in a Christian-Muslim household; to someone who has been uprooted from their home in Syria; to someone who has hosted a refugee from Afghanistan; to someone whose grandparents were economic migrants, to someone who feels overwhelmed by the influx of immigrants in their neighbourhood.
It is time we listened to the East Londoner in the pub and the Greek granddad in the kafenio who worry that the world they grew up in is being threatened.
It is time we heard the voice of the Muslim gay man; the former Christian who converted to Islam; the mother of a child lost in Syria and the mother of a child lost in Manchester.
Yes, my heart is heavy and it has been for a long time.
For Manchester, for Belgium, for Syria, for Palestine, for Israel, for Standing Rock, for Venezuela, for London post-Brexit, for the US post-Trump, for all countries and continents that are experiencing collective turmoil and for all humans that have felt the pain of ‘being’.
Listen to these stories, to all these different narratives and you will realise: there never was any Us vs Them; there never was any Right vs Wrong.
The borders we construct, begin in our minds.
Don’t you see it yet? We’re all world citizens.
Georgina Razack is an Editorial Coordinator at Nickelodeon Greece, Music 89.2 Radio and www.rise.gr
See more about Georgina on #worldcitizen and #inbetweener