I read neighbour Daniel Zylbersztajn’s inspiring article on the Open Democracy site with growing respect and a sense of real hope, highly appropriate for this particular season of ‘goodwill’ when we look back on a year of meaningful protest, meaningless looting and growing anomie.
Two months after his father’s death this year Daniel visited the Polish town of Szczekociny where his father had lived when Nazi Germany invaded in 1939. Telling the horrendous story of the breakdown of a community where neighbour was pitted against neighbour and social passivity led to massacre, Daniel reflects on his visit and uncovers lessons for social cohesion whether in Poland, Germany, Israel/Palestine, South Africa or right here in King’s Cross.
The full article can be read here. Daniel says:
“One wonders about how much Germany has moved on since 1945 and how much work is still left to be done in places like Szczekociny in Poland. The visit has left me with a profound feeling of dissatisfaction in the way communities in which there are differences of faith or ethnicity function, or rather are allowed to dwell. Living now in Kings Cross, London, where there is a sizeable Bangladeshi Muslim population, as well as a disenfranchised English working class community, both with limited meaningful contact to other residents – it made me consider the importance of going further in neighbourly relations.”
Daniel finds a positive, practical template for all communities to work on. Lessons for us all to remain active, to challenge discrimination and to make those all important links between our diverse groups. “Poland teaches us that only when communities are so inter-woven that one cannot live without the other (albeit in conflict at times), can we rest assured that little Hitlers have no fertile grounds from which to breed their like.” Happy New Year to all who live, work or study in King’s Cross, and welcome to all those thousands who will be moving here soon. Here’s to a neighbourly 2012.