In 2020 the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Université Libre de Bruxelles will award a honorary doctorate to Simon Gronowski and Koenraad Tinel. Their exceptional friendship is a powerful symbol of hope, happiness and peace.
For the occasion Dirk Van Gerven wrote an article highlighting the importance of positive values in society such as (gender) equality, tolerance and mutual respect.
After having lost his family, mother and sister in the gas chamber of Auswitch, Simon Gronowski had to build a life in Brussels without family. He became a celebrated lawyer at the Bar of Brussels.
His message to all is that life is beautiful and we should embrace it; we should also forgive the others for what they did. Live without hate.
I had the honor to meet Mr Gronowski and was struck by his mindful reflection, his tolerance and his inspiring look at life.
We live in a world where politicians win elections using fear and xenophobia people have for foreigners, the others with a different skin color or simply from abroad. We turn against the ‘immigrants’ because we are afraid, and it is easier to scapegoat others than do the difficult mindful growing. Moreover, the political and intellectual leaders do nothing to calm this fear; to the contrary, they use it to their own benefit. By doing so we create a society of fear and hate in which people take up arms to repulse people from other countries.
We are scandalized when we see children separated from their mother when entering the United States from Mexico illegaly. We are equally upset when children’s bodies wash ashore on the European beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. However, we do not care that adults, men and women, fleeing war and poverty in their country actively searching for a better future have to live in terrible conditions at the gates of Europe. How to combine this with the Treaty of human rights is impossible to understand.
Why should we Europeans pretend that the good life is only for us. Because we were the first to colonize resource-rich lands over the world, and afterwards by coincidence developed democracy and industrial revolution simultaneously to create a prosperous world able to give the majority a good life on our shores. Does this give us the right to push the others away and not make them benefit from this wealth?
The result is a battle at the European borders where people from abroad die because of our refusal to help them, where human beings like us live in inhumane conditions in camps on European territory, where foreigners live on streets of the European cities. Our rich society looks at them, calls them illegal and therefore not welcome. While letting them in and helping them build a professional life would result in the creation of more jobs, more salaries that will buy goods in Europe, help turn the economy, and foremost make sure that they find a place without hatred and frustration. Inclusion would be so much easier.
Instead of being led by fear, we should lead by hope and tolerance towards the others. The others, regardless whether they come from Africa, Syria or any other country, are human beings like us who disserve like us to have a good and happy life without being hated by us. In the end, we are all descendants of immigrants in a near or longer past.
Men like Simon Gronowski show us that we should always look at the positive side of life, the good things that our world gives us, and to be tolerant towards the others.
It makes you happy and this what it is all about.
Thank you Simon for showing us the way in harmony.
(the heading are Mr Gronowski’s words spoken in the video)
Dirk Van Gerven is the author of “Alle mensen zijn gelijk, ook vrouwen – Over gendergelijkheid in de professionele loopbaan”. In the book he strives for an equal treatment of men and women in the professional live.