zsambek-romtemplom

It’s Sunday. Bells are ringing everywhere on this day in our country, calling for mass, church service. We call ourselves a Christian country, with Christian values, which are to be defended – according to the leaders of the country.

There has been a full-blown shindig for the past few days in the Hungarian media and in some settlements at West-Balaton, because we want to offer a vacation, some leisure time for people who live among us, with us.

I’d like to thank Áron Nagy, the journalist of Magyar Idők for starting this avalanche. I thank him for this gave us a chance to get some misunderstandings right and start conversations on what does is mean to be a human in this world. For we are Hungarian, European, but most of all: human.

I grew up in a pastor’s family. Although I didn’t always understand the message of the Sunday teachings, I received three lessons for my journey: clean and open talk, unconditional love of life and solidarity and empathy for the suffering of my fellow humans.

It isn’t easy to follow these principles these days. It is even more difficult to do in our country, unfortunately. The common talk is filled with lies, manipulation, fear and hatred. I don’t say that I always use the best possible communication method as the leader of Migration Aid. I try to find my way around values, laws and possibilities. And yes, sometimes I meet fear too: what if something we say or do does not entirely comply with Hungarian law or my own values, but I find myself facing hordes of vindictive people shouting: let’s stone him! You can still see these in this world, too …

Humanity has to solve great, difficult problems, and migration is only one of many. I don’t see anybody who has found the solutions for these challenges. Like how to provide security and stay humane at the same time.

Is building walls and fences a good solution to regulate migration? Let’s say yes. Let’s put up a 6 meter high wall around Hungary. Or Europe. Have you seen a map recently? From Israel to North Korea nuclear-armed powers are lining up almost side by side in Asia. Let’s leave them on the other side of the wall to solve their problems (which are partly caused by Europe itself by forcing our values or more likely our interests over 4 continents with fire and sword). Do you expect us, inside the walls to survive if those outside set upon each other and missiles start flying around and atomic clouds grow around? If nature is devastated outside our walls and the clouds stop coming to the Carpathian Basin from above the seas: could we survive that?

We should wake up, man. We, who live on this planet, are dependent from each other, even if we don’t like it. We have problems, challenges, which could only be solved if we worked together.

What it is that makes us afraid, really, when we want to keep people, for example refugees away? Their religion? Their appearance? Their different culture and habits? Are we unable to live with these?

I think we fear the hatred in the others. The aggression fueled by this hatred. My question is then: is hatred a good answer to hatred?

Áron writes in his article in Magyar Idők, that instead of starting a conversation we want to force our conceptions on others. And he asks why we didn’t coordinate with the local mayors.

I ask him: what common communication platform could we share with the local and national politicians who make statements like the mayor of Keszthely. I quote him: “We have reached an understanding with my fellow mayors: if these things will happen around us and we can’t stop them with the legal instruments, we definitely will organize some kind of demonstration or event and we wish to voice that we don’t agree with it at all. Not just with this being here in Keszthely or around: it shouldn’t be anywhere in Hungary.”

In the past few days we found about a dozen proclamation like this. As an answer I’d like to quote our constitution (XXVII./.), which states that everyone, who is staying in Hungarian territory legally, has the right of free movement and free choice of residence.

How could we start conversation if the responsible leaders don’t even respect their own constitution?

It’s Sunday. In Christian churches and chapels the leaders of the congregations quote the Bible on this day. I looked up a place for us.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient,
love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own,
is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
(The first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, 13. / 1-6.)

I pondered upon these words and I’d like to add these:

I apologize for myself and for Migration Aid if our communication or actions made any of our fellow citizens feel frightened. It was not our intention. We would like to find solutions to the problems that worry us, including migration — together. We are open and we will listen to every argument and thought put out with care and good intention. Please help us to find good solutions and also to communicate them appropriately. Help us replace fear and hatred with respect for each other, conversation and joint work on solutions. We open our hearts and minds before the constructive suggestions of Mr Manninger MP and the mayors on how can one organize vacations for refugees in Hungary in accordance with our constitution.

András Siewert, Aug. 6, 2017

Television reportage of the Hungarian broadcaster RTL about the situation: