Conclusions of the subjects 1997

Theme 1997: Minorities

These are the CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS of the International Christian Artists Symposium, August 16-22, 1997.


  1. There is a traditional view of minorities; the majority sees a minority as:
    • a disturbance of the status quo;
    • a struggle for power/supremacy;
    • a threat to peace;
    • a "group", not as individuals with common interest;
    • a threat for their own prosperity.
    And a majority is regarded as:
    • a group, and is not seen as unique individuals;
    • fighting for their own rights;
    • seeing the minority as a threat to their existance;
    • fighting for the presentation of privileges.
    This traditional view is widely carried in the media and in politics and education. But it is a view which should be questioned. This view is not true, because marginalising groups of people, adds to a doctrine of fear (instead of co-existance) and ignores other views, other possibilities.
  2. 2. This requires:
    1. a) There is a need for change in education: minorities are an enrichment to life. So we should emphasise the need for multi-cultural studies as part of the curricullum.
    2. b) There is a need for change in mentality: everybody somewhere is part of a minority (e.g. artists, handicapped, single parents,teenage youth, the new poor; etc.). And by understanding this, is the conclusion: are you really in "danger" or are you being a "danger" for others? This understanding leads to co-existance.
    3. c) There is a need for change in the point of view expressed in the media. One-sided and traditional (see point I) views we see expressed in the media by majoritygroups should be challenged.
    4. d) There is a need for a political culture focussed on a society where every one can live in peace and harmony, where people of very different cultural or ethnic origin respect each other and find a way to bring together all those various identities within a peaceful society.
    5. e) There is a need for a political culture that doesn't look for an enemy or a scapegoat in other ethnic groups when they can not solve their problems. Particularly within a growing European Union, the need for ethnic identity becomes of major importance, as does the way the vari-ous identities fit together.
  3. As part of the training of the new generations of Europeans should be ideas like:
    • the other group is equal important as your own group;
    • the other group is not lower (inferiority), just different;
    • your group is not better (arrogance), just different;
    • by accepting the other (tolerance) we create the right atmosphere for emancipation of every minority group, which supports the well-being of all/the union. This includes the access to media for minority-groups;
    • an essential element of the education/training of every human being. (Europeans and worldwide) should be the idea of equality (gelijkwaardigheid) of individuals and groups.
  4. As Europe has quite a history of intolerance against ethnic, religious, economic, political minority groups we believe that majority-groups have the task to make the first step in showing acceptance, tolerance, solidarity, in creating the environment for liberation and co-existance; and in giving support to fight injustice and discrimination.
  5. The only future for a Europe so full with minority-groups lies in true democracy that sustains everyone, every individual, every group, without limiting the benefits to a single group or majority. Having the political power can create injustice towards minorities; politicians should ban every form of corruption or policies that favour their own party/group.
  6. Governments are asked to act against the centre of intolerance, whether these are religious, social, cultural, economic or political by nature. This includes the mobilising of public opinion.
  7. Where possible cross-cultural communication should be improved. This means having access to TV-channels, visiting museums, theatreshows of other cultures, as well as visiting your "moroccon" neighbour, etc. Easily, people stay to caught up in an "us-against-them" feeling.
  8. With all possible means the lies of the political ultra-right wings should be exposed. (Lies like: the immigrants take your jobs, etc.). With all possible means the lies of every group misusing ethnicity should be exposed; groups do not recognize the human rights (dangers can be found with christian and Islam fundamentalists; political ultra-left and ultra-right...)
  9. The actors of the civil society (social centreground) should more as ever play their roles in organising the people.
    • As a result the role of political parties, trade unions, churches, organizations, cultural organizations, etc. will increase
    • As a result the communication of values and ideas will be helped.
    • As a result democracy will be upheld.
    • As a result healthy forms of group-identity (as an anti-dote to the mass anonymous suburbs with their high rates of crime) will be created.
    • As a result a barrier against the neo-liberal world views and practises (economic, social, political) that undermine the social quality of community will be set up.
    • Healthy forms of group-identity, that not always have to be ethnic forms, at the contrary have to be more forms that pass ethnic bounderies.
  10. Artists (music, performing arts, visual arts, media-arts) can play a vital role in bridging the gaps, because the arts overcome isolation and can show us reality from various view points.
  11. As much as possible subsidiarity principles should be implemented (that means the power to make your own decisions at the lowest possible level). This refers to a good working situation between the power of Brussels and regional/group-autonomy. It is strongly suggested that nation-al government + Brussels invests in the existing artistic + cultural network, so that the various groups will blossom and arts can show equali-ty in pluriformity.
  12. Creating a European (and worldwide) atmosphere of tolerance (being the facilitation for a new golden age) is a key task.This issue of (in)tolerance (the working, aspects, implementation) should be discussed in a forthcoming symposium.
  13. Also minorities need to be educated. They also have to learn that the majorities are not the big enemy.