I live in a bubble. I’m lucky enough to have friends and acquaintances who share my federalist values and in addition to that, support feminism, equity and have a supporting attitude for globalization. What I mean with this, is that in my everyday life and as an active of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), I’m surrounded by people who share my values and rarely challenge them. My bubble is where I can bounce off ideas and they generate into solid suggestions on how to make the world better, so you could see why I feel very comfortable in it and not very eager to leave.
But, my bubble recently burst. I took part in the International Seminar of Federalism at Ventotene Island, off the coast of Italy. The Seminar is organized by the Altiero Spinelli Institute, geographically in the cradle of federalism and the Ventotene manifest. The week’s worth of enticing program included panel discussions, workshops and debates about topics such as reforming the United Nations, European defence and the cooperation between Europe and Africa for globalization.
I was expecting to have a feeling of communality, you know the warm tingly feeling you get when you realize the potential of the people you’re surrounded by? Well, I did get to feel that tingle but it was accompanied by a different feeling. I felt worried and thrown off my grid, because suddenly, the value of federalism was accompanied with racism, ignorance of privilege and sexism.
Of course I felt astounded, coming from my safe haven in Finland, where things are relatively well and for example the migration flood doesn’t influence us as much as the Southern European countries. But still, the people I was conversing with seemed to threaten my basic values that include, thinking all people are equal despite gender, religion, sexual orientation, race or socio-economic status. There were situations where I had to debate for them to understand these matters.
So it was wonderful that my bubble burst, because I realized that there’s still a lot of work to be done for federalism to raise more awareness in Europe and the rest of the world, even amongst federalists. And this is because, I strongly believe that federalism as a value and a federation as a goal for Europe, will be stronger only if the goal is accompanied by values such as equality, feminism and a shared understanding of the importance of the EU’s role in global crisis’.
Although my naive bubble, where each participant feels passionate about changing the world and giving their bet for it burst, it was beneficial. I got to have heated conversations and practise on my argumentation skills and actually reflect on my values and try my best to convince other people why it is so crucial for them to share them too. The International Seminar of Federalism at Ventotene was kind of like a prep school for the real world of debate where my bubble is insignificant. Though, the main difference between Ventotene prep school and the real world, is that in Ventotene I could have heated discussions where two worlds and outlooks of the world collided and then grab a cold beer at the beach afterwords and continue with some light-hearted banter with no stint of resentment.
Where has your bubble recently burst?
TEXT Hanna Kivimäki