and discrimination. We're half-way through. Has it worked?
On the political majority side, if anything prejudice and vicious
persecutions in a down-economy have risen. What about the Roma side,
Europe's largest minority? Gypsies are always a reflection of their
surroundings. While still nomadic, they lived in perfect harmony with
their surroundings, respecting life of humans and animals alike. Their
response to the wars raging around them, has always been avoidance. But
they have been forcibly pulled off their ancient treks and pushed into
cage-like settlements into the poorest, least law-abiding sections of
Western society, where they have to survive surrounded by prejudice and
downright hatred. But Gypsies have had at their core family ties
stronger than of those who surround them. These families close in on to
themselves when they feel threatened, a tool of survival, yet by now
resulting in a weakness of the Gypsy population as a whole. The Roma
population has been and still is divided into tribes and family units.
As a result they do not, nor ever have had, a unified political voice.
This and their peaceful nature makes them very vulnerable and defenseless.
The big question is, why an intelligent, talented people with strong
family ties and loyalties, who are not known to turn to violent
reprisals, fanaticism or radicalism like so many other ethnic groups,
why are they so maligned and hated.
The answer is simple: Those around them do not know nor understand them.
They see them only through the eyes of prejudice and misconceptions. The
big task is for both sides to learn more about each other, have the
separate communities get into real contact.
My personal feeling is that, so far, the economic downturn and the
efforts made by several human rights organizations have so far merely
raised awareness of the existing and enduring problems. To my mind that
is a step in the right direction. The next step has to be finding a way
to solve these problems, through education, training of job skills,
acceptance and respect. For the Roma the prize cannot be a loss of their
culture. Theirs is a peaceful culture, we can learn from them in that
respect. The petty criminality they are accused of is a function of
poverty, no different than existed among Europe's poor before their
nations turned wealthier, offering an escape from poverty. Now only Roma
seem to have to live under third world conditions, that is what now has