Toespraak Prins Constantijn bij uitreiking Prins Claus Prijs 2015

De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

The main topic of Prince Claus Fund is obviously culture in a context of development, but in fact Prince Claus Fund is about people. Extraordinary people making a difference in their communities and the world at large. YOU! Showing different perspectives, telling important stories.

Prince Claus Fund aims to be a bridge builder between people and organisations all over the world, who – with very different means and media – are basically striving for the same cause: A better more just and free world where human dignity is respected and creativity and expression are applauded. Prince Claus Fund sees it as its mission to connect people and cultures and provide more insight into our diverse backgrounds …but often very similar motivations, traditions, emotions and aspirations.

We do this at a time when we seem increasingly ‘obsessed with ourselves and confused by the world’. The same technology that allows us to selfie our whole life and share it with the world also gives access to the world’s information. One would assume this brings us closer to one another, but more often we find ourselves confused; by deeply puzzling and disturbing images from bombed towns, blown-up monuments and executions in Syria, refugee streams in Greece, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon; terror attacks in Paris, Nigeria, Beirut, …

We have opinions about African Lions and American dentists, and are surprised about global outrage over the ‘Black Pete’ discussion in the Netherlands. The far has come to our doorstep and what was near is now in the global eye. We are easily shocked and often compelled to judge without knowing the context.

How to make sense of it all? How can we understand ‘the other’ if we look at the world through our narrow self-indulged lenses? Is the complexity of politics, culture, economics at global regional and local levels comprehensible in time of rapid change and permanent crisis? This is a confusing time in which people seek predictability, and simple answers instead of nuance and insight.

My answer takes me back to the core of what the Prince Claus Fund is: People! It is all about people, stupid! Even though we all come in different colors with interesting and different habits and cultures, at the core we are the same people with aspirations, fears, humor, hope. We are all susceptible to exploitation, manipulation, abuse, aggression. We all respond to opportunities and react on fear. Why do we need an image of a dead child on a beach to realize this?

We must invest in bridge building and understanding; not because it is a nice-to-have; but because the world is increasingly connected. Our futures are intertwined. It is not by building walls that we can retain our current ways. We will have to evolve together and learn to live with one another. Call me naïve … I’d call it smart. In the long run there is no second best alternative to trying to understand one another, building trust not hate, insight not ignorance.

And if that is the case we better try to enjoy it instead of seeing it as one big struggle. Just scroll through the list of laureates and marvel about the diversity and quality of human creativity.

We are here today to honour eleven laureates who come from various parts of the world and who all make it their lifetime commitment to bring back the human perspective. In their unique voices they are telling us that there is no inherent threat, in that we are all humans sharing similar stories, joys and sufferings; with the same basic needs.

They ask us to ‘listen and look’ beyond the screaming headlines and comfortable stereotypes; like Newsha Tavakolian with her subtle images of women in modernist Iran.

Jelili Atiku (Nigeria, 1968), performance artist and Etcetera (Argentinië/Chili, 1997), both in their own ways provoke their audiences to actively discuss and engage in issues of local and global impact. Ossama Mohammed and Oksana Shatalova stimulate fresh viewpoints on the situation in Syria and the position of women in Central Asia.

Through her work, Newsha tells us to Listen to the unheard voices of the women who cannot sing and to Look through her own personal view to the feelings of others: uncertainty, suspicion, loneliness, and so on.

Her observations lead her to the statement: ‘a woman’s voice represents a power that if you silence it, imbalances society and makes everything deform.’ Something I can only support with all my heart … but in particular my brains.

I come to a close.

In 2010 Prince Friso in his speech said the following in his award speech: “Following some reflection I have come to the conclusion that, in most cases, all that is imaginary, unreal or virtual, is the frontier itself, and not what is beyond. It is a border marking the limits of our own reality, or what others want to make us believe is reality. Across that border, we are most likely to find another reality; someone else’s reality.”

…and I add: which will soon also be ours.