November 3, 2012
In the Twighlight Zone of Compassion
Having worked some years in the European Parliament, I will never be the same again. The way I view things around me has changed. I guess that is what happens to you, after falling through the looking glass.
Some things are just absurd. Like the cocktail party in solidarity with earth quake victims in Haiti. Or the three course french lunch to discuss what to do about the citizens of Europe being so fat. The cocktails opening an exhibition against drunk driving also fall into my mind.
Other things are totally freaking surreal. And on top of that list, I put the champagne reception against homelessness.
Members of the European Parliament are free to host exhibitions in the premisses. This is often used by corporations or special interests, wanting to show their work for the elected few.
Once in a while these exhibitions are used for different charities. In this case, to make a statement that homelessness is a serious problem. Fair enough. But the way it was done…
To start, some ten to twenty live sized metal cast sculptures of homeless people where placed in the exhibition area together with some posters informing about the problem.
Then, the exhibition was opened with lengthy speeches by a Member and a spokes person for some charity. Then - Champagne!
I will never be able to free my mind from this picture. Expensive suits and dresses, french hair work and an air of exclusive eau-de-toilettes, the guests hands grasping Champagne glassware and plates of cocktail canapés - mingling with the static, bronze cast less fortunate citizens.
Mind you, this was not a fund raising event. Nothing of substance was given to or done for the homeless. The whole point of this exercise was to show off an image of commitment and compassion, from a very high altitude.
The thing is, this kind of behaviour does not in any way strike the average Member as elitist, von oben, disturbing or even odd. This is what life is like in the political bubble.
An ordinary Member is never closer to an actual homeless people then when whizzing by them in a chauffeur driven black Parliament Mercedez-Benz.
This is the ruling political class. The band of the morally unkempt – from left to right, from north to south. The view of Very Important People in their glass tower.
I and my boss, Swedish Pirate MEP Christian Engström, watched this picture in disbelief on our way out of the Parliament - to pay for a pint or two by our selfs, in the real world.
On Place Luxembourg we found an actual homeless Belgian man. For a moment we considered escorting him in to the Parliament and take him to the event. But we soon recognized that it would not be appreciated...