Brussels, 8 April 2011 - When I was in the Balkan region, a few weeks ago, I visited a Caritas centre in a Roma quarter. Roma children recited poems and sang songs for me, the foreign guest. I was really touched by their smiles, happiness and goodness. So I forgot to tell them an old Roma legend I know.
This legend tells us about when God created mankind. He modelled the first women and men in clay. He put them in the oven, but he baked them too long. So he created the black people and he thought it was good. In a second attempt he modelled again men and women in clay, put them in the oven, but that time he took them out too early. So he created the white people and he thought it was good. Once he had learned these lessons, he prepared a third and last batch and baked it that time just excellent. So he created the Roma people. And he thought it was good
This legend shows us the faith of the Roma people and something even more important: they feel especially beloved by God. And this in spite of all injustice, prejudices, discrimination, social exclusion, political, social and legal persecution they had suffered and still suffer. Regretfully, even nowadays we see discriminatory political decisions and excluding personal and collective attitudes. For more than five centuries, Roma people have been part of our societies in most of the European countries. They have been longer in Europe than white people in America. They are the largest non national minority in Europe. They are citizens like you and me.
I like their ancient values and I would like to highlight in these few lines only three:
One, the love and respect to the elderly. No serious decision is taken without consulting the grandfather or grandmother. They are important. They are a treasure of the Roma people. Haven’t we, in our western societies, lost this appreciation and gratitude to their wisdom? Haven’t we lost the loving care to their fragility? Elderly have the highest poverty levels in our European societies. We should learn from the Roma people.
Two, the love to the children. Children belong to their families but also to the whole community. Everybody will care of them. Haven’t we lost this love to the children? Children are a cost factor, they are of lower value than many other things, they are banned from a lot of restaurants, they are noisy (mainly those from the neighbours)... Child poverty is much higher than the average poverty. We should learn from the Roma people.
Three, the happiness. I saw it in the Balkans, but I also know it from Spain. A happiness based simply in being, not in having. To be, so I am happy. We should learn from the Roma people.
Today, 8 April, is the International Roma Day. Today I want to be Roma. I wish that their best values impregnate me.
Hoy soy gitano. Va por Ustedes, amigos gitanos de toda Europa.
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