In a world where nationalities, languages and identities mix, enrich and sometimes clash, a recognition granted by one’s place of birth raises several questions. Indeed, I am the happy recipient of the cultural award from my town of Monthey, in the canton of Valais. If the desire to leave seized me very early in my youth, the passing years bring me back to my hometown in an unexpected way.
One can claim to be international and cosmopolitan, but new customs and cultures are still weighed against the yardstick of our cradle, so to say.
The roots of mankind
How would I have perceived Berlin if I were not from Valais, but from New York? How would I have experienced a tour in China if I hadn’t grown up on the snowy slopes of the Alps? In fact, how could I “not be from anywhere”? This is probably the feeling immigrants might have, especially if their homeland is lost forever. The new land is never really theirs, because it is not the homeland of their ancestors. Mankind takes its roots in a land marked by the traces of the generations that preceded. It is a rather striking feeling that I have every time I go back to my mother’s village. I didn’t go to school there, I didn’t grow up with her children. Yet when its inhabitants realize that my grandfather was one of them, that his arms shaped their forests and fields, an immediate emotional brotherhood is established. I belong to their clan.
Loss of social fabric
Since the dawn of time, human society has organized itself into tribes. The more human societies have grown, the more difficult, if not impossible, inter-control and barter between its members have become. Great religions, common dreams and laws then took over. But today, dreams have been surreptitiously replaced by shallow values of consumerism and egocentricity. Beliefs have given way to anxieties: that of global warming, of pollution of ecosystems, of an impending financial crisis, of the loss of spirituality, so many fears that go far beyond an individual’s scope of action. At the inter-relational level, the cult of personal fulfilment has become a dogma because the social fabric has disintegrated and been replaced by a digital fabric. The observation is clear: if one wants to “exist” and have value, one must persuade oneself of this, because others are busy doing the same thing for their own account, through the play of likes on Instagram or Facebook. One is too busy digitally staging one’s life to remember actually living it. One becomes one’s own spectator, and the anxious spectator of other people’s productions… One gets scared of others.
How can we find our way through all this mess? How can we regain confidence in the future? These questions arise because it is clear that, just like its planet, the Homo sapiens is suffering.
Reunion with nature
I went up to the mountain for several days without my phone. Life was there, untouched, rustling beneath my feet, rippling in the torrents, opening out in the corollas of the flowers. These vibrant reunions with the living made me understand that we all belonged to nature. There were the laws that secretly governed the course of our existences. Returning to these fundamental values, I rediscovered an authentic relationship with music. From now on, I will first let it transform me, and this intimacy with it will allow me to better transmit it.
Reunion with others
From then on, I decided to reach out to the others who scared me so much. I rediscovered the sense of well-being that comes from the “clan”. In no way do I see it from an exclusive perspective, because for me a clan is characterized by values of solidarity and humanity among its members, and in no way by its restrictive and closed aspect. A clan can take a thousand forms: that of an environmental or charitable association, belonging to a music ensemble, a group of fans of a film or a book. Although the overwhelming power of multinationals can discourage the best will, individual action is not negligible. It has a real impact on a community’s quality of life. By getting involved and uniting, we can take back the reins of the world around us: the virtue of exemplarity is paramount. I see this in my city, where creative initiatives have encouraged more and more people to get involved. It has become an incubator for ideas.
The mystery that surrounds us
By getting closer to the others, one discovers their great complexity. This approach has a mirror effect and the interest we take in others is willingly returned to us. I do not mean it in a mercantile sense, I speak of fraternity, of compassion for one’s fellow man. Isn’t this also a path towards a form of spirituality? The union of the living, dazzled by the mysteries of the Universe, and sharing the responsibility of protecting life. We have the impression of living in a disenchanted, polluted, mapped world, yet insoluble enigmas still surround us. On a subatomic scale, matter escapes us as we approach it, and on a cosmic scale, the dimensions, the energies, the beauty that reign there are beyond the reach of the wildest imaginations.
Solidarity of the living
In a more accessible area, gardening, taking care of a plant, walking in the forest, all these activities allow us to rediscover a link with nature and to cultivate a relationship of respect towards it, as in the early days of our species. Whether we like it or not, we are in solidarity with it, just as we are in solidarity with each other. The quip “Stop the world, I want to get off! “is as seductive as it is impractical. We can’t go down, but we can change course. Your destiny is tied to mine, and to the destiny of billions of other living things on this planet. We are part of the same clan.
Looking towards the future
We have no choice but to believe in the future and fight for it. Our biology, being reproductively oriented, is future-oriented. If we stop believing in the future, we stop living. By acting, we are no longer victims, and become agents of change. Associated with others, we see our energy and creativity multiplied tenfold. We are not alone. Humanity is facing the greatest challenges it has ever faced, but together we can plant the seeds of a new world.
And in all this, my town of Monthey Award?
You got it, it’s a responsibility. I’m going to work to honor it for my clans: the idealists, and the living.
Picture : NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope
Roughly 50 million light-years away the little galaxy NGC 1559 has hosted a variety of spectacular exploding stars called supernovae.
«Humanity is facing the greatest challenges it has ever faced, but together we can plant the seeds of a new world».