Life would be so much easier for many people in this world if everyone would master the skill of critical thinking: the ability to free yourself from frames that are planted in your brain by society and historical institutions. This week’s Amsterdam Gay Pride highlights that many around us master this skill very well nowadays. Yes, we can surely be proud of that.
Not too long ago, however, even the brightest people were no match against stupid beliefs. Take the example of Alan Turing, who is seen as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. He helped the Allies during the Second World War by breaking the Nazi’s Enigma code and built the Turing machine, the first model of a modern computer. There is no doubt that his work has been very important for technologies we all use today.
Despite his enormous contribution to society, Turing was prosecuted for homosexual acts in 1952. In Britain. He was forced to undergo chemical castration, because the alternative - prison - was no option for him. He would lose access to one of the world's few computers at Manchester University. Turing died two years later from cyanide poisoning in an apparent suicide. Mind you, this is the man that played a vital role in his country's fight against a regime that eliminated minorities, including homosexuals.
Only twenty months ago, Turing received a posthumous royal pardon. And only one month ago, the United States legalised same-sex marriage. It is the result of more people mastering critical thinking today and a victory of individuality over outdated ideologies.
This huge victory came to me in dark contrast. In that same month it was discovered whose soulless body washed ashore on Texel recently. It was Mouaz Al Balkhi, a 22 year-old Syrian. He turned out to be so desperate that he tried to swim across the Channel in search of a better life. In a wetsuit, no less... It’s hard to imagine what would drive one to do such a desperate thing in his young years. Years in which he is supposed to have fun with friends, fall in love and enjoy life.
To add insult to injury, some say that these people should not be here and that they would be of no value. Both assumptions can and should be contested. In response to the latter: we at bunq will welcome anyone with the determination to do what needs to be done in spite of poor odds. They would be a good antidote to those that have 4-hour workweeks with 2-hour lunch breaks and earn insane amounts of money.
So, indeed, we have every reason to celebrate the freedom that we have acquired. And yet we have every reason to stand united to bring freedom to those who don't have it, still. Therefore: use your brain to beat the narrow minded. Don't compare oranges with apples. Be who you want to be, love who you want to love and dare to think different.