For the past three years, our home has been The Hague: the renowned City of Peace and Justice, a beacon of hope against unfairness, violence and threats. A plethora of courts dot the city’s skyline, some clothed in impressive architecture as is the Peace Palace, others housed in an eyesore, as is the ex-KPN building.
Yet, the talk of the town is not peace. The outside world, with its disparaging views on values that matter is closing in on the continent, leaving it struggling, almost panicking.
And so the calls have started. Soft power is no longer a solution. Europe must stand up, make its voice heard, be a force to be reckoned with. And it’s not economics they are preaching; it’s military might.
Suddenly, everyone has enemies. And you may not see my enemies as necessarily also yours; my priorities are not your priorities, my problems are not the same as what is keeping you awake at night. But is something keeping you awake? Or am I the only one worrying? Wake up, my problems are your problem: maybe not today, but certainly so tomorrow.
And so starts the cycle of panic breeding panic, war breeding war.
I come from a generation which knows only peace; yet I am not oblivious nor naïve. I am in the city of peace, yet, in every discussion and debate are calls for more military spending. The solution for eradicating blood and iron is seen as being more blood and iron. Were our forefathers, the ones who so recently worked so hard to eradicate conflict stupid to focus on soft power as a means of security? And yes, soft power also involves sacrifices; it is also a give and take project. But not lives.
And so, after another session of listening to the inevitability of a shift to stronger defence budgets, I decided I should treat myself to a coffee. Filled with the scents of freshly baked bread and with more milk glasses than I had ever seen amongst adults, I proceeded to the counter to order my liquid gold.
There, right on top of the fancy coffee machine, four words in striking bold:
Make Coffee Not War.
In the city of peace and justice, even coffee shops have seen the need for sending reminders.
Image: thetinyhobo at Deviantart