The Walkers from the Walk of Shame are on their way!
They are trying to meet people on the move, hanging out with them, and sharing moments. Mainly to tell them personally how ashamed we are about the border policies of our governments. It’s also to rehumanise connections by spending time together with no other aim than to be together. It’s no help project, no journalistic project, just being neighbours – or friends. To explain what this walk is about, they brought a letter in several languages. You can read it here.
Often, after a while, there’s trust. Our Walkers are invited to join the circle. Big circles of 45 People on the move, living in derelict buildings or camps or just somewhere in the woods, outside of Kikinka camp. Or smaller circles, here and there. We, the people back home, are updated through Signal app groups with photos and clips.
Someone always brings a guitar along. The circles play music together, which appears to be a fantastic connector. People let their guards down because everyone understands the language of chords and melodies, creating an ambience of harmony. For a moment, in the circle, the music plays the soundtrack to everyone’s life.’ The sound waves create a connection beyond words.
Our Walkers are hesitant to post pictures of people on the move. It might put people on the move at risk, or be a bit awkward anyway. The few group photos we receive are filled with beautiful faces: our Walkers, brave, open-hearted, vulnerable, and courageous, and the people on the move. I take a closer look into their dark eyes and could fall in love with each one of them. I can drown in the depth of their eyes: old and young. Somehow their kind hearts seem to shine through the pain they are hiding; it reminds me of the innocence of children. Why have so many of us in Europe lost this sincerity?
A ‘60s song, Beautiful People, by singer Melanie comes to mind. I heard a cover by Mathilde Santing when I was a tween of about 13.
I recall listening to the lyrics and wondering how you could consider strangers as ‘beautiful people?’ People you’ve never met. I was not raised with such unconditional love. But somehow, this song stuck with me for years. All grownup, I can finally relate to this song’s message.
Beautiful people We share the same backdoor And it isn’t right We never met before But then – We may never meet again
Philosophically speaking, we really do share the same backdoor and front door. We are born into this world, and we will leave it through the gate of death. We all have that in common.
You ride the same subway As I do ev’ry morning That’s got to tell you something We’ve got so much in common I go the same direction that you do
We move in the same direction on the metaphorical subway. How strange that most of the time, we try to ignore each other, minding our own business, even avoid looking into someone’s eyes.
In the lyrics there’s this line:
… somehow I never noticed You before today I’m ashamed to say
The Walk of Shame project partly expresses this shame. We are ashamed of the fact that Europe as a whole, or Europe as the entity we live in and build together, do not really ‘notice’ other people. In this case, people on the move.
The project is like the ‘meeting’ or the gathering in the song. We invite everyone to pass out buttons, say ‘beautiful people’, and agree to take ‘care’ of each other. We cannot always take ‘care’ of each other in a literal sense, but sometimes showing your ‘care’ is just being out there – acknowledging each other as humans, as beautiful people.