You are the Minister of Integration. Your first action?
I would first realize that such minister should not exist!! It is equally funny to have a position called: the ministry of ethics, or the ministry of friendship :)
I hear lots of talking about tolerance between people. I think this is the wrong approach. Once usually tolerates what he/she does not like. What we are discussing here is not tolerance but acceptance, accepting that there are people in the world who look/act/behave differently that what one is accustomed to. Integration should start on the most basic level: education. Integration begins in the family, school, university all the way to the applicable laws that protect every citizen's right to be different. Having a ministry of integration is a sign that the society in which it exists is having major issues.
Who is ‘the other’ for you?
My profession as a touring artist allowed me over a long period of time to work on my own stereotypes and dogmatic labeling as what the "other" might be. In principal, everyone who does not accept my existence as a freethinking individual can be labeled as the "other". The real challenge is to surpass such labeling for the sake of a better society. In general, we have to accept even those who consider us to be the "other" shall continue to exist and they also are an essential part of any society. We also have to understand that the change in their "acceptance" attitude cannot be achieved in a short time.
Has integration in Europe failed? Or will the problems pass like indigestion?
Keeping in mind that a society is a living organism that changes with time, and there for its needs change also with it. Therefore it is hard to judge a large issue like this by "fail" or "pass", as this is and should be an ongoing process in any society. Obviously, on a romantic level maybe, one can argue that the Dutch and German national soccer teams as they appeared in the recent Euro cup (for example) are a significant sign of what a new integrating Europe looks like. But again, this is only scratching the surface. In any case, I am not in a position to judge neither the failure nor the success. I just see signs of movement, which is positive in any case.
What form of community inspires you and why? What does your ideal society look like?
I am inspired by communities which are actively pursuing a better life for all involved, the society itself, the nature, and other communities around. It is a community that understands the responsibility towards its members and to humanity and nature at large. A community that honors freedom of thinking and action while not turning a blind eye to other communities that are not directly in touch or interaction with. In that sense I am not able to single out one community that inspires me around the world, though I truly respect communities that are trying to be self-sustained and independent. Which in turn gives them the needed freedom to think and act. In relation to how the question is framed, one should remember also that integration and accepting the other is only one of many factors that makes a society/community functional.