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We need to find our way back to listening to each other, to walk in each other’s shoes, Queen says

Her Majesty accepts Foreign Press Association’s ‘first ever’ humanitarian award, dedicates it to Jordanians

By JT - Nov 30,2016 - Last updated at Nov 30,2016

Her Majesty Queen Rania accepts the Humanitarian Award of the Year from the Foreign Press Association in London on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — Her Majesty Queen Rania said on Tuesday that human empathy and compassion need an urgent upgrade in order to keep pace with accelerating technology and innovation. 

In an acceptance speech after receiving the Humanitarian Award of the Year from the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in London, Queen Rania, who is the first recipient of the newly created award, warned that advancements in technology, globalisation and the free flow of ideas and people are not necessarily leading to improvements in human values or promoting understanding.

“We say that our world is more connected than ever, yet we’re pushing one another away. Our politics are migrating to the extremes and we’re losing the middle ground: closing off instead of opening up, talking of isolationism instead of cooperation, of borders instead of bridges,” Queen Rania said.

She added that, faced with a fast-paced and changing world that challenges their identity, people have resorted to fear instead of solidarity with those less fortunate, according to a statement from Her Majesty’s office.

“When fear overwhelms our thinking, we compromise our logic and compassion,” the Queen explained. 

“I think we need to find our way back to the basics of simply listening to each other, of trying to see through each other’s eyes, and to walk in each other’s shoes.”

Commenting on Syria, the Queen said politicians are “seemingly preoccupied with outmanoeuvring one another, while civilians are maimed and brutalised and killed”, questioning what lessons have been learned from their response to the prevailing brutality there.

Emphasising the need for change, Her Majesty noted that a new dynamic for leadership is required to move forward, one in which “allaying fear and restoring trust” remain top priorities.

“Part of that is acknowledging where our old institutions and thinking are falling short, and part of it is genuinely working together to find solutions,” Her Majesty added.

The Queen said that facing these challenges requires recommitting to humanity’s common values, and rejecting “scapegoating” and divisive messages of anger and blame.

Addressing hundreds of journalists in the crowd, Queen Rania highlighted the critical role journalists play in informing and enlightening the world.

“Your reporting casts a light into the shadows. Your words convey the voices of the voiceless. Your images bring complex issues into focus. Your analysis educates and inspires. And at the same time, you can help us keep our finger on the world’s emotional pulse, to make sure leaders stay better connected to the feelings of the people they serve,” the Queen said.

Her Majesty dedicated the award to Jordanians, whom she described as the “greatest humanitarians I know” for opening their homes and hearts to Syrian refugees. “Jordanians have little, yet we are giving our all because we see our common humanity in our neighbours.”

She said that although the decision to aid over 1 million refugees might not appear to be a “smart” move, it exemplifies the moral integrity demanded by the scope and gravity of contemporary humanitarian crises.

Set up almost 130 years ago, the FPA is one of the oldest clubs for foreign correspondents in the world, and the only one of its kind in the United Kingdom. 

It is apolitical and independent, funded through members’ subscriptions. Now in their 17th year, the annual Foreign Press Association Media Awards in London are among the most prestigious award ceremonies for journalism in the world.

Her Majesty Queen Rania was selected as the first recipient of the humanitarian award “in recognition of her extraordinary humanitarian work addressing the Syrian refugee crisis, and her active and compassionate role in promoting education and championing women”, the statement said.

The event also included a ceremony awarding the best television news, print and web news, as well as financial, documentary, feature, radio, environment, arts and culture, science, sports and travel stories of the year.

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