Last week I have posted an article about some of my dreams for a future Europe. One of my first dreams started with the hope for more human dignity… Why on earth should we talk about dignity? Especially, when in fact we all know that Europe is the place where dignity is fundamental and part of our basic values, isn’t it? Uhm, yes… it is – mostly.
For sure Lesbos, one could think… after all this island became one of the alleged symbols for a possible failure or for a successful cooperation and solidarity in Europe, at least in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Coffee junkies like myself probably know that situation very well. If there is no decent independent café around we sometimes enter clandestinely one of those temples of modern so-called coffee culture.
The so-called refugee crisis in Europe seems to disappear step by step from the news. On the one hand that’s good as I can’t hear this expression any more – it’s not an European refugee crisis, it’s a humanitarian catastrophe many refugees are experiencing.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s the world famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson is said to have made the following statement: ‘The world is going to pieces and people like Adams and Weston are photographing rocks!’ I’ve always liked this sentence despite the fact that it’s quite a bit snooty and disrespectful against the work of others. However, since I also have little use for landscape photography, I’m claiming to see and understand his position. For me, photography is so much more than the simple ability of recording memories or beautiful sceneries into pictures. Rather, it’s part of my confrontation with social and societal issues as well as an attempt and a language to express my own view and perspective on things; a confrontation I wanted to face within my project.
The last of the three countries of my upcoming journey will be Greece. For sure Greece, one could say. Wherever else should one go in the search for the European identity than to Greece? It’s one of the cradles of European civilization and Europa, the Phoenician princess and consort of Zeus in the Greek mythology, gave the continent its name. It’s the country of philosophers like Plato or Aristotle. It’s the place where the idea of democracy supposedly was thought for the first time – an outstanding achievement that for sure changed the world. These all… are definitely not the reasons why I want to visit Greece for my project.
In the evening of November 10th, 1989 six friends decided spontaneously to skip school next day and to leave for Berlin where history was written in those days. They packed a few things and the next morning they took off with their so-called cars – more scrap than anything – for the 550 km distance from the very western part of Germany to Berlin. More than 40 hours without sleeping and hundreds of kilometers of traffic jam lay ahead of them – as well as some of the most emotional impressions of their lives until that point. They literally intimately experienced the opening of one part of the German Wall at Potsdamer Platz on November 12th with all its stories behind. One of these young guys was me and I’m still very thankful for the privilege of being witness of this moment. The only tangible memory I still have from that day is the photo I’ve taken there which you can see above.
Probably you all know this feeling. Almost everything you’ve been thinking about yesterday already sounds outdated today and will become obsolete tomorrow. The world appears to stay in the fast lane, news is overwhelming you through different media all day and neither politics nor society seems to be able to respond to the urgent questions and challenges of our time. What ist right, what wrong? Which information can I trust and whose statistics can I believe? If those who are in power obviously don’t know the answers, how could we know them? We start to feel helpless and powerless to say the least. Some become scared, some angry, others aggressive. The rest of the story is known and can be quickly told.
During the last few days I have been thinking a lot about whether to write something on this issue or not. I’m not running a primarily politically oriented blog and my main topic for the project still will be the European identity. Many newspapers and magazines as well as many other blog writers – surely being read million times more often than my blog – have published a lot about the current tragedy of several thousands of refugees on their often horrible odyssey to and through Europe in the search of safety and humanity. So, why should I put my oar in furthermore? Maybe because it concerns me and – what if not this? – it will deeply influence the self-image of the Europeans as well as the view on this continent and its societies from the outside.