Wednesday, November 5, 2014

That Four Letter Word Has Reentered Our Lexicon / Remembering the Berlin Wall

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A certain four letter word has reentered daily conversation across Minnesota.  The word is S-N-O-W.  Yes, here it comes.  Winter is looming.  Old Man Winter's strength is growing as daylight vanishes in Canada just to our north.  We may experience our first accumulating snow of the year as soon as next Tuesday.  Considering the fact that there are still living flowers in Loring Park on November 5th it does seem indeed time for Winter to deal a sufficiently firm blow such that even hardy flowers will be put to sleep.  The time of dormancy is rapidly coming.

Another four letter word was on my mind in the last twenty-four hours.  It's a swear word.  It's been on my mind ever since I learned the GOP regained control of the United States Senate.  I have this grim feeling that certain hawkish, conservative people on the political Right will interpret yesterday's election results as some sort of mandate to try, yet again, to repeal Obamacare in its entirety.  The 'only' problems with this idea are numerous: 1) the GOP has spent immense political capital trying to repeal it innumerable times already (more than fifty attempts have been made in the U.S. House of Representatives), 2) the Affordable Care Act has already begun to help many Americans, 3) the GOP still doesn't have enough power to destroy the law (Obama could just veto anything regarding the Affordable Care Act that comes to his desk) and 4) there are many other pressing problems in this nation we need to address.

Tuesday's election results only further cement my conviction that many Americans still somehow believe the GOP will support policies that are in the interests of the American populace as a whole.  But this is profoundly untrue.  We here in the United States have a large percentage of the populace who seem to engage in fantastical thinking.  Many Americans vote for those who will make policy choices which are profoundly antithetical to a healthy democracy...but all the while believe those whom they voted for will really think of the interests of all Americans.  But the GOP long ago became the party of the wealthy.  Consider the following three articles found within Rolling Stone, the Washington Post and Forbes Magazine as fodder to inform your thoughts on the interconnected issues of wealth, inequality of access and inequality of opportunity.  Many Americans remain poor and bereft of hope even as the economy recovers from the Great Recession.  I personally have serious doubts I will ever pay off the total balance of my student loan debt.

It's no wonder I wanted to shout F*** at any television screen that might come within range of my line of sight in the last twenty-four hours.  The capacity of people to choose poorly never ceases to amaze me.

I would be very arrogant to assert such poor policy making has never been a part of the history of my own ancestors.  I only need look at German history in the 20th century and recall the life of my German grandfather to see a perfect example of catastrophe.  Nearly seventy years have passed since the end of World War II and yet the legacy of that horrific period in European history still ripples across the world today.  It still ripples through the world in the memories of those who personally survived the Holocaust or witnessed the impacts of it in the lives of their parents' and grandparents' generations.  The massive scale of trauma unleashed in something like war takes quite a while to heal.

I am one man whose life is still affected by that war of seven decades ago.  How?  I wonder about the life of my grandfather.  I wonder what he saw and felt when he was sent to Russia.  I wonder what he thought and felt when he returned to Germany and saw the nation of his birth ultimately consumed in destruction.  What must it have been like for him to see all the rubble in his own community?  More than twenty years have passed since my grandfather died.  And yet I can still remember the energy with which he spoke of the destruction of the war.  I can remember him saying "Nach dem Krieg war alles kaputt".  Roughly translated into English he was saying "After the war everything was destroyed".  I actually like the translation of 'kaputt' into the English word 'broken' better.  To state that something is broken can convey material or spiritual harm.  Imagine a landscape filled with brokenness.  Now that is a haunting image.  Such grim imagery inspires me to again use my vocabulary of four letter words.

While the United States again tilts in the direction of the Republican party I find myself tilting an ear towards what is happening across the Atlantic.  I have been thinking a lot about Germany.  It's strange to think about the world of November 5, 1989.  Four short days later the Berlin Wall would crack open.  It proved to be a mortal wound to the Iron Curtain that had separated East and West.  What is perhaps equally amazing is that a day will come in the not too distant future (sometime in early 2018) when the Berlin Wall will have been gone from the world as long as it ever stood.  It stood from August, 1961 to November, 1989.  

Post Script

Fifty Day Challenge, Day #41

  • I spent some time doing my professional networking activities.  
  • I went to the YMCA and exercised.
  • And this evening I am going to spend more time with my good friend Carol

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I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!