Tomorrow is our daughter's birthday. The long hours of labour and her birth changed our lives dramatically, in ways we never thought possible, never expected in our hippie innocence and which we only realised and continue to realise in hindsight. The way we and everyone and everything is connected, the gift that will always return, the myriad faultlines that run deep below us all. There was a time when the memory of that day would fill me simply with happiness, incredible happiness that seemed to stretch forever into the future. Oh, it is still there, her voice, her face, her laughter and her tears, all of her will always reach into my deepest innermost heart. But there is also such fear now and a sadness I never expected. And worst of all, she knows. That her future will not be as easy and uncomplicated as the life we had as a family. That her generation and the generations to come will face challenges and disasters we never imagined.
This is a hasty translation of a comment in one of our national papers, by Kai Stritmatter, author and foreign correspondent currently living in China.
Shout! Do not stop being horrified. Do not hide behind jokes. Stop reassuring each other that it may not be so bad. Assume that it will get much worse. This is how it looks from China: the world is now ruled by Trump, Putin and Xi Jinping. And: America is fucked. Europe is tipping. The liberal West is a thing of the past. Democracy is seriously wounded. And now? What about our children?I posted these lines after the US election on Facebook. A friend replied: "Relax!"
I did that once. In Turkey. After the rushed election of Erdoğan. When he stood before the people and pretended to be meek. I did relax then, I told everybody: Give the man a chance. Well, I will not do that again. I've learned my lesson: We must take them at their word, these megalomaniacs, these narcissists devoured by their thirst for power and revenge. Believe them when they promise to sow hatred and practice retribution. I don't understand how we can pretend today that the world is turning as always. Something monstrous is happening. It happens now, at this second, it happens tonight while you sleep, and it will happen tomorrow when you wake up. Barack Obama just visited Athens. He spoke urgently about the flame of democracy. He also tried, so I read in the newspaper, "to take away the fear of Trump". Of course, he wants to keep a bit of influence on Trump. I think that will be disastrous. If Obama were honest, he should say, "Be afraid!"
What is now referred to as "the post-factual age", I've been living in for almost 20 years as a foreign correspondent in Turkey and China. Living with lies, propaganda and resentment, I've learned that in China and in Turkey. Existing among autocrats and budding autocrats. In societies where one lives in a minefield full of uncertainty and arbitrariness. But throughout I always had two consolations. First, I can always go back home and rely on the values I believe in. And second, the world is always striving to become a better place because people elsewhere also dream of freedom and human dignity. Well, the charisma of democracy has been disintegrating for years: America's wars in the Middle East, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. The revelations of Edward Snowden. What do you want, you hypocrites, people were asked in Cairo, Moscow, and Peking? The world has become a feast for cynics. For how much longer will my home country be a safe place I can feel proud of? Will Europe also fall?Do not let yourself be lulled. Not from the smell of your morning coffee, not from the subway that runs today as always The world is no longer the same as yesterday. Shout. Wake those who still believe in the comfort of hope, who lack the power of imagination. Wake them up. There's a monster. It stuck his gaze on us. Look him in the eye. Shout! And then go to work.