20 November 2016

For a long time I stood at the kitchen window watching R digging and replanting, raking leaves with the last blustery winds from last night's storm around him. Last night, a long conversation with a friend who returned from the climate summit in Marrakesh about the unusual melting arctic sea ice and jet streams and possible outcomes.
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.


am said...

Thank you for this, Sabine. There is a heavy cloud cover here today. It's windy and cold. There are still a few flowers on my porch. Reading your post, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend last spring, back when I was absolutely convinced that Trump had zero chance of ever becoming president. My friend had been talking with a old friend of his, a Lummi man in his 50s, who frankly said that the world is as it has always been for him and all the indigenous peoples in the Americas since the arrival of the Europeans. He felt certain that Trump would be elected president. I felt a chill when I heard that. Now I realize that what he was saying was that, as before, the indigenous peoples throughout our country will continue to live with daily grief and loss and continue to find the strength to survive and resist, as they have always done. They have been facing the monster for centuries and continue to have hope for their children, against all odds. I have that hope, too, in this particular dark time.

Here are some of the thoughts of Gyasi Ross, Editor at Large,
Blackfeet Nation/Suquamish Territories:


"We’ve faced extinction, termination, genocide. We’re tough as nails and our history tells us that if we work together, we’ll be ok."

indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com is a good source for the voices of Native people.

Shout! Sing! Drum! Continue to work. Fierce and hard-won hope from a Native perspective:


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this, Sabine. The truth of it is so chilling this Sunday morning. I am brokenhearted about the plight of our planet in the hands of such psychopathic cynics. I really have no idea what is coming, but I know it won't be good. It won't be good at all. Yes, shout.

liv said...

They keep saying...give him a chance, let's see what they can do before we make judgements, if we don't like it then we'll say something....
He's already had his chance. His whole lifetime was his chance. And in all those years he never did the "right" thing. He Can Not do the right thing. These moments, these very first moments are the time to strike. Throw the megalomaniac off balance now, before he has sunk his claws. Don't sleep like Germany did. (I mean no offence, my heritage is German) Obama may be saying what he is because he doesn't want to strike serious panic and he's visiting nations to try to assure them and that's all good. But I think he needs to get back here and try to put a wedge in this while he still has some power. I'm doing the best I can now to help - every one needs to help - especially that 1/2 of this country that didn't even bother to vote. I could go on but your Ms. Stritmatter said it so eloquently. Thank you so much for sharing this, Sabine.

Nick said...

Amen, Mr Stritmatter.

molly said...

It may be the rock I perish on but I refuse, in my unimaginative way, to give up hope. Americans ingenuity usually find a way, though my Americans (my children) are very discouraged and unhappy with it all.

Elizabeth said...

I'm awake. I'm resisting. Thank you for the call.

Zhoen said...

Yup. But I reserve the right to laugh at them, mock and ridicule them. As in Mel Brooke's To Be or Not to Be.