By Renard Teipelke
For decades, courageous, enthousiastic, and convinced citizens have fought for a better democracy in Germany: more transparent, more direct, more accountable. What these citizens have achieved can hardly be described by any words. They fought the system, they stood up against institutions, they tore down physical and ideological walls. For this life-long determination and dedication, they deserve all the gratitude that is possible!
It is without doubt that younger generations have to take up this task and attitude in order to improve Germany’s democracy and secure their parents’ achievements. The ongoing debates about various political issues prove that these young Germans understand their duty. But are we maybe forgetting that there is more to life and democracy than preserving what our parents achieved?
Last week, I was researching several German newspapers to get an overview of the current developments in different development projects at the local and regional level. By chance, everywhere I could read about criticism, opposition, skepticism, blockades, demonstrations, arsons, and attacks against decision makers. Several conclusions are possible and can be correct at the same time:
- A critical discussion of development projects or any policy is a vital element of our democracy, and without these conflicts we would risk to gamble away our parents’ legacy.
- The media is excessively keen on covering the conflictual aspects of discussions in a biased way.
- We have embraced a death-knell-attitude against anything new, unknown, progressive, or venturous.
I agree with the first argument; I see evidence for the second argument; but most of all: I am scared of the third argument to be already reality in Germany.
Why do we Germans have such a hard time identifying and acknowledging the opportunities, positive (side) effects, and hopes linked to new projects. Where has our optimism gone? What has become of our inventive talent and the corresponding ambition to try out things? Are we so much more thoughtful, intelligent, and wise than all the other nations, so that we do things nowadays differently (i.e. not to do them = not to realize projects)!? Or have we become too rich, too spoiled, and too accustomed to our relatively carefree life, so that we are actually gambling away our parents’ legacy in this way?!
I cannot see how we will improve our lives in non-/materialistic ways, if we are categorically skeptical from the very beginning. It seems to me that we are half-blinded: through our socialization we learnt to be particularly critical with promising things. But we have not recognized the deterioration of our optic nerve for opportunities, adventures, and new frontiers. If we go on like this, we will not become the first example of the fact that stagnation will neither help to secure our parents’ achievements nor to improve or sustain our quality of life. We have definitely understood that new projects need critical input – it often makes sense to be ‘against’ something. Though, this comes along with a civic duty to be ‘for’ something. And in most of the cases, this will not be the existing state but should rather be a better alternative. That is to say: Indignez-vous! + Create something better!
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A Culture of No is definitely a bad thing for a city, a neighborhood, or a nation.
While I do think it’s true that the media enjoy making everything seem more controversial than it is, and picking up on small points of disagreement as if they were the major story, if Germany as a whole has become cynical and skeptical to the exclusion of good ideas or any new ideas, that’s really bad news. The rest of the world (I write from the U.S.) needs your ability to transfer technology and to manage high-quality engineering and manufacturing.