Brandenburg is my home county and even though I love hopping on the city train to spend time in the multi cultural, arty, vibrant capitol of Germany that’s on my birth certificate, I couldn’t really ever give up the clear lakes, surrounded by lush green forests (where we’ll traditionally go mush room foraging in the autumn) and the spacious avenues where one can cycle without being run over by cars. Now, on Saturday I learned that on top of all these advantages Brandenburg also enjoys the third highest amount of sunshine in all of Germany. But being a Brandenburger comes with responsibility. Responsibility for the sadly high number of people who don’t want to share the lakes, beaches and the sunshine. During these elections it has become clear again that we do have a problem and there is no point in denying it. When one reads that there is more racism in former East Germany one quickly gets into a defensive position – just like those people who didn’t like Malala pointing out the shortfalls of Pakistan in securing access to education for everyone – it’s so easy to say that there have also been attacks on asylum seeker’s homes in West Germany. But that doesn’t help anyone. Pointing the finger at others will not change anything. It will not make Brandenburg any more livable. It will not make it possible for me to take my international friends to the lake in which I learned to swim.
And it will also not allow Brandenburg to develop. The county is currently bleeding out. Young people have been leaving ever since the early 1990s when after German re-unification businesses were closed and the economy went haywire. Where children used to play, you only see old people today. In some areas people don’t have access to basic services anymore as the population has thinned out so much that here is not enough demand. What my county needs is young people coming in and bringing the place back to live. But instead the local population is driven by prejudice and xenophobia and revolting against any outsiders. What in Pakistan is called Taliban is here called NPD. They are different in name and while one has long beards and the other clean shaven heads (speaking of stereotypes). But both have very ‘clear’ ideologies that basically consist of conforming people to a very narrow idea of what a human being should be like. In fact, the criteria of what it shouldn’t be like like more in number than those for what people should be like. Both base their outlook of the world on clearly defining their enemies. They both can only exist because of their enemies. The hatred towards supposedly alien people – be they Christians or foreigners – is all that keeps their followers together. The societies that they want to create will never be peaceful. They are solely based on hate and terror. That’s why we need to educate people to learn to resist the temptations of these pied pipers.