If a power outage happens this week, I’m totally prepared. Why? Because we’re up to our eyeballs in Sankt Martinstag fests and have made enough colourful and bizarrely malformed lanterns to put Burning Man to shame. What? You missed that 11 November was Martinstag? Didn’t you see the special Google Doodle?
WARNING: here comes an expat rant.
Turns out friends, most people opted to celebrate warmongering instead of kindness on Tuesday.
Before you draw your weapons to shoot me down for disrespect, take a sec to remember what those veterans you honoured fought for in the first place. I absolutely love and respect the many veterans in my family. They were/are all tremendously intelligent, modest and kind, and I celebrate them for that, not for contributions made to violent dispute settlement.
I’m sure a number of people will point out in many countries (e.g. UK) the holiday was actually to celebrate the end of war, not the war itself, and I can appreciate that sentiment (though not the lame jokes about “winning the war”). I’m not suggesting it isn’t important to remember and revere such occasions, merely noticing that a holiday to celebrate modesty and kindness somehow couldn’t share the global spotlight. Is that because on a day where so many people are thinking about terrible moments in history, one country is meant to be hanging its collective head in shame rather than encouraging its children, its FUTURE, to celebrate altruistic principles?
Thousands celebrated remarkable renewal and unity in Berlin on Sunday and that feeling is carrying through all this week throughout the country with St Martin’s Laternenfests, and it reminded me we don’t celebrate kindness near enough. If we did, we’d likely cause a far greater revolution than any use of WMD or heavy artillery will ever produce. Call me a bleeding heart, call me naive, but if we can’t learn real lessons from history, maybe we could take one from the toddler trials. Anyone with a toddler surely has learned using force may yield an immediate action, but leaves no room for happiness for anyone. Taking the kind, patient road may take longer, but the journey is a damn sight nicer for everyone.