Spaziergang am Sonntag.

I get to cheat and use German for the title this week because it’s the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember this happening, but unfortunately I was thirteen and didn’t really have the wherewithal to fully comprehend the significance of it. Ah, youth.

In any case, I should go and see what my suspiciously quiet Offspring are doing, so without further delay, here are this week’s links:

It’s a disturbing and tragic fact that to be born an Indigenous Australian means that you have a lower life expectancy than your non-Indigenous countrymen and women. What’s most upsetting about this is that these early deaths are often due to dietary and lifestyle choices, which lead to diseases such as Type II diabetes and heart disease. Thus it’s not only a reduced number of years, but also a reduced quality of life which is the issue. This article suggests that the best way to help improve health outcomes for Indigenous people is to ensure proper nutrition. I also think that a focus on traditional Indigenous foods might not only be a boost to improving diet, but would be a way of ensuring that the cultural importance of food remains a relevant and ongoing aspect of life for Aboriginal Australians, and a means of cross-cultural communication.

* * * * *

Australia has prided itself on having a classless society, at least to a greater degree than the UK, from where European settlement began. However, most of know this isn’t really the case. Class exists everywhere, and I find it very interesting to think about what it is that decides our social class. Money? Education? Attitude? Language? There are so many aspects of it. In this piece, four different people talk about the class they grew up in, and where they find themselves now.

* * * * *

This week saw some interesting scenes around Julien Blanc, a ‘pick up artist’ with techniques which are, at best, questionable, and at worst, assault. He was due to give a seminar which was then cancelled due to public outrage. His visa was then revoked and he has since left the country. But at which point do someone’s speech or ideas become so abhorrent that we ban them altogether? Would it have been a better solution to invite him to debate this, or is this impossible when someone has such very odd ideas about how to connect with women? And what of the men who were attending his seminars? I would like to imagine that they are people who would sincerely like to know how to speak with women, how to ask them out, and really do not know where to start. We need to encourage men to talk with each other and with women, about expectations, experiences and what is acceptable ‘dating’ behaviour, otherwise men like Blanc will surely step in to fill the gaps with their rather toxic advice.

* * * * *

Finally, to end on the Wall: this weekend, up to one million people are expected to descend on Berlin as the world celebrates and commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Mikhail Gorbachev is one of those who is attending, and this article discusses his recent remarks about the East, the West and the possibility of a new Cold War. Where are we, in our relationship with Russia, compared to the fall of the Iron Curtain? I feel as though Gorbachev is right in his criticisms, and I wonder if we could perhaps learn from them, while we currently continue to fight against ideals other than our own. Of course, hindsight is 20-20. It’s so very hard to say what we might have done differently, under different leaders, and with a different attitude.


9 thoughts on “Spaziergang am Sonntag.

  1. Pingback: Spaziergang am Sonntag. | ugiridharaprasad

  2. Interesting Link…but I am not sure if I agree with Gorbachev there. I was also a teen during the time when the Wall went down…but it mean more to me, because I had relatives in Berlin. I also went to a school which taught Russian as possible third language, and had therefore a close relationship to a school in Moscow. When the first “Putch” (not sure of the English word…the reorganisation of the reign?) happened, my sister was in Moscow, living with a Russian family. When the second happened two years later, my classmates were over there (I myself never choose to study Russian). Because of this, I had a very close eye on the political coming and going back then. I also remember very well how our school send old English books over to Russia, and how, during the hard Winter in the first years, when there was famine in Russia, we send packages to help the families of the pupils over there to survive.

    That Russia fell apart had nothing to do with Western politics. It had something to do with a system which couldn’t and didn’t work. The people in Eastern Germany were lucky, because Western Germany picked up the slack and did its very best to integrate a bankrupt state. The Eastern Europe states at the very least were able to take their fate in their own hands. Russia and a couple of states who happened to be too valuable to loose, though, were not that lucky. From the get go Russia thought to keep what would bring money. From the get go, Putin took the opportunity to built a new dictatorship – even though it was not seen that way back then. And that might have been the real mistake. A lot of people hoped he would keep the country stable, because nobody wanted a war in Russia, and eventually lead it to more democracy. Which never happened. Instead Putin got more and more power hungry. If there was a mistake than that the Western countries mostly let Russia be, aside from some money pumped into their economy. There was too much trust that the country would be able to deal with their inner problems alone. The opposite was the case.

    • Well, I don’t know how much input Putin had soon after the Iron Curtain fell, but I agree with you that when he came to power, people believed that he was the answer to pull Russia and some of the Eastern European states together, that he was going to be the ‘strong leader’ that was required. Of course, he is a strong leader but perhaps not in the ways that was needed to help the country move forward.

      But whether it might have been better if the West had been less arrogant in their assumptions about motivation? I don’t know. For now, Putin is not going anywhere, it seems. It’s interesting that Gorbachev was trying to argue for listening to and working with him, given his previous criticism of him, but perhaps what Gorbachev is advocating is to work with the devil we know.

      It’s really interesting to read your impressions from someone who was a lot closer, and who also had personal links to both Russia and Germany. Thanks for your comment and thoughts!

      (PS The word you use – putsch – we use the exact same word in English! Don’t you love it when that happens?!)

      • Well, I tried to look it up but couldn’t find it…that might be the reason.

        I just believe that Russia’s inner problems are above all Russia problems. They are self-made. I am not sure how much the fall of the Berlin wall was really about “winning”…I mean, it was not the west which stormed the wall. It was the east. It was a corrupt system which simply fell apart. And from my perspective…everyone was just glad that the cold war was finally over.

        The problem I see is that Putin flexing his muscles and trying to bully everyone into agreeing with what he wants…it reminds be of how Hitler started out, just annexing land, confident that nobody would really hinder him in the beginning. Combined with how Russia treats foreigners and homosexuals…I just see patterns there which worry me. Big time. And I am not sure how wise it is to let him get away with it.

        On the other hand, though, the current government in the Ukraine is just as racist. So as usual, there is no easy answer. But one thing for sure: The responsibility for how Russia nowadays looks like lies by Russia itself.

  3. I too was around the age of 13 when the wall fell. Our German teacher came in with a piece of it to show us and we declared him a saddo (or whatever the word was for being rude to people interested in anything was). It’s one of my many regrets that I didn’t ask him for more of his story.

    • I know, you feel like going back to shake your former self and say, ‘This is important! Pay attention!’ I went to Germany a few years after the Wall had fallen, and luckily at that age, I was sufficiently interested and politically aware to really spend some time talking to people about it, and finding out about the impact of it. It was really fascinating.

  4. Ah, yes, I remember and watched some of the Berlin festivities on CNN. I remember Reagan, “Bring down this wall!” And then when it did, so amazing!

    We have similar issues with the indigenous here in Ecuador, though our current president has done much to help them.

    I’m trying to get my butt back in the saddle. I did manage to post something a month ago, but have been busy teaching workshops, looking at self-hosting my blog and writing my memoir (yes, I’ve been doing that), but I will make an effort to get something new out this week, including photos of our new home. Sorry to have been absent of late.

    Hope you have a wonderful week, my friend!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • I look back on the Berlin Wall coming down and even though I vaguely remember it, I wish I had been more aware of the the implications! The Handsome Sidekick was in the UK at the time and he remembers it very clearly, so perhaps it was also a case of being so far away.

      Unfortunately our current government is rolling back some programmes for assistance for Indigenous Australians. It’s so short sighted.

      I’m really glad to hear from you! I will go check out my reader to see if you got something out this week 🙂 Good to hear you’ve been busy doing some other interesting things, though. Great job on working on your memoir!

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