For the end of the year, I was going to look back and write a post about all the things that I feel grateful for — until I marked myself safe on Facebook. * I was going to explain why we somewhat dropped off the earth for friends, family and the blogsphere and write about
- what followed our preparations leading up to the big move from Australia to Germany
- our considerable state of camping
- how hard it is to pack your groceries in your bag at the speed of lightning
- the craziness of house hunting in Berlin
- how it took an amazing five weeks for the first “Berlin Charme” to come my way (we were in the way)
- how Berliners seem a lot less grumpy in general (a fact that doesn’t seem to apply to the last weeks leading up to Christmas)
- the 60+ appointments we had and the actual paper work, copy shop runs, waiting and commuting fun that comes with that
- how I thought you’d see horses puke before Trump becomes president
- the inspiration that is Berlin
- how cold 3 degrees suddenly feels
- the huge difference between childcare in Australia and Germany
- how an unexpected family situation turned things a bit topsy turvy for a while…
- and all the things that worked out well
Then I marked myself safe on Facebook. Friends kept asking on Monday night if everything was okay before I even knew what had happened on the Christmas market. Everybody I talked to felt a bit weird or lame doing it but it was a quick way to find out if your friends were safe, too. One of our mates works near Breitscheidplatz and was indeed just finishing a shift. He believes, he heard an explosion on his way home (something that was never said on the news).
The next day, my favorite mailman delivered a package. We live on the ground floor, so I see him a lot and at some point, we started chatting. He is of Afghani descent and has lived in Berlin all his life. He told me that he hadn’t been to the Christmas Market at the Gedächtnis-Kirche in 20 years, so he decided to take his entire family on Monday evening. After they enjoyed a bit of Glühwein (alcohol) they checked out the Europa Center nearby and the rest of the story you might have seen on the news. For him and his family, it was a matter of a few lucky minutes. I am not sure if he went to play lotto that day; he had already been given his greatest Christmas present.
We have witnessed an event of hate and terror that has changed the lives of many forever; yet it cannot change the ways we live in a free country. Anything can happen to anybody at any given point in time. Freedom is not only determined by the frameworks that surround us, it starts in our head. In a time that provides a fantastic breeding ground for fascism, the decent people, of whom I choose to believe they still make up the majority, ought to stand up and do something. I am not sure, if I want to live in a world, in which I need to mark myself safe on Facebook. What is next? I-am-here-apps that track you 24/7? Now wait, we’ve already got that.
Don’t hide inside.
Je suis en terrasse.
* In 2016 a truck drove deliberately into a crowd at the Christmas Market at Kurfürstendamm. 12 people died and over 50 were injured. (More horror was stopped due to automatic brakes of the truck.)