In the first days and weeks I looked at sceneries I have passed by millions of times and I am awestruck with their beauty as if I perceived them for the very first time. For example when I studied in Mainz I often took the train through the Rhine Valley towards Cologne. Returning from Frankfurt airport I couldn’t stop gazing out of the window: the mist hovering over the water, the castles on the mountains, the little old villages. Same applies to Bavarian lakes and some places in Munich. Simply amazing!
Are You Alive, Grey Person?
After half a year in tropical countries with all their bright colors life in Germany seemed very grey. Particularly in the rush hours in subways or buses people appeared to me remarkably empty, almost lifeless. Tired, sad faces fix their eyes on smart phones screens and cover their ears with head phones. As if they were to beam themselves into a different, better world before they cross the threshold to their company or school where they submit their personalities to their managers’ or teachers’ demands. More than once I felt like poking some one to ask if there was still some life left in him or her. This perception ceased after only two or three weeks. By now I probably have the same grey veil covering me as everybody else around.
Packaging Needs Creativity
When I walked into the super market for the first time after my return I was overwhelmed the millions of products I could chose. Why do we need five brands of milk, 15 kinds of bottled water, 20 brands of cheese and 50 types of chips? Why are we so creative when it comes to inventing brands and tasts but so utterly focused on one material when it comes to packaging? Everything, really everything is covered in plastic. Even cucumbers that come with a natural packaging are wrapped in plastic. Why?!?
Travelling the World in a Nutshell Supermarket
When I strolled through the supermarket I felt like I was rewinding my travels: grapes from India, Avocados and Coffee from Kenya,
Cinnamon and Tea from Sri Lanka. Suddenly I found products I didn’t know they existed before I set foot in Auroville: Spirulina, Neem tree poweder, Moringa capsules. We live in such incredible abundance! So many products we consume we actually grow outside of our own country! In fact I knew that before I travelled. However, having made friends in these countries and having experienced their simple, yet happy lifestyle, knowing that many eat the same food day in day out I couldn’t believe we “need” this abundance. Taking into consideration the scarcity of water in many places I wonder why we don’t just stick to our regionally grown food just as the rest of the world does.
Surprises on Gravestones
More than ever before I find my culture very fixed on the role that somebody carries out in the country’s work force. On a cemetery for celebrities in Munich I wanted to find the grave of a relative who was an author. Therefore I read through many gravestones. Besides the names of the deceased and their dates of birth and death the gravestones carried one information which couldn’t say more about our culture: the person’s occupation! Women were referred to by their husband’s occupation like “wife of a butcher”.
Is that really what the deceased would want visitors of a graveyard to know about them? Or how they want to be remembered by family and friends? Even if somebody was bigwig like a publisher, or a professor at a university or the director of the Munich City Museum – now they are all equally dead. By the way: My great uncles’ grave doesn’t carry his occupation.
Anything More Important Than Jobs and Money?
When I meet old friends or meet new friends in Germany after a few sentences about my travels usually I face that supreme question: And how will you make money now? The dependency on money is so deeply engraved into our culture that this topic comes up within the first 5-10 minutes of talking.
The money paradigm can let us almost forget the really important things. Only few people asked me: How will you keep in touch with all the new friends you made during your travels? Or: Now that you acquired all that knowledge, how are you going to restore our aquifers? What will you do to save seeds and maintain biodive
rsity? What will you do to fix nitrogen and keep our air healthy? In mainstream society we keep ourselves busy thinking about how to pay the bills that we almost forget the detrimental status of the world.
The World is Getting Better by the Minute
Therefore I am very happy to have found groups of people who deeply care about these issues, e.g. during the Permaculture Design Course I took at “Wir bauen Zukunft”. I have the impression that in Germany the number of initiatives and individuals who really want to transform our culture and regenerate our planet increases by the hour. In Germany there are countless experimental projects, conferences, books, and even festivals like Move Utopia or Utopival that incubate the big transition towards a regenerative planetary culture.
In Germany I find many people who do want to change the world for the better. They care about the environment, the Global South and global solidarity and justice. However, people are extremely busy and exhausted by the treadmill of their “conventional” life. They focus on fulfilling what society seems to demand of them and serving needs of work and family. Therefore they lack time and energy to step back, think, and analyze the status quo of the world. I am convinced: As soon as people in Germany don’t need to worry about their daily money supply anymore the quest for a regenerative lifestyle will definitely hit mainstream society!