One of last week’s questions on Ten on Tuesday was “what I was proud about my country”. I stumbled a bit at this question, because generally we are not raised to be proud of our country.
Another thing that really caught me off guard, was the sheer coincidence of this question. It could have been asked at any week of the year, but it made its way to ToT the week before one of Germany’s most important holidays: October 3. The day we celebrate the reunification of “both” Germanys – East and West.
A look on history
Of course, you all know the story about how Germany was divided into 4 parts after WW2, governed by Britain, France, the US and Russia and how we ended up being divided into the German Federal Republic (made of the British, French and American sector) and the German Democratic Repubilc (made of the Russian sector). It was also the beginning of the Cold war that ended some 45 years later with the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.
Time to celebrate
This year marks the 20th birthday of our reunification. 20 years since the Berlin wall fell and with it the iron curtain dividing one people.
But are we feeling celebratory? No, not really.
Are we proud of our country? Uhm. Big question.
Our everyday life and feelings are mixed, I’d say. Like most countries, we’re facing the consequences of the last economic crisis and find ourselves in the middle of budget cuts, reforms and strike. We are still facing some “leftover ghosts” from the former regime in Eastern Germany, like high unemployment rates in some areas.
But we should be hopeful.
In the last 60 or so years, our country, as in our grandparents, parents and ourselves, have done our best to overcome our dark past and built a democracy from scratch. From being a “feared enemy” to a stable nation that can be relied on within the community of states. We’re fighting together with former enemies against new threats, like terrorism.
If you asked me to describe my home country, I’d say that we’re a very multi-cultural society. We have one of the best educational systems enabling everyone to pursue the career he or she wants. We have only minor immigration issues. Our crime rates are incredibly low.
So, why aren’t we proud? I don’t know. Perhaps we are, but we’re unconscious about it. Or we’d like to be proud, but are afraid of what other nations will think. Considering our history and what we’ve grown up with I suppose it’s a mixture of both. I hope that one day soon, we’ll find a compromise and say:
“We’re proud of what our country has become in these last 60 years!”
Wouldn’t our celebrating 20 years of unity be a great moment to start?