For a few weeks now strangers have been ambushing me with polarising questions and smothering my son with balloons, for a few weeks now my inbox is overflowing. For a few weeks now I cannot get rid of this upset stomach… The symptoms are clear: Elections are coming up. On the 22nd September 2013 Germans are voting for parliament which elects the chancellor.
39 parties are running of which nine have a realistic chance winning seats in the national parliament. Still there is party, no candidate I really want to vote for. I do believe in the good of people and know a large number of politicians are truly striving to make a change. But I have seen it all before: So many good intentions gone terribly wrong!
I had some intense but short love-affairs with political parties. And I came to the insight that even if you have the power to do big changes – you can't. And the major reason for that is that people live in fear. Scared of loosing, scared of the unknown. But big changes require bravery. Usually whole society needs to stay brave for a long time until you can see improvement.
The first election that I vividly remember were in 1994, the first free democratic elections in South Africa. No matter how dark and bloody the days that lead up to it had been, for three days all South Africans looked at each other and said: "I hear your concerns." People weeping after they cast their vote because they felt the common humanity we all share, because they knew that everyone matters. It was a defining and liberating moment not only for the long oppressed but also for the white minority. It was the days where a society decided to no longer be guided by fear but to just go out and do it together.
I was ten years then. And with no doubt, this time was the most profound, the most spiritual time of my life; kind of hoped that this is how it is every time you go to vote…
Now, I try to recreate this moment by trying to make elections meaningful, by raising issues that I feel should not only unite us as humans but set us free: A post-growth-economy.
The capitalist ideas have been working out great – for some. But too many people are left behind, the environment is being destroyed and so it the bases of a good life for our children. We all know: Growth cannot be infinite. Our planet can only supply a limited number of resources. More and more just does not work! Nevertheless, again and again economists and politicians babble about it. And with this hoax justification they burn money when socialising risks while profits keep private. A Green New Deal can, at most, be a transition to different to a truly sustainable economic system because it does not change the iniquitous game.
The great news is: Also if good public services, fair payment, and social security are matters that will not be tackled sufficiently in the near future, you are not powerless here!
By reclaiming power of where your money goes you are taking influence on the system! Realising what you really need and want, saving some money on the one hand, having something left to actually support initiatives you want your money to go to; it is really rather simple!
There are 1000 more things you can do! Some measures that I take to get you cracking: Grow your own food! Not only it will supply you and your loved ones with healthy and save nourishment but the exercise will improve your health, it frees your mind, your children will learn about the cycle and you can make an impact by growing crop that are less in use and help to protect them from being extinct. Also I am part of a foodsharing community where stores as well as private people give away food they do not need anymore instead of throwing it. The most vivid part of it is the food-cycle in the apartment building where I live. All the families here manage and share their left overs together. Ask for help when you need it. I keep most of my tools not at home but at a community centre, for everyone to borrow. Things that I like to keep at home but do not use on a daily base I enter on a sharing website. Couchsurfing is an important part of my life as well. It is great because I have a home wherever I go and I can travel without leaving my home.
There are many systems of sharing things and labour out there. They all have one thing in common. To participate you need to loose your fear. Do not be scared of loosing what you have and that people who might take advantage of you. You need to open up and allow strangers to get close to you. When we see each other and hear each other out elections could be a celebration of our common humanity.