Make America great again, people!

Right at the end of the month comes the first bill of thoughts: an endless list of ideas half nibbled, left on the kitchen´s  sink, like one of those healthy rasin-whole-wheat-cookies you buy to satisfy your sugar cravings, but end up tasting like cardboard. Thoughts that have been triggered by the masses of new people you have met in a gigantic and overwhelming city like New York, by the new friends you have made, by the profs whose lectures you attend. So many ideas you can´t catch hold of, so many thoughts you want to pursue, discussions you want to continue, arguments you want to delve deeper into. To me New York had this effect. I remember arriving and feeling so small and worthless underneath the high skyscrapers, feeling like a candle in flashing Times Square, like a custard seed among 1L pickle tanks in some Morton Williams supermarket around the corner: feeling lost and confused.

I recall watching people work from 8am to 8pm on some 99th floor, going down just to Uber to the next skyscraper and take the elevator to the 103rd floor for a drink and then going back down to earth just to Uber home to the next skyscraper. I couldn´t help but asking myself about how much those people miss about “down-to-earth”-life (start giving up your hopes about better jokes, people). How is it enough to keep building more expensive, brighter, higher skyscrapers? How long will they aim at dazzling us with their flashing lights, deafening with their alarms, destroy people´s apetite and good conscience by indicating each meal´s nutritional facts?

During these last weeks in Trumpland some of my fundamental convictions have been refuted, as for instance the fact that salads can reach 800 calories per portion. Yes. Or that Trump is the actual president of the United States of America. No, it´s not fake news.  Or the fact that it´s surprising how health-care and education might be very much dependent on your income, even if the U.S. has always been some steps ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to granting equality. Or that people genuinely think what they sell here under the name of “Italian pizza” has even remotely anything to do with either Italy or pizza (except for the shape). Or that the street-organisation with numbers is way easier than one might hold. Or that it´s true that people here gather on the streets to protest for their will, and don´t just sit on couches and complain, while watching political talk-shows and politics is done in remote institutions.

An essential generalisation when comparing home with New York was triggered in me when I left the main Times Square spotlight the first time I walked through it. The small streets winding around it where exactly as scruffy and unkempt as any other street in Manhattan might have been: even just a few feet from the monument of materialism, the world´s spotlight of consumerism. By contrast back home, it´s exactly the small winding streets that make the beauty of the place. No Romans will ever tell you their favourite spot to be the Colosseum, but would rather walk you to Via Piccolomini or Via Giulia. To my stereotypical mind, the way I like to think back of home versus the place I live in right now, is by linking Europe to the beauty of the particular, of the focus and the U.S.´s as the beauty as greatness, as general absoluteness.

Feeling like one of my ancestors migrating to the U.S. in the post-war and living the american dream, I cannot deny to have fallen in love with this place. For it is also the place where people in class do not even recognise they are talking to -I´ll put this in terms everyone will understand- the parallel of Obama of logic or Michelangelo of epistemology. Where you are what you produce with regard to actions and words (ok, in philosophy it´s a lot more about the thoughts/words) and not about which background is entitling you to make certain assertions; The place where Obama and Michelangelo have more office hours than my physician in Germany. A place where you genuinely have the impression that anything is possible (except learning how to transform pounds in grams). And it is maybe exactly this belief making you strive: Because there seems to be a way if you are only willing enough to try.

The place in which among the common haughty aims of going higher, brighter, bigger in any direction, with the passing of time the (wo)men this place has hosted and grown have designed clear horizons for anyone to create their own ship and set sail to their journey of discovery to unexplored land. A place people have made as blossoming and great in past.

And, as Chaplin would put it, because “The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And as long as men die, liberty will never perish:

A place people will make as blossoming and great again and again, in future.

One thought on “Make America great again, people!

  1. That’s the essence. You night understand why I fed your and your brother’s childhood with beloved Hamistad. Why I’m moved by Hidden Figures. And by the fact, that they are being produced overthere. It’s Justice that finally prevails. It’s ” we shall overcome one day”. It’s rewarded Camus’ attitude. Enjoy the feeling! Love, Dad

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