If it wasn’t about my Grandmother, I’d probably not read much about the situation on Crimea at all. But more than before it becomes apparent how old she actually is. I don’t mean that in a negative way, just as it is. You can see how she’s been influenced by a traditional thinking, reaching back – via her parents, and the stories she’s telling about her childhood and youth – to the German empire. She often speaks about her father in the context of his military service under the German emperor. Born in 1920, of course she doesn’t speak any foreign language.
In contrast to that, I remember my teenage days. And I remember, about the time I learned about the Nazi time in school, all the European wars, Vietnam and elsewhere that I was coming to the conclusion that being associated to a State doesn’t really make sense. I mean if all it does is leading people into killing each other, why be a part of it. Vulnerable to being forced into military service (which was still mandatory in Germany at the time). Vulnerable to being associated with Nazi Germany, which I thought I did not want any connection with. So I went to the town hall and asked to return my passport. Just return, as in “I don’t want to be a German. It makes no sense. I’m human, that’s it”. Turns out this wasn’t possible. I was told I could leave the country and apply for citizenship in another country, and if that’s granted I’m free to leave. However, without being a citizen of another country it is not possible to no longer be German.
Not being part of a country, not being citizen of a country is typically seen as one of the worst things that can happen to people. In history there are man examples of people been sent into exile. Historically, exile has been the most extreme punishment. It was considered more serious than death penalty, for the simple reason that people assumed the loss of connection with the State, the loss of being part of a community was so painful. In his book “Das Totenschiff” (the death ship), B. Traven tells the story of an American sailor who loses his passport and then travels the world as a castaway.
I always thought this was a mistake. I mean countries are a mistake. They are a temporary historical phenomenon. Growing from families to clans, to communities, to larger entities and into States. There has always been a lot of movement, annexations, wars, mergers and so on and so forth. What seems obvious is that those forms of building communities of people is related to the forms of communication available. As mankind has moved from the spoken word and intermediate advancements to telegraphs it’s become technically possible to rule larger areas. So far so good. And now we’ve got a world-wide communications network, phone satellites, the Internet. And as a human being I can basically talk to any other human on the planet in near realtime, no matter how far away, or even on the opposite side of the planet. Yet we aren’t seriously thinking about taking the most obvious next step, which is to unite all States on the planet.
This reminds me of reports of astronauts, who had seen the Earth from space. What they observed seems obvious (“there are no borders”), and it touches our hearts. The silence in space, the emptiness plays into it as well. Yet there’s no consequences. Equally animals aren’t considering borders when they move. I’m thinking of the birds who fly over Europe to escape the cold winters in the Northern countries, and come back in spring. They don’t feel like being attached to a State. They do not feel lonely and lost, and they do not consider going to war to declare their winter residence their own country just because they like to live there for a few months each year, or benefit from what nature provides for food and other resources.
So why do we have borders? Why does it matter to a country, who’s president, or chancellor or king or whatever, and in which city he lives?
I see this a lot. It’s the same in relationships. People are so afraid of being left alone, they do so much with the intent to secure the relationship, yet because of the often unconscious fear of losing, the brain is not free to see what’s going on. Fear leads to one of two very basic functions. Run or fight. It’s always run or fight. In our personal relationships. And in the relationships between States. If we could just see that who owns Crimea doesn’t matter at all. Never has. If you look at history, it’s never been anything else but a temporary pain, war maybe, economic weakness, people being forced to leave their homes, or running away. But fundamentally, what has ever changed, other than the label on the passport?
And why can’t we see the next step in evolution is obvious. Why are we even thinking of how to react to the situation on Crimea, while it’s clear the only logical next step is to stop worrying about this intermediate form of organizing people – States – are already a thing of the past. We’re just bound to it, psychologically.
I am still German. I still live in Germany. Yet I consider myself being a human being. Worth no more, no less than any other life form on the planet.
Like a friend of mine once said: 8 Billion friends. Consider it. Very obviously, borders exclude you from most of them. So just get rid of them.