The autumn sun is reflecting in the glass of red wine like the flame from a candle. I reach for the crinkling bag with the Salzstangen. They are called "Pretzel Sticks" here in the USA. Although everyone knows that a pretzel is a spicy or sweet German pastry in the form of a symmetrically intricate dough strand – and not a stick! (Wikipedia says so).
It is November 7, 2020. We sit on my boyfriend's veranda and celebrate. Four days after the election, Joe Biden has been announced as the new president of the United States. The election was like a thriller. A really bad thriller. A thriller where the perpetrator shoots himself in the knee and the police are less intelligent than six feet of a dirt road.
At 9:44 a.m., I look at my cellphone and find that CNN is announcing that Biden has logged enough voters to win the race. As I just come from the toilet, I stop dead in my tracks right in the middle of the hallway. I am so excited that I am sending my boyfriend a screenshot of the message on WhatsApp instead of just walking up the stairs to the living room in person. I have so many thoughts at once. About a country that has become my second home. A country In which so much seems to have run amok in recent years. But it seems the lack of control is not only occurring here in the USA, but somehow worldwide as well. And I wonder: Can people just stop being nasty to each other?
"I promise to be a president who does not seek to divide, but to unite. One who sees not red and blue states, but the United States. I aspire to this office to rebuild the soul of the nation...and to make America a country that is respected in the world again." Yes, to look at Joe Biden, he seems to have been found lying right next to The Tomb of Nefertiti. He is about as fresh as a three day old doughnut needing a microwave—but what he says in his first post-election speech could not be more important and correct.
What is wrong with people? I stare at the pretzel sticks. Why do we want to divide anything at all? Why do we pepper the comment columns online with hatred, why do we encounter others with the openness of a door that has been nailed shut and the social intelligence of a dim light bulb? People have been around for many millennia now and I am deeply ashamed that we are still waging wars and inciting hatred. Wars and fights about territories, beliefs, appearance, who we love and where we live. Are we so dim that after all this time we are still not able to live together peacefully before this planet goes up in flames anyway because of our immeasurable stupidity?
Sometimes I sit down and try to imagine what makes the mean-mouthed bigoted man tick. I imagine my neighbor is a female Buddhist, married to another woman who has a dark skin color. Then I try to imagine myself standing at my window being filled with anger and fear because she believes in a different God than I do, leads a different love life than I do and looks different from me.
I break down, seriously. Do people really lead such boring lives, filled with so little assurance in their own faith, sex life or self-confidence that it bothers them when people do things differently than they do?
Honestly, my neighbor could worship a golden unicorn in her garden, marry a harem, and her skin could be made of lizard scales – I do not have time to be concerned with anything like that. Luckily, my own life is so interesting that I do not have to worry about what others are doing or what they look like. Moreover, if I somehow could stop being the center of my own universe for just some seconds, I might even think that my neighbor finds me as "different" as I find her to be. Because to assume that you are the standard of human perfection is about as intelligent as ice skating on a sandbank.
Some would now say that the bad blood between people has existed for centuries and is historically based. Great! That means I can finally slam a spade over the skull of the guy at the other end of the block. Because his great-great-grandfather slammed a spade over the head of my great-great-grandfather.
The fact that this happened 150 years ago and under completely different circumstances than our current situation, means nothing – the point is that with the excuse of old resentments, I can do anything and somehow justify it with history. Do you see just how silly that kind of thinking is?
By the way, the logic of why people go to war to kill someone whom they have never met before and with whom nothing bad has personally happened, has never made sense to me.
Yes, "the French" threw stones from bridges at my grandfather during a transport on a train as a prisoner of war after WWII. Should I not be incensed that they did such a horrible thing? But think: what exactly does a Frenchman born in 2000 and I have to do with all that shit which occurred over 75 years ago? Right—Nothing at all!
Furthermore, I do not know why a different skin color is still a huge thing, while another eye color has apparently never been a reason for a shitty racist outpouring. But I can guarantee one thing: to be human does not mean dragging your mate into the forest by the hair and dragging your knuckles on the ground like a caveman, but rather treating others straight away with dignity, respect and understanding.
I do not have to agree with everything you do or try to do things the way you do them, but I should be able to let others be themselves and allow them to live their lives apart. If necessary, I should have the humanity to be the first to stretch my hand in friendship.
The Golden Rule is simple: "Treat others the way you want them to treat you." That is not so hard to do, is it?
By the way, the more prejudices people seem to have about other people, cultures, beliefs, lifestyles, or countries, the less they seem to have seen and experienced such differences in their lives. Dear Knuckleheads out there: take a trip! And not just by sitting in front of your TV or computer surrounded by your Facebook bubble. As a journalist and frequent traveler, I have visited three continents and numerous countries, stayed with Mormons, visited Amish, celebrated with Muslims, and meditated with Buddhists in a temple. Curiosity creates knowledge, understanding and, above all, a spirit that is no longer upset about everything that seems foreign – certainly not about how someone else thinks, believes, or loves.
I finally empty the bag with the pretzel sticks. It is slowly getting colder and tomorrow it is supposed to snow. I know Joe Biden is not the salvation of the West, but it is a good feeling to finally hear a few words of reconciliation after years of hatemongering and lies. Yes, it is just words. But change must start somewhere. So why not with something as simple as a few kind words. It does not cost anything, it does not hurt, and yet it does seem to make this world just a little less shitty.