Sorry about the lame headline of this entry. I know very well that global warming is a fact - and a threat - and that we need to stick together and make plans for the future.
It just feels like irony, that the partly wrecked COP15 summit here in Denmark has been followed by the first time in I don't know how many years with real long-time, full-scale winter in the old sense of the word.
Freezing temperatures around the clock. Ice-breakers having to patrol the harbours in order to secure that ferry-traffic and container transport can be maintained. People being isolated in villages. Patients being brought to hospital in army vehicles. All that jazz I remember as real winter from the old days.
I took this photo to show you what I mean. Just outside of Aarhus. Denmark has been like this for almost a month now. I feared that I would never experience this again.
The other night, a few days ago, I sat thinking as I sometimes do.
I was thinking that I would soon turn fifty, which is in fact half a bloody century. I was born in the decade when rock'n'roll was born. I was a child during the cold war and the booming economies of the sixties. I remember the hippie days, peace love and understanding. I was young when Europe was scarred by terrorism and war, yet my youth was mostly about education, girls and finding a way in society. In my late twenties I spend most of my effort on getting a grip on my life and getting my act together. I got married at 29 and became mostly economical independent at 40.
Yesterday was my fiftieth birthday, I was blessed with an absolutely crowded house filled to the rim just as all the glasses in everybody's hands. Much cheering, eating, raising of glasses and celebrating all over the place. A wonderful, wonderful day thanks to my wife and my family and friends. I can only say that I am one lucky, fifty year old man.
The before mentioned night when I sat contemplating over the passed years, I came to the conclusion that "50" is nothing but a number. Two digits. So what? But now, as I sit here after my big day, looking at myself tired to the bones, with my slippers on and the newspaper handy, I feel I have to admit that these two digits just might be a bit more concrete than just a number.
Ladies and gentlemen, this tired man with the slippers is now officially fifty, in every sense of the word.
I vividly remember these November days twenty years ago. Not because I was soon reaching my 30th birthday, but because it was clear to me, that World War Two was finally coming to an end. The damned war that split Europe in two - the Communist half and the Capitalist half.
Celebrating this, I particularly think of the heroes that made the reunion of Europe possible. First and foremost the people of Eastern Europe who acted with civilian disobedience risking their own lives in the process. I count these in the hundreds, if not in the thousands. Those keeping up the pressure on the military guards with their weapon ready at the gates, walls and fences. Of the notabilities doing their part, I would like to emphasize Mikhail Gorbatjov - the leader of the Soviet Union from 1985 to the end of that union in 1991. Gorbatjov managed to do what is so very, very difficult for every person in power; he managed to begin the retreat with dignity - which in the end made the reunification of Europe possible. It was an easy thing to do for western leaders to stand up and shout "Mr Gorbatjov, tear down that wall!" and similar outbursts. To actually initiate the process from the Eastern side was an entirely different matter.
I remember those days so vividly. I remember being stuck at the TV screen for days, following the events unfold before my eyes. I remember the feelings of happiness, the disbelief, the victory of it all and the discussions with friends and family, as world history was happening.
I remember the first time I saw these small two-stroke, smoking and oil-smelling Trabant cars rolling through my town. I remember how we'd all wave at the good people from the East - and could see that they'd already been waved so much at, that they couldn't really find the strength to wave back anymore.
I remember seeing how the Communist Parties in the west, including members of my own family, crumble and disappear within weeks.
I remember the first time taking the train to Berlin, walking around on Alexanderplatz thinking: "It was here. This was the place. This might be the center of World history as it is for our generations."
Now we only need to tear down all the other walls dividing people. The economical walls, the curses of Capitalism as the Berlin Wall was of Communism - walls like the one making thousands of people from Africa cross over to Europe in crummy boats in a way causing half of them to drown in the process. Or the walls in our minds that allow gated communities in our societies making the poor unable to access the streets where the rich live.