As a German I have found that my original awareness of Eastern Europe was rather skewed. I grew up with the iron curtain still in existance, which may or may not be a reason for my very limited awareness of Eastern Europe. My awareness was dominated by the idea of Russia. The presense of Russia weighed so heavy in my inner world, that it accounted for most of what makes up the “East”.
For example Poland.
Poland is a direct neighbor to Germany. Yet, it seems almost like a blank page on the inner map of Europe, that is inside of me. This is very subjective, yet it may also play out on many other people, who do not have direct relationship to Poland, either through family or work or some personal historic involveement. Our view – at least from a West-German side – is more directed to the South, West, or North.
In the East there is … “Russia”
And now … New Europe!
I feel happy that today my view is very different and very aware of Eastern European country. It was Donald Rumsfeld, I believe, who spoke of the “Old Europe” and the “New Europe”. Yes, at the time it sounded a bit motivated and over the top – 20 years ago, when the USA went to war with Sadam Hussein in Iraq and looked for allies in Europe. But now, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and looking at how solidarity with Ukraine looks across Europe, I feel that the music is playing in Eastern Europe indeed. Old Europe is lost in fear and doubts, wanting to hold on to illusions that were so comforting up to this point.
The world has changed – a true fascist state has appeared in Eastern Europe, reviving sufferings of many years of injustice in many hearts at the same time.
Spending time in Vilnius, I can feel in my body the aliveness and alertness of life as it happens, in the here and now. There is a true spirituality, a sense of enjoyment and awareness of freedom.
In Germany the word to describe the feeling of society would be more like – saturated, tired, dead. That last adjective maybe a bit strong. I do see also many active and creative people, but this is about the overall general feeling that I get from the German society now.
Ukraine, of course, is a whole different matter. The incredible reality of getting attacked with an army headed by a head of state that has certainly lost all his marbles somewhere between his bunker and his non-existing psychotherapist has had an incredible effect of solidarity and uniting on the society of Ukraine and even beyond. People move to Ukraine, to support civil society or even join the army in a common effort against this unnecessary, brutal attempt to move all Europe back into the middle ages or even the hordes of Djinghis Kkan.
But in a way all of Eastern Europe has been attacked at the same time and so the solidarity and wave of empathy, the longing for safety and healing of wounds from the past has extended throughout all of the direct neighbors of Ukraine and Russia – even up to the North or to Central Asia and Japan.
We live in historic times.
I hope for safety of all people in besieged Ukraine and success for the defenders of Ukraine. They are heroes.
May Russia soon wake up to its destiny of supporting life and development, in their own country and beyond. May Russia soon remember its gift of making friends, rather than enemies – may the wounds of the past heal, hopefully before a full-blown descent into hell.Awareness of Eastern Europe