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Elections and all that

We have local elections coming up, and there are posters everywhere along the streets. Looking at them, it seems the parties think this is meant to be a contest in tackiness.  I mean, do they really think people will believe they are suddenly all caring and kind?  Maybe it’s just me, but all this election campaign stuff just makes me more and more cynical towards politics and politicians.

Which kind of makes me mad because I don’t want to be cynical.  Living in a democracy and being able to vote is such a privilege, and it’s sad when that is spoiled.

So here’s my idea: why not abandon all the posters etc.   Just give me a leaflet letting me know what you actually stand for, and be done with it.  I can do the rest!  It’s not going to happen, but it’s a nice dream.  [Incidentally, since writing this and before pressing publish, I came across this website Wahl-O-Mat which helps you compare what the different parties have to say on various issues.  Definitely a step in the right direction and so much better than posters!  I also realised that watching mainly BBC news has not really prepared me well for making decisions on Berlin issues…]

Sadly, there are also posters that are not just annoying but downright offensive.  Boy, freedom of speech is definitely a good thing but how sad is it that some people are so full of hatred and fear!

On a lighter note, here’s a poster I actually find amusing:

And no, I still have no idea who I will actually be voting for.  But vote I will!

Here are some words from Isaiah 32 I happened to be reading this morning

Some day there will be a king who rules with integrity, and national leaders who govern with justice.  Each of them will be like a shelter from the wind and a place to hide from storms. They will be like streams flowing in a desert, like the shadow of a giant rock in a barren land.  Their eyes and ears will be open to the needs of the people.  They will not be impatient any longer, but they will act with understanding and will say what they mean.  No one will think that a fool is honorable or say that a scoundrel is honest.

If only this was true of any of the candidates…

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Home, sweet – what?

I can’t quite remember how many years into my cross-cultural life I realised I no longer knew where I belonged.  The first 19 years of my life were spent in one city (Hamburg, Germany) but since then, I have moved around quite a bit: UK, France, back to Germany, Russia and then 15 years in the UK.  Somewhere in there I realised the word home had lost its meaning.  Or maybe it had gained additional meaning.  There was “home” in the sense of a place that had shaped me and that held childhood memories.  But “home” as a place where my deepest relationships were, where I understood the cultural cues, and knew how to relate – that was a different place.  There was definitely pain involved in realising I had lost something many people take for granted.  At the same time, there was SO MUCH I had gained by living cross-culturally, that there was no way I would want to change anything.  The price was real, but it was definitely worth paying!

If nothing else (and there are lots of other things!), it has helped me gain a much deeper understanding of some of my favourite verses in the Bible (from Hebrews 11):

“They admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.  Instead, they were longing for a better country.”

A year ago, I moved to Berlin and am discovering that re-entry adds a whole other angle to the idea of “home”!  But that is a story for another day…