Sunday, April 7, 2013

Germany, here's looking at you.

Sunday morning. We are watching a BBC debate on whether or not Great Britain should leave the European Union. Jokes expressing resentment at Germany abound. I am tired of it.

My brother Jaap once summed up our education on racism with this sentence: "We were raised to be without any prejudice, except against Germans." Since our father's mother was Jewish he had his reasons. In my frequent return trips to the Netherlands I have been struck by how long the obsession with WWII has lingered. Remembrance is one thing. We keep out a sharp eye for the dangers of fascism and the evil of holocaust deniers, wherever they are. 

Nurturing resentment and guffawing about anti-German jokes is something entirely different.
When two generations of a people have been bending over backwards to be model global citizens, can we please let the past go and appreciate the present?

In most reporting about the crisis in the European Union talk about the German economic powerhouse is tinged with worry and resentment. We need some fruitful questioning. In a time of massive outsourcing Germany still has a strong manufacturing base. Rather than resenting the country for its success, should we not be asking what it has done right and see what we can learn from it?

I am no expert on the topic but I do know this: 

*There is less antagonism between the several factors that make up an economy. Representatives of government, capital and labor sit around the table to hash out agreements. 

*While Harper's Canada is squeezing the last dollars out of a dying fossil fuel industry, and never mind the Earth, Germany is actively preparing for the new post-oil economy. 

*The country has an apprentice system for training skilled labour. Where is ours?

Anyway, I have things to do beyond looking up articles on these statements. Do your own Googling, I am headed to the greenhouse.

Modern Germany, here's looking at you. 

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