|November 1989 - The Fall of the Berlin Wall|
"We used to drive through Slovenian villages, raiding the winding countryside roads hoping to find our direction in the thick Communist fogs. Not a single lamppost or road sign stood on the streets between towns. Passing through customs on a pitch black night, officers would ask us for passports and open the trunk for inspection while we prayed they wouldn't find a reason to hold us there. We would then drive into a half-sleeping townlet for eggs and steak, and the locals observed our moves with suspicious and nervous looks from the depths of their bony eye-sockets. It was scary."
As I recall, images flood through my mind: black and white Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, the wall dividing East and West Germany, headlines on Gorbachev's meeting with Deng Xiaopeng, the characteristic film colors of the photographs taken with heroic Lumix and Pentax single-lens reflexes, the fearless reporters who risked their lives hiding film from military officials in the most unlikely spots in bullet-riddled hotel rooms, the courage that brought awakened masses to march in the true name of democracy and freedom of speech.
If it's true that the masses get often trapped in mass psychoses of majestic proportions and devastating consequences, it is just as true that, at times, masses can act under the influence of a great idea, of intellectual enlightenment. Back then, they did.
What has changed?
We have Apple products now and street cameras everywhere. Our life reached unprecedented levels of comfort. But wars, injustice, and class divisions are still here. Back then, access to information was blocked whenever someone thought it convenient. Now, an overflow of information makes it more difficult to distinguish what has been manipulated and what hasn't.
Violence is still here and, possibly, in higher amounts; part of it has become digital, and where it hasn't, it occurs in the forms of femicide, religious conflicts, and whatnot. We are being constantly monitored, much more than we were before and in subtler ways.
Renovated Nazi forces, Golden Dawns, Ukip's, and Dutch Freedoms are hauling Europe into a maze of perdition; this is not mass enlightenment.
I often ask myself, "Has it all really changed for the better?"
That is when my father's stories come back to mind again. When it happens, I realize that today I do not have the luxury to get lost in the same thrilling country fogs, stopping by the first forlorn town for eggs and steak with friends, trying to decipher the curves and straight lines of an old and yellow road map as our old car chugs on. That has changed, and it shouldn't have.
Something else hasn't changed.
And it should have.