The Unilever Series: Dominique Gonzales Foerster - TH.2058


Today’s houses

By Nele

Today is built on the ruins of yesterday, and tomorrow will be built on the ruins of today.

But on which ruins did we start building today’s houses?

On those left by the financial crisis about fifty years ago when the whole planet sank into a deep depression – not only our economies but also our hearts and souls?

Or on the ideals left by a young man elected as president of the most powerful nation in 2008? Who had never been that much a leader but a real good listener?

And who, just by attentive listening, forced his partners to find solutions for their problems by themselves?

Or on those left by all those people who dared to ask the only question that had never been asked before: WHY? Why us? Why now?

If you take a short glimpse at 2058 it seems as if nothing has changed.

We still go to school, receive some kind of education that allows us finding a job and earning a living.

We still pay taxes, go shopping, watch movies, listen to music or just switch on the TV.

We use the internet, we even write or read books.

Some marry and have children, some are single; some pray to which god ever and some don’t.

Still, some people are rich and some are poor. Some are celebrities, some just part of the crowd.

But if you take a deeper look you will see that a lot of things happened in the past fifty years.

In 2009 we had to learn the hard way that the markets cannot heal themselves and that it is as impossible to make money from thin air as it is to make gold from cobble stones.

We still have companies but nowadays they provide goods and services and not shareholders-values.

We still have banks but their main task is to provide accounts and not risky investments.

We still work for money but we receive a fair profit share, not a pay that is too high for dying but not enough for living.

Oh yes, still we have nations, still we have governments, parliaments, elections and everything.

But nearly no country has something like an army left.

When the economic depression was at its worst and the unemployment rate at its maximum, the money wasted for soldiers, guns, tanks and bombs was urgently needed for assuring the nations futures.

And afterwards nobody cared about rearming, because we all had shared the same problems and the same troubles – we became friends the hard way and we would stay friends for good.

Nowadays we use political weapons to fight nationalism, fascism, racism.

We still have some conflicts left but nations prefer diplomacy to fighting and killing.

Fifty years ago we had been on the level of a developing country from one day to the other.

Millions of people jobless; taking a bus or a train a luxury; no gasoline for our cars – suddenly we had to live simple lives. We used our feet for walking or biking and planted fruits and vegetables on every square inch of green, in our gardens and on our balconies. And during the process of economic recovery – which was a very slow one – we had formed a new society.

But it weren’t the politicians who had changed in the first place – the people had changed.

Queuing in lines for food and water after the break-down of our social systems, seeing the destruction of everything that had been made and done in the past, not knowing what will be tomorrow, all those fears about the future brought us close together.

Some of those people who had always complained about what they had called “economic migrants” tried to make their living abroad – and had to learn what this phrase meant: discrimination, prejudices and hate.

Whatever we do it will be reflected to us sooner or later – and these reflections hit us like bombshells. We paid a high price for all the exploitation, the injustice and the wars our former lives were based on.

And we started asking questions to our leaders. We became interested in their work. We learned that only voting on a four or five years-basis was not enough.

We elect our politicians, we pay them with our taxes – so they have to represent us, not themselves; they have to work for our benefit, not for theirs.

Today, everybody is a politician.

In the decade before the collapse the technological progress was higher than ever before – but socially we still behaved like stone age-people.

We sat feet on the moon while hundred thousands of people starved.

We played with our genes while babies died of diarrhoea simply because their water was contaminated with bacteria.

The corn which was needed to feed the world went into the tanks of our cars.

All our wonderful ideas, all our great inventions had been used for destruction and suppression.

In the last fifty years the technological progress came more or less to a halt.

But we had understood.

For the first time ever the social progress overtook our technology. And nobody really misses a new mobile phone standard or bigger TVs.

Sometimes, I think on my grandma.

She had told me that the former Soviet-Union planned a manned trip to Mars in 1992.

When 1992 began, the Soviet-Union did not exist any more.

Around 2006 some nations thought about how to get astronauts on Mars. How to manage the energy needed to overcome earth’s gravitation, how to survive a two year’s flight, how to bring them back home.

Then we had the economic break-down.

People still look up to the stars and listen to all their promises in their soft glow.

But our preferences have changed.

Maybe we will leave our home one day. But not before we emptied all waste-baskets and cleaned our windows.

Do we live in a perfect world?

Is this the paradise we lost?

Certainly not.

Still we are human beings with all our weaknesses: our greed, our aggressions, our intolerance, our lack of understanding for what we do not know, our ignorance and our jealousy.

Yesterday’s ruins are yesterday’s blessings – and some wounds never heal.

Still some people – especially those who had experienced the “Big Bang” as they use to call it -have no faith and are full of fears – and whoever fears the future does not have one.

But the houses we started building on the ruins of yesterday are comfortable and worth living in.

They are fit for tomorrow.

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