Archiv für Dezember 2011

Will It Never Change?

14.12.2011

Here we are, looking forward to Christmas and all the festivities that go with it. Well, I’m not going to write about Christmas in this article. If you browse back through my blogs, you’ll find one about Christmas, now about a year old.

No, today, I’m going back one month to give you my impressions of the day of remembrance, for those who have lost their lives in the wars since 1914. In the UK, it’s a day of solemnity, but carried out with much ‘pomp and circumstance’. Almost everybody throughout the land wears a poppy on the left hand lapel of their jackets, etc.

The poppy is a red flower, which grew in profusion in Flanders (Belgium), an area of great and destructive military action, in the first world war. It was said that the poppy can lie dormant for many years, until the earth around it is disturbed. Emotionally, the poppy became a symbol of death. The poppy worn today are artificial replicas, which are sold to the public, in the streets, cafes, shops; almost everywhere where people go.

The money collected (£ millions) goes to a charity organisation, to be used for ex-soldiers, who are in financial or health difficulties. Every year at 11 a.m., on the 11th of November, an impressive ceremony takes place in London, at the Cenotaph, the main national memorial. The Queen and other royalty, politicians and heads of state from many Commonwealth countries, attend and lay their wreaths of poppies at the monument. All this is accompanied by military music, marching ex-soldiers with their regimental flags flying – all televised around the UK. Similar ceremonies take place in towns and villages throughout the country.

Well, this year, at that time, I was in a small town, in the south of Germany, visiting my wife’s family and I went with them to the local church, where at 11.a.m. there was also a service of remembrance. There were two priests; one Catholic and the other Protestant. Several people from other nationalities stood side by side with Germans. There was perfect harmony between them. Without any ‘pomp and circumstance’, except for the local brass band, which played solemn music most beautifully; the dead and injured were beautifully remembered, not only of Germany and not only of the military. All those effected, from all walks of life and from all countries and creeds, were remembered. I was impressed. Now, I had experienced another side of remembering the tragedies of war.Then I asked myself the burning question:

Why? What have we gained from this repeated slaughtering of millions of our peoples? We could answer, that war creates new technical and scientific developments, which are often big assets for peacetime life. Radar is a good example. But at the cost of all the misery of war? And I thought that unfortunately, it is in the nature of humans to make war, and that probably it will never change. Especially as long as we have different country frontiers, languages and religions (and politicians?).

Yes, 11 a.m. on the 11th day of November, can be a deeply sad day. That is unless you live in the Rhineland, where it is the trigger that starts the festivities of carnival!

Glossary:

solemn(ity) – serious

lapel -   part of collar

profusion -  large amount

dormant -  sleeping

replica -  copy

wreath – circular arrangement of flowers

creeds -  forms of religion

trigger -  part of a gun, pulled by a finger(verb. to start, to activate)

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/Remembrance.html

HS2 – Stgt 21- TAV

02.12.2011

Looking at the above title you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s the beginning of a science or chemical formula. But, in fact, you know quite well, that that is not the case. So what is it?

HS2 means: ‘High Speed Rail Number Two.’ I’m sure you know that Stgt. 21 means: putting Stuttgart’s railway station underground. TAV means, building a 70 Km tunnel through the Italian mountains. What do they have in common?

All three are highly expensive building projects and have raised protest in their respective communities. It appears, that all projects will actually go ahead, despite protests. Only last week, after (I was surprised to hear) fifteen years of discussion, planning, etc, a vote of the German public, in South Germany, gave the ‘go-ahead’ with a small majority, however, with strict conditions, regarding financing.

HS2, however, is not yet, so far advanced. The cost estimate is £20 billion. HS1, has long been completed, being the fast rail connection between London and the Channel Tunnel. HS2 will be the fast connection between London and Birmingham. Why the protest? Because it will pass through some of Central England’s most picturesque countryside. Many of the protesters are NIMBYs (‘not in my back yard’). Other arguments say, that many passengers, already using the present trains, are able to work longer with their laptops on the journey. Still others say, that because the HS2 won’t make any stops between London and Birmingham, it will exclude many would-be passengers on the way. The main pro-argument is, that this is only the beginning of a larger high speed rail network, bringing the North of England into closer contact with London and other countries of Europe. A counter argument says, that it’s no better than the English ‘keeping up with the Jones’s', because so many other European countries already have a high speed network.

TAV is planned to connect Turino in Italy with Lyon in France, again by high speed railway. Protests in the Piemonte area of Italy are in many aspects similar to those of HS2, but with the added issue of possible radio acitvity being present in the line of the proposed tunnel.

Personally, I shall not benefit directly from either Stgt 21, HS2 or TAV. Therefore, why am I taking the trouble to write this blog about them? Because, dear reader, the strength of the protests, helps to remind me of democracy being so clearly demonstrated.

Aren’t we all so lucky, living in countries, where we are free to disagree with our rulers? Long may it endure.

Glossary:

to have in common -  to have something equal or similar to

respective:  -  other / different

‘keeping up with the Jones’s -  to be not less than

endure – continue

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15642750