Sun. Aug 25th, 2019

The Wall & The Citizen

My previous post vented a lot of anger and frustration. I’m not even going to try and deny that the tone was a bit over the edge at some points. But hopefully by now a lot of the negative feelings within everyone have subsided, at least enough to listen to an alternative mood. Believe me guys, I understand the legitimate fears that a lot of you might be having about someone who has been so blatantly sexist, racist, misogynist, white-supremacist, etc, becoming US President. I know that there’s a chance that he will send the whole country (or world) down the drain because half the time he barely has any idea of what he’s talking about and there’s a solid chance he’ll rarely have a clue about what he’s doing or the impact that his decisions might have. Clyde, I know that his supporters might now feel empowered to blatantly expose and act on their racism or sexism. Newell, I can only imagine what it must feel like to be so politically-outspoken and passionate, particularly about gender, and then be forced to accept that the president of your country speaks about and treats women the way Trump does. Ariel, I can’t imagine what life will be like as an African-American woman in Trump’s America.
Taylor, Ben, Daan, everyone, I get it, trust me but just chill for a minute. Let me explain some things before we start arguing…

PadreWhatsappIf anything, you should be trying to convince me to be scared or worried (which I’m not even remotely close to being). One of the biggest campaign slogans and ideas that took Trump to where he is was the whole “Wall” idea, and I don’t need to remind any of you where that wall is supposed to be built, which two communities it will divide or how that might directly affect me of all people. So I find it interesting that so many people are talking about all this fear and whatnot despite the fact that my family and I are perhaps the prime candidates for the backlash from him, his policies and his supporters. If we really want to make extreme historical comparisons and overly-dramatize the situation [unnecessarily], then you might as well start calling me Ed Frank.

But there’s no need for that.

I’m about to show you just how much of an insanely hopeful and idealist dreamer I can be, which is going to put off a lot of you “realist” folks. But that’s why I’m also eventually going to show you precisely how much of a realistic and practical strategist I’ve always been, even when it comes to my wild and philosophical ideas. I can’t possibly explain the whole strategy in one post, but to make this one worth your while, I will throw in a few famous quotes which should make things easier to remember. Perhaps that’ll also show you that I’m not the only one who thinks about certain things at this level.

Let’s start out with the imaginary problem that might become a reality…

The Wall

At this point, I’m going to take the liberty of being a little poetic here by saying that walls have taken on a very deep and symbolic meaning for me.

Four months after I was born, on November 9th, 1989, the decision was made to bring down the Berlin Wall. This wall had been dividing one nation, one city, and one people into two… as if they didn’t belong together. Who would’ve thought that 27 years later, also on November 9th and barely a month after I first visited Berlin and saw the legacy of that wall, I would wake up to find out that someone might actually get a chance to build such a wall to separate my two histories, my two families, and my two identities… as if they didn’t belong together. And as if I needed any more symbolism for that word, the first time I watched the Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” was the summer when the only real dream I’ve ever wanted to fulfill in life ran into a massive wall that we were unable to overcome. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a chance to fulfill that dream someday, but I lost something that summer that I will never get back, and I will always associate it with Roger Waters: The Wall.

Well, I’m done with stupid walls.

The beauty of being a philosophical idealist who spends most of his life in an entirely different dimension from everyone else is that nothing can separate me from myself or my own ideas. It is also through this lifestyle that you realize the relationship between ideas and reality: you might use an idea like communism to divide one city/citizenry into two and you build a wall to enforce it, but you will never be able to build a wall to divide an idea into two, and that makes ideas more realistically useful than objects. Ideas are the most resilient, timeless and powerful things in the history of humanity. Try to find something in real life that is not ultimately based on an idea. Try to name any source of power that is not rooted in an idea that took on a life of its own. Try to find a single text, phrase or word whose main purpose is anything other than the desire to express an idea [or two]. The Bible/Quran? The Constitution? God? America? Rome? Everything is the product of an idea. Throughout human history, persons and peoples have killed and died in the name of ideas that they’ll never touch but they somehow feel. As soon as an idea becomes a reason to live or die then people forget the reasons to be reasonable and that’s why they kill in the name of peace and hate in the name of love. Ideas are inherently corruptive and tumorous, and that means they can be benign or cancerous depending on how they are applied to reality (simply ask Nietzsche what he meant by the “Will to Power”). In short: All humans think we know something the moment we form an idea and start believing in it.

And do you know where the word belief/believe comes from? “To hold dear… to desire… to love” (And if you speak Spanish, the same concept applies because creer comes from the Latin “credere” which means “to put your heart into“). Go ahead, look it up. I’m not making things up just to try and prove a point. But the point is in fact that the only things we “know” are the things that we believe, and belief is not a matter of what we think or how we feel but rather of both. When you believe something, by definition you hold the thought of “it” dear and you put your heart into it. It’s all about mind and heart; reasons and emotions; thoughts and feelings. Only a fool or a philosopher would then question “is it more important how we feel about our thoughts or what we think about our feelings?” When it comes to ideas, there’s no need to separate thoughts and feelings because an idea is supposed to make you think and feel all at once. A thoughtless idea doesn’t make you think and an idea without emotion doesn’t put you into motion. So we need both of these intangible things in order to connect ideas and reality, and that’s exactly why a metaphysical idea can’t be affected by physical walls.

Perhaps the only thing that can stop an idea is another idea. So for years I’ve been asking myself: what makes the difference between a good idea and a bad idea? Is it better to have a good idea with bad intentions or a bad idea with good intentions? How do you distinguish good intentions from bad intentions? Jesus, what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’ anyway? If you’ve known me long enough, perhaps you know that my biggest fear used to be “going crazy” because I’m always trying to make sense of so many opposing things and paradoxes and eventually I can’t tell if left is right and right is right or if right is wrong and left is all we’ve got left. The biggest reason why I was worried about going nuts was because I was scared I wouldn’t be able to make sense between good and bad or right and wrong, which would lead me to excuse bad actions with ‘good intentions’. So believe it or not one of the biggest reasons why I am always questioning everything (myself, more than anything) is because I need to draw the line between one idea and another, especially when it comes to “good” and “bad”. Many of my closest friends know that in my world there’s no black and white, it’s all one grey haze/craze and that’s probably why my thoughts/words seem hazy/crazy to other people. “A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?”(Einstein)

But let’s get back to the point so I can tell you exactly why and how I’m done with walls.
Let’s discuss an imaginary solution to this imaginary wall problem.

The Citizen

For years I’ve been constantly pestered by an idea. Every time it comes up I find a way to build a mental wall and resist it. I tell myself it’s crazy and the energy I spend in this constant battle makes me seem incredibly lazy.  Every counter-idea that I have, every distraction I find, and every excuse I seek to not think about it only makes it come back stronger than before. Perhaps it’s fitting that I was born on July 12th and all my friends who are into astrology know that I’m a “cancer” because this idea has taken over my mind worse than any physical cancer. There’s no cure for it in my head and it doesn’t help that “reality” has made it impossible for me to ignore. Every time I tell myself “just move on with your life and forget about it” and every time I hear someone like my thesis advisor say “this has become a psychological obsession and you need move on with your life or get help”, my only response is “Okay, how do I move on then? Who’s going to help me?”  The problem is precisely that I can’t simply ignore it and move on because someone else’s shittier version of the same idea is currently a reality and it keeps getting in my way. In case you didn’t see it coming, I’m talking about exactly the issues of citizenship and nationality.

Back in April I decided to simply give in and start researching the feasibility of this idea. I contacted an expert in international law and we had a phone call for about 20 minutes, I contacted my former professor of “law of international organizations” who now works at the United Nations in New York, I submitted an entirely-plagiarized first draft of my thesis in order to see if I got a chance to explain my new idea before getting expelled, and eventually I even got to chat with the President of the ECJ (as I keep on boasting about, like a pretentious jackass). I will tell you the whole story about that over the next few posts, but after that entire circus of a journey, I am still sitting here with this crazy little idea and no legitimate reason why it can’t become a reality as long as people are willing to give it a chance and help out. And as I said in the previous post, the window of opportunity is closing. I could sit here and keep everyone in suspense by not telling you what it is but I don’t want people to get bored during the buildup and never reach the conclusion. Yeah, a little foreplay is nice but if I tease too much then we might never reach the climax, so I’d rather tell you what I want to do, how I intend on getting there, and hopefully the whole act is pleasing to all of us. So let me simply tell you what the idea is by the end of this post and then we’ll see who is open-minded and who simply claims to be open-minded while they look for counterarguments to try and prove that they are right or that I’m wrong. Believe me when I say that if you are truly open-minded about this idea, it’ll corrupt your mind like a cancer the way it has done to me. There’s a reason why I joke with people by saying “Man, I’m so open-minded that I think my brains fell out a long time ago.”

“On résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées.” // “One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.” (Victor Hugo)

After the results of Brexit, the US Election, the need for an Austrian re-election, etc, people seem to be very pessimistic about the way the world is headed. If you’re a student in the Academy and you took professor Row’s history class, you’ve probably ran into the article called “The Age of Frustration” about the period before World War I. If you know any bit of history, then you probably worry about some parallels regarding “fascism, authoritarianism, etc” and the time before World War II and the failure of the United Nat… the League of Nations. Maybe the world is headed in that direction or maybe not, but whether it’s a serious analysis or a simple joke, there’s already talk here and there about the potential for World War III. I don’t know about you, but if everyone is losing their mind about what might come from a Trump Presidency as well as the elections of Norbert Hofer, Marine Le Pen, etc, then I’d rather be safe than sorry. The re-emergence of nationalism and the potential for the EU and UN to fall apart does seem to suggest a similar scenario to what happened before the previous World Wars and “I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth — rocks!”(Einstein). So before shit really hits the fan, before people in god-knows-where-besides-Syria-and-Ukraine have to resist the invasion of armies and before I find something else to waste my time on and be “busy”, my suggestion is: let’s start the ‘war’ and choose the weapon… an idea called “world citizenship”.

I can already see a lot of you rolling your eyes and I can already hear the clicks closing the tab where you were going to have been reading this (yes, I chose to overcomplicate that sentence for no reason but I promise you it’s correct even if it’s a bit of a mindfuck). I can already sense the responses calling me naive or childish and in fact I was so prepared for it that I even concluded my thesis referencing a “childish concept of citizenship” and putting the following quote “If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children.“(Gandhi). My point is that I have been obsessing over this idea for a solid decade and I even chose to drop everything and turn this into my thesis after talking to an expert in international law (Jan Klabbers) who said you could make a case for “world citizenship” that is “not air-tight but still legally/academically strong, even though it would be a very long term and political project.” So I know it sounds idealistic, naive, childish, foolish, delusional, you name it. As I said, I’ve been telling myself the same thing for years and trying to convince myself to move on. But after doing some research and writing my thesis, after talking to people smarter and more knowledgeable than I am, and after all of these democratic results (Brexit, Trump) that only make people feel worse and worse, this stupid little idea is still sitting here in my head telling me “See? I told you it’s time to pay attention to me because I might be able to fix some of the bigger issues, or at least prevent them from getting worse.” If you understand what EU citizenship is and what it does, then it’s really not that far-fetched whatsoever.

So if you know about my experiences with citizenship/nationality… if you recall that I have been working exclusively on this idea since April and I made a thesis out of it… and if you’re reading this thinking “why would he write and publish such crazy stuff?”… but you still want to argue with me because I’m naive and “you know better” then please get over yourself and grow up a little bit. Citizenship might be your opinion, but it is my life. So if you think your opinion/idea of citizenship is more realistic than my experienced reality of it… well you’re basically proving my point that ideas are more powerful than reality, so I guess I still win the debate, huh?

Hopes and Dreams

If I could explain to you all the thought I’ve put into this and all the times I’ve second-guessed myself and this idea, and if I could “put it simply” in just one post, then this thing would in fact be naive and would never have a fighting chance. So just listen to me while I explain why it can have a chance if we all give it one. One of the biggest issues with our entire generation is that we like “the sparknotes version” of things, and that’s a real freaking problem because some things are too complicated to explain in simple terms unless you understand all the components. For example, we all know that “E=mc^2” and we can plug numbers into that formula in order to make it useful, but I guarantee not even a fourth of people could explain what the variables mean, why they interact in such ways, or why it is a fact that “e=mc^2”. Someone had to go through a long and arduous process before other people got the hang of it. Yes, I am aware that I am coming off as incredibly cocky and full of myself by using that sort of analogy, but I’m tired of pleasing people with their desire for the “short and simple answer” (i.e. “please don’t make me think, I want instant gratification”). Some things are not so simple if you truly want to understand them. You want the short and simple answer? “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind“(Einstein). “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.“(Ender’s Game). “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?“(Abraham Lincoln). “We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike.“(Maya Angelou).

I hate to break it to you, but you guys are all the same, and so am I (I can put you in touch with someone in the US/EU/etc who might become your best friend, if you really need me to prove it). There’s absolutely nothing special about you or me being American, Mexican, British, Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, Black or White, Male or Female, and that is the problem with the world today. Everyone wants to be special. Everyone wants to be someone. Everyone preaches unity and equality while they simultaneously stand up for “their” party, nation, god, race, gender, or values. Well, look at what we’ve got now. A “United” Kingdom that has voted to leave a European “Union” in a vote that proved the UK is not so U after all. The “United” States that are so divided that it’s almost hilarious to read about “America” and what “it” is supposedly doing. I’m gonna stop being so confrontational and just say: please listen, and I mean fully listen in order to understand, not to respond. Don’t argue, I’m not here to argue. I’m simply here to explain an idea that’s been driving me nuts because the world is driving me nuts with all its rhetorical politics and childish nationalism. You want to look into something meaningful? You want to actually try to make a difference rather than let someone else do all the work? You want to “be a good friend” and “be there for me” because “I wish I could help you with all your citizenship/nationality bullshit”? Fine then please just calm down, read this and for the love of god think about how much thought I’ve already had to put into all this and what I’m trying to do here. Everyone tells me to “bite the bullet” and do whatever I need to get American, Austrian or whatever citizenship. “Work for your parents and get a work visa”, “find someone to marry”, “keep being a broke student”… fine, I’ll listen to you and just buy into a bullshit system that’s led to all the bullshit we’re now dealing with, but not before I get a chance to explain what I’ve been working on for months after thinking about it for years. After that I can give up and you can tell me you were always right and I’m a crazy idiot.

I know the last two posts have made it seem as if I’ve gone totally crazy. I suppose that in a sense I have. I’m spending all my time thinking and writing down everything that’s been bothering me for the past decade instead of finding jobs and earning money to sustain myself. I’m preaching to potentially-deaf ears about potentially-controversial topics and suggesting a potentially-idiotic idea. What’s more insane than that? But hey, crazy is as crazy does and given the way things have been turning out in 2016, then I guess I’m perfectly fit for this modern world and whatever future we’re supposed to have. Months ago people thought it would be crazy for the UK to vote leave the European Union, and then it happened. Days ago people thought it would be crazy for Trump to be elected as US President, and then it happened. A few minutes ago I thought it would be crazy to go on record as saying to you all “World Citizenship might become a very real legal possibility if we act soon enough”, but given the amount of madness in this world the only think I truly hope to hear from you is “We all agree that your theory is crazy, but is it crazy enough?” (Niels Bohr).

  • On 15 June 1961, Walter Ulbricht declared “Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten!” (“Nobody has the intention of building a wall!“)
  • On 13 August 1961, Berlin was divided into East vs West and one of the most famous walls in recent history began being built.
  • On 26 June 1963, John F. Kennedy made an argument against the wall by appealing to citizenship when he said “Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was civis romanus sum [“I am a Roman citizen”]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!
  • Twenty-four years later, on 12 June 1987, the wall was still present when Ronald Reagan gave a speech at the Brandenburg Gate where he declared “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall!”

It took twenty-six years to bring down a wall that people denied wanting to build and should have never been there in the first place.

Donald Trump has been threatening to build a wall between Mexico and the US from day one. He’s talked shit on Muslims, Mexicans, women, and just about everyone else because he had the privilege of being born into wealth and paying for his voice to be heard (among other things). He’s been mocked, ridiculed, insulted and underestimated all the way to the White House. Now a lot of you get to call him “Mr. President”, label him “the most powerful man in the world” and act as though there’s a reason to be scared of him or his followers.

No, thanks, brother/sister.

If you think I’m remotely scared of Trump, his followers, his policies or his ideas then I have no idea if you’ve ever actually gotten to know me in the first place. Maybe it’s my nature or maybe it’s my nurture, but I guess I’m not really a big fan of telling people “I’m scared” as if they could control what I feel or how I respond to something. I’ve also had the luxury of losing my ideal job, girl, and even “the only thing I’ve wanted in life” so at this point hey, if you’re gonna lose something then why not give it everything while you’ve got it? If “nothing lasts forever” and if people love to apply the physics principle that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” then I suppose it’s about time for someone to try out a reaction by saying “screw all this nationalistic and political nonsense”.

I know the idea that I just threw out there sounds incredibly far-fetched and idealistic. I know that it’s going to come off as if I’ve totally lost it and I’m writing all of this for the sake of getting egotistical attention. I know you have no reason to “trust me” and simple believe in what I’m saying just because I claim to have known and dealt with nationality/citizenship for longer than you’ve even known of its existence. But I’m not asking for blind trust or mindless herd mentality. I’m saying “listen to me until I’m done talking/writing, think, and then let me know if you’re in or not, because I legit don’t even have the [legal] right to do this alone.” That should tell you how much I’ve read into the issue. Some people “know what they know” and few people “know what they don’t know”. Some people “know/understand their rights” and others don’t. Well, I’m telling you I know about rights that I can’t even make use of, but some of you can. And for Step 1 I only need 7 people; 7 European friends who want to “yolo this shit” and see if anything comes out of it. Ideally, the end result could turn out to be the “World Citizenship” scenario that I just presented, but there’s a solid chance that we can at least make Brexit a lot more smooth and painless for a lot of people, especially the 16 million who voted to Remain. That’s gotta be worth looking into, right? I promise that this is the one and only time I’ll get “political”, after that I’m done with all this nonsense regardless of what happens.

“Hope is a waking Dream”
– Aristotle

Many of my close friends know how much I love this quote because I’ve discussed it with them. If you look up what it means, you’ll probably get some responses telling you how it means to “never lose hope or faith” or that “hope is like our dreams, which transport us to worlds, events, lives, and situations beyond that which we currently reside in“. But the beauty of this quote is that you can look at it as a good or bad thing. You can interpret it negatively as “Hope is like a dream while you are waking: the more you wake up to reality, the more it fades away” or you can look at it on the bright side as saying “Hope is the waking stage of a dream: the more you hope, the more likely the dream will wake/materialize.” It’s all rhetoric, really. Just like politics. And that quote comes from a philosopher who is largely admired for his political ideas so one could argue that philosophers are no better than politicians. Well, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it” (Karl Marx). I am not sure yet how to do that, but just like Trump I am nothing but some guy who apparently gets ridiculed for some of the crazy shit I say. So at the end of the day what matters is what we truly mean with our words and how we speak with our actions. Some people respond to chaos with fear, others simply take this as an opportunity to Imagine. Some people tell themselves and each other that we’re living in a nightmare, others prefer to Dream. And if this whole world decides that going insane is what’s in vogue, well, I’m glad one of my favorite German phrases is “Keiner ist so verrückt, dass er nicht einen noch Verrückteren fände, der ihn versteht”//”There is no one so crazy that he can’t find someone even crazier who understands him.”(Heinrich Heine). Instead of driving myself hazy by wondering which one of us is truly crazy, I’ll just state my case and let you be the judge.

And for those of you “patriots” who might want to pretend or claim that I have some sort of beef against “America” or would ever do anything to hurt “its people” just because I insist that Trump is a moronic choice for President and I have no problem challenging him or his authority, I just want to remind you of one tiny little detail.


Berlin Wall Museum

1 thought on “The Wall & The Citizen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *