Thoughts

#065

HOPE.

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Sometimes, I lose hope in humanity. I watched a TED video last night explaining why currently developed new nuclear generators will save the environment – and more generally the planet – by providing safe and cheap energy to India and China (ok, the explanation is more complex than this, but still) without talking about the issue of overconsumption at all. The “free-world” (I hate this expression) is now shaking, looking at the stupidity of Trump, without even understanding how he got elected (yes, there are desperate people out there, and maybe it would be a good idea to start listening to them!). Myself, I ignored two men distributing pamphlets on the street today, without even returning a smile, as I was too busy holding a warm cup of coffee (I eventually got one and it was about a Muslim group militating for peace and freedom in Germany). As I was walking down the street, I saw so many men (only men today) sitting on the floor, holding placards, wearing light jackets (it’s 1°C in Berlin right now), while we were passing by, blinded by our own issues. When I entered a bank to withdraw money for this afternoon, a man opened the door for me with a large smile, selling newspapers for pocket money. I looked at my wallet and didn’t know if he would be upset at my pathetic 0,80€.

When I got home, I decided to look into what can be done to help those people in Berlin. My only problem is that I almost don’t speak German. Of course, people need warm clothes, warm meals, but they also need warm conversations. Giving out bread without a word is not the same thing as sitting with them with a hot tea. I really realized the importance of conversations in Fukushima, as I was conducting with people who are ignored by the government and invisible to the general public. Talking, exchanging, laughing, crying… This is also something vital that you should provide. So now, the question is: how can I help without speaking the local language?

I am looking into many websites talking about helping people around in Berlin. These days, there are many actions targeting Syrian refugees and I thought that my English language abilities might be of help. I still have to look into all of this, but I really want to do something, instead of simply thinking about the philosophical, social, economic, political and moral implications of migrations and war-time refugees dying in the Mediterranean See.

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Thoughts

#058

LET’S BUY AN APARTMENT IN BERLIN

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I don’t know why but I suddenly thought about my friends talking about buying an apartment in Berlin. They are still young, but as the German housing market is still affordable, they were thinking about getting a property in Berlin, where prices are very likely to rise during the next decade.

I remember them telling me: “Well, we can buy a flat and lend it to you while you’re there!” with a big smile and I could not help feeling very uncomfortable. I just could not figure out why. Well, there is certainly the idea that they were talking about making money out of friendship, but I might be over sensitive. I think the point is different. Those young French people are trying to invest in a market that is not as saturated as the French one (at least, in Paris) in order to make interesting profits and earn money. But what they do is, in a word, speculation on the back of German people. “You know, German people don’t have the culture of youhavetobuyyourhouse, as we do. So they rent apartments, and if you feel like buying, prices are much more affordable than in France. So we’re thinking of investing there and renting the place for a good price.” I can totally picture people investing massively in the German housing market, making prices explode and creating a small gentrification bubble. Berlin, the capital of hipster people in Europe, will see rents and house prices go up, creating the same segregation problem as in many major cities: only privileged people will be able to afford living in central Berlin, while poor people will be pushed away, further and further away. They’ll face losing their neighborhood and longer commute hours, while youngsters will be investing their old environment.

I wish I had thought about this earlier and asked them a very simple: do you actually think about the social consequences of your actions? Maybe we should ask ourselves this question more often. Maybe it would help creating a world that is a little less cruel, a little less cold. When I look at Paris, I see how the municipality tries to renovate and give a new vibe to poor neighborhood. But the result is generally the same: old neighbors move out of the area because rents go up and they can’t afford it anymore. New types of population move in and gentrification is on the way. As a result, you get in a first period very multicultural, trendy neighborhood that will, eventually, become hipsters’ HQ. I’m not saying that I want the city to be left alone and that trying to create a better environment for poorer population is bad, on the contrary. But it does have deep social consequences that are often overlooked. We do not live in a world of pink poneys and rainbows. Let’s simply look a little further and stop focusing on our own selfish interests.

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Listening to: JUNG JOON YOUNG(정준영) – Where Are U(내가 너에게 가든 네가 나에게 오든) (W OST)

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