November 2016. It feels like we’re back in 1985 again. The beautiful years that started with the fall of the Berlin wall are definitely over. Did I enjoy the 25 years in between? Probably not.
In the 90’s I was busy finishing my studies, getting my first job and building my career.
In the 00’s I was busy raising kids
In the 10’s I was busy redefining my life, making plans, not noticing that life was happening to me
In 1985 I was scared. Being a teenager in those days was not so great. I already had teenage angst, which got further amplified by the nuclear missile arms race between the US and the Soviet Union. Couple of years earlier the Dutch band ‘Doe Maar’ scored a hit with ‘Voordat de bom valt’ (before the bomb drops). A song that felt like dancing on the volcano.The refrain goes as follows: ‘let it drop, it will happen anyway, doesn’t matter if you run…’
I was 14. By that time I already survived ‘Your attention please’ (The Scars, 1981), Red Skies over paradise (Fischer-Z, 1981), Missiles (The Sound, 1980), Nuclear device (The Stranglers, 1979), London calling (The Clash, 1979), 99 Luftballons (Nena, 1983), Enola Gay (OMD, 1980) and many other songs about nuclear threat, nuclear war or mass destruction. Three years later the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl exploded.
So when the people in East Germany started protesting against the communist regime, the Berlin wall gently came down and a period of enormous growth and prosperity started, I was not happy at all. I was shell-shocked and (not so comfortably) numb…
A quarter of a century later we don’t feel our enormous wealth anymore. We have no ruling class of intellectuals, just professional politicians who take good care of themselves. Right wing populism is everywhere. I understand why people vote for strong men who offer simple solutions to complex problems. After all, freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. And I’m scared again; too many leaders who wouldn’t mind ending up in history books by setting the world on fire.
Maybe we should just listen to Neil Young, who recently wrote on Facebook about the lie we call Thanksgiving and the native protestors against the Dakota Access Pipeline. He also commented on the new political reality and the unique opportunities it offers:
“Like water on the garden of activism, America’s surprise president brings a bounty of opportunity. The great issues of our time are now brightly illuminated and people are becoming more aware of them than ever, from sea to shining sea, from Standing Rock to Wall Street.”
That’s it. It is time again. Time for new political songs, time for activism and investigative journalism, time to fight demons, devils and bystanders. It’s gonna be a good time.