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Sunday, February 5, 2023

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Column “Indent”: Finally, say …

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Klaus Brink Bäumer is program director of the MDR in Leipzig. You can reach him at Klaus.Brinkbaeumer@extern.tagesspiegel.de or on Twitter at @Brinkbaeumer.

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So is everything changing now? What if a war in Europe doesn’t end, but only gets more and more brutal? When a pandemic and global warming lead a society straight into speechlessness disguised as noise and an inability to act covered up by activism?

If not even a football World Cup can console us because Germany is no longer a tournament team; and even if this doesn’t matter because hardly anyone is looking anymore? Incidentally, the non-democratic part of the world is completely indifferent to both of these things: they need Germany, they no longer need Europe, that too is over.

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And further, from big to small, private: I once thought that many disturbing things would never end in life. Not so often anymore, but sometimes I still have this thought today.

Father-daughter love, father-son love will last, at least four friendships too, since we now know how precious friendships are; we don’t let them end carelessly anymore, not without a word. “Fortunate is he who can influence chance. Those who don’t leave home because they have to, but because they want to,” writes Saša Stanišić in “Origin”. Home will stand and stay home, I will rediscover New York again and again.

Is that naïve: still believing in permanence and stability here and there? Because yes, everything changes and everything will end, someday, we know that. Could it actually be that you are now asking yourself as you read: What kind of kitsch stuff is he writing today? You’ll understand in a moment, three times over.

First of all, I’m flying to my place of longing, I’m writing this over the Atlantic, and the travel feelings are the same as they used to be: After saying goodbye to my wife and son, I set off and immediately got excited about the city and the New York Rangers and Washington Square and The Strand and Seven Days at Best Friend’s, and they belong together, farewell and beginning, the second is rarely available without the first.

So how do you go, that’s my second point today? We have to take time for goodbyes, for mourning. We have to say what moves us. Make up, if possible, before we close the door. We should wish the best to those who are leaving or to those we are leaving. “Joy of joy”, writes the “New York Times”, is a popular German word and means the opposite of Schadenfreude, meaning happiness when others succeed in something.

Unfortunately, in five decades I have not come across the word Freudenfreude in Germany, which either says a lot about Germany or a lot about the “New York Times”; for future farewells I intend in any case joyfulness. After all, Wolfgang Niedecken wrote: “Stay there, where de bess,/ hold yourself tight somewhere./ un bliev su, wie de woors,/jraaduss.” (The last word is the song title “Straightforward”.)

This, thirdly, is my last column because it is the right moment to say goodbye: Things are starting at MDR and ARD that need a little more attention and time. Since the Tagesspiegel is also reinventing itself from Tuesday to do justice to the changed world described above: good luck and have fun with it.

And with that I would like to thank you for your interest and Rüdiger Schaper, Gerrit Bartels and the esteemed colleagues in this feuilleton, who have lovingly looked after 153 bullet points, for the interaction, which was a pleasure and honor week after week.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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