Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A German Guiding Culture?

The big topic of conversation in German politics these days is the subject of “Leitkultur.” That translates roughly as a “guiding culture.” It is a concept that has been around since 2000, but with the current zeitgeist—what with Brexit, Trump, and the rise of nationalism—it is even more important today.

A couple days ago on of the leaders of the dominate political party wrote an opinion piece in a national newspaper outlining a ten-point-plan to protect and foment this guiding culture, not just for immigrants, but also for national children being brought up.

It has garnered a LOT of push-back. The guardians of multi-culturalism are not happy with the idea of pushing the home culture over others. But, it does not mean an extreme nationalism is being suggested.

Germany has a very strong national identity. Even when that national identity includes tolerance and openness towards others, it is still something outsiders identify very clearly. And it is not a bad thing.

Here are the ten points the De Maiziere outlined. Which of these would be a bad thing to make sure inhabitants of Germany are aware of?

1. Openness

(We show our faces, we say our names, we shake hands.)

2. Education

(We teach kids general knowledge things they need to know in life and work, even if they prefer not to learn them.)

3. Performance

(We have a high work ethic and want to accomplish the tasks we are given. When it is time to work, we work.)

4. Tradition

(History—both the good and the bad—inform how we live. The relationship to Israel, for example, following the events of WWII, is one that is special and maintained.)

5. Culture

(Philosophy and the arts are something Germany has contributed to all world culture. Germans should know about those contributions.)

6. Religion

(As the cement, not a wedge. Even in what is today a largely areligious society, it is still built on Christian values.)

7. Civility

(We interact in a civilized manner, following rules and respect. Germany is a consensus driven society. Much more consensus driven than a lot of other countries.)

8. Developed Patriotism

(We love our land without hating other lands. Germany’s history shows that unbridled love for one’s own culture can be a problem. A healthy appreciation for one’s own culture and country is what we aim for.)

9. European

(Germany does not want to stand alone or in isolation. A healthy relationship with one’s neighbors and the world are a much better way to exist. We are stronger and richer together than on our own.)

10. Shared Memories

(The places and experiences shared by the people who live in Germany inform their culture and society. People moving to Germany as well, as children growing up here, need to know about these places and events as well.)

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