Slovakia, I hope with you

Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.” Vaclav Havel.
Today, we look to Slovakia. Today, I look to Slovakia.
And I hope for another revolution. Not the velvet one. A new one, for the 21st century.
Vaclav Havel, a role model for Slovak presidential candidate Zusana Caputova, also said:
Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
With IOGT International we have been in Bratislava, the capital of this small country of 5.4 million, just a few days ago, where we frequently passed by the little memorial spot of tributes to Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova in the city center and Kristina explained to our friends from Africa, Asia and other parts of Europe what the murder of the young investigative journalist and his fiancé meant and means.
It violently brought to public attention what everyone in Slovakia privately knew and suspected: that the highest levels of the political and economic establishment entertain close ties to organized crime, and that the big wigs can go about their illegal, unethical business largely with impunity.
It sparked a mass movement that has not subsided.
It convinced Suzana Caputova, a civil rights activist and lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner, to run for President of the Slovak Republic.
It is changing the country, and might very well help change the region.
The movement is called Za Slusne Slovensko (“For a Decent Slovakia”). In tens of thousands are they protesting and campaigning, in Bratislava and cities around the country, ever since the murder of Jan and Martina. The campaign grew quickly in size and force into mass protests against the corruption and arrogance of the government, and the wider Slovak elites. Under slogans like “Slovakia is going the wrong way” and “We want elections,” tens of thousands of have marched repeatedly under sleet, snow or rain in Bratislava, and across the entire country.
They brought down the long-time Prime Minister (among others). And they are not done. Not by a long-shot.
In fact, the young people behind the movement are role models for an entire generation  across Europe. Role models for how to overcome apathy, for how to take back the public space, for how to demand accountability – and for hope, in the spirit of Havel, to build a society that works for all.
In March 2018, the New York Times Editorial Board wrote:
Given the sad retreat from democracy in many of their Central European neighbors, it is heartening to witness the determination of so many thousands of Slovaks who have been marching across their country “for a decent Slovakia,” as they’ve dubbed their protests.
So, today, we look to Slovakia.
We look to a country where rule of law means rule of those who can afford it; a country where political leadership was about populist promises while at the same time exploiting society’s resources; a country where election turnout has often been low because of the widespread disappointment and disillusionment with the political, judicial, and economic establishment; a country whose people had to learn to mistrust public space and public expressions of political opinions.
We look to country in the heart of Europe where the people are demanding change, systemic change.
Make no mistake, this is not a fairy tale. In the first round of the Presidential election two weeks ago, almost one quarter of voters supported right-wing extremist and openly fascist, neo-nazi candidates.
But the movement Za slušné Slovensko has already changed the country. It has given the people a voice and it has started holding those accountable that rob society of its resources for their own personal gain. Power is returning to the people. Hope is being transformed into political capital and leadership, as Ms. Caputova is showing.
When the campaign started, nobody gave Ms. Caputova a chance. She had not held any public office. She kicked off her election campaign in fifth places in the polls. She was relatively unknown. But she ascended thanks to a series of strong performances in pre-election debates and her credible message to represent the change that the people have been protesting for.
Ms. Caputova’s emergence is an unmistakable signal of dramatic shifts in Slovak politics and society, prompted by the violent deaths of Jan and Martina 13 months ago. And so she has become a beacon of hope this spring – not the hope that waits and prays but the hope that invigorates and inspires action.
I see these elections . . . in the context of a strong call for change after the tragic events of last spring,” Ms Caputova said, per Financial Times.
Perhaps we are also at a crossroads in terms of rebuilding public trust.”
I look to Slovakia today with Vaclav Havel’s quotes in mind. “Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.” Ms. Caputova has filled Havel’s wisdom with life. She is the political representation for the people who have crowded streets and squares all over Slovakia. She has already made a difference. She has run an election campaign of integrity and decency. She is new to politics but she is a skilled politician. She has not stoked fear, has not incited xenophobia, has not pitted people against each other, has not used populist messages, has refrained from attacks on her political competitors, and has not glorified herself. She is not a savior and she has refrained from portraying herself as such. In neighboring countries, men are running the show who all have done and are doing these things.
Slovakia could today show that there is a better way forward.
The population is very polarised. One reason is the gap between the behaviour of politicians and the expectations of citizens . . . Like elsewhere, Slovakia is also facing the impact of globalisation, new technologies, terrorism, migration — too much uncertainty,” said Iveta Radicova, who was Slovakia’s first female prime minister in 2010, and is now professor of sociology at the Pan-European University in Bratislava.
This has created the space for anti-system movements and new political forces — and for extremists offering a stable point for people in a world of insecurity and mistrust.”
Ms Caputova could chart a way that Orban, Babis and Kaczinsky are unwilling, unable and afraid to go. Vilifying others is not a policy solution to real life problems. But Ms. Caputova has proposed a vision and she has offered an analysis of how the system needs to change to achieve that political vision. She has spoken about her ideas, instead of making accusations. She has been open about what she as President can and cannot do to bring about that change. She has answered questions clearly (most of the time) and honestly (imagine that), and has not shied away from expressing her opinions even when she knew those might encounter opposition (LGBTQIA-rights). She has dominated the election debates with her direct, honest and considerate answers.
The role of President of the Slovak Republic is largely ceremonial and symbolic, with little actual political power. But the government crisis as result of mass protests after the murder of Jan and Martina has shown how important the role of the President can be, both as moral leader and as crucial part of the constitutional system that has been exploited and eroded by corrupt elites ever since the Velvet Revolution. Some call Ms Caputova the Erin Brockovich of Slovakia. Some call her Slovakia’s Macron. I think she is the new Havel. But all those labels remain inadequate. Ms Caputova might very well be the leader Europe needed – towards building more just societies, more accountable political leadership and more decency.
For the Ficos, Babis, Kaczynskis, and Orbans, for the Salvinis, Wilders, Åkessons and Gaulands, I am hoping for an election result today showing at the ballot box that our generation has arrived, the young people of Slovakia and their peers across Europe; a generation that is silent no more in the face of hatred, corruption, excesses of capitalism and unscrupulous elites eroding our hard-won freedoms.
So, here we are.
Election day.
We are watching. We are hoping.

voting without knowing

Fake it till you take it

Tonight the election campaign in the USA is reaching its climax before the actual voting day on November 6, 2012. The third and final Presidential debate is scheduled for a debate tie-breaker. Who will win on foreign policy? President Obama or Governor Romney? (or China or Iran? – but that is another topic for a different blog post).

With the campaign seasons coming to its end, and November 6 getting closer and closer, one winner and one loser are, however, unmistakable clear: one winner is surely Mitt Romney himself; one loser surely is the American electorate.

Mitt Romney got away, as it seems, with keeping from the voter basic information about his personal wealth, his campaign financing, his policy recommendations and his political and business history.

The electorate, the American people and American political culture got faked. Democracy got hit. And in my view, has been knocked out, is merely a trembling, shaky, delirious figure – still standing, but not tall and proud, instead knees weak and arms paralysed. A pity parody of its proud and promising past.

As Hannah Arendt wrote: “No one… has ever counted truthfulness among the political virtues.” Maybe not, but Mitt Romney has robbed something from the American political culture that used to be so fundamental. Read the full post »

maybe this time…

fake solution

it’s friday evening and that is why it is the best timing for publishing the latest picture i have drawn inspired by a young man i saw one week ago. he was to me like a great prototype of a young person doing anything just to belong somewhere. the aura of expectation around him, the hope hidden in a plastic bag from an alcohol shop, holding the solution for his social status close and proud and little worried if it will work or not. i did not see joy. an alcohol drink is not really what he is looking forward to on fridays. it does not feel so great as one could believe. it’s not that tasty. it does not make sense. but it’s seems that holding it brings that little appreciation he misses so much every other day of the week. they laugh at him but it’s better than being ignored. they encourage him to drink that bitter stuff but it’s better than being just looked through. every friday a new trial to belong somewhere for a while wishing to be free one day.

my soul is a new born baby

seeing beauty

my soul is a newborn baby
it does not know any wars and lies
it believes that the world’s rose garden
it believes that the world is nice

it goes around with eyes wide open
brought to tears by the beauty around
beauty on the every step that’s taken
beauty really shakes my soul’s ground

my soul carries me through the maze of humans
sometimes i just lack the words
when all our traditions and norms
are used as weapons to kill people’s souls

when the sorrow digs the empty hole
it’s my soul that keeps me whole
it’s the beauty of every step that’s taken
that makes me breathe and grow

my soul is newborn baby
it makes me see the magic
in the big and in the small
so i can hold my head up and just go on

dress code

sorrow vs love

Sorrow vs love

prajna vanguard

or if you will
profound understanding

to treat the ordinary like it was
practice patience and discipline
to look at all that appears common and see the
live not in product but in the process
to taste, smell, penetrate
to not use words as weapons but
to explore and navigate the world along with
perceive not division but oneness
to feel the fabric, breath the beauty, master the innate meaning of a
understand and welcome my gift
to myself discover and conquer
to meet as humans, on the same level, same time and in
put aside preformulations and screens of perceptions
to comprehend, where people portray division,

what really killed Amy and Whitney… or the music industry in a nutshell

i started my day by switching on the tv, zapping to MTV. Music Television. Music and vision? I wanted to kick start this early morning with a soundtrack and melody for the day to come.
The very first song I heard had few lyrics. None of them were more intelligent than:
“Make money. Make money…” They came at me, attacked me in their mechanical and monotone disco style. Indoctrination.
The second song was called “Hangover” and didn’t have many lyrics or poetic lines either. It simply exchanged the “make money…” for “get drunk, get drunk”. And it came along with the same mechanical, technocratic beats. Uniformity.
Is there a “quick-fix-list” for today’s musicians to get on MTV?
The third song was all about sex. Mere pornography. There must be this “quick-fix-list”.

music industry in a nutshell

These songs are the music business, the music industry in a nutshell. The business idea has chased away the art and creativity. The industry approach has extinguished the careful craft and human warmth.
You want prove? Just check out Madonna’s latest attempt to make money, get laid and get drunk: the queen of (alco)pop promotes liquor as hard and money bringing as possible. Along with hollow lyrics and an uninventive choreography comes product placement that symbolises the deceit of craft and creativity, magic and morality.
I witness today a degenerated business and industry devoid of artistry and social awareness. Its blindness is boundless.
All the musical glorifications of alcohol and other drugs, sex, violence and bling-bling ridicule in a cynical way all the sorrow expressed, all the tears shed for the many stars who fell victim to this culture. For Amy. For Whitney. You name them.
These days, Whitney’s death and funeral, hold a magnifying glass over the music business. I see how it has hollowed its once proud and visionary legacy of being a catalyst and driving force for social change. Today it perpetuates an intoxicating culture that destroys and even kills its biggest stars, and fan base. To me it seems like the tsunami of songs like the ones I mentioned here, has drowned creativity and morality. It has shattered music’s role to freely, creatively comment on society, promote ideas and visions.
The fall of Amy and Whitney and their tragic eventual deaths is a failure, too, of a morally and socially bankrupt industry, where money matters, not music. In this blackout music has lost sight of society, its responsibility and its own potential for freedom and innovation. Music and vision are worlds apart.
There are wars going on all over the world. There’s rising (child) poverty, in the Western world. There are revolutions under way on all continents, people take to the streets. There’s democracy in crisis in Europe and America. Global warming. Religious fundamentalism.
Loads of material for a wave of socially conscious music, for political poetry and melodies.
But I can’t see the Dylans and Lennons. I can’t hear the Tupacs. What do the Black Eyed Peas sing about these days? Where are today’s Bono and Baez?
Like Whitney and Amy they might have fallen victim to an intoxicating, superficial and disillusioning culture the music industry has constructed. Put away the bottles and bank notes, take your instruments and note sheets. The world needs a better sound. Hearts and minds and the ears of millions of people are open for the soundtrack for this time of turmoil.

find a difference



nobel price party

nobel price party