Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Ahead of the World [Cup]

I have posted on the virtues of the German team prior to the previous World Cup. With your permission, I will do so again, this time from a different angle. You see, just the other week I read how university fees are now an extinct species in Germany; at the same time, we have ourselves an incoming evil budget here in Australia, a budget that is set to ensure more of us are incapable of affording higher studies.
My question is, what is it that lets Germany get away with[out] such fees while our government feels the other way? I mean, here we keep on hearing about the need to be more efficient and more productive; yet can Australia, or for that matter anyone else, claim to have an advantage over Germany when it comes to productivity and efficiency? Judging by the way German made cars are looked at here, clear not.
My personal answer to this question requires winding the clock up a bit.

Growing up in Israel at the time I did, I was taught that everything German is evil. While Israel happily took holocaust compensation money from Germany, German goods were a taboo.  Change started during the eighties, symbolised by BMW cars growing to become a popular status symbol. With the cars came gradual changes in attitude.
I remember my own journey towards Germany. At first, the very thought of visiting Germany seemed inconceivable. Then, when I did end up there through work, I could not avoid the mental exercise of trying to identify old looking people on the street while wondering what part they took in history.
As usual with these prejudices, my approach only truly changed once I got to have German friends. Work had plenty of opportunities to supply me with those, personal stories and all. I learned many things from that experience, including the fact that Germans are like any other people. However, one of the more interesting impressions I took with me is that Germans, particularly the young ones, have learnt a lot from their country’s history; much more than the rest of us. More importantly, a large portion of them is actively trying to ensure past mistakes are not repeated.
The last European elections, just a few weeks ago, further prove my impressions. Of the major European powers, Germany turned out the least fascist. Compare that to the “winners” side of UK with its UKIP or France with its current Le Pen. Compare that to our modern day Australia, where the government is actively trying to militarise society (refugees taken care of by army, ex military Governor General, ex military NSW Governor General) and you will be right to ask who the real winner is.

So, given this personal insight, what is the answer to the question of how Germany does it? How does Germany manage to be productive while providing free education?
I would say the answer is staring us in the face. Germany is the only major country that seems to have read the history books in order to learn something rather than simply fill up on patriotic pride. It is the very fact that it could not fill up on patriotic pride that caused it to learn something.
And what it learned is that a healthy society needs healthy education, a healthy health system and healthy infrastructure. It is exactly because of these investments, as well as other future leaning investments in green energy, that Germany is doing so well. It is because Germany looks to the future while we look to minimise costs and bolster our national pride that they outrank us.
Sure, Germany has its own problems, most of which I am completely unaware of. It is also obvious that the Nazis and their supporters that were there, some 70 years ago, did not just evaporate into thin air. Still, from the child that detested everything German I have grown to regard modern Germany as a source of inspiration. Even in football.

I don’t foresee this German team having too much success in this 2014 World Cup. Traditionally speaking, the Germans – like most European teams – tend to not perform too well outside of European soil. But who cares? As long as they play the attractive football they have been playing at recent international tournaments, they have me on their side.

Image by Marc, Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence

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