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Twalk With Me - Walking and Talking 6000 miles with just an iPhone and a guitar

The Queen’s speech

In the shadow of times the light of Christmas shines. The story of Christmas is set in dark times of suppression and worry. It is the story of Christ. Looking for shelter in the night Josef and Mary knock on the door of an inn, but there is no place for them. They are offered to spend the night in the stable. Here Jesus is born. With his coming the light of love shines in our world, connecting God with our fellow man.

Essential is the age old command: love thy neighbor as thyself. Today it is less clear what that means. Do we still know our fellow man? It is everyone that crosses our path: the neighbor in our life. But do we see him? Do we let those that may need our help and support struggle alone or are we open to rapprochement and contact and do we offer a helping hand? No matter how well organised professional care is, we will always be dependend on a society in which people look out for each other. Misfortune and grief cannot be soothed by government and non-governmental organisations alone. We can be thankful that there are still many that help out where aid is needed.

In this age of globalisation things change fast and distances are shortened. Technical progress and individualisation have made man more independent and detached. More and more we are depending on ourselves. But still, a place that we can call home, where we can trust the people around us and can count on solidarity remains important. Maybe the biggest challenge is to reconcile the individual with society and restore trust. It is also today’s economic crisis that teaches us this.

When troubles abound, the desire for a joint perspective grows. Religion and belief point to the responsibility for our neighbor. There was a time when helping our neighbor was the cornerstone on which society was built. People knew each other. But modern man appears to have little interest in his neighbor. Today people are more concerned about their own well-being. We are inclined to turn our backs and close our eyes and ears for our surroundings. Today even our neighbors are sometimes strangers to us. We talk to eachother without having a conversation and we look at one another but we don’t see. People communicate with short messages. Our society is getting more and more individualised. Personal freedom has been disconnected from togetherness in community. But without any ‘sense of us’ our existence becomes empty. Virtual encounters can’t fill that void; to the contrary, distance is increased. The ideal of the liberated individual has reached its endpoint. We must try to find a way back to what binds us.

Less and less our fellow man evokes solidarity and compassion in us. In order to feel sympathy one needs proximity. Real contact originates from acting and speaking. Language is indispensable to building trust. But who doesn’t engage in conversation, shuts himself out. In that manner a tool that could help bring people together can become an obstacle for those that don’t understand and aren’t understood. Our neighbours remain strangers and solidarity suffers.

Through words and images other people’s grief reaches us, but that is often far away and evokes feelings of impotence. Too much information deadens people. We may have become deaf and blind because of it. Compassion is suppressed. Community is lost.

Modern day technical inventions seem to bring people closer together but they remain at a ‘safe’ distance, hiding behind there computer screens. We can now speak without appearing, without being seen, anonymous. It has become easy to stupidly and bluntly express emotions. Nobody is charged for respectless speech. Being a stranger doesn’t cause aggression, aggression causes estrangement.

Our neighbour appears alienated and far away, but in times of adversity we suddenly see how sympathy is evoked by which people put themselves aside, conquer hesitation, put aside their fears or aversion and risk everything to help a fellow man in need. In the toughest of circumstances charity can grow to true neighbourly love. It is then that man’s inner beauty comes to the surface: the willingness to offer disinterested help, to be there for complete strangers, to support them in desperation and pain. Compassion connects us with our brothers and sisters in need. A hand held, encouraging words and eyes that aim for contact can deliver the message of loving thy neighbour in a profound manner. Our country has a great tradition of volluntary action.

Our world needs people with passion and commitment, that create a space for those that have been shut out, are always there for their fellow men and keep their faith in goodness.

Christmas lets us feel warmness and closeness. In the stable behind a full inn the humble spot is found where Jesus’ life begins. In the darkness of that night shines the light of peace on earth and neighbourly love.

I wish you all a blessed Christmas.


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