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Nº 80 – A Year of Thoughts.

Saturday 27th March 2021

Airbus, Lufthansa, TAP, Renault, TUI and so on…

The future? Yes please! But what kind of future? This is the question I am asking myself today. After this leaden time, where many were complaining about the restrictions, nothing will be as it was before. Or do we want try and stare down to the abyss? Maybe the news hasn’t reached everyone yet? Or perhaps I’m a pessimist? Allow me to just mention one example. In today’s economy, many jobs are simply being cancelled. Let’s be honest with ourselves here. We have too many hotels, too many restaurants and also too many cars, planes, ships – too much of everything – and many of those don’t just involve the issue of too little demand, another question arises, about their deeper meaning and ecological sense. Every one of us has known for some time now that our way of life, our mobility and how we are behaving as economic agents cannot be continued along this actual factual philosophy of constant growth; nor will it be. Humankind needs a sustainable life and economic philosophy to make sure there will be a future left to experience.

The most obvious sector required to tailor their plans to the new hard realities is aviation and car manufacturing. The crash will come. Nor will the tourism and production, trade and transport sectors be spared. As we speak many thousands of planes are already parked at the airports of this world. They are of no use now. Many pilots and the majority of the airlines’ cabin crew are no longer needed. And the same fate will befall car manufacturers and those employed in tourism, as well as many others. Now these people are still being kept afloat and allowed to believe in a golden age following the crisis. Isn’t now the time to call the whole system into question? Even if in a few years’ time we’ll have managed to banish this virus from our daily thoughts, talks, stories and our bodies, something inside us will have changed. We will realise that electric cars don’t represent a true alternative for mobility. What does that mean for us? There will have to be a change inside of us that will inspire us all. And we will have to turn ourselves independent from the crises, live with resilience, and manage our precious resources well.

What should shift into focus now is the question of our own future and the meaning of our lives, and how to shape their course. Or am I wrong? I do hope that this awakening won’t resemble a hangover. Many folks are still of the opinion that life is one big party. However, if we start to question our situation as human beings a bit more closely, only peaceful change harbours the chance for a future. Yet what does this change mean for each and every one in practice? Modesty, the common good and humility?

Covid-19 or no Covid-19, will the Algarve and Lisbon (standing in here for all the world’s tourist destinations) continue to be popular places for people to spend their holidays? And if we dig a bit deeper we’ll get to what really counts: the deeper sense of work, the sense behind tourism and everything connected with it. Is there a deeper meaning apart from making money out of it? Now is the time to take a long hard look at these issues, to give us a little time to prepare what could be real alternatives. Also so our social security system no longer has to sustain many millions of jobless, buckling under the burden of debt. Those who have no job pay no taxes nor contributions. The system is broken, not in line with our times nor offering prospects for the future.

Up to now we have shirked from calling the system that governs our lives into question: whether our jobs and pensions will still be safe tomorrow, whether we’ve picked the right profession or not. All these questions are but a dance around the golden calf. Everywhere and every time, this is about nothing but money. And again and again it is the jobs that are put in the ring. But let’s step back and ask about the deeper meaning of work and social security and whether all this is in harmony with the laws of nature which make our life possible? Up to now human beings have behaved as the most extraordinary parasite on what we call the blue planet, sealing the surfaces of its host with tarmac and concrete, ruining its natural foundations, exploiting the soil and the oceans, torturing and killing animals, polluting the air and littering the land, rivers and seas. The future? Yes please! But what kind?

 

Uwe Heitkamp (60)

trained TV journalist, book author and hobby botanist, father of two grown-up children, knows Portugal for 30 years, founder of ECO123. Translations : Dina Adão, Tim Coombs, João Medronho, Kathleen Becker
Fotos: dpa

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