In a recent prime time talk show on German public TV the topic fell on weapon exports. German minister of defence Ursula von der Leyen defended with fervour and as if irrevocable that ‘there will always be conflicts in the world that cannot be solved by diplomatic means’. End of discussion?
I would like to ask you to let this sink in for a moment.
Being German myself I was brought up supposedly in the empire of realism, in the fort of facts, not in La La land, but in the land of logic. Ursula von der Leyen’s country, where you, when mother says with a stern look on her face that this is what it is, you do not doubt and just accept?
Having spent a lot of time in Britain I came to appreciate more consciously the positive power of the word. How you express yourself can be just as important as what you say. The wish is father to the thought and thoughts are mothering deeds, no? In Germany drawing an optimistic picture to help factual results on the way is less common.
Businesswomen and men will know however that to achieve sustainable commercial results one has to first formulate ones goals in a positive and absolute way, then communicate them. What you define as your goal and the subordinated milestones mark the direction you and the crowd you speak to will walk towards.
So, please, Mrs von der Leyen, if you speak on TV when millions of people will listen, sitting next to Hillary Clinton, could you please use the power of your words to promote peace before war? I understand that armed defence forms a big part of your working matter. However, I would love you to speak out the overall goal of you work, which is creating peace. And I want this, because of the direction it will give to the audience. Just imagine what could happen to the world, if, say, the United States of America installed a Ministry of Peace in their following government cycle. A ministry that directed as much energy towards this purpose as the respective US Department of Defence invests in fighting for defence?
You and I also grew up in a country of poets and thinkers, possessing immense musical, linguistic and philosophical heritage- and education; and we own an unspeakable younger history of war, yes: The means and the duty to make a difference…
Even if it is only with words.
There is a beautiful children’s book which is called ‘Jeremy James or Elephants Do Not Sit on Cars’ by David Henry Wilson. In this book Jeremy James looks out of his sitting room window and witnesses a big grey elephant sitting down on his daddy’s car! He tells his mum who is busy in the kitchen making a pie, but she does not believe him. She will not even look up from her pie. No curiosity to check what might have spurred her son’s imagination to supposedly make up such a story.
Well, physically elephants should have the ability to sit down on cars, just as they can sit down on other things, no? And probably they can even do their No. 2’s there. The elephant in question had presumably escaped from a circus and did – just that.
Admitted, it would have been only slightly less difficult for Jeremy James’s mum to stop the elephant from sitting down and pooping where he chose to, had she been intrigued and looked up soon enough, than it is for Mrs von der Leyen to prevent a war from happening, by herself and in her position. But surely she would want to try and shoo?!?
And who knows…the more people trying their part in dealing with the elephant, because they believe they can, the more neighbours that hear the noise and come to help shooing, the higher the chance that there will be less debris.
It seems, some elephants can sit on cars and communities with the will to it can sometimes live in peace. Please listen to people and make them believe they can, as belief can move mountains- or elephants for that matter.
NB: Please note that the use of the elephant metaphor is by no means intended to make violent conflict seem less serious and damaging than it is. The metaphor of the mother ignoring her child however is meant to sensitize people with power that listening helps create constructive knowledge as much as telling. On the whole the intention was to point out that the term of the ‘unlikely’ still comprises the possible.
Thank you for reading!