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Europe took a big step forward today and Germany, the country now holding the title “Country most likely to succeed post pandemic” showing the way. Historically, especially post ‘08 financial crisis, when the full impact hit the Continent the Northern European “Savers” told the Souther European “Spenders” to take their medicine. Greece, Italy, and Spain swallowed hard. Financial relief came with severe covenants and restrictions some of which resulted in cutting back on expenses that were funding vaunted social welfare programs. Medical care in particular was an area targeted for efficiencies. In fairness there was more than a little justification behind the reasoning of the “Savers” (Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden) as beyond more essential areas of spending like medical infrastructure there was waste and corruption that was rampant when the money looked easy.
This time the crisis came courtesy of a virus and the opportunity to re-think the relationship of the European Union was put back on the table. This time, Germany, led by Angela Merkel, who is also holding an expiring Union officer position, changed course and have given support to Italy, Spain and France to help them through what will be a severe economic contraction. What changed? Well pretty much everything. Europe looked at this as a fork in the road for the whole notion of the EU and put their money behind the idea that keeping it was worth the investment. Brexit may have also played a role - first they had no say in what would come to pass and second their absence provided another impetus for examining the consequences of a further breakdown. So “Sorry but you’re on your own” is not the message here. “We’re in this together” is not a slogan but rather a Muti-billion euro bet or investment…take your choice.
All of which contrasts to the fractured state of our Union where not only do States have to figure out how to combat Covid-19, pay for essential services in the midst of an economic meltdown and figure out how to educate their children safely, but now have to wonder weather Celebrity Apprentice President’s new cast members, THe Unmarked Goon Squad (THUGS for short) will be making an appearance in their City or State for reasons not yet fully scripted but meant to provide marketing support to prevent the show’s cancellation. Mayors and Governors are objecting but hey, he needs the footage for the promo to show that he alone can fix the problems that he alone is making worse…all the while ignoring the action on the main stage where 140k are dead, still reciting the same lines that insist that the virus will just go away …boy does he need better writers.
So where’s the hope? I see it in the hearts, minds and lives of “the vast silent majority” of viewers that know that the show is over and that we need to do what the EU has just done and rethink this…we need a new script and a new program that transforms “what was” into what’s really needed. The Secretary General of the UN made a remarkable speech that talked about how Covid tore away the flimsy cover that helped to mask the serious problems that face all of us…inequality, climate change, the need fair and just societies that elevate the best of what humanity aspires to. We now see things so very differently wearing masks but with our most serious issues unmasked. We all have a chance to contribute to creating something better, something that truly aligns with our values, that proudly shows what America stands for…compassion, humility, truth and generosity. It’s time to change the channel.