"When the mother or wife of a family is communicative and a part of the neighborhood community, there is no need to worry about integration. It's there to begin with."
These words belong to a German neighbor of mine, the mother of two grown children. Our discussion took place about a year ago and it focused on a popular topic, primarily with the subject of immigrants in mind. In today's Germany, it's a vital subject. The number of refugees that have arrived here has sunk in 2019, but the overall number arriving here since 2015 is close to 2 million. This has conjured up discussions of international rights and how to make the lives of the refugees easier.
One way is mastering the local language.
Consequently, an immigrant anywhere, an American in Paris, a Korean in South Africa or a Syrian in Ireland, naturally benefits from learning the language of the country, in order to pay the bills, open an account and search for a job.
That makes total sense.
Integration helps both parties. You could say that both parties learn from each other.
Some people do not welcome integration and this unfortunate fact is not only limited to the local people. Immigrants come to a new country and communicate entirely with their own countrymen. Fifty years pass and they still do not know the local language. With roughly 6 million foreigners in Germany, excluding the refugees, every tenth person is an immigrant here, including me. I have my multilingual and multicultural lifestyle to thank for this never having been a problem.
Ghettos are understandable consequences of comfort, but actually create problems like "us and them" or, worse, "us vs. them".
These questions raise discussions about basic rights and equality, what it is and how we reach it, not just sociological equality but gender equality, the latter not only diminished to paychecks. Equality works both ways with rights and privileges on both sides, not one more than the other.
What is equality?
A fancy word?
No, a necessity.
We are all unique, our individual personalities microcosmic in nature, cultures and ideas vastly different. A vegan marries a meat eater, a Muslim lives next to a Christian. Is equality here a reality? It should be. Can it be? Two worlds collide. Equality here should be exercised through tolerance and respect.
I conduct and direct a vocal chorus with a large percentage of refugees, so I know the problems they are facing and the immense difficulties of many war stricken countries. But I also know that there are families here from countries whose ancestors have been here for 80 to 100 years, where the grandmother still does not speak German, thus resulting in a million questions from the German population.
"Why hasn't she learned German? She's been here for sixty years!"
Of course, one might say that the Turkish grandma never had to learn it. Just like a thousand musical theater colleagues of mine who just communicate with English speaking people and never need to learn German, Turkish Grandma Bano around the corner got by well without it. Her husband Mustafa came here to work in the Ewald Coal Mine back in 1958, recommended by his cousin Mohammed who left Turkey the year before. Mustafa and Bano had three children, Ali, Algün and Amar, who in turn had three kids of their own. Cousins and nephews all spoke Turkish. She knew enough to get by and pay for groceries and her husband's other brother Hakan worked at the bank. He opened account for her.
Bano never had to work for wages. All the relatives helped each other out. She raised the children, bought the groceries, cooked the food and made the beds. That was her job.
Bano listened to her husband.
Very different from her granddaughter Selin, who today works as a bilingual head surgeon at the University Hospital in Bochum.
She doesn't listen to her husband.
Her husband listens to her.
This is modern Europe.
At home, the women call the shots.
Not the men.
At least most of the time.
Let's be honest about that.
With the younger Turkish generation in Germany, things have changed. They now speak a mix of Turkish and German, half a sentence in one language, half a sentence in the other. It's becoming a new language like French was created out of Latin two thousand years ago.
Life is change.
That is the only universal constant.
Scientists, geologist and quantum physicist Gregg Braden says that part of the challenge of living in these extreme days is accepting the new world. The past is gone. The present is real.
That naturally drives Germans crazy and demands tolerance from both sides. Societies within societies are born, ghettos, two cultures living next to each other, but finding each other weird. Luckily, we don't live in Bangkok, where rich and poor neighborhoods change when crossing the street.
Bano's neighbors are the Schmidt family. Both say hello and good bye to each other, smile and nod happily at the sunshine when passing each other on the street, but not much else. So it has been for decades.
Mrs. Barbara Schmidt is a retired grade school teacher.
She is married to Olaf, who still helps out at his old truck driving job from time to time.
Barbara still bosses Olaf around, shakes her head at the dirty dishes and reprimands him when he uses the wrong washcloth to clean the bathtub. He says nothing. He just shrugs, goes up and cleans it again with the right wash cloth and then grabs himself a beer and watches a soccer game.
Bano is different.
Mustafa never cleans the bathtub.
He never cooks or makes the beds.
Bano, 76 years old, still cleans everything at home before calling her lady friends to ask if they want to take a walk with her.
After all, Mustafa strolls with his friends. Why shouldn't she?
What's special about this story?
It's ordinary German life, if there ever was or is a thing like ordinary.
Thousands of families live encapsuled in their various communities and never have to leave their comfort zone.
Why should they?
The thing that bothers me is the view of marital or even family relationships differ so extremely. And I have just covered the cultures present in German society.
Let's, just for kicks, stay here.
I have now lived almost a half century in the western world. Almost every western relationship I have seen has been governed by the woman with a few sad examples. And I do feel that is good.
Equality is good.
But is that really equality?
Mustafa screams at silent Bano, while next door Barbara screams at silent Olaf. Neither Bano nor Olaf should be screamed at. Neither should 18 year old Tina come home with a black eye given to her by her aggressive boyfriend, nor should 17 year old Kent have to take his girlfriend Dorte's patronizing comments about him being so stupid but so nice that she keeps him. Sort of like a pet. Neither should Petra be afraid to leave her shouting Carl, nor should Kevin have to worry if he leaves Hannah who stuck a knife in his belly when he forgot to empty the dishwasher one day (that really happened in South Germany in 2017). I'm asking again: is that equality? Accordingly, equality is more than just a paycheck.
If we think that men are always the stronger party in relationships, we need to think again. In the Western world, roughly 80 % of married relationships are governed by the wives. And of course that makes sense. But when we speak of equality, we should pay equally and respect equally, not laugh at the man or the woman when he or she tells a story because it is just what one usually does. We should reexamine our motivations sternly.
Maybe Bano and Mustafa and Barbara and Olaf can learn from each other.
In this day and age, marriage should be an equal partnership, in every way.
If it isn't, we need to restructure our infrastructure.
Basically, all this is not just a nuptial issue, not just a gender issue or a relationship issue. It is not just a Ghetto issue, one we find worldwide.
It has to do with something as basic as respect for all living beings.
If we believe in reincarnation, and I do, we have all been men and women of all races in our lifetimes, for reasons. If we believe Neale Donald Walsch's Bestseller "Conversations with God", souls are born as women only when they are spiritually elevated. I know my wife continues to challenge me to be the best I can be. It is not always easy, but I know I am the better soul for it.
Having said that, I do feel the tendency in the western world for relationships to be governed and decided by female decisions. Is that good or bad or maybe both? I guess that depends on your perspective.
I just know that it's a road worth traveling. It drives us men insane at times, but maybe it is a reminder to reawaken something cavalier we lost along the way: being gentlemen. We don't always have to be right. Even if we are. Note my hidden wink.
So, equality. Is that just a fancy word for "I gotta have what she does"? Is that real? Is it necessary in a relationship, international or domestic? Isn't it sort of cool for a man to be calm and controlled?
It also depends on how you see yourself and how you perceive your role in life and how to fulfill it.
That is personal and spiritual, but perhaps even gender influenced. A woman who has to do most of the house work instead of her capable husband in spite of her nine to five job will have her own valid opinions about what he should or should not do.
What's your role and have you chosen it or has someone chosen it for you?
Does that karma maybe come from a previous life? I know mine does.
Neale Donald Walsch's "God's Message to the World" (Waterside Publishing, 2014) might provide a few tips on how to deal with this.
The religions of the world have long claimed an unfair monopoly on God, actually robbing people of their naturally inborn relationship with the creator through the buzzing energy of universal love: atoms as fields, all material being 99,9 % empty space, emotions as communication, vibration as a reality. God does not judge or punish. He does not require a certain faith. He just wants you to love everyone and everything.
If we stop punishing each other for being different, we might change ourselves for the better.
One holy word: "If a man asks you to walk a mile with him, walk two with him," so said Jesus.
Actually, that is self preservation.
Chances are that this guy will tell you, "You know what? Go home, I'm okay."
Maybe he'll even buy you a beer.
The winner is always the one who remains calm. The tolerant one. The loving one. The one who shares his donut. I'm sure Jesus, Gandhi or Martin Luther King would have been shared their donuts with you.
What does that tell us about equality? Nothing except that equality might actually be a sociological invention. We all come from the same energetically divine source beyond the end of the universe and closest to our own synaptic heart nurites. But we are also unique beings. What we give to others results in total gratitude. Selflessness makes sense.
You give something and get something back.
Elton John not only is a great artist. His Aids foundation has also collected 400 million dollars for charity. His open attitude toward all government administrations is renowned and makes sense. If he speaks negatively about someone that might help him gather help for the destitute, it would work against the needy. The more he gives, the more he gets back.
"I have a dream," Martin Luther King once chanted.
That dream could become a reality if you as an individual decided to be tolerant and loving and try only to speak well about everyone.
There are only situations.
Our judgment applies these situations with good or bad emotions. That is unnecessary.
But remaining calm is the key to any success.
Realizing that love is everything is a key. I'm not just talking about nuptial or amorous love or a love song or a throw away line. Love for anything or anyone eliminates all problems.
Telling yourself that there is nothing serious going on here, that you are doing all right, is fantastic.
Tap into the eternal stream of consciousness, into the eternal well of emotion. Trust your feelings, not your brain. Your brain fools you. Even your heart has brain cells. They're called synaptic nurites.
Your atoms are fields, not matter. Your particles, the smallest parts inside the atoms, buzz.
This constant buzz is linked to the eternal stream of consciousness in the universe, sort of like a sea of emotional energy where all energy swims. Take this seriously.
Everything changes when you tap into that energy.
You can easily test this.
Choose a prominent personality you greatly admire and then look at a YouTube interview with this individual. Let the admiration and energy of this individual really sink in. Hold the feeling. Memorize it. Then speak to that feeling. Ask it questions. You are actually communicating with the energy of that spirit.
You are tapped into the eternal stream of consciousness.
That's the ticket to success.
If you link yourself to the eternal stream of consciousness, you are actually closer to yourself than you have ever been. And your karma, your fate and your life's purpose.
You are tapping into God's energy.
Tap into the eternal stream of consciousness right now.
Speak to your feelings like you would to a friend over a beer. Imagine an emotion of yours being a friend you meet at a restaurant.
Speak to him, love her, make love to the feeling, make peace with her.
You will become much more humble, human and confident.
It will tell you now what true equality is all about.
It's as simple as that.