the purchase of a ladder

it was a rush purchase, lacking the lust of ritual, Saturday morning, after unsuccessfully having tried for one hour to drill a damn hole through steel reinforced concrete in the ceiling above my dinner table, standing atop a stool and a chair, my back hurting. It was an aluminum ladder wrapped in transparent plastic and with a user’s handbook larger than my computer’s. The right working height: 2,65 m taking in consideration my height as detailed in the appendix table of the users’ handbook.

Coming from Spain and at a time when you could affordably find somebody who would hang a ceiling lamp in your house, to Germany where I wonder if you can actually find someone who would come to your place to drill a hole, not to mention how much that would cost me, I still sometimes can feel the sting of customs.

It was in the end of the nineties when I bought a small apartment in Barcelona that had one wall too much and employed a “carpenter” who came every day from the other side of the city in the tube (tools and all), worked the whole day as I was in the office, and even managed to carry away the debris of the wall back to his place, or who knows where. In the tube.

Back then, I never entertained the idea of buying a ladder, nor I would know what use could I find for such bulky contraption.

I was obviously unprepared to the hardships of Germany, and even worse equipped to withstand the critical eye of my dear German wife in what relates to house improvement abilities and capabilities. Generations of skilled men in her family modelled a DNA signature, incompatible with the sight of me atop a stool, stretched arms, sweating and panting like a Spanish bull would have been chasing me around the block, unsuccessfully trying to drill through that tough, well-built, DIN, ISO and all, steel reinforced concrete ceiling.

I wonder if the purchase of  a ladder would be something to celebrate. Something you would do when you come of age and you move away from home. The beginning of a long friendship.

My lamp is finally hanging. Somehow in the right spot.

it cannot get worse

so why not voting to the party of Beppe Grillo in the next Italian elections? hypothesises the patron of my dearest luncheon place.

As regrettable as it is that some politicians would abuse the trust we place on them and fall to corruption, there are many others who do a good job. A democracy is not given, like oxygen in the air. A democracy needs a great deal of keeping. And yes, it can get worse. It can get way worse. Italy, with all its political corruption and problems, is a democracy in the EU. Many countries would give all they have to be in Italy’s place in the global politics.

We citizens with our rights and duties, have to now and then spare a thought on the delicate and yet strong balance of institutions that make up the political statu quo of our democracies. It is but for the ingenuity and effort of thousands of people and the legacy of other thousands that we have functioning countries to live in. That we are entitled to the rule of law. That we have roads and railroads, streets and street lighting, police and firefighters, hospitals and medical doctors, electricity, water and heating in our houses.

We have a great responsibility to care for what have been given to our generation, after centuries of fight and sacrifice, for each and every right we enjoy nowadays. Hence, yes, it can go way worse. It never was, and it is not today neither the time for complacency nor for voting questionable demagogues. We have already one too many of those in the world.

“Beppe Grillo, leader of the populist Five Star Movement in Italy, prides himself on his ridicule of the parliamentary system. Yet while his anti-establishment rhetoric sounds appealing, at heart it’s actually anti-democratic. And very similar to that of an infamous Italian from the past.”

Der Spiegel (March 15th, 2013)

Spain is a constitutional monarchy…

…and exercises a parlamentiary system.

In this backdrop, approximately over two million people, a five percent of the whole country’s population, exercised or tried to exercise what they believe to be their right to express their opinion casting a vote in an illegal referendum. Presumably the vast majority of those who voted were aware that the referendum was illegal.

The referendum was certainly illegal under the constitution of Spain. The constitution being the most basic and fundamental set of laws that a country decide to abide by, the numbers above are too large to not cast questions about the inner workings of Spain.

Incidentally, this presumed five percent of population aren’t spread over the whole country but concentrated in a particular region: Catalonia, with its own identity, culture and language. Hence amounting to approximately one third of the population of the region. A region cannot possibly be expected to abide by a constitution if one third of its citizens do not agree with it. In one or another way, it requires urgent political discourse and eventually revision.

Unfortunately the Spanish government has resorted, in a moment of panic, to police brutality and to negate the dialog with the regional government of Catalonia on the basis that the referendum itself was contravening the constitution. Whatever legitimate, reasonable or unreasonable, aspirations those over two million citizens of Catalonia may have to act in violation of the constitution of Spain, the display of police brutality would in no way help deescalate the crisis.

If this situation needs to be solved within the current Spanish state government framework, the elected parlamentaria would have to bring the problem to the parliament, negotiate a solution, and propose legislation to be approved. Yet this would mean to negotiate with the support of only five to six percent of members of the parliament. It will unlikely lead to an agreement that the Catalan populace may see as fair. Hence the progressive escalation of opinions and polarization of the citizenship.

Moving the magnifier backwards to focus on Europe, this is not an isolated case. Often financial reasons are the trigger to separatist movements that have their deep roots in identities, history, and culture. A shift towards a wave of separatism is not the  solution to European countries’ problems, but a move towards homogeneity: To surround ourselves with people we perceive to be like us.

 without conflict, there can be no consensus, and although consensus leads to conflict, conflict also leads to consensus.

Ralf Dahrendorf, Wikipedia

Homogeneity starts with what could be a reasonable and legitimate scale of aspirations, but leads to the negation of all what the free world have achieved in the last centuries. We have a contemporary example of what the negation looks like in its most treminal form: Trump.

The challenge of our society is to see the monster waiting beyond the first green pastures of homogeneity. To demand of our elected representatives action, action now, and action for today’s problems, and not the possibly outdated solutions to past problems. Failing to find a solution to this issue is surrendering sovereignty over to the markets. And in this case the whole society will loose, in the short or in the long term.