Saturday, October 5, 2013

Contsance Germany (Konstanz, Deutschland) and the Rude Awakening

So - I just recently returned from Constance, Germany.The photo immediately below is a picture of Konstanzer Münster (Constance Cathedral) and the one below is taken from the spire area atop the cathedral looking out onto Lake Constance (known to German speakers as der Bodensee). September is a wonderful time of the year to be in this part of Germany (Baden-Württemburg).

Konstanzer Münster (Münster Unserer Lieben Frau)
The lake lies on the north side of the Swiss Alps, at the meeting point of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, forming part of the course of the River Rhine.
A view of Lake Constance from the Konstanzer Münster

Most of the city's inner part (Innenstadt) is preserved as it was during Medieval times. The city escaped the Allied bombing raids of WWII which destroyed so much of Germany by leaving the lights on at night. Since Switzerland is right next door (namely the city of Kreuzlingen), the pilots and bombardiers could not distinguish between Germany and Switzerland - so as fortune would have it, this remarkable city is intact. There are shops galore in the Innenstadt area so women will find this a shopping paradise. Ample choices of cuisine are also on tap (along with wonderful German beer), making it a great place for picky palates as well.
Shopping in Constance

Looking down into Constance from the Cathedral

Konstanz Hauptbahnhof  (Main Train Station)

Nearby Constance is the Island of Mainau (Mainau Insel) which is worth a visit as well. The botanical gardens and oddities on this island are beautiful. Take a quick gander at the Wikipedia site to see what I mean:

The gardens near the Residenz

Weddings often get held on the Mainau Insel (obviously so given the view)

Anyway - after a wonderful three-weeks in Germany and Switzerland (via Zurich), the hard realities slapped me in the face. As a federal worker, I became a victim of the sequestration. What this leads me to conclude is that the efforts of the Pan-European Union during the 1920s to cast off both Soviet communism and American materialism was the correct path...despite its ultimate failure. Without going too far off the historical rails, just suffice it to say that there is a middle-ground between unmitigated capitalism and socialism - we've just not determined yet how best that can be implemented. Bipolar political bickering has rendered democracy ineffectual (actually the U.S. is a republic like ancient Rome but I will spare you the political philosophy lesson). 

Nobody has yet to explain to me how Germany could emerge from utter rubble (after the Allied Air Campaign - mentioned earlier) and the loss of a major war, (atop the deficit in their male population) was able to afford to pay for healthcare for its people and educate them all the way to the doctorate level. Do I need to show a picture to show you what I mean (well - maybe since not all of you are historians)
Dresden after the many Allied aerial raids. (much of Germany looked like this at the end of the Second World War)
Meanwhile, the United States of America was the most prosperous nation on the earth but did neither and now we have managed to shut down our entire government due to some legislation that effects healthcare for the uninsured. Seriously? 

Does American materialism and unfettered capitalism really work in the long term? While it may have worked for a time, it is now failing. When the wealthy are more interested in how many yachts they own vice the welfare of the very people who help make them wealthy - then we have a failure. Many of this ilk walk the halls of the American Congress. That breakdown is at its core, ethical in nomenclature. My faith in this country and in the U.S. Constitution is nearing its end, particularly the way it is being manipulated and abused by modern Republicans and Democrats. Not that the document is flawed in any sense. Conversely, the interpretations thereof have deviated beyond its intended parameters.

We (Americans - especially elected officials) do not respect the tenets of the Constitution as originally intended nor do the American elites have enough commonsense to invest in the welfare of the collective - nor do they understand moral imperatives anymore. They are Godless and therefore, misguided.  Not that belief in a supreme being is some panacea to be sure. The Crusades and Islamic Jihad are/were equally resultant from extreme religious fervor. They are/were the extreme end of the spiritual spectrum. So too are the power-mongers, the inexplicably wealthy, and those detached from the plight of others - their guilt is one of indifference. Now the future of America is at its precipice due to an insufficient number of productive members of society contributing to the greater good, Godless materialism and greed, and finally, political bipartisanship which defies reason at the cost of American prestige and the well-being of all. There is no balance. Where is the equilibrium, the ballast which will right the ship? 

So now you understand what I mean by the Rude Awakening I received when I returned home from a pleasant trip to Europe. 

Comments and discourse welcomed

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