So far this year has not started perfectly for me. I was sick most of the time, going from having a flu to gastroenteritis and back. Having to cancel my Africa exploration plans because I got mugged on the open street. Supposedly 2023 was (as all other years before) my year, a new and glorious chapter in a book I really would like to read as soon as it is finished. However, I must say that even though the start has been quite rocky, it taught me a very important lesson. The worth of feeling safe.
Over the course of my life, I have never realized how privileged I grew up and how freely I am able to live my life. Obviously, I gained some necessary insights over the last couple of years. What it means to be a male. What it means to be white. But I never even thought about physical safety being an issue. Growing up (who am I kidding even spending time there nowadays) in a teeny-tiny, predominantly white and wealthy village was grotesquely boring. However, whenever I wanted, I could walk home, whether during the day or in the middle of the night, whether it was just me or I carried 10K cash in my pockets, the probability of anything happening was so redundantly small, that I have never even thought about it being different in other places. Obviously I know that there are very violent places all over the world. I have seen many of them, from townships in South Africa, to slums in India or favelas in Brazil. Violence and poverty are more than just entangled and come most of the time hand in hand. Seeing this, always made me sick to my stomach. Why can I grow up so sheltered, while there are so many children living their daily life in fear. Somehow though, I always managed to disassociate the violence and poverty I saw from my own feeling of safety. It almost felt like I was invincible, travelling in some very shady places, having amazing experiences while right behind me Sodom and Gomorra started. This time it was the exact opposite, I chose the safe option and I still got mugged. In a wealthy neighborhood, with gates so high and secure, I can tell you out of experience, you will hurt yourself trying to climb them and I still got mugged. Bad things happen, that’s life. That in some geographical areas of this planet it is more likely to happen than it is in others, I understand. But how would I have turned out to be, if I didn’t have the sense of safety when I grew up? The feeling that even as an athletic young man, things like this are still likely to happen, almost paralyzes me, and if I feel like this, how do others with a different physical appearance feel?
Being back in Germany, helped getting a relief of my newly acquired paranoia and generally since being here I have been healing. I had a variety of political discussions since cancelling the rest of my trip and I more than just agree that Germany has a range of issues we have to work through, but at the same time in most of our country, we can walk home at night. We don’t have to worry about being threatened or held at gun point as soon as we walk out the front door. I took safety for granted for way too long. I know that there are many valid issues, but for now I’m very grateful that I’m safe.