Is it possible to be completely brave?
Mr. Wiebicke, what is the society like that you met on your hike?
Two things particularly struck me: On the one hand, I did not meet anyone who would have looked to their own future with a high degree of certainty. On the other hand, I was often told the perception that our time budget is very tight and that we have tied a corset ourselves through this time regime.
In your book you describe a lot of people's worries. Are we a fearful society?
I am afraid that is so. I believe that the pressure to change our biographies are subject to and the very rapid pace of change produce fear. One thinks that one can no longer shape one's own path in life, but rather watch helplessly as change takes place. I'll say right away that you have to tell fear and fear apart. If fear is rampant, then that's a mood. And dealing with moods is very difficult - also in a political sense. Because the fear is always diffuse, vague. It is different with fear: if I am afraid of something, then I mean something very specific - and I can work on that rationally.
But they also met people with ideas on how to change things for the better. What are these people?
To me, turning fear into fear means: You have to start working. As an individual, you have to look at what you can achieve in your area. It is a real problem for democracy when many people feel that they do not matter. That's why I'm always looking for people who can give an example of how something can be changed - for example the man who opens a musical theater in an old cinema in a totally run-down city in the northern Ruhr area. Or the computer scientist who is now growing old vegetables in Bielefeld.
Is courage to take responsibility?
Definitely. Because it is of course much easier to say: “I can't do anything anyway, it doesn't matter to me” and to blame politics in a generalized sense for undesirable developments. No: we are all democracy! And taking responsibility always takes courage.
Did your hike make you more optimistic about our society?
I'm not sure how to answer that. And I can tell from the many reactions from readers that they feel the same way. Some think the book is encouraging. Others see it as a kind of gentle despair. I think it's an art to balance one and the other in the current situation. It's about having the courage to despair and admit to yourself that things are going wrong. And then it's about still having the confidence to tackle things and get involved.
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