Our diarist Anthea Kreston lives close to the market that was attacked. Here are her resolutions, as an American in Berlin.
This week, Berlin suffered a tragedy – a terrorist attack at a Christmas Market close to our home. Similar to the attack in Nice, France, this major attack (by a truck cutting a tornado of death and destruction through a festive market) was the deadliest terrorist act on German soil in many years. Germany now joins Brussels, France in a tragic reality of fear and unsettled sadness. This is the third, and most immediate terrorist experience for me since our move here.
The Christmas Market which was attacked surrounds the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church – or, the “Broken Church”. It remains, as it was at the end of World War II, a jagged tooth – a broken reminder of what befell. It is just down the street from us – on the glamorous Ku-Damm, our version of 5th Avenue. I was practising and Jason came in – he said have you looked at your phone? – and I looked down and it was going crazy with messages. He said – it happened, it happened here. I almost immediately threw up. The girls were asleep already, but on my phone are fresh photos of them on the kiddie rides at the market, just days old.
When I started this diary for Slipped Disc 10 months ago, I decided to give myself a few simple restrictions. One of these was to remain neutral politically. As a musician, we often find ourselves at a cross-road. We, as musicians, are a multi-colored, multi-oriented and multi-national band of people who make our way through life in always creative ways – looking for connection, for inspiration from one another. We often find ourselves as a small island of entertainers, entertaining people who may not share our natural openness, our desire for inclusiveness. Conversations after concerts with patrons can be sensitive, and we more often than not steer clear of any possible conflict – innately sensing when a fundamental difference exists.
So, with this in mind, I have been asked to share my thoughts of recent events here and in the States as a musician living abroad. Here goes – I will do my best.
I am afraid, afraid for my children, my friends, for myself, and for the earth. I am afraid of the inherent darkness of humans – and the encouragement of this darkness. I am afraid of the way people may feel they can teach their children – the newly acceptable parameters of right and wrong.
The day after the US election, the night of which was spent in fits and starts as I continually checked the New York Times coverage, I felt powerless. Somehow, I had expected a confirmation of our belief that women were indeed equal, powerful and capable of whatever they desired. Am I fooling myself? Are we less? Can we not be trusted with great responsibility? All the teeny and not-so-teeny slights I have experienced my whole life – I was ready to turn a new leaf, to kindly but firmly mark my space, to not brush aside these daily reminders of my place in the world as a woman.
My daughter, the day before the election, told me her friend at school said that if the man became president, there would be a war. I assured her that this would not be the case – to not worry. There is a swirling darkness, something that is not right with the world now. I don’t have any answers for my daughter.
With the attack this week in Berlin, I experienced a strange numbness. I stopped, hesitated, spoke to Jason, posted an “all is well with our family” on Facebook, then went back to practicing. I just felt, and still feel, like I am in a dream state. I have begun to accept this new reality. Angela Merkel is in trouble. The Right is attacking, and she is the last head of state who stands strongly for democracy here. With the United States at a crossroads, Europe in a struggle between right and left, I can’t shake the feeling that we are living at a juncture in history. A juncture which will become a fundamental curriculum in school for children in the future. They will ask, “why didn’t they see it coming, why didn’t they do anything?”
I regularly speak by FaceTime to my friends in the States. I feel far away and unsure of what the feeling is there on the ground. I walk around with my safety pin on my shirt. It is a symbol of support for those in need of support – I will stand by you in any moment of injustice. I believe in equality. I know this is a small thing – to put a pin on my shirt – but I do stand up for others and will continue to do so. I have always been unafraid and quick to act in danger. I will continue to work with the refugees here. I will continue to teach my children strength of character and kindness. I will steady myself, stay focused and strong. I will do this for myself and for my family. I know you will too.