Remembering the future

February 2nd, 2010

“One World, One Dream” – The local patriotic motto of the olympic games 2008.

This posy sounds like a 60degree-elevated daydreamer look into the future and it might very well be almost unknown in the West. In Beijing however, where almost exactly a year and a half ago athletes from around the globe were fighting for medals, the phrase is known to any child.

You can still see it in every day’s life. Some fading construction fence is wearing it. There are buildings whose walls are still costly decorated with the colors of the event. They stubbornly cling to the plea. The Western eye sees but a sad picture. It’s apparent that they don’t really serve any purpose these days. There’s not a lot which can de-spur as intensively as yesterday’s dreams.

We live in times where the globe’s larges search engine company and both the Chinese and the American government fight for digital leadership. Who, with impunity, may be allowed to install the largest thinking filters to whom? And who may collect the most data? The liberal mouse-clicking lad is scratching his head. Not only is there no mutual dream – even the beginning of the olympic sentence is out of line: Currently it doesn’t much look like “one” world to begin with.

Herr Meyer believes that the pre-olympic dreams have not only not come true, but that the dream has turned slightly nightmarish on top. Where is the rapprochement of the Chinese which the world has hoped for so desperately? What about being more open to lifestyles, which are widely accepted by the West? Sir Johnson adds, that it actually looks like the situation is much more desolate now than it was prior to the games. He fretfully orders another beer.

And Mister Li? Did we ever think about questioning Mister Li for this two cents on this matter?

Mister Li pleasurably chews down the last dumpling and queryingly looks at Herr Meyer and Sir Johnson. He wants to know what they mean by “desolate”. But before any of them can kick off an answer, heavily filled with words like ‘human rights’ and ‘freedom’, Mister Li finishes the meal. He then gives his thoughts while looking for a toothpick:

The intention was to bring the Olympics to China. And didn’t that work out indeed? Proving to the world, what a great athletic nation resides on this side of the cultural equator – this turned out to be an absolute success: China took the number one spot on the medal ranking. The games in this country – one could compare it to the football world cup in Germany. An indescribable feeling of unity. Patriotic to the fullest and arm in arm, the Chinese for once didn’t have to feel like a shabby third world country on the brink. Who would want to deny them this experience?

In 2006 the Germans learned that it’s OK to disclose their nationality in public. And suddenly their nation’s flag didn’t look all that ugly any more. It was a sudden liberation.

For Mister Li, this olympic games thing was just the same. And cross your heart – who really cares which girl is singing which song and how much fireworks are genuine or fake? Hollywood repeatedly decides to blow up Washington D.C. or New York, and in reality not a single brick is going loose. Still, everyone is feeling fabulously entertained. What really counts is the effect. For two weeks the Chinese were allowed to experience themselves as a grand part of the “One World”. This and the provable athletic success was the “One Dream”. And everything has come true. So, Mister Li really doesn’t understand how the word “desolate” fits into this picture.

Herr Meyer and sir Johnson are glimpsing at one another with huge questionmarks on their faces. It’s dawning upon them that they might have to check about the origin of the their interprettion of “One World, One Dream”. But still, they push up their mental sleeves and for the next hour they will fight on the terrain of inter-cultural arguments.

The sun is starting to set over the capital. With a slow pan, the camera retracts from the small restaurant’s table on which our little group is heavily discussing their important points of view. After moving backwards out of the window, it curves to reveal the little hutong alley. Typical sounds reach our ear: the whispering of the wind, a distant car horn on the main street, two laughing kids and the murmuring of the neighbors. Captivatively they are checking out the camera crane which elevates at this very moment. We catch a short glimps of a piece of cartboard. It was scantily squeezed into a hole in the wall.

A few yards down the road we spot five colorful rings. Their best days have long passed and they keep paying their tariff to time.

We overlook a city that has changed tremendously because of the olympic games. The IOC relics disappear bit by bit. But the life of the people we see has mostly been changed in one single way: their ego is strengthened and their confidence into the future is much stronger now. And THIS change is long lasting.

Further into the distance we can spot the birdsnest. It features an artificial outdoor skiing track these days as well as the World Chocolate Wonderland exhibition. Visitors may marvel at Easter eggs, Santa Clauses and lots more strange foreign treasure made from chocolate.

Both attractions imply mainly two things: On one hand the continuous attempt to familiarize the Western and Eastern cultures. On the other hand it proofs the amazing fact that this city’s government is still pursuing the goal of not letting the games’ facilities go to waste. A goal which lots of other nations have given up rather quickly after they held the ‘games’.

Our camera elevates and near the horizon we can see a piece of the Chinese Wall. A testimony of the country’s 5000 year old history. According to Mister Li, at one time in its shadow Confucius said “Those who strive for longlasting happiness must change often”. Change however, comes from the inside and so does its direction. And who honestly believes that this direction would be exactly the same as it is expected from the outside?

Geez, Mister Li – I must say you’re awefully right about that. Cheers, you yellow scoundrel! And now let’s go and sing a few.

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