One week ago the G20 Summit took place in Hamburg. This was quite a coincidence for me, as it happened to overlap with my visit, which means that I was now present for two G20 conferences, as the same conference took place in Pittsburgh back in 2009. However, both the reactions to and the direct impact on my own life differed between the two summits.
First, some facts about the 2009 Summit in Pittsburgh. There were about 4,000 police in the area, and according to police accounts, about 4,500 people participated in protests, with 190 people being arrested. There was about $50,000 worth of damage to local businesses. (The Wikipedia article explains the conference in more detail than I will go into here, but there were a handful of protests from various groups throughout the city)
Personally, the conference in Pittsburgh didn't affect me at all. The only thing I remember about it was my dad saying we needed to leave a few minutes earlier for school in case there was more traffic due to the conference. As a point of reference, I live about a 35 minute drive outside of the city center in Pittsburgh, and a 20 minute drive outside of the city center in Hamburg.
Now, some facts about the 2017 Summit. There were more than 15,000 police deployed in Hamburg from across the entire country, with 45 water cannons available. The estimated amount of protestors was 100,000 people from all over the world, with 186 arrested, and an additional 225 more taken into temporary custody. One peaceful protest even included an estimated 76,000 people! Even if some of these estimates are drastically off the mark, the difference in scale between the protests in Hamburg and in Pittsburgh remains significant.
This past winter, my school in Germany asked me to write an article about Trump for their school paper. The article was originally in German, but I just finished translating it and wanted to share it at the same time as the G20 Summit begins in Hamburg, and as the second edition of the school newspaper is about to be released:
Donald John Trump is a US American businessman, politician, and the designated 45th president of the United States. At least, thats how his Wikipedia article starts. As of now (I wrote this article in November, before he took office) people have yet to clearly define who Trump really is. 16 years ago, Trump was actually a Democrat based on his political views. He was for the right to choose to have an abortion, wanted more gun laws, and even said that he was for global health care. But the man who donated money to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation is now long gone. Who, or perhaps better, what now represents the perhaps most important leader in the democratic world is still an enigma. In the next four years, the world willl see what type of person Donald J. Trump really is, or really wants to be.
First, a short introduction about Donald Trump. Wikipedia says, "Donald Trump is the fourth of five kids from the New York Real Estate Agent Frederick Trump Jr. (1905-1999) and the Scottish fisherman's daughter Mary Anne MacLeod (1912-2000) from the village of Tong on the Hebridean Island Lewis and Harris. His father's parents Friedrich Trump and Elisabeth Christ came from Kallstadt in Rheinland-Pfalz (at the time a piece of the Kingdom of Bayern) and later immigrated to the US. Friedrich Trump was a second cousin of the Ketchup Company founder Henry John Heinz (who started his brand in my city, Pittsburgh), and whose grandmother Charlotta Louisa was born as a Trump. In an interview, Trump said he was proud of 'this German blood'. In 1987 he wrote in his autobiographical book, The Art of the Deal that he actually suspected his grandfather came from Karlstad in Sweden, with which he carried on a fictional tale of his father's from the time of the Second World War. There lies an example of the one truth about Trump. He always changes his mind. Another interesting tidbit of history about Trump is that his grandfather, Friedrich Trump originally was called Friedrich Drumpf. The name Drumpf sounds very strange in English, and it is suspected that was the reason for the name change. Perhaps if the family name had stayed Drumpf, he would not have had as much success as he has had.
Now onto Trump and his campaign. This theme was already discussed so many times that some things are no longer worth mentioning, since everyone knows about them. For example, some of the dumb phrases he has said, insults he has made towards women, and his jokes about disabled reporters. However, it's important to think about all points of view. Therefore, I will try to explain the point of view of many people at my old high school, before I share my opinion. A note: for these people, Trump's mistakes are simply something to be ignored. There are, of course, a small percentage of people who vote for Trump who really are white supremacists or Klu Klux Klan members, or sexists, but these are by far the minority (at least in my experience). The majority, simply ignore these parts of his campaign. And therein lies the genius of his campaign. Trump somehow managed to unite very different groups of people, and get them to ignore the parts of his campaign that don't apply to them, i.e. get the extremists to ignore the more moderate parts of his campaign, and the moderates to ignore the more extreme things that he says. For example, the moderates might say ''oh that's just nonsense that he's saying. I'm sure he is only saying those things to get attention and won't really do them''. Additionally, many people never thought that he would win, and voted for him because of that. Even if he had not have won, it's still a vote for different politics. For many people it is also that they simply can't vote for the Democrats because they find a woman's right to choose abortion so terrible or don't accept the facts about climate change or evolution. Thankfully, science doesn't depend on belief to remain true. Sadly, politics is not so lucky.
As many of my friends go off to college, the military, or wherever else their life may take them, I wanted to take a moment to share with them a bit of advice, or rather my feelings on the bittersweet moment that is saying goodbye to someone. Of course, no post would be complete without referencing something German, and I'd like to point out that the German word for goodbye is aufwiedersehen, which roughly translates to "until we see each other again". I think this is a better way of looking at goodbyes. In today's digital age, it is becoming increasingly easy to reconnect with old friends, be it through facebook, skype, or just sending an email or text asking how they have been doing.
Although goodbyes are often difficult, they also signal the beginning of something new, a chance to reinvent oneself and take advantage of a plethora of exciting opportunities. One blogger I follow captures the essence of this quite nicely in an email he recently sent out, and I'd like to share it all with you.
Here are some of Colin Wright's thoughts on goodbyes:
"Something I've learned about myself over the years is that I'm not great at goodbyes.
This week, I have a challenge regarding discomfort. But first, a bit on the subject.
Discomfort is prevalent in all aspects of life, in varying amounts. Whether the intense pain of breaking a bone or the mild annoyance of a mosquito bite, we all face unpleasant things over the course of life. But what if we could somehow learn to deal with the unpleasantness, and learn to embrace it instead of running away from it? If you improved your ability to handle mild distress, wouldn't life be more enjoyable?
This skill is crucial for creating new habits such as writing or exercising on a daily basis. While these activities are definitely rewarding, oftentimes they require going through some discomfort to complete the work. In today's day and age, we can run from this unpleasantness to easier tasks like checking social media, checking email, or watching tv. But, the things that truly matter in our life, and have the power to positively impact our lives, or the lives of those around us are rarely comfortable. Therefore, it is important to learn how to work through discomfort.
So, back to the challenge. In order to learn how to deal with discomfort, you don't need to run an ultramarathon or write a best selling novel. Instead, we can use simple tasks to train the skill, and then apply it to things that matter. The task I created is to brush your teeth every day with your non-dominant hand (left hand if you're right-handed, right hand if you're left handed). Starting next Thursday, June 1 I will be brushing my teeth every day for a month with my left hand, and I challenge you to do the same. Although brushing your teeth with a different hand may seem trivial, it is a small task that most people already do twice a day. Therefore, you don't need to carve out any extra time in your daily routine, just switch hands and you're ready to go.
Stefan, the founder of Bluffworks, also keeps a journal to share his experiences travelling the world. A few weeks ago he wrote a post that captured the essence of cultural differences, and I'd like to share his post with all of you. Enjoy!
"When I was in France last summer, I visited a mini-grocery store for items not found at more specialized shops like a patisserie, fromagerie, etc. I was looking for packaged things like cereal and milk.
I ended up visiting the grocery store a few mornings in a row, and each time I did I bumped into the employees stocking the shelves. They had boxes piled on large palette-sized rolling racks. And when the racks were empty, they broke them down, with a loud BAM, BAM, BAM.
I thought, “Wow, this is so disruptive, it would never happen in the U.S.” A few days later in Lyon... same thing. I faced a pile of boxes right in front of the incredible French hazelnuts I was eager to buy.
One of my best friends, a fellow CBYX 2015-2016 Alumnus and a buddy of his are currently biking up to Niagara Falls. They started out in Washington D.C. and took rail trails up to Pittsburgh, where they stopped to visit for the night. The following interview catalogs their experiences along the trails so far.
Noah: What inspired you to embark upon this journey?
Asa Rogers: When I heard Julio was going to make the journey alone, I thought to myself, 'hey, I bike too'
Julio Gonzalez: That's a difficult question. I really feel like I haven't experienced anything. Like a journey type thing. I don't really know what I'm looking for, but I think I'll know when I find it.
One of my favorite authors of all time, Leo Babauta, the author of Zen Habits, recently created a video training program on "Turning Uncertainty to Find Mindful Openness" as a birthday gift to his readers. But, I'm sure he can explain it better than I can. I will be following along for the next 44 days of life, starting tomorrow. I'd love it if you would consider joining us :)
"What the heck is that? It’s a video training program that I’m offering for free, to help you:
Overcome uncertainty, anxiety, fear, discomfort and procrastination
Find peace, mindful openness, gratitude and joy
A few days ago, I was lucky enough to drive up from Seattle to Mount Rainier. When we left, it looked like it was going to be the only sunny day we had all trip, so we wanted to take advantage of it and get a close up view of the oft hidden peak. As someone who traditionally adores the sun, and will do anything possible to avoid getting wet in the rain, the chance to get out in the uncharacteristically pleasant weather was too much to pass up.
Yet as we drove the two hours to the mountain gray, billowy clouds overtook the once sparkling sun and by the time we stepped out of our rental car to go for a short hike, it had begun to rain, and further up the mountain we even encountered snow. But for some reason, weather which would usually keep me inside seemed to be making the woods through which we walked even more enjoyable. Instead of seeing the rain as something to be avoided before returning to the safety of indoors, the drizzle became an extra sensory experience.
Sometimes in life, it can be easy to see anything challenging as bad, and when we don't like something to wish it away. If we can come to view these aspects of existence with appreciation instead of contempt, life becomes a lot more enjoyable. Although this is not always easy, even reaching this point every so often offers more perspective than one might think.
Even though the next time it rains, I may very well sprint from my school to my car, I still look forward to that next walk where I can simply be at peace and have a nice walk in the rain.
Last year while catching up on some of my favorite blogs from the US, I stumbled across the site Wait But Why. While reading over this new blog, I came across a post called The Tail End. This post opened my eyes to the briefness of many things we take for granted in life. Among them, the two most significant were books and relationships. This post will focus mainly on what I learned about the books we all choose to read.
The premise of the post was to use cartoons to represent how little we have of something left. For books, the author (aged about 30) estimated he had only 300 books to read for the rest of his life! Although this seems like alot, when you stop and think about how many books are out there it is shockingly few.
Now that you realize you only have a few books left to read, choosing the remaining books becomes very important. Although this might seem like a daunting task, I'd like to make a suggestion. A few weeks after coming across this post, it just so happens I found a TED Talk on a similar subject. The talk is titled: My Year Reading a Book from Every Country in the World. The notion of the talk is that upon discovering her book shelf contained authors all from a small handful of the world's nations, Ann Morgan set out to read a book or memoir from every country in the world (using the UN list plus Taiwan).