Since a couple of weeks I live in Taiwan. In Taiwan I found friends. We became friends, because we are interested in the same things and we all try to manage our lives between university or jobs, projects, friends, love and wanderlust. All this connects us. What also connects us is the strong desire to change things which need to be changed. We fight for human rights and democracy, and although our cultural background could not be more different we follow the same values and have the same understanding of equality and justice. Additionally, it connects us that we belong to the same generation, a generation that is said to be lazy, lethargic and uninterested in any political issues. I cannot recall a single day passed where nobody raged about this terrible generation in some magazine or feuilleton.
All of this already annoyed me when my social and political work primarily concentrated on the European Integration, but I never had neither the words nor the motivation to hold something against it. And now I suddenly find myself thousands of kilometres away from Europe in front of an occupied parliament surrounded by people my age who feel ignored, cheated and betrayed by their own government and do not want to accept that. I cannot join in their shouted slogans, because the Chinese pronunciation is a nightmare, but I share their opinions, their anger and their fighting spirit.
My generation, this I always thought silently to myself and have strongly felt in the last few days, is a generation full of thirst for action, full of fighting spirit and full of love of freedom. We do not think in country borders, the world is open to us and we profit from it, cultivate friendships all over the globe and speak several languages. We also are a generation that thinks sustainably about our future. We think about the future of our countries, our continents and our world. Egoism is an insult.
The things my generation takes to the streets for in Taiwan at the moment is what old people in grey suits convict as utopia. They, at some point in their aging process, buried the art of thinking big in an infinite amount of paper work and they judge – lost in their own lethargy – the powerful demand for democracy, participation and human rights as a terribly anarchic habit.
In the very beginning when I first showed up at the protest in Taipei, I had the impression that this was mainly about national interest, about national pride – basically about Taiwan as independent country. The more I talked with young people the more I realized that the protests revolve indeed around independence – but independence in a very liberal sense. The protest is about the wish to live in a country with a democratic system, where opinions can be articulated freely and where the citizen of this country can create their own future without being influenced or even controlled by a former occupier.
These young adults cannot identify with nationalist speeches full of hatred against China aggressively bellowed in a microphone by somebody from their parents’ generation. “I don’t have anything against Chinese people, I have plenty of Chinese friends and they are fantastic people.” A friend told me. “I simply have something against the Chinese government and I also have something against my own government and I have something against many governments more in this world, because they don’t act the way I imagine governments to act.”
It also connects our generation that we grew up in stable times. Those East of Germany still remember times before the European Union, but they could as well be raised in security and freedom. Until a couple of months ago nobody in Europe would have expected to face the danger of a war right at the front gates of our fortress of security and democracy, but that is a different topic.
Anyways, the young Taiwanese feel similar. They officially belong to the Republic of China but strongly know that they themselves are Taiwanese living in a democracy. In those countries I am referring to, our generation does not have to form the foundations. We have the responsibility to work on the details and we know that. Because, even if the circumstances we come from offer us the possibility to start out well-educated into life, we face a lack of quality of the things we value so much: that goes for abstract things such as democracy, justice and equality on the one hand – and on the other hand for very clear things such as a labour market which gives us the possibility to not only fulfil ourselves but also to move out of home before we turn 30 and to stand on our own feet.
We know that it is our future which is gambled away by people who possibly will not live too much longer, and definitely shorter than we will. It is also our future which is not even considered by the gamblers who are too busy thinking egoistically about their own needs; National sovereignty, power, economic self advantage.
Over the last days I was enthusiastically involved in the protests in Taipei.
“Why do you do this? It isn’t your country.” A friend wanted to know.
“I don’t see why nationality should be a reason to keep me away from the fight for democracy and justice“, was my answer.
Between our hometowns lie countries, oceans and continents, but we have the same ideas and the same dreams. And together we have power.
I never really realized this thing with the power, until I sat tonight surrounded by young people – the onlookers of the protest disappeared together with the sun – in front of the brightly illuminated parliament. We have power, because we are all together. We want change, we want progress. We want to live in a mutual society where every individual can participate. We have power; because our generation fights all over the world for the same things and we are not scared to pronounce our demands in big – utopian – words.
Today I spent a long time talking to a young man who perfectly informed me about the sunflower revolution. Apart from that, we spoke about several things, about the life in other countries, about fighting and about the importance of solidarity and team spirit. In the end he said how proud he is of our generation.
I am always careful with pride because in my experience pride is easily used for things people have no actual right to be proud of. But I have to agree with him.
Our generation is something which is worth being proud of. Maybe not all of us are revolutionists and I could immediately count several acquaintances that could never be described by the last 1000 words. But that does not matter. It matters that our generation is overloaded with young people who are ready to give their energy for a fair, united and democratic world.
Yes, I am proud to support this generation. And the country I choose to do so in does not matter.