Germany’s Greater Grief

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A fella walked into an eatery looking for a buddy with whom he was going to have some lunch.  As he passed by a table where two pretty young ladies were sitting, he noticed they were checking him out and heard ‘nine’.  With great pride he told his friend that these women had rated him a nine out of a possible ten.  But the man replied, “You don’t understand, these gals don’t speak English; they are from Germany, and in the German language ‘nein’ means ‘no way, zero, zilch, nada.’”

In Europe, it is no great secret that ‘nein’ is the way Germany and other northern nations (Austria, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, etc.) look at the southern nations on the continent (Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, etc.) as far as work characteristics go: efficiency, discipline, organization, punctuality, and the like.  These more-scheduled Black Sea countries say ‘no way, zero, zilch, nada’ when looking at the more laid-back lifestyle of the Mediterranean Sea countries.  An example of this was the last economic downturn when labourers from southern Europe came to Germany looking for work.  They soon learned that when it comes to the job, 8:00 means 8:00 and not 8:01 (i.e., northern Europe seeks to run like a German train schedule – on time).

This is why the recent pre-meditated murderous crash of a German airplane into the French Alps by a depressed pilot goes much deeper into the German psyche than just the tragic loss of 149 lives.  For Germans, it drives a deep stake into the heart of their great cultural pride;  you are trained to keep your private feelings in check, separate from doing your public work.  And this is why in Germany, when reports first came out of the pilot’s troubled psychological mind, the initial thought in Deutschland was – surely this was an emotional southern European, not one of our own home-grown boys.  Then, when it was confirmed to actually be a German pilot, the CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa could only sit in front of the world’s media and stare in total disbelief, expressing that this whole things was so “un-German” like.

The bottom line?  The world has certainly benefitted from German (industry, ingenuity, inventiveness) and long is the list of great accomplishments.   But when the Devil is allowed to enter a pilot’s heart – efficiency, discipline, organization, punctuality, etc. – are no match.  As the Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:2, it is Satan and not Germanwings (or any other airliner) that is …the prince and the power of the air.

√Note – When it comes to emotions, what nation is the one most likely to wear their heart on their sleeve and which one is the least likely?  The Gallup Organization has been polling 150 nations since 2009 about this very thing and here are the results.  At the top of the emotion list are those nations in warmer climates (with Filipinos being rated number one for publicly showing their feelings). At the other end of the emotion list are those nations in the colder climates (with Russians being rated number one for not publicly showing their feelings).  Canadians were placed somewhere around the emotional middle.