Dare you quote a Russian in these times? Well, he certainly – Dostoyevsky: “To be without a home means to suffer.” And he must know it, as someone who has traced psychology and has given it words, right?
At least we Germans suffer from the term from time to time. Home, how murmuring and boisterous that sounds to some ears. When pronounced by those who steal the term to turn it to the right. Rightmost.
But no one, no one who bears responsibility for the community, should allow that. Especially not a politician. Now also Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser. She writes on Twitter: “We have to use the term
Faeser was asked about this in the “Zeit”. She also explained: “It expresses that people can choose how they want to live, believe and love. That would be a gain for social cohesion.”
And already we are in the middle of a debate that comes up again and again, how cyclical. Not completely new, but with new participants. Faeser’s predecessor Horst Seehofer from the CSU had expanded the Federal Ministry of the Interior in 2018 to include “home”. Another reason was to dispute the issue with the AfD and to occupy the field from the middle of society.
It is as if politicians always have to reassure themselves when they see themselves challenged by increased numbers of people seeking refuge and increasing migration. The world in turmoil – and home as, yes, what?
“It’s not just the space in which you grew up or were born, it’s also an intellectual space, a cultural space,” said the literary critic and former “Zeit” feuilleton editor Ulrich Greiner years ago. Filling the intellectual space, culturally, is therefore a constant challenge. And logically linked to the fight to assert diversity against limitations.
Robert Habeck, the most authentic political explainer of these years, pointed this out years ago: that the progressives must not allow themselves to go backwards. “Because I believe that you have to fight for the concept of home. If you leave him to the right-wing extremists, he will be messed up.”
A fitting word for suffering from it, when home as a word, as a concept, only stands for a few, only for a specific way of life or only for a specific group. “Here, home is,” says Habeck, “a promise that all people can experience security and safety, no matter where they come from and how they want to live. What unites us are the values of our liberal constitution.”
Here Habeck and Faeser meet, in a coalition that wants to do it. And can create.
Living liberally means opening one’s homeland: as a place where one understands “and is understood at the same time”. Said Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the Day of German Unity 2017. In doing so, he set a framework that has lasted to this day, right through to the new edition of self-assurance.
Accordingly, the following applies: maintaining tradition and familiarity must not be misused to set boundaries. Rather, for everyone who wants to live well and happily here, it is about the security of lived liberality.
Your homeland, our homeland: Foreignness gives way when you get to know each other beyond customs. With the stories of the people who have come to Germany, who will also come in the future, who “have to become much more part of our common we”, as President Steinmeier said.
This insight is half a decade old and is likely to create social cohesion, which Minister Faeser evidently drives, distilled into a Twitter message.
Or put it this way by someone from their Hessian homeland: “All these excellent people with whom you now have a pleasant relationship, that is what I call home.” Wrote Goethe. A native poet. So to speak.
Where Heimat is also a very German word; many languages do not know it at all. A formerly discredited term, which – if it is to be filled meaningfully and profitably today – is about leaving behind what stands in the way of coming together as a community.
Steinmeier had put together a kind of reminder for recurring discussions: home, a state in the head (Fatih Akin), a scene of emotions (Edgar Reitz), a wide field (Theodor Fontane).
“Home used to be a very clear case of homeland film and Musikantenstadl.” Ulrich Greiner said at the time of Steinmeier’s speech five years ago that it was good that homeland was now being discussed. Well, it’s even better if it’s talked about over and over again.
Only in this way does the integration that needs to be addressed become part of the reality at home in a country that changes almost every day due to many influences. Understood in this way, homeland is a synonym for the future, a place that society recreates for itself.
That is why it is always better to shape the discussion than to endure it. Home is what becomes of it.