“It is not very easy to learn to be a free person.”

Writer Hogler Teschke talked to NPR’s Renee Montagne last month about the divisions that remain in Germany 50 years after the rise of the Berlin Wall. An excerpt:

Holger Teschke

Holger Teschke

Hogler Teschke:  The people in the West grew up in a democratic and an open and liberal society, and we [in East Germany] did not. And with freedom and with democracy, there are also many, many challenges and we have to learn to face this. And you have to learn to think and to act for yourself. I think that was one of the things that was taken away from the people over the 40 years of party dictatorship in the East. 

Renee Montagne:  You mean it wasn’t just an immediate gratification of the basic human need to be free, as I think the most idealistic people would think. That emerging from communism wasn’t that simple.  

Hogler Teschke:  A very good old friend of mine… once said, it is not very easy to learn to be a free person. That sounds very simple and banal, but it is not if you have not learned it from your childhood on.

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Our Society once helped us learn to be free people by telling the stories that help our society cohere.

Today, National Geographic’s priorities lie elsewhere. Our values have changed. And from where we sit, this doesn’t feel like progress.

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