Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Good Person Syndrome

Around eighteen months ago, I started to notice a trendy subject here in Germany.....which amounted to the idea of a 'gute mensch' (good person).

If you asked some German to define the 'gute mensch''d be mostly a label attached to some crowd which overflowed with perceived empathy (not to say it was real empathy but they just think it), motivation to sense that their kindness corrected previous wrongs, coupling charitable behavior to a national sense (no amount of money or funding is limited), and a belief that moral attitude swings only in their favor.

What developed in this period of 2013 to 2015.....was a large segment of German society which had become pro-immigrant, pro-refugee, pro-asylum, pro-integration, etc.  Attached to this behavior was the idea that it was all remarkably right and correct....a feeling that no one should dare challenge or suggest they were wrong.

To some degree, the state-run news media defended the cause and came down hard on anyone who challenged the good nature of the gute mensch.  Only someone of a lesser intelligence.....would attack the human side of this great characteristic.  I was amused by the slant but for a number of months....that was the public counter-attack.

In the intellectual circle of discussion....things were heavily tilted all the way to 2 January 2016.  It's amazing to watch the enthusiasm and public sentiment that existed.  Even as some numbers decreased in the summer of 2015....the gute mensch crowd in Germany still had a majority and full support of the state-run TV complex.

Oddly, as things came unglued on 2 January across the nation.....folks looked at what happened on New Year's Eve in Koln, with literally hundreds of women groped and people threatened in some way....the gute mensch crowd lost about half of it's willing participants within a few short weeks.

Quietly, people came out of the shadows to note that they'd left the gute mensch crowd in 2014 and 2015....not saying much because they didn't want their associates to really know their feelings had changed drastically.  These are people who simply noted that integration wasn't a roaring success....that attitudes among the new arrivals weren't all positive....and that they sensed that being charitable did have its limits.

I grew up in the American south in the 1960s and what would have been identified as a gute mensch society.  It was a dry county where people talked of the good nature of keeping things nice and eliminating alcohol as part of the public sentiment.  In the times.....this attitude was considered remarkably right and correct.  Over the past decade, those from community who were the gute mensch type.....lost their enthusiasm, and through political elections.....this behavior 'brake' of trying to manipulate a large crowd toward good-feeling accomplishments was dumped.

Most people (I would include Germans in the group) have a sense of doing good in their lives.  It's a great trait and admirable.  It's at some junction....where logic and actual events meet up, and suddenly you start to ask questions.  Some people probably are concreted into the ways and locked into the belief that everyone should be onboard with their righteous mission in life.

Where this good person syndrome goes now?  I would speculate that some will hold onto these values (maybe one-third of the nation) and try to keep a firm view of the positive nature of this view.  Journalists and intellectuals will probably try to hype the good nature of this syndrome.  But in the end, I think at least half of the German public will ask stupid questions, which never seem to be answered, and get frustrated with the future ahead.

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