Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How to Explain "Safe Spaces" to a German

At least once a week, I have some German who wants some expression or some recent happening to be explained....in some way that makes "German-sense" (like common sense but enlightening).  I've started to think about this ahead of time....like in the way I wrote the piece on how Hillary lost.  So I've started to contemplate the concept of safe spaces which have gotten wide play in the US news, and how it can be explained.

I would imagine the German would ask....what the heck are safe spaces?  Are these like places where you'd go in a tornado or hurricane?  Well....no.

Are these places to go if someone were to be shooting an assault rifle or pistol?  No.

Are these places to go if someone is swing a knife or machete?  No.

Are these places to go if some gang guy is threatening to kill you?  No.

Are these places to go if your dad kicked you out of the house one night for stupid behavior?  No.

So you'd stop the German at this point....raising a finger, and start to lay out the landscape.

You start with the simple identification of this being a university situation....not some bar in an urban area, or some local town park, or some special building in a Memphis low-income area.

Then you lay out that a fair number (probably in the two-percent range but let's be realistic.....no one ever collects statistics on this stuff to talk reliably)....of university students have arrived and are used to a certain lifestyle....a certain number of political agendas....a certain list of topics to be discussed, and when something comes up that isn't on the accepted list....they are extremely upset.

Your German associate might say that German kids leave home and go to German universities, and they don't have safe spaces.

Well....yeah....that's true.

But this group of American kids....probably two-percent of them....have a bold new world in their mind which cannot be identified as "real".  Their world is a combination of fantasy, dreams, and fake politics.

The German will be in some state of disbelief that America has produced tens of thousands of young immature kids who can't handle reality?  Yeah.

So the German will ask....what happens when they graduate?  This is where you lay out the future. These young college-degreed individuals will go out to hospitals, Fortune-500 companies, and foundations, and become part of some new society.  A society which can't handle frustrations. They will come to Germany to work on negotiations, science projects, or business proposals.  Germans will state facts, and suddenly find some American on the other side of the table who is doing some kind of weird act....like they can't handle the discussion.  Then the guy will ask the German at the table....do you have a safe space for me to retreat to?

My suggestion....to end this whole explanation to your German associate....is to respond to the American idiot asking about a safe space....just say "sure".  Take the poor guy or gal to a German pub....ask for a one-liter stein of beer, and start talking about Kaiser Wilhelm, Kase Kuchen (cheese cake), soccer teams, German wars against France, or fake German intellectual topics.  In thirty minutes, the American will calm down to some degree.  Buy him or her a second one-liter stein of beer, and then just dump them off at the hotel (it only takes two steins to get the typical American drunk).  After two or three of those experiences.....the American will lose this safe space gimmick and just learn to drink beer and do pub-talk when frustrated.

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