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Wind of Change

In the late 80s TTT would broadcast foreign TV after they signed off at night. They broadcast MTV for a while, until they got a cease-and-desist letter. While there were others, the staple tended to be CNN. Never was I happier for that than that one night in November when I came home from liming to see the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Although I am half German, I usually tend to feel more “of German descent” than “German”. But on that night I felt German. I can’t express how moved I was, how much it meant to me to see the fall of the Wall. And more than that – how much the existence of the Wall (and the division of Germany) had hurt me. On that night I felt so much hope, so much happiness. Which is why the Scorpions Wind of Change, it meant so much to me. While I love the haunting quality of the song, it’s the dream of a post-Cold War Europe, a post-Cold War world, that appealed to me so much. And in the face of all that has gone wrong since then, it’s a memory of a hope that has slipped away.

In 1989 there was so much to be hopeful about. At home, the dream of the NAR still seemed to have some hope. In Europe, the fall of the Iron Curtain and later, of the Soviet Union itself, gave me so much to hope for. I was in my first semester at UWI, everything seemed to hold so much promise.

And then things went downhill. Two weeks later Trinidad and Tobago would lose their World Cup qualified to the US, which was the pebble that ended up in the landslide of the coup attempt. The first Gulf War, while in some ways a symbol of renewed international cooperation, was also a crack in the illusion. The wars in the former Yugoslavia, the Chechen war, the Nagorno-Karabakh war

All of this stands in stark contrast with the optimism of Wind of Change. Perhaps the radical unilateralism of the Bush administration gives Europeans more reason to cooperate, more reason to build their region together, and while so doing, maybe allow some of that hope and optimist to be reborn. I would like to think that there is still cause for some optimism.


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