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One or Three?

     At 3 a.m. I turn on the German TV news of Deutsche Welle, and the quiet night is disrupted by the most cacophonous music on TV (coming from the land of Bach), and the beauty of the starry sky is rent by lurid lighting effects. I suffer through this all in the noble cause of understanding what is going on in the world.
     The peace-shattering introduction is the expression of the first of three Germanies, accidentally juxtaposed in this morning's program. The first is modern Germany, a land where people work hard and politicians fight bitterly to undermine each other. The machine, metallic and political.
     Then came the second Germany: the old Germany of Bach and the Three Kings, represented in old towns by processions led by the three, wearing crowns, and going, in the wintry night, from house to house, collecting money to help poor children. I fear they represent a lost cause. This Christmas we did not hear the soul-warming carol about Good King Wenceslaus going out on St. Stephan's night (December 26) in the snow to help the poor.
     Lastly, German TV took us to the third Germany, that of those who have made it in the first Germany. They had flown to the sunny beaches of the Mediterranean, where they lay in shorts or bikinis taking in the sun, their eyes closed and the minds blank.
     This tripartite division is characteristic of many countries, including the United States. I am philosophically a Comtian Positivist, with the motto (which appears on the Brazilian flag): "Order and Progress, and above all, Compassion." Whether this is the way of the world, I wonder.
     I wish Deutsche Welle would show compassion on me and on humanity be opening its news programs with Bach's "Sheep may safely graze". I am afraid that the cacophony will drown out my simple request. King Wenceslaus would have listened.

Ronald Hilton - 1/7/00