The United States of Africa: How the Greatest Nation has become the Greatest Failure


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


This was the preamble of the US Constitution, which was signed by George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and representatives of the original 13 colonies and ratified in 1787. It called for the end of occupation by the British Monarchy and the right for people to live prosper lives fostering their own growth and successes but also defending the country through their freedom of speech and the right to bear arms.

The right to bear arms has become a topic of discussion lately because of the carnage that has devastated the United States of America. America has a right to protect itself from invaders. Families have rights to protect themselves. And even sometimes people have a right to protect themselves if they feel threatened. Yet the right to bear arms, as mentioned in the second Amendment has turned the country into a failed state, as mentioned by scholars, such as Noam Chomsky. Chomsky has followed on the politics in the States and found that the country created by our forefathers has been in decline- most rapidly since 11 September though it had originally started after the Americans and their allies won World War II. While Washington found ways to mask itself as the knight in shiny armor in protecting its interest from encroaching Communists, and the baby-boomer generations had taken full steam, issues of purging into the lives of others, environmental destruction because of development and select support of nationalist governments were widely ignored. The President and all members of Congress turned a blind eye.  While we have seen many lumps in increases in between, like in the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton years, democracy and its values have been gunned down bit by bit because of the government representing only the privileged and the rich, disregarding the values that protect the society of the people regardless of background. In the case of guns, it’s like in the picture above: a shooting happens, grieving happens, discussions on how to make society safe from guns comes, Congress tries to act but cannot because of support from the likes of the National Rifle Association (NRA) who favor guns and stand-by to the principles of the 2nd Amendment. The issue gets swept under the rug and is not brought up until the next blood bath.

2018 has in no doubt been the bloodiest year in American history with 18 mass shootings so far this year. Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting on 14 December 2012, we’ve had 290 shootings; six of which have been in the top ten deadliest in US history. This includes the Las Vegas Massacre on October 1, 2017, the deadliest mass shooting on record,  where 58 people were killed and 815 hurt.  The latest shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which happened on Valentine’s Day is the ninth worst. Yet our only responses we get from our leaders is “My condolences to the families involved, ” and no real action to stop this? Is this what America has come down to?

As an American expat writing this, I’m really disgusted at the inactivity and indifference politicians and society has towards the country’s people. It angers me even more that instead of addressing it straight up, like we’ve seen in other countries, we defer our responsibilities and blame other aspects. In this case, it is mental illness. However with the next shooting, it will be something else. And more lives will be lost in what was supposed to be a democracy made to protect the people and allow them to live prosperous and make a difference.

This latest shooting brings the United States of America down to the level of 3rd world African and Central American countries because we do not have the balls and testosterome to say “STOP! NO MORE OF THIS!” This leads me to a lot of questions I have to the people in the country who either have turned a blind eye, become helpless or indifferent or even are staunch supporters of guns and violence as a way of protecting oneself and the 2nd Amendment:

Is it really OK to carry hand guns around whenever it is deemed necessary?

Is it really OK to have police arbitrarily invade homes and lives of other people just because they don’t like them for no reason?

Is it really OK to teach children how to take cover in an event of a crazed maniac who could possibly shoot down children and teachers, employers and co-workers, or even the common person, like it’s a Terminator video game?

Is it really OK to scare American society over a tiny virus which only kills one person but ignore the problems that kill thousands?

Is it really OK to say “I’m not OK with domestic violence,” but not do a goddamn thing about it?

Is it really OK to defer responsibility to others for your own wrong-doing, which can lead to lives lost unnecessarily- such as providing money to strippers and porn artists instead of taking that and using it to fix our infrastructure, health care, social security and the like?

Is it really OK to make America safe with guns instead of sitting down together and talking about the issues at hand, hoping to find common ground?

And lastly, is it really OK to watch all this carnage and do absolutely nothing about it?

I really hope America wakes up and finally does something about this mess. Because if guns are really OK, as with violence, death and destruction, then I don’t want to be part of this anymore. We have seen African nations struggle since the end of British rule because of gun violence tied together with corruption,  poverty and war. Yet we have become one of them instead of being a country setting an example for others through our policies, democracy and innovations working for the good of the environment and society.  We have become a live example of  George Orwell’s Animal Farm because of our unwillingness to change to helpo others- to put a stop to this gun violence, to put a stop to bullying, to put a stop to hatred and paranoia, and to put a stop at focusing on our own needs and the needs of the select few. With trillions already wasted to the weapons industry, we have become the African countries that pride ourselves in the brass, but will eventually cave in from underneath due to the social issues we have piling up.

And so, as of today, 15 February 2018, the United States of America, once deemed as the “greatest nation on the face of this Earth,” a catalyst for inventors, innovators and ingenuous people who made a difference for the rest of humanity, my place of origin, has lost all credibility in the eyes of the world and beyond. This country has become the new Africa. All armed and ready to kill again before they kill us.

And if we beg to differ, then my words to you are this: Prove it. Prove it now before we become part of a bloody revolution. Prove it now before we become a memory in our global society. Prove it now in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, in the name of Siddartha the Buddha, in the name of Mohammad, in the name of our fathers and brothers, and in the name of God, who created this place for us to live.





The Use of Time Markers in English Part III: Future Tenses A

A typical Lutheran Church in the village of Mockern (near Altenburg, Th)

The Lord delights in the way of the man, whose steps he has made firm- Psalms 37:23

His God instructs him and teaches him the right way- Isaiah 28:26

Sometimes the future of one’s life is dependent on God’s plan. Yet in English, we don’t know what the future is unless we know the various forms of them. This is where we start our article: future tenses and where the time markers play in.

Any person would agree that the future tense deals with the modal verb will plus the base verb, regardless of how the sentence is structured- as a statement, in question form, or even in passive or active voices, like in the following sentences below:

Tom will start his job as a pastor of a local church this Sunday.   (Active)

The church will be filled with many people.  (Passive)

What will the service offer, when Tom takes over?  (Question form in active)

Yet in linguistics terms, when digging deeper into the topic of future tenses, this is where we walk into the shadow of death, not knowing who is guiding us, as there are various forms of future tenses, whose meanings have been debated among teachers, linguists and even native speakers alike. In simpler language, we have five different forms of future tense- six if we include the conditional form with would.  Aside the classic version of will, we have present-continuous, present simple, present perfect and going-to plus base verb all functioning as future tenses. Have a look at the examples below:

The church will have a potluck dinner after the service.

The church is going to have a potluck dinner after the service

The church is having a potluck dinner after the service.

The church has a potluck dinner after the service

The church will have had a potluck dinner after the service.

As we go through murky waters with the Lord guiding us, the question here is, can we make this distinction? The answer here is yes.

For almost 16 years, I’ve been confronted by students and other English non-natives on this topic as they want to know what the difference among these five types are. And I’ve done some research on this topic in order to find out whether there is a difference or not. In the end, I came up with a pair of diagrams and where the five types plus the conditional would fit:


Future Tenses

Future tense has two main functions: planning and prediction. The scales produced have to do with the possibilities that neither situation will change. That means in yellow, there is at least a 50% chance that either situation will change. If orange, a 70% chance that what’s planned or predicted will become real. Red means 85%, and black: between 97 and 100%. That means the darker you go, the more likely things will happen as planned or predicted. With going to, it means that on the one hand, what is planned will happen without any changes, but on the other hand, if there is a speculation, chances are more likely that it will remain that way. But when using will, it has three different functions:

  1. As a predictor, will can be used to implicate something that will happen given the situation that is real and unavoidable.
  2. For planning, it means that in the long term, something is being planned with a 50% chance of it not happening, yet
  3. In the short term, it serves as a knee-jerk reaction to something that occurred just now.

Examples of each:

  1. As a prediction: Look! There is a man on the church steeple! I think he will ring the bell. (He could also fix the roof, take some pictures, enjoy the view of the village, preach, etc.)
  2. For planning part I: Pastor Tom will travel to Senegal for a missionary trip next year.
  3. For planning part II: Rats! I forgot to bring my Bible to the service! Response: No worries, I’ll lend you mine.

As mentioned in the last article on Time Markers, present simple functions as a future tense based on routine and schedule, yet they also function as a plan that had been in the making for a long time and long since been concretized. Examples:

  1. The train to Lutherstadt-Wittenberg leaves at 9:00am, so you may want to hurry to attend the festival.  (Schedule, no changes unless there is a train delay)
  2. The meeting of the Cardinals takes place next week at the Cathedral. (Planned well in advance, no changes)
  3. Pastor Tom travels to Senegal next week. (Again, planned well in advance. Tickets booked, no changes expected)

Present continuous as a future tense implies a spontaneous course of action, planned at the moment or a very short time ago, and unless someone talks a person out of it, an event will happen. Here are a couple examples to help you:

Maude: I’m seeing somebody new.  (Implying the current situation also in the future)

Bob: Wait! Before you do, let’s talk to Pastor Tom about it.

Maude: It’s too late. I’m leaving you. (Implying short-term plan in future)

Bob: You can’t just leave. You’re a Catholic.

Maude: I don’t care. He’s giving me more than you ever will! (Implying the reason behind this decision in present and most likely in the future, too.) 

Author’s Note: I doubt Jesus Christ would accept such an arrangement as he rejects extramarital affairs to begin with. 😉  


Let’s have a look at the activities below:

Exercise 1: Look at the sentences below and determine whether they are based on planning or prediction. Also identify the future tense and the chances of it happening in reality.

  1. A: Wow! The temperature has climbed rapidly in the last hour! B: I think it’s going to be a hot day.
  2. After 20 years as a pastor of a church in Aue, Pastor Tom will preside over a congregation at a church in Buxtehude.
  3. The congregation there will be happy when he takes over in two weeks.
  4. The people in Aue are throwing a going away party for Tom, as they really loved his sermons.
  5. Married with three children, Pastor Tom’s family are going to join him in Buxtehude.
  6. For them, it will be their first time living in northern Germany because they spent all of their lives in Saxony.
  7. By the time Tom is in Buxtehude, the congregation in Aue will have elected his successor.
  8. Tom’s last sermon in Aue will be next week. The going-away party is to follow afterwards.
  9. The congregation is going to miss him.
  10. According to the weather report, the weather on the day of his sermon will be much cooler than today (refer to nr. 1)

Exercise 2: Complete the following sentences below, using the correct future tense. Be prepared to explain your reasons why your answer is correct. This includes determining whether the future tense is based on prediction or planning.

  1. At the same time, the church in Buxtehude__________ (celebrate)  the going-away party of departing pastor named John.
  2. John, a former basketball player from the team Baskets Bamberg, __________(go) back to his hometown to become head coach.
  3. Before that, he _______ (plan) to go on a missionary trip to Namibia.
  4. He _____________(meet) Flamingo Frank, a seven-foot Namibian basketball player, turned pastor.
  5. Flamingo wants to play basketball and therefore ________ (meet) Pastor John to talk about joining the Bamberg team.
  6. John knows Flamingo because he has watched him play several times during his stay in Africa. Henceforth it is a foregone conclusion that he _________ (hire) him and ________  (offer) a contract.
  7. Flamingo ________ (hope) that his friends ___________ (come along) to Bamberg.
  8. John’s plane to Namibia ________ (take off) at 10:00am from Munich. By the time he lands in Africa, it _________ (turn) dark.
  9. It appears that he’s ____________(have) him on the team because he has talked a lot about it lately.
  10. If Flamingo joins the team, there _________(be) pre-game prayers practices and games.

Now that you pretty much have an idea of how future tenses work, we will go to the time markers that work with future tense. Because of the length of the article, it had to be divided into two parts. Therefore, click on the picture below in order to get to the second part. 🙂



Germany at 25: Civil Courage

The German Order of Merit Cross (Bundesverdienstkreuz) awarded to Vaclav Havel in 2007. Photo taken by the Národní museum in Prague. Link:

Civil Courage: derived from the Latin word civilis and the French word courage and meaning the courage of the people to do something what is deemed right. In German, it is known as Zivilcourage and has been one of the most talked about topics in the past two decades. Politicians, civic leaders and organizations in civil society have called upon Germans to show civil courage and help others when help is needed. But why is that when civil courage is a natural trait you see in other countries, including the US?

Especially when it comes to the problem with right-winged extremists has civil courage been heavily discussed for reasons of fear: fear that the laws in the books may be used against them, but also fear of retaliation on the part of people involved wanting to help them. It also presents a conflict of interest between instinct- knowing that there is someone there to help- and the protection of privacy and one’s own private sphere, as mentioned by Prof. Veronika  Brandstätter of the University of Zurich in an interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel. According to the professor of psychology, specializing in motivation psychology, Civil Courage is a question of value in terms of democracy and humanity, examining the issues of solidarity, tolerance and the readiness to help.  In other words, how far can you go to help someone? What resources are at your disposal and whether additional help is necessary in some cases. While he points out rescuing someone trapped on thin ice as one of the obvious signs where one stops his activities immediately to help, the issue involving right-wing extremism has been an ongoing theme since 1990, which seems to have climbed to the top three in terms of problems Germany is facing at present- refugees and the widening of social classes are the other two, with the Volkswagon scandal not far behind.

Examining the situation 25 years ago, especially in the eastern half of Germany, there were only very few traces of solidarity towards those in need for two reasons:

1. The traumatic effects of National Socialism in the 1930s and 40s, counting the devastation Germany faced in World War II, combined with Germany being a battlefield during the Cold War as Communism and Capitalism locked horns along the East-West borders including Berlin.  Here, we had two major poles: those who still believed in the German race and those who were afraid of being arrested by one of the two Superpowers. For the former, a classic example of how right-winged nationalism was strong was the riots in Rostock in 1992, where residents and neo-Nazis attacked apartments occupied by Vietnamese immigrants, setting them on fire and chasing the occupants away. The Police were poorly equipped to handle the protests. Further attacks on foreigners followed where bystanders stepped aside to avoid any confrontation by the extremists who dubbed them as helpers.

For the latter, it had to do with the sphere of influence the two superpowers had on the divided Germany: the US for the western half and the Soviet Union for the eastern half. Both were of the opinion that Germany should be rebuilt and grow but on a controlled basis, for fearing of another rise in power. This resulted in the post-war generations growing up being influenced by two different powers that reshaped their way of thinking. It did not mean that the country of free-thinkers was a puppet. It meant that in order for the country to achieve its independence, the Germans had to abide by the regulations from the outside, which disappeared bit by bit as the country bought itself back its independence, only to have that achieved with German Reunification in 1990. And even then, the people growing up during the Cold War era had the extra caution mentality, where help is only given when it is deemed safe to do so.

The second reason behind the lack of solidarity is the mentality of letting the people “swim in cold water” and fend for themselves. This meant that there was an expectation that people coming to Germany (or at least a region in Germany) were to have learned the language, customs and way of life, and there was no need to assist them, even if asked. Even the idea of saying “Schönen Tag wünsche ich Ihnen/Dir!” (Have a nice day) 15 years ago seemed preposterous in the eyes of many who prefer to concentrate on their own affairs and not that of others. Again, this applies to the older generations who may had never dealt with situations with refugees and foreign residents as we are working with today. When first arriving in 1999, the first negative impression per se was the customer service in many stores and offices, where the atmosphere was either monotonous, unfriendly or both. The exception was at the university and offices that deal with foreign students.

Let’s fast forward to the present, and how Germany has cleaned its image a great deal. The meaning of civil courage has become a household name in the country for three major reasons:

1. People and organizations are being recognized for their services of helping those in need, regardless of circumstances and what background they have. Every year the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Cross of Merit) is given out to outstanding people for their extraordinary service, regardless of which level (local, state or national). First introduced in 1951 by German President Theodor Heuss, there are eight different classes awarded pending on the degree of service. Even cities have introduced their own awards to people for their service to the community. While this had gone almost unnoticed before 1990, it has taken center stage since then, especially as politicians have strongly encouraged people to show solidarity and help the people who are in need, including the current German president Joachim Gaucke in his televised speeches.

The second reason behind the importance of civil courage is the rise of the next generations (those born from 1970 onwards) and their awareness of problems on the global front. These people usually have university degrees, speak at least two foreign languages, have travelled to foreign countries, encountered people from different cultures and are more aware of the problems Germany is facing in comparison with other countries in the world than the baby boomers, many of whom fought for their rights on their own soil and not in a foreign country. The more experiences they gathered and the more aware of the situation they are, the more likely they will help others out, especially those wanting to settle down in Germany for an uncertain period of time.

And finally, the people in Germany have become more aware of the problems facing them as far as domestic issues and immigration are concerned. This is caused in part due to the information they receive in the news as well as the experience they have gathered and shared with others. Even if certain stereotypes of those in need (especially the refugees and immigrants) are held by some based on rumors, having experienced it on hand or through others sometimes helps them reshape the way of thinking and reconsider their actions towards others in a positive manner.

It still does not mean that the country is perfect. There are still attacks on foreigners, especially in light of the large influx of refugees from Syria, and parts of Africa. Refugees and immigrants are looking for new homes and a new life. The gap between rich and poor is widening, especially when it comes to children who live in poverty. And we still have problems with pollution and other environmental issues. But we are seeing the gravity of the situation, and we have more people ready and willing to help, regardless of what the consequences are and how they are recognized in the end for their work. In the 15+ years living here, one can find this variable that is recognizable and much appreciated: openness and kindness. There was not much there at first when I came, but one will find it often nowadays, no matter where a person goes. And this is something that does not go unnoticed while traveling through or living in Germany.

frage für das forum

To finish this article, here is an exercise designed to test your knowledge about how civil courage should be implemented. Look at the situations below and ask yourself what you would do in a situation. Remember, what you do for action may be different for others and can lead to a discussion.

  1. You drive on the motorway and see a person seeking a ride to the nearest petrol station. This is just after passing a car with a flat.
  2. There is a family of refugees entering your community with nothing except what they wear, no money and little knowledge of the language. They are looking for a place to live and work.
  3. A friend prepares a party for another friend visiting from another country but is overwhelmed and needs some help.
  4. Two people fight over how they should work together on a project with one wanting to work alone and another wanting to work together.
  5. You see a group of neo-Nazis harassing someone from Africa, spitting on them and pushing them around, while riding a tram.
  6. You’re at a dance with some friends only to find someone sitting in the corner, all alone.
  7. While jogging, you encounter a dog who has lost his owner and follows you around. The animal carries a tag.
  8. A woman at work receives unwanted attention by someone with interest and does not seem to leave her alone.
  9. You break off contact with a colleague because of a fallout only to meet the person again in a different work setting months later.
  10. You witness an accident involving a car and a bike while biking to a party.

Note: Feel free to comment to any of the situations above by placing your comments below or in the Fles’ facebook pages.  🙂

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