In recent years, we seem to be increasingly limiting our worldviews and perceptions of current events – and thus also the scope and efficacy of our civil rights and liberties – through limited, narrow-meshed thinking characterized by contrasts. And this is not only forced, be it by growing radicalisms within our society or by the fearful collective stress of a pandemic crisis, but at the same time and hand in hand also due to unreflective voluntarism. For the media structures and mechanisms within which we move today merely guarantee us the peace of our bubble, our box, and delude us with virtual freedoms that are in reality only the breeding ground for real intra-community divisive tendencies.
The smaller the radius of movement of our contemporaneity, the higher the rim of our isolation, the more fixed the tunnel vision of our opinions, the easier it becomes to understand our longing for freedom and peace as something that must be asserted against others. The easier it is to perceive freedoms and rights as desires instead of recognizing them as duties. The more likely we are to forget the most serious duty of freedom: to be aware of the cruel events of war and human annihilation, from whose shameful ashes it arose 75 years ago.
However, this does not only mean to be aware of this origin or to remember its victims, but also to always keep in mind that our culture of remembrance, commemoration and memorialization has always itself been fragmented and limited to individual perspectives. A wide variety of memorials in our republic commemorate the victims of National Socialism – often enough in controversial ways. Sometimes they commemorate fallen soldiers, but not those who resisted the regime or fell victim to the Shoah. Sometimes they not only commemorate the horrors of war, but also manifest the responsibility-displacing victim myth of post-Nazi Austria. And sometimes the remaining relics of National Socialist power stand for decades like ghostly hauntings in the landscape, before a future as a memorial is wrested from them in painful and tedious work. How we remember our homeland’s past also influences the vision we have of its future. How aware we are of the origin of the freedom with which we live in it also shapes our understanding, perception and shaping of that freedom. The duty to freedom, if it is not to become a victim of isolation, of opposition, means to overcome our narrow-mindedness and fragmentation, to step out of our bubbles and boxes. This duty, it is above all the act of a sustainable self-reflection, a profound self-criticism and a constructive skepticism towards one’s own points of view.