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A crisis of imagination

One week ago, the foreign ministers of several countries said there was still plenty of time to evacuate embassy employees and local staff from Afghanistan. Hardly anybody anticipated how quickly the Taliban would reconquer most of the country.

One month ago, when the flooding hit Western Europe, people in the German village of Schuld were already climbing onto the roofs of their houses, escaping the rising water, while people 30km further downstream were still strolling along the riverbank. Shortly afterwards, they, too, were desperately trying to climb onto their roofs.

One and a half years ago, in February 2020, the World Health Organisation continued to refuse calling Covid-19 a pandemic. People were taking funny selfies with Corona beer bottles and the thought of a global lockdown wouldn’t have crossed anyone’s mind.


Catastrophes usually happen to others in faraway places. The daily news are filled with tragedies, but they seem like the type of drama series we watch on Netflix. Unreal. Fictional. So why worry?

Imagining something disastrous occurring would make you a pessimist, and nobody wants to be a pessimist. But here’s the problem: If everybody chooses to be an optimist and all warning signs are ignored, no precautionary measures are taken.

Ultimately, it’s not about being pessimistic, otherwise a sailor would never leave the harbour. It’s not about being optimistic either, otherwise most sailors would be dead by now. It’s about being realistic. There’s a big black cloud headed towards us? Perhaps getting prepared isn’t such a bad idea.

One decade from now, there could be a hundred times more wildfires and a hundred times more floods than today. There could be pandemics far more dangerous than Covid-19. There could be many more ugly political situations, fuelled by hunger, thirst and millions of refugees.

The first victims were all far away – too far to really be afraid. Instead of recognizing the urgency and acting accordingly, most people liked to believe that things wouldn’t get that bad. Frida recognized this thought too – she was worried, but up until now her worries had not been big enough to ignite a feeling of urgency in her. And perhaps, even worse than the lack of imagination where the impending climate catastrophe was concerned, was the lack of a positive vision. How were people to live a happy life while simultaneously solving all these massive problems? What exactly would a better world look like? (excerpt from FRIDAYS FOR FRIDA)

Perhaps it‘s time to deal with our crisis of imagination.


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