dear nectaria-alexandra,

my mailbox held your postcard yesterday. i re-read your message time and time again. to be honest, it left me a little heavy-hearted, so i thought it best to address some of the issues in a more elaborate way. let’s take it one step at a time:

Hello and greetings from Athens.

why, hey there! this is the first postcard from greece i received via postcrossinghow exciting! greece must be a beautiful place. the greek students i tutored at a language school would always show me pictures and tell me stories of their hometowns, and my friends with family in greece whom they visit every once in a while send me postcards from their holidays, skylines of snow white houses on a backdrop of ultramarine seas and cloudless light blue skies. your blue and white flag seems only natural. when i studied philology,  i became acquainted with plato and aristotle. i didn’t really get the fuss about them at first, especially with plato, but have come to appreciate both of them very much. platonic realism? a concept worth brooding over. and can we talk about food, please? as a big time foodie, i surely would be in heaven. (is it too arrogant to think of myself as the hestia of today? probably. not so much a fan of all that virgin business, ahem, but i can be a pretty good homemaker. just look at all of the food i make and instagram, ha!) i once had a half greek roommate who could serve up a top notch strapatsada. once, her dad (from thessaloniki) made soutzoukakia smyrneika for us. YUM! of course there are millions of other interesting things about your country, many of which i don’t know. yet. i’ve never been to greece but i would really love to visit one day.

I know you hate our guts my ppl but try to leave with your family with 400 Euros amonth! As much you hate us don’t you think we do so?

whoa. easy there! we haven’t met, have we? how could you say that i hate you/your guts/your people? and even more so that you „know“, implying factual evidence. let’s be reasonable, please. if you had ever met me, you would „know“ that i’m not a person to go around hating people. blame it on my buddhist thai mother or my own coming-of-age story that includes a lot of hippie-ish, positive psychology and thoughts-become-things approaches to life. besides, hate is such a strong word. i don’t like it. emotions are a good and precious thing, but in my opinion it’s an even better thing to pause and take a breath before taking action. sometimes you (and by ‚you‘ i mean everyone of us) are so overwhelmed by an outburst of excessive emotion that it refrains you from thinking straight. hate is such an emotion. love is as well. when i was little, my aunt wrote a quote by ella wilcox on a gift card she gave to me: love lights more fire than hate extinguishes. beautiful, right? i would rather live in a world full of love than in one full of hate. would you? be the change you want to see in the world. (yeah, that’s another one of those wise ass sentences i try to live by.) it’s like with those shakespearean plays, you see. the thing that distinguishes a comedy from a tragedy is the ending (happy, of course, in case of the former, sad for the latter). in my opinion hate only leads to more hate and thus to more tragedy. how sad, don’t you think? as you see, i could go on and on about why LOVE is so much BETTER (yes, caps lock here, because, well, it’s the gest of all the preceding sentences) than hate, i feel like i’m losing the thread here, though. where were we? oh yes.


i can only imagine how hard it must be to support a family on 400 € a month. as of yet i don’t have a family of my own. i’m an only child. i just got my bachelor’s degree and am waiting for news concerning my master’s application. i temp and freelance. my mother works in a plastics factory. my father is a retired wholesaler. we’re not rich, but we get by okay. my mother, however, knows what it’s like to be poor. not 400€-a-month poor, but no-money-no-father-and-ten-more-siblings poor. she would spend nights away from home with one of her brothers, trying to catch some fish in some swamp in a central thai forest because they did not have money to buy food. that’s a whole different story i might share one day. probably not a good comparison with greece today, though. different time and different place.

i also don’t really know what it’s like living in a country that is as troubled as greece is now. no experience there. but i do believe, however, that it must be very hard and disheartening. i’ve been told stories by my greek friends, stories of betrayal and corruption. sadly, betrayal and corruption can be found everywhere, i guess. germany included. maybe to a lesser extent. or a greater one. maybe we’re too blind to see? (again, by ‚we‘ i mean each and every one of us. people. human beings.) maybe we do see but make a conscious decision not to. who knows. i certainly don’t. it always pains me to see, though, how some of my friends in spain struggle. i studied and worked in barcelona for a year. catalonia and it’s people are very dear to my heart. crisis-ridden as they are, they’re going through something very similar as you are.

i’m not a very political person in the traditional sense. i keep up with what’s going on, yes, and i sure do have my stance and opinion on certain things. i’m not the person you could talk politics with, however. politics are important, i get that. and it’s good that there are men and women who represent people like me who regard discussing politics a burden because, let’s face it, it’s a long way before common ground is in sight. politics- and opinion-wise. which is totally a good thing, because yay, democracy! and yay times two for diversity! but i digress again.

Yes I look like you but I’m greek and I love my county.

fair enough. keep loving your country! if i were greek, i’d probably love greece, too. nothing wrong about that. i am german, i love my country as well. my friends and family are a big part of my life, as are my dog, my work, and trying my best at being a positive person. i love the fact that i can go to the doctor when i get sick, and get support when i’m out of a job and in need of money. i’m being cared for by my country, which is a luxury not many people have. i love the change of the german seasons, from colorful spring to boiling hot summer to golden fall to freezing snowy winter. being german for me is a funny thing. when i make small talk with strangers abroad, it frequently happens that i’m being confronted with the german past during world war 2. it’s as if i’m being burdened by a part of history that is long gone. it’s not like time has stood still since then. it’s more than 60 years later now and yes, we’re aware of that dark part in our history. nevertheless, i think it’s not okay to reduce „us germans“ only to that part. that’s idiotic and ignorant. by chance i was born into this german world, just as you were into your greek one. germany is my home and i cherish it just as much as you do yours. we’re very much alike, indeed.

I offend you sure but you make our lifes miserable.

ok. maybe i should stop and take a deep breath myself here. wow. it feels a little like a blow to the face, to be honest. first of all you seem to have forgotten about that one postcrossing community guideline which says ‚BE FRIENDLY‘. it’s pretty self-explanatory. i wonder why you would send out a postcard at all to a stranger in another country only to rant and make accusations. that is really just very rude, petty, and ill-disposed. your profile states that you’ve sent out almost 1,500 postcards during the four years that you’ve been a member of the postcrossing community. have you heard back from other members in germany or france? or was the message of this particular postcard the first of its kind? if you’re not planning on being friendly, you should save yourself the cost of the card and the postal charges. money is tight already, right? in the end, it all comes down to it, i guess. we all need money to survive. i’m very sympathetic towards you and your situation. as i said, it must be tough for you, a constant struggle, i get that. i also understand that you feel frustrated, depressed, and angry. but this doesn’t give you the right to overgeneralize. it wouldn’t be fair if i wrote you a card saying „you’re lazy, you lied about your finances, you’ve been living beyond your means for too long and now i’m being forced to give you part of my hard-earned money because otherwise you won’t make it and you’re repaying me by being unthankful and refusing to accept my help“ now, wouldn’t it? no. it would not be fair. because the matter at hand is just not that simple. 

you and me, we are part of a community called the european union. my friends, my family and i work hard. we pay our taxes. and just like i think it’s a good thing to have a social safety net in germany made possible by monetary contribution from every citizen via tax money, i think it’s also a good thing that the european nations help each other mutually. part of the money i’m willingly paying in taxes goes into a fund trying to help you and the country you love get back on its feet. i’m glad about that. there are many problems to be tackled and solved in my country as well.  it doesn’t do any good to stir emotions that are already running high. instead of insulting each other, we should all step back, try to pull together, and cooperate.

maybe i am taking everything you said way too personally. then again, i signed up for postcrossing to learn about other people and cultures and to make other people’s days with the postcards i send out to them, and certainly not to be blamed or reproached for something that is no fact but factoid. i do hope, however, that all the anger, rage, frustration which lie implicit in your remarks will become something different, something more positive soon. evenmore so, i strongly hope that you’re current living conditions will improve as quickly as might be.

as i have mentioned before, i don’t do hate. my guns are armed with love. you might think me naive, but i really do believe this is the way for me to be the best person i can be. everyone should try  to be the best person they can be. always, yes. a big step towards this goal is to be curious and understanding instead of afraid and judgemental. kindness and respect toward each other are also a huge part of the program. this doesn’t exclude criticism, as long as it’s constructive and reasonable.

if you’d like to continue our little conversation, feel free to contact me via the comment form on this blog or via email: blog.juliakleiner[at] i would be very glad to learn more about you and your current situation. who knows, maybe we only had a rough start and something good can come out of this eventually. for the both of us.

best wishes and happy postcrossing from germany,

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