Dear Mr. Obama

I would like to tell you this personally, but I guess that will never be possible.

No doubt, I love America. Just as much as an American could, and I do feel American. Still, there are some things that I will never understand. One of these few peculiarities is the death penalty. I know you cannot interfere in state business and thereby you are not able to prevent the ongoings, but personally you are in favour of the death penalty anyways. How could a state possibly kill one of its citizens?

It is all about being judged on by your fellow citizens, and they decide whether one deserves to die for what one has done, or not. It probably keeps people from murdering, if they themselves could die, and therefore it might be an effectful measure of prevention. It might also be less expensive, considering all the costs of imprisonment.

I strongly  disagree with that way of going about things. You have heard all of the arguments against the death penalty, but it seems you still have not understood them. Though, the killing itself is easy the question of when to kill is far from being simple. Where should the line be drawn? When does someone cross the line? Does one have to kill, or is a “mere” abusement or rape, which certainly destroys lifes in a similar cruel way, enough to be sentenced to death?

This question is not one of Religion it is a question of Ethic. Do we want to make ourselves judges over life and death? Do we want to bear the responsibility that comes with that decision? I earge you and all of the American people to try to understand how senseless the death penalty is. Rather than helping righteous people to find relief and bringing justice, it raises hate again.

Leave that stubbornness behind!

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Yellow School Busses

An meinem ersten amerikanischen Schultag begab ich mich zusammen mit meiner Gastschwester um Punkt 6.25 Uhr auf die Hofauffahrt, obwohl der Bus „erst“ um 6.30 Uhr kommen sollte. Sobald ich den Bus betrat, bemerkte ich die strikte hierarchische Trennung zwischen älteren High-School-Kids und jüngeren. Einer von den Middle-School-Winzlingen sah sich auf Grund von Platzmangel dazu gezwungen, einen Sophomore zu bitten, neben ihm sitzen zu dürfen: ”Can I sit here?“ Die Antwort lautete: “No.” Meine Schwester nahm es auf sich, den Kleinen aufzuklären: “Es heißt: May I sit here? Und ob du dich da hinsetzen kannst, solltest du am besten wissen.”

Alles lief gut, doch am Ende des Tages stand ich da und hatte dieses unbeschreiblich sichere Gefühl, dass da doch etwas schief lief: Alle Schüler stürmten zu den verschiedensten Türen hinaus, und ich konnte zwischen ihnen hindurch eine endlose Karawane von Schulbussen erkennen, die sich um die ganze Schule zog – einmal rundherum. Sie alle hatten Nummern. Nur leider wusste ich nicht, welche Nummer der Bus hatte, der mich nach Hause bringen sollte. Die Busse fuhren an diesem ersten Schultag ohne mich los. Das war das erste Mal.

Ich glaube es war der zweite Schultag, an dem meine Schwester, Mom und ich um 6.35 Uhr feststellen mussten, dass der Bus ohne uns die Subdivision verlassen hatte. Mom setzte sich noch im Bademantel ans Steuer, um den flüchtigen Bus an einem seiner Halte einzuholen und uns dort abzuliefern. Dies stellte sich jedoch als erfolgloses Unternehmen heraus, denn weder meine Schwester noch ich hatten uns die Route des Busses gemerkt. So blieb Mom nichts anderes übrig, als zwischen tausend gelben Schulbussen (außer dem einen, dem unseren) eingeklemmt zwei furchtbar schuldbewusste junge Töchter im Schneckentempo zur Schule zu kutschieren. Das war das zweite Mal.

Eigentlich sollte man meinen, müsste ich wissen, wann das Maß voll ist. Quasi um die erste Schulwoche so zu beenden, wie sie begann, verpasste ich den gelben Schulbus Nummer 19 ein drittes Mal. Die gelbe Schulbuskolonne setzte sich wie eine Horde Elefanten unaufhaltsam in Bewegung. Was ich damals noch nicht wusste, ist, dass die Schulbusherde an der benachbarten Middle School noch ein Mal eine halben Stunde auf die jüngeren Schüler wartete. Deshalb hätte ich einen gemütlichen illegalen Spaziergang über den Sportplatz unternehmen und drüben in meinen Bus einsteigen können. Ich tauchte also relativ verzweifelt bei den Rezeptionsdamen auf und erstattete Bericht. Sie erinnerten sich vermutlich noch an das letzte Mal, jedenfalls riefen sie bei der Busgesellschaft an. Daraufhin schickte die einen ziemlich kleinen Busfahrer mit einer ziemlich großen Busfahrersonnenbrille samt einem ganzen, verdammten Bus für mich alleine. Einige Sackgassen später setzte er mich bei der noch in Deutschland auswendig gelernten Adresse zu Hause in meiner geliebten Subdivision ab.

Tatsächlich sollte mir diese wunderschöne Subdivision, die, soweit ich weiß, ganz unamerikanisch keinen Namen trägt, zur zweiten Heimat werden. Die elegant gebogenen Straßen, weite Rasenflächen, die hohen Bäume im Herbst mit ihren rot-gelb-braunen Blättern, das kleine Bächlein, im Winter die Massen von Schnee und im Sommer mein heißgeliebter Swimming Pool – all dies sah ich nie von einem so erhabenen Sitzpunkt aus wie auf einem harten, mit Brandlöchern übersäten Kunstledersitz in einem gelben Schulbus.

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On my first American school day at exactly 6 o’clock and 25 minutes, I went to wait for the bus on the drive way together with my host sister, though, the bus was supposed to arrive earliest at 6.30. As soon as I had entered the bus, I noticed the strict hierarchic division between the older high school kids and the younger ones. One of the Middle School youngsters was forced due to a lack of space to ask a Sophomore, if he could join him on his seat: “Can I sit here?” The answer was: “No.” My sister felt responsible to clarify: “It’s: May I sit here. You should know best, if you can sit there.”

Everything was just fine, however, when the last bell had rung I stood there and had that indescribable certain feeling that something went wrong: All students ran out of the doors and I could see an endless caravan of school busses, which went once around the whole school. They all had numbers. I didn’t know the number of the bus, which was supposed to take me home. The busses on this first school day of mine drove off without me. That was the first time.

I think it was the second school day, on which my sister, Mom and I noticed at 6.35 that the bus had left our subdivision without us. Mom sat behind the wheel still in her morning gown in order to catch the fugitive bus. This turned out to be an unsuccessful venture because neither my sister or I remembered the bus route. So there was nothing else for Mom to do than to drive, squeezed in between thousands of yellow school busses (all, but our one), two terribly guilty daughters very slowly to school. That was the second time.

Actually, one should think that I should know when to stop, shouldn’t I? Almost as if to end the first week just like it began, I missed the yellow school bus number 19 a third time. The yellow school bus queue began to roll like an unstoppable herd of elephants. I didn’t know then that the school bus herd moves on to the neighboring Middle School and waits there another half hour for the younger students. This is why I could have taken a comfortable walk across the sports field, and enter the bus there. I showed up relatively desperate at Office A and told the women my story. They probably remembered the last time I missed the bus, so they called the bus company. As a result they send a pretty small bus driver with pretty huge obligatory bus driver sun glasses, including a whole dang bus for me alone. A few dead ends later he delivered me at the address, which I had already learned by heard in Germany, at home in my beloved subdivision.

This wonderful subdivision, which, as far as I know, very un-American doesn’t even have a name, should in fact become my second home. The elegantly curved streets, broad lawns and high trees in the fall with red-yellow-brown leaves, the little river, in winter the huge amount of snow, and in summer the swimming pool – all of this I have never seen from such an elevated point of view than from a hard, with burnt holes covered imitation leather seat in a yellow school bus.