a couple of months ago you asked me for a little help concerning the G8 summit in Heiligendamm. You asked me for an article which would discuss the utility of civil movements, for example against poverty and disease. I admit your proposal was very “Zeit”-like. As a possible author of this article you recommended the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, whom I appreciate very much. Then we started to discuss your thoughts about this issue and the works of Peter Sloterdijk. And I think it was especially enjoyable for you to listen to my best “Macaroni English”. But the advantage of this experience is that nothing can shock you anymore.
So I am very happy and honoured to congratulate you on receiving the extraordinary M100-Sanssouci-Award. The explanation of the jury is of course well-founded and I couldn’t agree more with every single word. I would like to quote from this explanation: “The M100-Sanssouci-Award is hereby presented to Bob Geldof, KBE, in recognition of his own personal services to the cause of freedom and human relieve and especially the struggle against poverty and disease in Africa.”
But let me point out, what in my eyes is the extraordinary merit of your activity. Well known as a man who fights poverty throughout the world, you are in the eyes of public opinion a so-called Gutmensch, as we say in Germany.
At first glance, this word is easy to translate. A Gutmensch is a good man. So it seems to be a compliment, but be careful Bob, a large, large part of opinion-leaders in Germany considers a Gutmensch to be at least a Nervensäge, which I may translate with pain in the neck. In the worst case, Gutmensch means a naïve and hysteric person, who is completely blind and in bondage to the dictates of political correctness. I confess, that also in my eyes political correctness can really be a pain, not in the neck, but in the ass. But discrimination against Gutmenschen is a typical form of self-flagellation of Germans. Many of them, who use the term Gutmensch today, don’t know that the Nazis used it to defame their enemies. You see, in Germany is it not self-evident, that a good man is a popular man.
On the other hand, the term good man is not without reason very popular in Pop-music. Nobody knows this better than Bob Geldof. Just remember B.B. Kings Blues-Ballad “Good man gone bad”. The Bee Gees screech “You can’t keep a good man down”. And Tom Waits complained in one of his songs “A good man is hard to find”. But finally, we have found one.
And I like to take the opportunity to praise a real good man in the best sense of the word, a good man like Bob Geldof. We need men like you, men who think differently and who don’t believe that things must always stay as they are, just because they are as they are. We need men who not only want to change the world, but also have the ideas and the energy to really make changes happen.
And that’s why Bob Geldof can really be proud of being a Gutmensch.
My heart-felt congratulations, Bob.