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edition 12 (236)
December 2018

My Christmas wish

Anna Pakulniewicz

My Christmas wish

Christmas is coming. Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or not, whether you consider it a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus, the remnants of a pagan ritual marking the winter solstice, or just a time of rampant consumerism – for most of us the festive period is still “magical”

I know a lot of people who come over funny at the thought of Christmas; I know people who head off to the Caribbean at this time of year but I do not know anyone who is just indifferent. Most of us normally start thinking about strange things, like our wishes and dreams. I have such a dream, which is a wish at the same time. It is unfortunately something that is unlikely to come true because it depends on millions of people. I just want everything to be nice. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet it’s so difficult... I just want people to think a little more about what is around them. You could for example, if you’re building another skyscraper, just design it at no real extra cost so that it looks beautiful (and does no harm to its environment). You could also clean up your dog’s poo as a nice gesture towards others. And then things would be a little better right away. If you are planning a city centre, you could lay it out so that it is beautiful. You could cover those ugly features that have to be there in some kind of sensible manner. Or simply not build anything ugly at all. Just like that. When replacing window frames with new ones, you could try to make sure they have the same look as those they are replacing. Someone once designed that façade to look that way and even if you don’t like it, it is still certainly not going to be improved by a single brown window on an elevation when all the others are white. After your morning latte, you could drop the cup in the litter bin rather than on the pavement. You could also consider whether chucking down concrete blocks on a map or moving a lake is a good idea for a pleasant city. However people do like order, beauty and tidiness. But where is this faith in human nature coming from? This is not a question of faith, but of hard numbers when it comes to tourism statistics – those cities with normal streets with a harmonious style, where the buildings are... nice – see the largest numbers. Yes, this is my wish and also my dream for the city and for us all. And fortunately, it is a dream that is slowly coming true. Things are getting nicer. I am a licensed though not very active tour guide in Warsaw and I often explain to tourists, delicately, why it’s not the prettiest of cities, why it’s not like London, Paris or Prague. And what’s really positive is that they appreciate our efforts. They say: “but you have a beautiful story”, and things like: “but you can see changes for the better”, or even “it’s beautiful” and “it’s nice”. There’s no excuse for resting on our laurels. Let’s work to make things even nicer, make them be even more pleasant and even more beautiful. Sometimes it’s worth leaving the office and not getting into the car to take that weekend ‘city getaway’ trip. You could also just try walking around the town where you live – which has so far for you just been a place where you make money – and get to know its soul and history. Perhaps it’s possible to look at it with a kindly eye and slightly alter your next decision – whether it is investing in a new shopping centre, picking up the lettuce that has fallen from a kebab while on a bus or proposing a development plan. Such small acts might not cost you anything but they just require your good will.. And looking with a kinder eye is something that applies not only to our city but also to the people around us. I once saw an internet meme with a picture of a fly sitting on excrement and right next to it there was a bee on a flower. For me this is what it’s all about. Let’s be like the bee. ν

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