Switzerland’s Great Obligation (Thoughts after my First Week of Legal Studies)

Many of my blog readers may have gathered (given that you are also Twitter followers), I started my legal studies this week. It’s only a decade (plus some change) after I started the first time. Totally normal.

It’s also totally normal to understand The Right To Be Forgotten because, unlike your colleagues, you’ve had to argue it to have videos of yourself removed.

It’s all normal. At least it is for me. It’s “my” normal.

You all also know that I am a fierce, steadfast defender of Switzerland. I bleed not only red, but small flecks of white. I am a die-hard Swissie (now, I can say it because it’s no longer a wish, I have ancestors).

After this really long, but completely fascinating week of study, I have learned too much to say too much at this point. I can say, it is my hope to be a small part, someday, of Switzerland’s Great Obligation. Switzerland holds the very heart of the globalization in Geneva; therefore, in my opinion, Switzerland has a Great Obligation.

Global policy makers, global human rights defenders, global jurisdiction deciders, internet dispute mediators, etc. all find their home..in Geneva. Again, Switzerland has the heart of globalization because it has, within its borders, Geneva.

Is it dramatic to refer to it as a Great Obligation (my American term)? I don’t think so. This beautiful country of mountains, cheese, and chocolate is in a literal, geographical, and international position of great responsibility. Nations, private individuals, and public entities at war or in conflict look to Switzerland (and still the US in many circumstances) for a decisive understanding of how to move forward. Is there a greater responsibility and thus obligation for neutrality anywhere? I can find none to rival Geneva.

There is, in Geneva, unique ability and possibility, because of the shared physical location of these powerful bodies, to institute lasting, productive, globally-applicable change…in cooperation and consort…face to face…with each other. I watched them do it this week! Also, the landscape of the location and approach that is deemed “acceptable,” it matters. I truly believe that has an impact at a high level to most, and at a subconscious level to others, that Switzerland has historically held the approach, one with which I concur and from which I have learned, to deal with issues affecting the current and future global landscape with “everything on the head in proportion” – two ears, two eyes, a large brain, and ONE mouth. I feel Switzerland exercises its Great Obligation by using this appropriate proportionality. It sets the tone for all discussions happening under a Swiss flag.

I finish the week knowing the difference between bitcoin and blackcoin. I know the argument about ICANN being in the US is more about political grumblings than substantive policy issues or geographical location problems. I know there is no clear answer to the question, “What are alternative resolution systems for Internet-related disputes today and tomorrow?”…but! I know there are so damn fine ideas in the works. Some of which were formulated because Professor Jacques de Werra brought these international leaders together this past week…face to face…in cooperation…in Geneva.

Interestingly enough, what I really know is that I am, yet again, in the beginning stages of something I will master. I will. Hell, my own computer says I need to spell check “bitcoin” and “blackcoin.” This field into which I am headed is an abyss. Dealing with either area (international trade policy or IP) will require me to follow the behavior demonstrated to me in the past week by esteemed leaders and also by Switzerland’s approach to it all. I need to first listen without my own filter. Then, I need to make a proportional response – two ears, one brain, one mouth.

It’s all about listening more and talking less (and with very concise, thoughtful words).

Something I should truly enjoy after a career that required my mouth to usually be open, my decibel level to be (fairly) loud, and my words to be both many and also not my own.

Why I am in love with SBB, CFF, and FFS (which does not stand for “for f***’s sake”)

Literally, the only relationship I have had for the past few years that never disappoints me is my relationship with the public transportation system in Switzerland.

Not kidding. It is a love affair. I am truly in love and it will never go away. Okay, maybe we will fight? I hope not. If we fought and I won, I would like to have the tilting train removed from my trips to the Romandie. If we fought and I lost, I would  agree to sit in the kids’ wagon for a month and babysit.

Here’s are 3 things I noticed on Sunday.

The train station in Zurich is AMAZING. They renovated it. Same in Geneva. This is only a good thing. It brings more businesses into the train station, which gives the majority of shop owners a break on Sundays (train stations are open, but 99.999999% of stores are not). It makes the train stations a place of commerce, instead of a place to (sorry) take a potty break. Sometimes on the ground (I’m looking at you, Grand Central Station where I saw a man go number 2!!).

Luzern recently redirected traffic leading into its train station. One lane is reserved for buses, taxis, etc. That is making major traffic for the cars in other lane. Hey, guess what? Don’t take your car. Take the bus or, gasp, WALK. Luzern, win-win from y’all! And, they’re renovating their train station, too. Amazing.

The last thing is crucial. The people employed by SBB (for the most part and I mean EVERYONE I’ve encountered and I take/arrange public transportation more than most) speak multiple languages, attempt to be friendly, and willingly engage in conversation with customers. There is a premium on customer service with SBB/CFF/FFS and the regional service providers.  That’s not so common these days. Non-natives like me appreciate knowing more about the best route from Bubikon to Wankdorf (not joking). It’s nice to chat about this with Beat, who comes from Riffelberg, speaks about 20 languages, and can tell me everything about the route, including how many dairy cows I will see. Bravo employees of the public transportation system in Switzerland. Seriously.

Look, I am someone without tons of money. I still invest in my yearly SBB pass (called a “GA” say it outloud and laugh, please. It’s a general pass for all the trains, trams, buses, ships, donkeys, elephants, etc. http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/railpasses/ga.html). Why? Because They make my life infinitely easier and more pleasant. Traveling by train, even in the Kinderwagon, is civilized (for God’s sake, you can drink! ON THE TRAIN!), easy, dependable, and keeps another car off the road.

I’m in love. It’s funny because my “first train” ride in Zurich was my move. The train came from Munich. It was a horrible storm (this is not a joke) and the train hit a fallen tree, derailed, and we had to walk to the nearest bus, in the rain. The journey usually takes about 3 hours, I think. It took me 10 hours to get to Zurich.

But, it was a DB. Not SBB. 😉

I love you, SBB. I just wish I could tweet my love. Fix your Tweeter feed!!

(PS- Can you please talk to ZVV and have them make my train orange again? It goes better with my book. Thanks.)