Some 70 years ago, millions of people fled Germany in fear of persecution and death. Now, Germany is opening its arms to some 800,000 refugees this year alone. Seventy years ago, the allies – the UK, France, the US, Australia and others – but particularly the US, were seen as the heroes who ended the second world war, and ousted evil from Europe. In our time, another group of allied countries, but particularly the US, have invaded both Iraq and Afghanistan and created wars and a vacuous space in which the revolutionary tendencies of the world have found new and more extreme expression in the form of ISIS. In the years between, we could say that the US has failed in its global responsibilities of creating a world in which the human being can truly find him or herself. The picture of the human being has been reduced to an electro-chemical, mechanical animal, and mankind has been treated as such. With this view in mind, a social system that exploits the human being for economic advantage has propagated itself around the world. This has led to a well-organised form of evil or violence becoming the global norm; structural violence, we could say.
The power that fuels this is the image of the human being, and a kind of thinking that is itself mechanistic and cold. The hot, inflammatory reaction to this has come in the form of various Islamic extremist groups – Al-Qaeda, Jamaah Islamiyha, ISIS and so on. ISIS represents the latest, and therefore most extreme, inflammatory reaction to the coldness of the structural violence inflicted upon the world and human beings by other human beings. Some 70 years ago we failed to treat properly the flaring up of an acute illness – which itself was a consequence of Germany not taking up its own global responsibilities – and now we see the latest phase of ever-more-serious and chronic social problems. All the while, Australia yaps like a dog at the feet of consequence, unsure of what its global contribution actually is, even as it continues to turn back refugees coming to its shores by boat, again and again. Russia, on the other hand, builds up its forces in Syria, while in the East – where the new world power can now be located – China watches silently, though not without action in such global trends. One can have the feeling that the global social organism has been stirred to activity in recent times – that underlying illnesses have been brought to the fore and are awaiting our conscious understanding so that we may be able to guide the process in more healthy directions.
We are forced to ask, then, Where does health lie?
The evil of structural violence lies at the other end of the spectrum from radical extremism, but both evils work together hand in hand. Neither is an expression of health, but rather an expression of illness, from which we can form pictures of health. And health, in this respect, lies in a conscious holding of both extremes in their rightful place. Yet these are not just external realities. We can find such illness within our own selves, from which such social realities actually stem. We all have, on the one hand, a tendency towards the mechanical, cold, abstract intellectualism and materialistic electro-chemical thinking of our time, but also towards the opposite pole of escapist, revolutionary, hot, spiritual, idealistic tendencies of the other extreme. We generally tend more towards one than the other, but both exist as possibilities for us, and work together as much as they do in outer situations. The only possible remedy is to see the human being not as a merely materialistic machine, nor solely as an immaterial spiritualistic ideal but, rather, to stand as a human being in the midst of both extremes, holding them in place in complete freedom, driven neither by cold abstraction, nor fiery idealism, but by a free human expression of practical idealism. The spirit in man must become grounded in the soil of our time – be it in the hearts of human beings, or in the heart of the social world. We long to find and create social structures that support this activity, and to find in the human being a world which is health creating. We are the creators now, but can work with all that flows through the realities of what we find within ourselves and within the world. The human being is threefold in nature – is a thinking being, a feeling being, and a doing being. To stand truly as a human being and work in a free way in each of these activities is to avoid the dual evils of reality. Social systems that support the cultivation of free cultural spaces for the development of free thinking; equal democratic spaces that cultivate equality within and for mankind; and collaborative economic spaces that cultivate a brotherly co-working for all humanity – with all three working together in a healthy way, as much as thinking, feeling and doing work together in man – this is what we seek in social life because we find it as a reality in ourselves; while in ourselves we seek freedom of thought, equality of feeling, and a spirit of co-working which puts itself in service of the other human being. Love is now to be found in our deeds. We seek, in the depths of the heart of our will, to work for our fellow mankind, out of love.
And this is, in reality, what we see. Despite overly-powerful, one-sided governments procrastinating and deliberating, and their enforcement personnel physically pushing back the true tide of humanity, still the love of the genuine human being can prevail. And we see it throughout Germany, throughout Europe and around the world – we see it wherever the small and not-so-small acts of human love prevail, out of perceiving the spiritual being of other human beings in wilful, love-filled actions. In such mighty actions as these we can see the growing of a social life that springs from real foundations, together with the growing of the true human being from the same source. To be human with other human beings – this is in truth one of the deepest yearnings of our time. To expand such yearnings into a conscious transformation of our entire social world and our entire selves remains the challenge that confronts us out of what we have been witnessing in recent days.
John Stubley, PhD