Attitude – unfaked

By Henning Kullak-Ublick, December 2018

A few weeks ago I visited the director of our Waldorf100 films in California and experienced the deep shame of many Americans about their president.

It was repeatedly pointed out to me that in absolute numbers less than a quarter of Americans voted for him, that he had received three million votes less than Hillary Clinton and that his victory was only due to the system of “electors”. I have to admit that since the last election I look at the apps of American “mainstream” media on an almost daily basis because I simply cannot comprehend how the allegedly most powerful man in the world can say, tweet and generally unleash each single day what he does.

The only thing was that my friends’ embarrassment – made me ashamed. Have we Europeans not also long since developed a relationship with the truth which accepts fake news as a normal part of public life and no longer fundamentally distinguishes between verifiable facts and unproven assertions but treats them as different but equally valid possibilities of the truth? Which produces highly dangerous political superstitions which meanwhile drive electoral strategies and the political decision-making process? Which makes also those of us who consider themselves well-informed grow indifferent to the suffering of refugees because we can no longer bear to accept that our – by global comparison – absurd levels of affluence are among the causes of almost all the global problems of our time?

How do we want to prepare our children, and how can we prepared them to find their own inner compass amongst all the noise?

In 1777, the German dramatist, critic and writer on philosophy and aesthetics Gotthold Ephraim Lessing wrote: “It is not the truth which a person possesses, or thinks they possess, but the honest effort they have made to get to the truth which constitutes the value of a person. Because the strength of which their ever growing perfection consists increases not through the possession of the truth but through its investigation. Possession makes us still, indolent, proud.”

What do our children need to begin to trust their ability to find the truth and then to deepen it throughout their lives? The answer is as simple as it is hard to put into practice: they need protection in our deeds, love of the world in our feelings, and the traces of knowledge we have acquired for ourselves in our thoughts. Following Goethe, Rudolf Steiner spoke of the unconscious premises which each child adopts in consecutive phases as they grow up: “The world is good; the world is beautiful; the world is true!”

The apparent contradiction of these simple words with the pyrotechnics of media opinion is perhaps what makes them properly comprehensible at all in the first place: we adults are the environment and the role models in and by which our children guide themselves, whether we like it or not. It is not our finished thoughts but our attitude which they take with them into life. And the latter is not something we can fake; and thus it is the only instrument with which we – can – change the world.

About the author: Henning Kullak-Ublick, class teacher from 1984 -2010 at the Flensburg Free Waldorf School; board member of the German Association of Waldorf Schools, the Friends of Waldorf Education and the International Forum for Steiner/Waldorf Education – The Hague Circle, as well as coordinator of Waldorf100 and the author of the book Jedes Kind ein Könner. Fragen und Antworten an die Waldorfpädagogik.


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