Who owns the world?

By Henning Kullak-Ublick, April 2015

A Jew arrives at the gates of heaven, is admitted by St Peter and given a guided tour of heaven. St Peter stops in front of a high wall and indicates to Samuel to keep very quiet. “Why?”, the latter asks in a whisper. Says St Peter: “The Christians are behind this wall and they think they are the only ones here!”

A few days before Christmas, the Central Council of Jews in Germany felt it necessary to come to the defence of Muslims living in Germany against the Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West) movement. Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council, warned in the newspaper Welt: “We should on no account underestimate the Pegida people. This movement is highly dangerous. Neo-Nazis, right wing fringe parties and citizens who believe that they can finally give free vent to their racism and xenophobia are intermingling here.”

What is happening in the Christian West? During demonstrations against Israeli government policy anti-Jewish slogans are proclaimed. Now it is the turn of the Muslims to be turned into the bogeyman, the Eurosceptic and conservative AfD (Alternative for Germany) party is growing and flourishing and even the dear old Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) beat its chest, if only for a few days, and demanded that on German soil German should kindly be spoken also in the privacy of your own home. That things don’t look much better among our neighbours can be seen in France where the radical right-wing Front National emerged as the strongest party from the European elections.

European history of recent centuries is marked by wars and collapse, the collective madness of National Socialism which murdered millions of people for the purity of the race, Communist conformity in the name of materialism, but equally by the idea of a united Europe, the peaceful revolution in East Germany, solidarity between East and West and last, but by no means least, by the women’s, peace and ecological movements. What we Germans lost along the way was our identity as a people.

But could it be that this loss in itself represents the real secret of our identity? We have always hit a brick wall with collectivisms of any kind, frequently with life-threatening consequences for those who did not belong to them. We will have to repeat this lesson until it becomes clear that humanity can no longer survive in collectives but only in communities. Collectives make us uniform, communities make us individual, the former exclude, the latter include.

Germany is a community based on the rule of law which has to defend itself when under threat. But that can only go well when it protects what is sacred to it instead of betraying it. The German Basic Law starts with the statement: “The dignity of the person shall be inviolable.” Is it in the end the secret of our identity that we should protect the dignity of the person under all circumstances in order to avoid losing it again? Perhaps the true patriotism is located in heaven because our dignity is anchored there on both sides of the wall! We just have to find the door.

Henning Kullak-Ublick, class teacher from 1984 -2010 at the Flensburg Free Waldorf School; board member of the German Association of Waldorf Schools and the Friends of Waldorf Education as well as Aktion mündige Schule (www.freie-schule.de).  


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