“[…] we have lost that which is not directly related to the two senses of hearing and seeing: that which is related to the sense of touch, the sense of smell and the sense of taste. And we also lose slowness, the time of creative germination and assimilation, the time of affection and love, the time of nature […] We lose weight, i.e. the dimension of physicality and conceptual density, we lose the ability to feel the temperature, i.e. the warmth of others and of events, we lose the idea of the invisible and of mystery, which refers us to the other side of what is accessible and available to us, and we even lose the ability to listen, which is not easily compatible with speed and acceleration. […]“ [2]


The measures that have been introduced worldwide to deal with Covid-19 have drastic effects on the lives of the people concerned. At every age the consequences of the measures have a more or less specific impact. In many cases, especially for young people, these measures can mean an interruption in the flow of their biography, an uncertain disruption of planned and often long-prepared and hoped-for steps through an apprenticeship, a course of study or the next concrete project, and concern about how and whether this flow can be resumed. In everyday life, these measures also mean isolation in a moment of biography in which being with one another is actually fundamental to the experience of getting to know oneself and the world. And in many places, the circumstances bring with them a questioning of the existential basis: the unemployment of young people, already a major concern for many years [3], is intensifying and is now increasingly becoming an inescapable challenge.

Another central aspect of young people’s experience is learning to orient oneself through an encounter with reality. Such an experience of reality is based on various aspects: in the current situation of social isolation, these aspects are perceived in a more or less precarious form as a reality on their own and are being questioned; the one way of assuring reality is connected with the reference to one’s own corporeality. Due to the current situation, this is sometimes drastically limited, which means a considerable cut, especially in early youth. The thought of Professor João Maria André quoted above points to this dimension of loss, which occurs – not only for young people – when the sensorial experience is one-sidedly reduced and the density and warmth, which make the human connection to the world possible through the senses, can no longer be experienced.
The comprehensibility of the world, the possibility to penetrate the experiences more and more and to understand them anew and expandingly, is fundamental for the formation of the confidence to be able to orient oneself in and to the reality of the circumstances. This comprehensibility is currently very difficult to achieve and socially, it is mainly a matter of either holding on to positions from which everything is interpreted, or of great scepticism and discouragement.
The exchange, the reassurance of the reference to reality through the dialogue with others who are going through similar experiences, the reciprocity and conversation are basic elements for the experience of reality. This exchange is currently made more difficult by isolation. “I miss the human encounters where you learn with others” a young woman recently wrote to me from her isolation in a large city in South America.
“The presence of others, who see what we see and hear what we hear, assures us of the reality of the world and of ourselves,” writes Hannah Arendt, and concludes that the modern intensification of a private inner life and the decay of the public sphere, which has infinitely increased subjective feeling and private sensation, “could only come about at the expense of trust in the reality of the world and of the people who appear in it.[4]” The presence of others, made more difficult by isolation – that is, absence as a threat to an insurance of reality – turns out to be a serious consequence.

What can be done to gain trust and to constantly recreate meaning?
General indications are inaccurate – everyone will be able to find ways of doing something in their own specific circumstances. I would like to point out here three aspects which can be taken up actively and autonomously in different forms:
– Giving meaning through a creative, self-generated, self-determined, daily or at least repeated activity – e.g. in the conscious use and structuring of time.
– Becoming actively aware of the other and turning towards them – beyond one’s own needs or necessities – e.g. by helping someone or supporting them in something concrete…
– Actively cultivating the connection with others and also seeking personal encounters – besides those through media.

In this sense, the Youth Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum is intensively engaged with the current situation and out of this engagement, a project was created. Young people around the world are invited to participate in a process and to think ahead of the time after the pandemic and – in the words of a young co-worker – “to live with the question of such a future in a way that it allows us to develop a personal contribution that becomes a reality”[5]. Through written and artistic answers to questions and regular exchanges, the aim is to “achieve a visibility of young people’s motives and, possibly, create a substance that will carry through these times.”
The intention of this project is to contribute to the creation of a space in which trust can develop from the conviviality thus created. Trust as a basis for life with others: “[…] if human individuality is to meet human individuality in morality, then, above all, an atmosphere of trust will be necessary.[6]” If it succeeds, it may be possible to experience what Ernst Bloch describes in his Principle of Hope as the not-yet-conscious, that which comes from the future and which in a foreboding form makes itself felt in the present as “morning breeze”[7] – even in the present crisis.


[1] The text was written in the context of viewpoints from different sections of the School of Spiritual Science as contributions to questions in dealing with the corona-crisis.
[2] Prof. Dr. João Maria André, Telépolis, Distance, Speed and Resonance in https://www.publico.pt/2020/04/26/local/opiniao/telepois-distancia-velocidade-ressonancia-1913721 .
“The great challenge we face today, in pandemic and post-pandemic times, is to restore spaces, atmospheres and resonance axes so that we can say: When the world or the other speaks, I listen to them and resonate with them; when I speak, the world and others listen to me and we can resonate together. (Translation C. Kaliks).
[3] United Nations World Youth Report: Youth and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In:
https://www.un.org/development/desa/youth/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2019/02/conclusions-wyr-2030agenda.pdf. “Although the global economy has started to recover, the youth employment situation has worsened in recent years. There are presently 71 million young people unemployed, and many millions more are in precarious or informal employment. ILO estimates that 156 million youth in low- and middle-income countries are living in poverty even though they are employed.”, p. 114.
[4] Arendt, Hannah. Vita activa. München: Piper, 1981, p. 63.
[5] For information and to participate in the project: ioana@youthsection.org
[6] Steiner, Rudolf. Geistige Wirkenskräfte im Zusammenleben von alter und junger Generation – Pädagogischer Jugendkurs. GA. 217. Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1988, p. 95.
[7] Bloch, Ernst. Das Prinzip Hoffnung. 10. Auflage, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2016, S. 131, 132.

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