“That’s why I find the project very appealing or interesting, because one is once again confronted with the questions: what is life? Togetherness? Interaction with fellow human beings? Not only what are your ideals or ideas, but what do you actually want to achieve in practical, everyday life? I think that it ultimately depends on the individual, so how do I place myself in life? So, meaningfulness; that’s ultimately a question from this research. I think that’s good, because it’s like waking up, perhaps, when you’re faced with this question at first. How do I stand in the world and before the other human beings?” (Female, 31, Germany)
On the 7th of December 2019 and for the third consecutive year, a colloquium took place as part of the research project of the Youth Section at the Goetheanum. The world of the future as a reality that is being shaped in the present times, as well as possible contributions towards making this possible, were central themes of our meeting. Another element of the colloquium was the presentation of a key aspect keeping the research team busy in this current phase of the project, namely, the way in which conversation spaces and processes can be designed in order to make visible “images” of this future reality.
After a presentation of the project within the context of the Youth Section’s task, the participants were invited to participate in focus groups. Questions about how we experience the challenges of the time, one’s own relationship to these and also wished for actions in order to transform these challenges, were central to the discussions.
One of the world-challenges experienced by the participants was the separation from nature, manifested by a lack of attention to nature in the context of complex phenomena: “Ultimately, our task is to pay attention to nature and to be able to live in harmony with it, to understand it and not to exploit it in such a way that we actually destroy it more”.
Lack of time and the feeling of ” having to be functional” was one of the other challenges mentioned. “Yes, why is everyone so stressed?”, which brought up questions such as “what is the human being, what is he capable of?, that can lead to a “a sense of being lost”, and a feeling of resignation that expressed in words such as “as if one is truly alone, and cannot do anything about people being like that” or “the world is as it is.” The world of the cities as a “cold, square” world where “destructiveness “ is very much present, is regarded by the participants as a great challenge of our time.
Helplessness, sadness, loneliness, being in tension, the sensation of a great responsibility for which one cannot find any form of action, are feelings that can emerge:
“These were my thoughts, that I sometimes find it sad that I have no voice, what do I have to do with the way in which things are developing? I think it’s bad, but how can I change that?” (Female, 31, Germany)
“I am sad that there is so much potential and so many possibilities to do something, but that few people use it. Most people just want to do their thing and few look at the whole”. (Female, 16)
But the opposite is also very present in the discourses: “I carry the hope or perhaps the trust that people will eventually wake up, but I find it very difficult because the opposite may be the case in this area. For me it needs a shake-up. Man, you have to do something for yourself”.
Solutions mentioned to transform the challenges were to develop “a different awareness”, as one of the participants says. “The encounter and the contemplation to reach the hearts of the people. To emerge, to find again the connection to the other people, to nature, to life”.
A special emphasis was needed in the focus groups in order to enable them to speak of actual deeds to perform. It does not seem easy to find concrete places in life where the ideals, motivations and desired actions can become actuality. To become a role model in one’s own social environment through, for example, one’s own use of plastic, designing spaces for and with other people at university where thematic discussions can take place, becoming active oneself and giving something to children in the kindergarten, are some of the intentions taken up by the participants. The longing to find people with whom one can act together remains. “And so, I think I can start out in a small way for myself and hope that something will develop out of it that can be done together, out of the reality of life”.
For this to happen, places and moments may be necessary where people have the opportunity to deal with this at all:
“This needs to come about through the process with other people. People with each other, as we are doing here right now, being able to live through this and then really enter this new space from another consciousness. To grasp an openness and to give a day to all people who are not so happy to deal with these questions. To invite them to deal with it, so that the discussion or the ideas about how we want to shape the world can be carried to another level, where there is openness and sensitivity for others.” (Female, 20, Germany).
The colloquium’s participants gave many impulses for the further development of the project by the team of Youth Section at the Goetheanum. A detailed analysis of the focus groups will be part of the second publication of the research study in autumn 2020.
Ioana Viscrianu & Andrea de la Cruz