Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Questions for you, Peter and suggestion to the list
- ----- Original Message -----From: Peter StaudenmaierSent: Thursday, March 11, 2004 3:09 AMSubject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Questions for you, Peter and suggestion to the list
Peter S to Tarjei
In that article I mostly had in mind the dismal record of too many anthroposophists and anthroposophically-influenced figures during the Third Reich.
How many people were swept along at the beginning of those terrible times thinking that Germany now had a chance to get out of the quagmire it was in, realising too late the nightmare they were actually careering into. What would I have done in the shoes of those people? I dread to think. People make stupid decisions and take the wrong path all the time. What choices faced some of these people? Do I flee? Am I running to save my own skin or do I feel that I can be of better help to others from a distance? Maybe I could help others most by collaborating? Or maybe I just care about myself? How hard it is to judge people without knowing the motives behind their actions. Instead of saying "they did this" or "they should have done that", shouldn't we collectively be saying "we did this" or "we should have done that". We can't say "it's nothing to do with me mate", and then turn round and say that we feel the unity of humanity and life.
Looking back on the initiatives started by Anthroposophists around that time, I don't see any projects with the goal of furthering the aims of the German people at the expense of the rest of us. They all seem pretty altruistic to me. All these initiatives were intended to benefit the whole of humankind IMO. Just take the example of Karl Konig below. Instead of making accusations about people who may have been under pressures that we know nothing about I think it's much more healthy to look at the achievments of people that we can be inspired by.
Outcasts - in Scotland*
Pioneers in an Old Manse
During the years 1936 and 1937 a few young men and women gathered around a country doctor who had come to Vienna, the city of his birth, to build up a medical practice in one of its suburbs. The doctor and his family had been forced to leave Germany, where he had worked for some time, by the conditions Nazism imposed. Under this doctor's guidance the group of young people began to study anthroposophy and many an evening was spent in reading and studying Rudolf Steiner's work. The group consisted of young teachers, medical students and a few artists. All of them had one thing in mind and that was not only to understand anthroposophy but basically to change their attitude to life. They felt more or less clearly that Nazism was a sign that destructive forces were coming to a peak and that something would have to be done to counteract this evil force. But they knew that opposition by force or by a mass movement would not be effective. They felt rather that a new understanding of the human being and of all nature, and a devotional attitude to life in all its manifestations through living Christianity would be the necessary balance to Nazism. Through Rudolf Steiner's teaching, they learned that thoughts and ideals alone would change nothing, but a change of attitude to life could do very much. They decided to start a community outside a town, working the soil, educating children and educating themselves through daily work, daily study and daily devotion.
Then Nazism flooded Austria as well. These young people had to leave the country with the hope of finding one another again in some other country which was still free from oppression and race laws and which would give them the opportunity of living their lives as they thought best.
These young men and women went through many adventures and setbacks. Some of them spent weeks and months in Italy, France, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Holland, with no knowledge of the whereabouts of their friends. They went through hardships and loneliness, until they were all finally able to come to Britain, where they decided to ask the authorities if they would agree with their ideas and give them help to form the community.
Through chance and destiny, some helpful members of the Church of Scotland became interested and other friends in the north-east of Scotland lent a house. This was Kirkton House, an abandoned manse on the slope of a hill overlooking a wide valley north of Aberdeen. It was the first actual roof over the heads of this small group. The estate owners provided them with potatoes, milk and oatmeal. The doctor had been able to bring his furniture over from Austria, and after a few weeks the manse was ready for occupation. The walls were painted, the garden was dug up, the debris in the outbuildings was cleared away. After two months the first handicapped children arrived and the fees paid for them made it possible to begin to live a regular life. The good and strong ideals and the will to stick to them on the part of these few people overcame all the difficult circumstances, and this was encouraging and grand to see.
May 12,1940 was a fateful day for the community, because on this Whit Sunday all the male members of the community were interned, ultimately to be sent to the Isle of Man. The women were left alone with the children and, to begin with, they were uncertain as to whether they should carry on what was begun or wait until the men returned. But they decided to carry on. Not only that, they decided to extend the work.
Just before the men were interned the community had had many enquiries for places for children, and so the community tried to find a better and bigger place. Owing to the unforgettable kindness of a friend and father of one of the boys who was due to join us, Camphill estate was purchased and ready to receive us. Everything for the move to Camphill had been prepared and the date fixed when the men were interned, and the move seemed, for a moment, impossible.
But the women were full of confidence, strength and faith. They moved to the new place on 1 June 1940, furnished the house, worked the gardens and fields, took care of the children and struggled through the early months until in October the first two men came back from internment, finding everything in the best of order and the ground prepared for the expansion of the work.
From then on the work gradually enlarged. The community now (1941) has a big house, a cottage and lodge and 22 acres of ground. Throughout the winter we had our own potatoes and a lot of fruit and vegetables. We have 10 children and some more to come. Most work is running according to our aims. We shall soon have some goats and pigs and already have hens. We hope to acquire a cow in the near future.
So again, faith and confidence guided the community through hard and bitter times to brighter and more hopeful times.
New Life for Outcast Children
What we have established until now has been described. But what are our further aims?
We aim to become a real community closely connected with all the work of a household and on the land, and connected with our own children and those who have been given into our care. Handicapped children are mostly outcasts of human society. They are children who are unable to speak or to work - unable to find a place in their own homes, who cannot find schools and training. We want to try to share our work with them, to show them how to hold a spade and dig, how to make a compost heap and how to plant vegetables. But we also want to show them how to learn about the world and to understand it, to teach them to appreciate the beauty of the world and the kindness of human beings. We want to try to teach them to understand numbers, music, writing and reading, painting, modelling, wood·carving.
We shall have common meals, common joys and common sorrows. We shall have the Sunday services with our children. And our children will begin to establish themselves in the community and find their own identities because their environment is one of love and understanding.
We hope in time to build a few more small houses for them and to establish a tiny village in which there is a community of outcasts, who are not outcasts but active citizens, who will make their own contribution, and who have faith in what is spiritual and love for one another.
* First published in 'Young Scotland (Church of Scotland Youth Magazine), 1941. A revised version appeared in the Camphill journal 'The Cresset, Vo1.15 (1969), No.3.
Unfortunately the planners in their infinite wisdom would now like to run a bypass right through Camphill in Aberdeen. Anyone interested can go to http://www.newtondee.org.uk/ or straight to http://www.savecamphill.org.uk/
I suppose I should forgive those who are making all the decisions for the rest of us, from a global level right down to my own doorstep, because I am not in their shoes and don't know the pressures they are under. But their record recently seems to be not just dismal but downright diabolical. I think I've just nullified my own arguement, oh well!
- --- In email@example.com, "dick.richardson@..." <dick.richardson@...> wrote:
>F: Depends what you mean by "mystic". From Greek "mustikos" = initiated person. By that definition, Steiner certainly was a mustic...er...mystic.
> Rudolf Steiner
> Never read Rudolf Steiner for I was not interested, all I ever read was
> a wee bit about him some place. But from what I did read it struck me
> that Steiner was not a mystic but a philosophical writer about mysticism
> who had met a real mystic on a train, was impressed and then carried on
> along those lines excuse the pun; intended :- )
D: > However, OK, and most writers about mysticism and transcendence were not
> mystics, but of a similar ilk of academic writer. Generally speakingSteiner did not waffle. He was a self-proclaimed initiate and preferred his syncrenitic waffles with chocolate ice cream and sprinkles.
> mystics do not write. But they can soon tell who is and who is not one,
> and that is all too easy. But if any academic does write about mystics
> and mysticism and makes a good job it (a few have but not many) then
> that is fine, so long as they put folks in the picture and let them know
> the truth of their stance and position. I have had lots of arguments and
> fights about this over the last forty years. Also syncretism does not
> help the cause if they also delve into that bag of nauseating mess. Just
> tell it as it is and then quit waffling.