3. Swindon

In 1963 my father received a posting abroad and we were to travel to Malaya via Swindon and London Airport. There was a lot of excitement because my father had to go before us and then we’d follow him. Meeting my maternal Grandparents, Grandfather a voice behind the Swindon Advertiser, and Grandmother a stern lady who told us off far more often than our mother did, was an experience that I disliked. There was something in the air that disturbed me, and it wasn’t just fearing doing something wrong, but I can’t put my finger on it. There was, of course, the tension when my father was gone. I sensed it in my mother. She was always someone who hoped that everything would be harmonious and people would get along. She often warned me, even later on, about saying too much and getting myself into trouble, which seemed to be her method of getting through life. Now everything was in turmoil. I can imagine how she felt about having to cope with the situation with three boys at our ages.
As far as I can remember we were split up and I lived with my paternal grandparents whereas my two brothers lived with our maternal grandparents. Grandpa Brewer was a right character and kept pigeons, so I help to feed them and clean up the loft. His face seemed a bit screwed up and his hair was curly and silver in places, not like Grandma at all. He was always annoying Grandma for some reasons and was continually being sent off somewhere. I think he was still working, it was probably at the Great Western Railway workshops, which were the biggest employer then. There is a photograph of Gran, Dad, Colin and me with our cousins, Linda, who is a year younger than me and Karen in front of a pigeon loft before dad left for Malaya. At that time we were just kids getting to know each other but we got to know each other better later.
My uncle Geoff still lived at home and was a young, lean curly-haired young man who seemed to smile all the time and had a loud voice. The big event then was when he let me ride his adult size bicycle with derailleur gears although I was quite small then. It was quite an achievement and I often showed off in front of other children. However, I borrowed the bicycle without permission and managed to break it somehow, which Geoff always reminded me of – even at my father’s funeral.
My Grandparents had a piano in the front room on which I pounded away until I got on everyone’s nerves. I never did have the knack of playing, even though I like to listen. At the end of the street there was a small garden with two or three apple trees, and I remember that I got into trouble for “scrumping” but my memory of this time is interwoven with the time when we returned from Malaya, so I’m not sure when exactly things happened. I have some memories of buying things at the corner shop at Hythe Road which also had a post office, which was before we went to Malaya, so I couldn’t have spent all the time in Rodbourne.
Swindon was only a small town then and our stay there was relatively short before we started on our journey, but I remember looking through a hole in a wall, finding a gang of boys in the back streets that didn’t want anything to do with me, sitting in outside closets with lots of newspapers to read and playing with children in the streets. It is all so long ago and when I drove down the main road there 40 or more years later, I could see how much it had changed on the surface. But there were still buildings standing that hadn’t changed over the years. The street where Gran and Gramp lived was demolished in between, which said a lot about the standard of housing they had put up with. My main expectations about Swindon, considering the changes I’ve experienced over the years living in Germany, was that the same degree of development would happen in the UK, but it didn’t. The town just became larger. At the same time, I think that people weren’t unhappy with their lot and just accepted it as the way it was.

Lebe bewusst

Wenn wir durch das Leben gehen, gibt es vieles, was wir übersehen. Unsere Sinne sind in der Regel auf „Flutlicht-Sehen“ ausgerichtet, d.h. einen Panoramablick zu haben und sich nicht über einen längeren Zeitraum auf bestimmte Dinge zu konzentrieren. Oft liegt es daran, dass wir uns schneller bewegen, mit Autos, Zügen oder Flugzeugen. Aber auch unter Zwang und wenn wir müde sind, „schalten“ wir uns aus. Der Fernseher wird oft eingeschaltet gelassen und läuft im Hintergrund weiter, während unsere Gedanken uns immer wieder mit einem Monolog bombardieren. Bewusstes Leben wird oft als zu anstrengend oder zu stressig empfunden, und wir lassen die Nachrichten rein und raus und konzentrieren uns nur auf Themen, die uns interessieren.

Es ist merkwürdig, dass wir, wenn wir uns auf unsere Umgebung konzentrieren, vielleicht durch einen Dokumentarfilm, der unsere Aufmerksamkeit auf etwas lenkt, oft überrascht und manchmal begeistert sind von dem, was wir sehen. Aber unser Bewusstsein ist subjektiv und was wir nicht sehen wollen, das sehen wir nicht. Stattdessen blockieren wir unsere Sinne mit Fernsehen oder Radio, Internet oder Apps, nehmen kaum auf, was wir sehen, und konzentrieren uns oft auf Dinge, die amüsant oder verlockend sind. Dabei sind wir vom Rest der Welt abgeschottet, in unseren Häusern oder mit Kopfhörern, unsere Augen auf dem kleinen Handy Bildschirm, und unbewusst von unserem Gesichtsausdruck oder unserer Bewegungsweise.

Wir sind vielleicht die am meisten abgelenkte Generationen aller Zeiten, und wir lehren unsere Kinder, dasselbe zu tun. Es wurde festgestellt, dass die Millennials auch die bisher einsamste Generation sind. Verbände, eingetragene Vereine, Gewerkschaften, sind nicht mehr interessant, und so messen junge Menschen ihren sozialen Status daran, wie viele „Likes“ sie bekommen. Sie kommunizieren oft inkognito, sei es in Spiel-, Dating- oder anderen Foren, obwohl Menschen, die sie kennen, sie im Netz erkennen. Kein Wunder, dass sie irgendwann in ihrem Leben erkennen, dass sie nur wenige Freunde haben, denen sie Auge in Auge begegnen und anfangen, sich Sorgen zu machen.

Es ist die Beziehungen und Interaktion offline, die gegen das Gefühl der Einsamkeit und Sorge hilft. Es ist Verantwortung, die zu Engagement und Menschen, die in die gleiche Richtung ziehen, und echten Freunden führt. Je weniger ich mich in einer Gesellschaft engagiere, desto mehr bewege ich mich außer Sichtweite, und die Menschen vergessen mich. Schließlich sind sie wie ich, nicht wahr? Ohne Engagement haben wir das Gefühl, dass es der Welt egal ist – und das ist es auch. Ohne Interaktion wachsen wir nicht und rollen uns stattdessen in unseren Betten oder auf dem Sofa zusammen, als ob wir in den Schoß zurückkehren würden, aus dem wir kamen. Menschen, die durch eine Krankheit wie Demenz das Bewusstsein verlieren, tun das Gleiche.

Die Gabe des Bewusstseins wurde in der Vergangenheit als etwas Heiliges angesehen. Der Geist ist ein Name, der dem Bewusstsein gegeben wurde, bevor wir die Wissenschaft hatten, die metaphorisch in die Nasenlöcher von Adam (Menschheit) geblasen wurde und er wurde eine lebendige Seele. Ein Geist, der jeden um sich herum begeistert, wurde als „belebender Geist“ bezeichnet. Es bleibt die Frage, wann wir wieder belebt werden und uns wieder mit dem verbinden, was sinnvoll ist?

Be conscious

When we go through life there is a great deal that we miss. Our senses are usually geared to “floodlight vision” by which I mean taking a panorama view and not focussing on particular things for any length of time. Often it is because we are moving faster, by means of cars, trains or aeroplanes. But we also “switch off” under duress and when we’re tired. The television is often left on and runs on in the background, whilst our thoughts repetitively bombard us with a monologue. Conscious living is often considered too tiring or too distressful, and we let the news go in and out, only focussing on subjects that we are interested in.

It is a curious thing, that when we do focus on our surroundings, perhaps by means of a documentary that attracts our attention to something, we are often surprised and sometimes excited by what we see. But our awareness is subjective and what we don’t want to see, we don’t see. Instead, we block our senses with television or radio, internet or apps, barely taking in what we see, often focussing on things that are amusing or enticing. In doing so, we are shut off from the rest of the world, in our houses or wearing earphones, our eyes fixed on the small mobile screen, and unconscious of our facial expression or the way we move.

We are perhaps the most pre-occupied generations ever, and we are teaching our children to do the same. It has been stated that the Millennials are also the loneliest generation yet. Associations, clubs, unions, registered societies are no longer interesting and so young people measure their social status by how many likes they get. They communicate often incognito, whether in gaming, dating or other forums, although people who know them recognise them on the net. No wonder that at some time in their lives they realise that they have few friends that they meet eye to eye, and start to worry.

It is the connection and interaction offline that helps against the feeling of loneliness and worrying. It is responsibility that leads to commitment and people who are pulling in the same direction, and real friends. The less I engage in a society, the more I move out of sight, and people forget me. After all, they’re like me, aren’t they? Without commitment, we get the feeling that the world doesn’t care – and it doesn’t. Without interaction, we fail to grow and instead we roll up in our beds or on the sofa, as though we are returning to the womb from which we came. People who, through an illness like dementia lose their consciousness, do the same.

The gift of consciousness has in the past been regarded as something sacred. The Spirit is one name given to consciousness before we had science, which was metaphorically blown into the nostrils of Adam (Mankind) and he became a living soul. A spirit that excites everyone around has been called a “vivifying spirit”. It remains to be asked, when will we become reanimated and reconnect to what is meaningful?

Is this the end of democracy in the United Kingdom?

The answer to that question would hopefully be no, but the country is divided and perhaps more than ever there are many political groups outside Parliament’s control. As political wings of the two major parties, the extreme left and the extreme right are pulling the strings that lead to political behaviour to which we are not accustomed. The politicians in the middle seem to be unsure of how to react. In fact, the biggest problem in politics lately is that the left does not know how to react in a way that benefits people, but is clear in the minds of voters. Voters need clear statements and they need to know what decisions mean to them.
In effect, this means that people overcome polarity by understanding what the possibilities are and what they can do. For a long time, politicians have been saying, leave it to us, we will treat you right. They referred to the long history of the party and offered a headline. That is not enough.

The political state of the country is polarisation, all the more so since Brexit became an issue. Polarisation is the first step towards a state of mind that only looks for what you think is a strong leader. Populists have received the chance to gain influence without much groundwork on a silver plate. If we as voters want to regain sovereignty over our vote, we need to do more. However, politicians must also do more to inform voters. This has been lacking, especially from Members of the European Parliament.

When I take a step back and try to see everything through an objective lens, it seems that the country must undergo a mindfulness exercise to let the excitement fade away so that we can return to our daily tasks in a matter-of-fact way. It must be the task of politicians to provide clear information about everything and of the voters to inform themselves properly.

2. Bideford

I think the furthest back I can remember was when we lived at 3 Seattle Terrace in Northam, Bideford, after moving there when my father had been sent to his first unit after joining the army. He was in a unit with amphibian vehicles (DUKW) at Fremington, just outside Bideford. We lived there between 1957 and 1963, and I reached infants and then primary school there.

The world was changing, commercial television aired its first broadcast, People were talking about the ‘Cambridge Spies’ who had finally surfaced after disappearing in 1951. The Clean Air Act was passed in response to the severe London smog in 1952. Nuclear power was available via Calder Hall Power Station, the British tested its first Hydrogen Bomb and teamed up with France to invade Egypt to secure passage via the Suez Canal to the Red Sea and beyond. Politicians came and went, but there was something in the air. Prime Minister Harold McMillan spoke of the “Wind of Change”.

Of course, I wasn’t bothered about what was going on in the world. For nearly four years I was the only child, and consequently, I had imaginary friends with whom I fittingly conversed, as many children do. I had such a vivid imagination I often saw figures walking across the plastered wall. The faint shadows began to move and form into people, animals or trees on the rough surface in the low light at night. Occasionally I would try to dream on keeping those figures in mind, slipping into a nocturnal world of fantasy and imagination. One particular instance comes to mind when I had a fever and that unquiet dream turned gruesome. I awoke with fright and sweat with mother and father looking down at me.

Life then is full of dim memories of cockle-collecting with a bucket and spade, the wind-swept Northam Burrows, and kissing the neighbours daughter, who was as young as I. “You Romeo!” they said to a young boy with no idea who that tragic figure was. They probably didn’t know the full story either. We were “working class” as they used to say, which meant that my parents hadn’t had the opportunity to gain a higher education. The UK had been slow to introduce compulsory education almost a century before and after the war, the class system was still very much intact with compulsory schooling by law only until the age of 10. The Eleven Plus test gave pupils in the 6th class the chance to rise in society by being educated in Grammar schools from 1944 onwards. I was fortunate to go to school but remained blissfully ignorant for several years whilst there. I was far more concerned with discovering the world of my imagination. 

Soon my brother, Colin James, was born. He seems to have been a friendly bundle that only occasionally made noises that disturbed the peace. I frequently found him wrapped up on the sofa and later crawling on the floor. I can’t remember registering him more than that until one day when my father told me hurriedly that I had to look all over for the three-year-old Colin, who’d gone missing. My mother wasn’t at home. I presume that she was then pregnant with Jeff, and I must have been approaching seven. Colin hardly moved much at that age and my father said as much, but we were to search for him. He was quite frantic, I thought. He even ran outside and called the neighbours out to search, to no avail. In the end, Colin himself gave his hiding place away by crying from behind a door that had the whole time been wide open and hid the sleeping sibling behind it. It might have started as a game, but when nobody came looking he fell asleep.

There are memories of meeting various members of the family, but I can’t say where it was. I remember travelling in a VW bus between the mattresses, small pieces of furniture and suitcases, and meeting my paternal Grandfather, who was always having a joke at other peoples expense, and he told me about how he used to treat his mules when they had colic. My mother had told him that I had suffered colon colic in that year. Gramp was very graphic in his description of how he would have treated me. Long afterwards I was hoping that it never happened again and feared the bar of soap that Gramp said he used to treat his mules with.

On reaching 6 years of age, I had entered primary school, which I did with the normal morbid anticipation I always had when having to socialise with other people. Colin was only 2 years old and took up my place at home. Once I knew what was expected of me I warmed to the idea and, as usual, I even got overexcited and fell on a low wall, causing a hernia. It taught me a lesson for a short while, but soon I was back climbing the walls with fellow pupils, showing off to the girls and being told off by the teachers. I can’t recall anything about the primary school, except the capers that got us into trouble. I didn’t really know what I was doing there, I think. This seemed to follow me for some time and at least gave me the childhood that many would have cherished and I took for granted.

The hernia treatment was postponed first of all, but I was soon back in trouble after the traumatic event of being hit by a car whilst crossing the road without looking. As it happened, the driver was a Doctor on his way to patients and I came to consciousness in his car. I had managed to fade cars out of my thoughts when crossing the streets, unfortunately, they are quite solid. After a check-up, the “lucky boy” was sent home to lick his wounds.

Life then seemed so relaxed and open. People used to knock on doors but they weren’t locked. There was a kind of natural reservedness about people that made sure that they didn’t impose on your privacy but they looked out for you. The remarks made about children weren’t taken to heart, but everybody knew that a child had to have a certain respect for adults, and do as they were told. Of course there were those teenagers who didn’t feel understood by their parents, but that was a result of the normal transition into adulthood. People knew about these problems having been through them themselves. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked and people knew that life could be a lot worse, especially if they had experienced the war years that only ended ten to fifteen years before.

When we look at our lives today, with all of the complications of just making a living, we don’t have more problems, just different ones in comparison to people back then. The modern complexity of society can make us more confused and worried because of the more information we have. We are told about every catastrophe in the world that could draw an audience, and the selection of the newsworthy reflects the attitude of the people in media, not the news kept in proportion to the news in general. Of course, the BBC in the 1950’s and 1960’s also selected newsworthy articles, but there was less of it. That made us more provincial in our outlook, but people were also more present. They took the time of day from the church bell, read the newspaper from beginning to end, with an occasional re-reading on the WC.

I haven’t found any articles on the accident with the amphibious tanks that my father was involved with. He lost his crew on that day and only survived by being a strong swimmer. Essentially it was a faulty design. The tank floated in the water like an iceberg with the top only a foot or so above water. It must have been a wave that caught them unawares and the tank sank. My father, never a religious man, was at odds with every pastor that came offering support, as well as with pastors throughout the years. He had an issue against God, if there was one, he said. It was also an issue that I took too little into account when I became a Christian years later. At his funeral I was asked to offer prayers and I asked for forgiveness, “because he was just one of us” who also sought reconciliation. “He was one of the best we had to offer”, I said, and consequently, if we had any hope, then he should have too.

I think that accident had more to do with who my father was than I took into account for in years we were apart. I was upset because he refused to be the father I wanted him to be, but he could only be the one he was, and he always gave the best he had. It’s strange that we come to realise these things when it is too late, when we can’t correct anything. In later years I sometimes saw my father in my own reflection, shining through so to speak, as though he was making me aware of how much I had benefited from being his son. 

1. Beginnings

13th July 1955, Swindon, England

The winds howled and the rain hit the windows with a never-ending torrent. Severe thunderstorms rumbled across the sky of southern England and seemed to build up to a resounding crash as a bolt of lightning struck the chimney top at Kingshill maternity hospital. Down below a child’s cry was heard, a little boy was born.

What a dramatic entry into the world you might say, but like most dramas, there is only a certain amount of truth to the account. First of all, I wasn’t that “little”. To tell the truth, giving birth to me was probably a harrowing experience for the young nineteen-year-old Audrey June, my mother, but it left no impression on the world.

When I was born, my proud father, Basil James (called Jim), gave me the name Robert Stephen, which was quite common at the time of my birth, and he was probably asking himself what the best solution was to the problem of feeding us. My father was that kind of pragmatist and born in 1932, he was a lorry-driver when my birth certificate was issued. He then went on to join the RASC, which was quite common for people looking for a rise in status. I remember him as a serious type of person who had to push himself to be easy going. He seemed very pragmatic in many issues and it seemed even being sociable was a problem to be solved. His upbringing was steered at being reliable, not like his father, who had disappeared when abroad as a soldier and turned up when everybody thought he was dead. My paternal Grandmother had learnt a handwork to see the family through and had been quite an active person, although when I met her, she already had several health issues. There was a large picture of her in their house showing her as a beautiful young lady. All of the children had her looks, my father and his brother Geoffrey were good lookers, my aunt Muriel was a spitting image of her mother and only Eve, the oldest of the children, had a bit of her father in her appearance. But Eve, in particular, was very critical of “Gramp”, she told me that it annoyed her that he was liked a lot by people who didn’t know him. She had experienced the worries of her mother, and they both had to see to it that the younger children got through the difficult times. Eve was always proud of my Dad, although I doubt that she had a bad word to say about anyone – except Gramp. When I was living with her, she was always talking about how my father had done his part to help the family.

My father was also a source of science fiction paperbacks that I read later on in life, but also of “men’s magazines”, though they hinted mostly rather than the kind available today. He sometimes left them lying under the bed, which his inquisitive son soon discovered. He had taken up swimming early on and had a broad back and strong arms, but he was mostly gentle with his children. When he pretended to use the belt to discipline us, he used to cry afterwards. I’m sure he thought this was the only way to make us boys become sensible adults, but I vowed not to use the same measures on my children. I don’t think I gave my father enough credit for what he did for me. He warned me of many things that came to be because I ignored or forgot them. He tried to interest me in his interests, like engines and mechanics but soon noticed that I was interested in other things.

My mother, Audrey June, (born 1936) was a bright-eyed girl with a broad laugh. She was the more sociable of the two and came from a large family that seemed full of contradictions to me as a child. Grandmother, Clara Maud M came from a Methodist lay preachers family of eleven and married Alfred George William P, originally came from Wales, who in the war had worked on the railways as a carriage painter. After they married, they had my mother, three sons, Walter, the twins John and Brian and a daughter, Brenda. Later on, Grandad was a manager of a working man’s club, but Gran did most of the work, which may have influenced the way I saw her.

Her sister, my Great Aunt Sis was a very mild mannered lady and an ardent Churchgoer. She always seemed to have the gentleness that I was missing with Grandmother, but it would be unfair to forget the fact that her husband spent a lot of time behind his newspaper and that she had worked during the war looking after “mums with new babies” as my mother put it, despite Grandmother having such a large family herself. My mother also found herself allotted to this work, which probably explained why, occasionally, I would find myself sleeping with my brothers because a young woman was staying overnight. My mother was also an auxiliary nurse for a while, which echoed in my life later on.

I had the feeling that my maternal uncles and aunts acted in a strange way towards me, but I couldn’t figure out what it was, I thought that perhaps it was me that was different. At some time, Brenda’s husband, Pete, manhandled us boys in a way that we weren’t used to and I remember giving him a punch on the chin. It didn’t hurt him, he was far larger and stronger than I but it appeared to have an effect, if only to make him a bit cautious.

Of my cousins, with whom I only had a brief relationship with any of them, the most time I remember spending in Swindon was with my cousin Linda, followed by Karen. We liked each other and I remember how both my mother and hers constantly warned us that we weren’t “kissing cousins”. Linda was full of energy, had a cute smile and insisted on wearing the tiniest of minis. Muriel, her mother, constantly told her, “I can see your knickers, girl!” To me, Linda was one of those people with whom I got on well with, and later in life, I would constantly find that I could manage women better than men. Karen was also a soul with whom I resonated and I was deeply saddened when I heard that she had died. They were two members of the family with whom I had shared secrets from the adults. Diane, their sister, was a sprightly young girl who always wanted to be in on the secrets, and complained that we were mean because we wouldn’t let her in.

But many of the people I have mentioned came into my life later, or at least that is my memory. To begin with, my mother and father were my family, then later came Colin. According to my mother, I was “Thursday’s child” who had “far to go” according to the children’s poem „Monday’s Child“. It is one of many fortune-telling songs, popular at the time, that supposes that a child’s character or future is based on the day of birth and additionally helps young children remember the seven days of the week.  Although, in fact, according to the almanacs, I was “Wednesday’s child, full of woe”! Probably my mother, always concerned for the well-being of others, didn’t want me to be full of woe. I was, however, a child that was very much alone with himself, no matter how many people were around.

Save the planet?

Save the planet?
The excitement about the damage inflicted on the planet has indeed been very strange, considering that the planet as such is not in danger. However, all mammals, including humans, are in danger. The name „lung of the world“ for the rainforests is misleading if you don’t make it clear that the air we all need is produced there. The fact that ecology is something we all need to be involved in and that it must be a big issue at meetings like the G7/8 is slowly becoming an insight for people who haven’t thought about it yet.
However, one difficulty that needs to be taken into account is the fact that national borders prevent rapid reactions – and nationalism is spreading. If diplomatic channels have to be opened first so that people understand that there is a problem and there is no immediate joint effort to resolve it, the response will be too slow and cause damage that could otherwise be avoided. Even if global warming comes and goes in cycles, as has been suggested, the effects of global warming must be addressed. Nationalism seems to pose the problem at the feet of nations that have no resources to respond in the necessary way.
Another aspect that has become an issue in my life is the question of whether individuals can make a small contribution, but in a way that makes a difference overall. For example, car sharing or the delivery services that deliver drinks in returnable bottles. Or to buy fruit and vegetables in paper bags instead of plastic. Individually, this is not a big deal, except that it makes the personal choice a little narrower, but globally it could make a difference. A very big deal is the consumption of meat, which currently means that there are more cows and bulls, pigs, sheep, and chickens (to name a few) in the world than ever before, taking up space (including cleared rainforest areas) and warming the atmosphere.
It is our habits, and industrialization, that is designed to fulfill these habits that cause problems in the world and endanger our livelihoods. The planet would continue to produce life that could live under the circumstances we have created, but we could not live without clean air and clean water. We cannot wait a thousand years for the world to recover. WE must act now or explain to our children why we did not do it.

Den Planeten retten?

Die Aufregung über den Schaden, der dem Planeten zugefügt wird, ist in der Tat sehr seltsam gewesen, wenn man bedenkt, dass der Planet als solcher nicht in Gefahr ist. Allerdings sind alle Säugetiere, einschließlich uns Menschen, in Gefahr. Der Name „Lunge der Welt“ für die Regenwälder ist irreführend, wenn man nicht deutlich macht, dass dort die Luft, die wir alle brauchen, produziert wird. Die Tatsache, dass Ökologie etwas ist, an dem wir uns alle beteiligen müssen und das bei Treffen wie den G7/8 ein großes Thema sein muss, wird langsam zu einer Erkenntnis für Menschen, die sich bisher noch keine Gedanken darüber gemacht haben.
Eine Schwierigkeit, die zu berücksichtigen ist, ist jedoch die Tatsache, dass nationale Grenzen schnelle Reaktionen verhindern – und der Nationalismus breitet sich aus. Wenn zuerst die diplomatischen Kanäle geöffnet werden müssen, damit die Menschen verstehen, dass es ein Problem gibt und es keine unmittelbaren gemeinsamen Anstrengungen zu seiner Lösung gibt, wird die Reaktion zu langsam sein und Schäden verursachen, die sonst vermieden werden könnten. Selbst wenn die globale Erwärmung kommt und geht in Zyklen, was vorgeschlagen wurde, müssen die Auswirkungen der globalen Erwärmung angegangen werden. Der Nationalismus scheint das Problem zu den Füßen von Nationen zu stellen, die keine Ressourcen haben, um in der erforderlichen Weise zu reagieren.
Ein weiterer Aspekt, der zu einem Thema in meinem Leben geworden ist, ist die Frage, ob Einzelpersonen einen kleinen Beitrag leisten können, aber auf eine Weise, die insgesamt einen Unterschied macht. Zum Beispiel Carsharing oder die Zustelldienste, die Getränke in Mehrwegflaschen liefern. Oder Obst und Gemüse in Papiertüten statt in Plastik zu kaufen. Einzeln ist das keine große Sache, außer, dass es die persönliche Wahl ein wenig enger macht, aber global könnte es einen Unterschied machen. Eine sehr große Sache ist der Verzehr von Fleisch, was derzeit bedeutet, dass es auf der Welt mehr Kühe und Bullen, Schweine, Schafe und Hühner (um nur einige zu nennen) gibt als je zuvor, die Platz einnehmen (einschließlich gerodeter Regenwaldflächen) und die Atmosphäre erwärmen.
Es sind unsere Gewohnheiten, und die Industrialisierung, die darauf ausgerichtet ist, diese Gewohnheiten zu erfüllen, die Probleme in der Welt verursachen und unsere Lebensgrundlagen gefährden. Der Planet würde weiterhin Leben produzieren, das unter den von uns geschaffenen Umständen leben könnte, aber wir könnten nicht ohne saubere Luft und sauberes Wasser leben. Wir können nicht tausend Jahre warten, bis sich die Welt erholt hat. WIR müssen jetzt handeln oder unseren Kindern erklären, warum wir es nicht getan haben.

The best explanation yet of how the ancient traditions should be observed.

“… [T]hose who existed during the distant time in which the foundational epics of our culture emerged were much more concerned with the actions that dictated survival (and interpreting the world in a manner commensurate with that goal) than with anything approximating what we now understand as objective truth.
Before the dawn of the scientific worldview, reality was construed differently. Being was understood as a place of action, not a place of things. It was understood as something more akin to story or drama. That story or drama was lived subjective experience, as it manifested itself moment to moment in the consciousness of every living person. It was something similar to the stories we tell each other about our lives and their personal significance; something similar to the happenings that novelists describe when they capture existence in the pages of their books. Subjective experience – that includes familiar objects such as trees and clouds, primarily objective in their existence, but also (and more importantly) such things as emotions and dreams as well as hunger, thirst and pain. It is such things, experienced personally, that are the most fundamental elements of human life, from the archaic, dramatic perspective, and they are not easily reducible to the detached and objective – even by the modern reductionist, materialist mind. Take pain, for example – subjective pain. That’s something so real that no argument can stand against it. Everyone acts as if their pain is real – ultimately, finally real. Pain matters, more than matter matters. For this reason, I believe, that so many of the world’s traditions regarding the suffering attendant upon existence as the irreducible truth of Being.
In any case, that which we subjectively experience can be likened more to a novel or a movie than to a scientific description of physical reality. It is the drama of lived existence – the unique, tragic, personal death of your father, compared to the objective death listed in the hospital records; the pain of your first love; the despair of dashed hopes; the joy attendant upon a child’s success.

the world of experience has primal constituents, as well. These are the necessary elements whose interactions define drama and fiction. One of these is chaos. Another is order. The third (as there are three) is the process that mediates between the two, which appears identical to what modern people call consciousness. It is our eternal subjugation to the first two that makes us doubt the validity of existence – that makes us throw up our hands in despair, and fail to care for ourselves properly. It is proper understanding of the third that allows us the only real way out.”
(Jordan B. Peterson – 12 Rules for life – An Antidote to Chaos)

Die bisher beste Erklärung dafür, wie die alten Traditionen beachtet werden sollten.

„…. Diejenigen, die in der fernen Zeit existierten, in der die grundlegenden Epen unserer Kultur entstanden sind, waren viel mehr mit den Handlungen beschäftigt, die das Überleben diktierten (und die Welt in einer Weise interpretierten, die diesem Ziel angemessen war) als mit allem, was sich dem näherte, was wir heute als objektive Wahrheit verstehen.
Vor dem Beginn der wissenschaftlichen Weltanschauung wurde die Realität anders interpretiert. Das Sein wurde als ein Ort der Handlung verstanden, nicht als ein Ort der Dinge. Es wurde als etwas verstanden, das eher einer Geschichte oder einem Drama ähnelt. Diese Geschichte oder dieses Drama war eine gelebte subjektive Erfahrung, wie sie sich von Moment zu Moment im Bewusstsein jedes lebenden Menschen manifestierte. Es war etwas Ähnliches wie die Geschichten, die wir einander über unser Leben und ihre persönliche Bedeutung erzählen; etwas Ähnliches wie die Ereignisse, die Schriftsteller beschreiben, wenn sie die Existenz auf den Seiten ihrer Bücher festhalten. Subjektive Erfahrung – dazu gehören vertraute Objekte wie Bäume und Wolken, die in erster Linie objektiv in ihrer Existenz sind, aber auch (und vor allem) Dinge wie Emotionen und Träume sowie Hunger, Durst und Schmerz. Es sind solche Dinge, die persönlich erlebt werden, die aus archaischer, dramatischer Sicht die grundlegendsten Elemente des menschlichen Lebens sind, und sie sind nicht leicht auf das Losgelöste und Objektive zu reduzieren – auch nicht durch den modernen reduktionistischen, materialistischen Geist. Nehmen wir zum Beispiel den Schmerz – den subjektiven Schmerz. Das ist etwas so Reales, dass kein Argument dagegen sprechen kann. Jeder tut so, als wäre sein Schmerz real – letztendlich, schließlich, endgültig, real. Schmerz ist wichtig, mehr als Materie ist wichtig. Aus diesem Grund glaube ich, dass so viele der Traditionen der Welt, die das Leiden, das mit der Existenz einhergeht, als die unwiderrufliche Wahrheit des Seins betrachten.
Auf jeden Fall ist das, was wir subjektiv erleben, mehr mit einem Roman oder einem Film zu vergleichen als mit einer wissenschaftlichen Beschreibung der physischen Realität. Es ist das Drama der gelebten Existenz – der einzigartige, tragische, persönliche Tod deines Vaters, verglichen mit dem objektiven Tod, der in den Krankenhausunterlagen aufgeführt ist; der Schmerz deiner ersten Liebe; die Verzweiflung der zerbrochenen Hoffnungen; die Freude, die mit dem Erfolg eines Kindes einhergeht.

Auch die Welt der Erfahrung hat ursprüngliche Bestandteile. Das sind die notwendigen Elemente, deren Wechselwirkungen Drama und Fiktion definieren. Eine davon ist das Chaos. Eine andere ist die Ordnung. Der dritte (da es drei gibt) ist der Prozess, der zwischen den beiden vermittelt, der identisch zu dem erscheint, was moderne Menschen Bewusstsein nennen. Es ist unsere ewige Unterwerfung unter die ersten beiden, die uns an der Gültigkeit der Existenz zweifeln lässt – die uns dazu bringt, unsere Hände in Verzweiflung zu legen und nicht richtig für uns selbst zu sorgen. Es ist das richtige Verständnis des Dritten, das uns den einzigen wirklichen Ausweg ermöglicht.“
(Jordan B. Peterson – 12 Rules for life – An Antidote to Chaos)