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European Alliance of Initiatives
for Applied Anthroposophy

ELIANT’s Christmas greetings

Human identity and the universal sense for humanity.

Dear Friends of ELIANT,

In his most recent book Nachmittage (afternoons), the internationally known best selling author and lawyer Ferdinand von Schirach, offers a window into the life-changing meetings and events that have moved him in his own life. He remarked: "These experiences protect us from loneliness, wounding and coldness. And in the end they are all that truly belongs to us."

In other words it is our personal life story with all its highs and lows that makes us who we are. It determines our identity. What we are through our gender, status, family and nationality or the religious, professional and personal interest groups to which we belong, extends far beyond ourselves and includes connections with groups both large and small. The influence of these groups is often so strong that the individual is of little importance and in extreme cases becomes fanatically defined by the group. Our individual identity by contrast depends on how we interact with the groups we belong to and how we experience and work with our own individual destiny.

Through the unspeakably tragic, brutal and cruel experiences of the wars that have shaken Europe and the world in the 20th and 21st centuries, another dimension has opened up in the search for human identity the most important of which in terms of the immediate future, is – the still precarious legal and social status of women. In his book A Philosophy of Freedom published in 1894, Rudolf Steiner makes the clear statement: "Men and women nearly always place too much focus on the general characteristics of the other gender and too little on what is individual. In daily life this is less harmful to men than to women. The reason why the social position of women often lacks due recognition is because it tends to be based not on the unique qualities of the individual women but on a generalised perception of their natural tasks and requirements. (…) They (women) however must decide for themselves what is true to their nature. It must also be pointed out to whoever fears that disruption may be caused to our society were women to be seen as individuals rather than simply wives and mothers, that a social situation in which half of mankind lives an undignified existence, is in urgent need of reform."

The fact that undignified and inhumane conditions are so fiercely imposed in countries such as Iran, is due to the system of rights in those countries where people have for generations come to accept them as as part of their identity – which is exacerbated by the claim that they are God give rights and laws.

It is a hopeful sign of the times however that women like this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner – Narges Mohammadi White Torture, Oneworld Publications 2023 – raise their voices while imprisoned and refugees like Jasmin Taylor Im Namen Gottes (In the Name of Godthe Repression of Women in Iran) clearly show how Iranian laws legitimise the hatred of women and the daily atrocities to the extent that the male population see it as normal and justified.

These women demonstrate more clearly than ever before how the courage to pursue individual development and the search for identity are mutually dependent and bring true cultural progress. The paths their destinies take however can make us aware of how unbelievably privileged we are in Europe and how essential it is to have system of education that places human beings and their individual development needs at the centre.

Fortunately, there are increasing numbers of individual voices and initiatives calling for a new and universal sense for humanity to counterbalance the growth in nationalism and popularism. This is the goal to which ELIANT and its partners are also dedicated. We are grateful to be able to engage this love for humanity and the earth in a practical way – especially in the fields of education and social therapy, medicine and agriculture.

With best wishes for Christmas and the transition into the New Year from the ELIANT team

Michaela Glöckler

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