Into Life

Into Life

25 March 2020 | Sebastian Jüngel

Project Leader Joan Sleigh and coworkers Juan Bottero, Milena Kowarik and Nicole Asis of the Social Initiative Forum engage in upholding human dignity and supporting individual development in addressing the social challenges of our time.


Sebastian Jüngel When do social questions begin to become virulent?

Nicole Asis Whether it is poverty, high suicide rates, gender inequality, or extrajudicial killings, every country carries its social challenges. These local problems have global impacts - case in point, the fear and questions on borders emerging from the climate crisis, Coronavirus, and the refugee situation. These become virulent once we turn a blind eye, stay neutral to the point of inaction, and normalize them.

Juan Bottero
Today, the economical realm, that interconnects us globally, is causing huge destruction which is harder to notice in comparison with political violence. Building healthy social organisms in the process of individualization is not a given; we need to develop this social art, all of us.

Milena Kowarik
The issue is the lack of empathy. If it's in a country where the slums are next to the very rich villas or in places that close their borders to keep out refugees. There are social questions like the climate crisis that affects every country, whether rich or poor.

Joan Sleigh
Everything in life is interrelational, therefore impacting on everything else. We each carry the responsibility for our thoughts and intentions, actions and interactions. Outer poverty does not exclude inner abundance and love of life!

Collaboration as a key

Sebastian What role does the Goetheanum play in addressing the needs of out time?

Juan
We are a project of the Section for Social Sciences, but depending on the specific challenge we are addressing, we partner with other Sections of the Goetheanum: for the Social Initiative Forum in India with the local farmers, we worked together with the Section for Agriculture; for the seminar with the young volunteers we partnered with the Youth Section and the Anthroposophic Council for Inclusive Social Development; for the event on education in Egypt with the Education Section. We partner with several organizations outside the Goetheanum as well. We believe that collaborative work is the key to addressing the complexity of today's challenges.

Dealing locally with real situations

Sebastian How can the concept of underprivilege be brought to the attention of those who have an income that provides healthcare, clean water and a roof over their head?

Joan
By dealing locally with real situations and the social questions, we enable the sharing of ideals and ideas, meeting as equals, and sharing good practices. As examples, we went to SEKEM to discuss inclusive education for all learners. And now we are going to Nairobi to accompany work being done in the slums to empower local communities through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Nicole
We feature stories from initiatives and changemakers on our website and in our quarterly newsletters; these articles are read within and outside the anthroposophical community.

Sebastian What has brought you to the Social Initiative Forum?


Milena
Through my work with refugees, I see how important it is to connect with other people in the same field.

Juan
I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I remember how shocking it was for me going to school in the morning and watching children my age asking for money. Later, at the age of 18 I visited the Favela of Monte Azul and this had a major impact in my life: I experienced a loving and dignified human life in the most challenging place. I knew that my life was connected to that impulse since that moment.

Nicole
Growing up in the Philippines - where there is also a gap between the rich and the poor, and human rights violations are an everyday occurrence - I have lived with the question, “how can we uphold human dignity in such hostile and marginalized situations?” Then, at 21, the question turned into, “can the anthroposophical view of the human being address poverty and inequality? Or is it just a philosophical framework only for the elite and the educated?”

Joan
Witnessing ‘Apartheid’ in South Africa, I am particularly drawn to the question of how may the inequalities experienced in underprivileged societies be transformed through an understanding of the human being as a spiritual being, and thereby an agent in the process of change.

Sebastian There is a view that social problems can only be solved in the long term if the relevant structures are changed. Do you strive for a more fundamental change of social conditions?


Joan
We don’t see it as our task to change the given social structures, (local or international) but rather to enhance collaboratively in building conscious awareness of the impact of personal attitude and mindset in daily life and dealings.

Milena
We are striving for Anthroposophy in Action in dealing with the challenges.

Juan
Many people expect science and technology to come up with solutions, or they look for ways of building small communities away from all these global challenges. The Social Initiative Forum strives for a personal and social transformation out of the spiritual understanding of the human being and the threefold social organism we constantly co-create and actualize in every action we take.


Web socialinitiativeforum.org