What are deeper human values

The challenge of common human values

One of the basic ideas of New Thought is the priority of general human values. Even when it was first uttered, and still today, it is repeatedly called into question. Those who reject them point out that other value systems such as those of classes, nations or religions already exist. However, one does not exclude the other. All of these values ​​have their right to exist. Yet common human values ​​deserve priority. That is the objective result of a long and complicated development. The history of mankind is, to a significant extent, a history of its values, from which proceed moral orientations that ultimately determine the behavior of different communities of people. At every great historical turning point, these values ​​changed, experienced an enrichment or impoverishment. However, their basis has always remained the same. She made people into people. These basic values ​​have found their embodiment in the world religions. They have inspired lonely humanists and huge crowds, fed various ideologies and sparked strong mass movements. The motives of these ideologies and the positions represented in these mass movements are extremely diverse. The results they have achieved are just as varied. Many failed and disappeared from the stage of history without making much difference. But the core values ​​they advocated survived. They have retained their importance and will continue to do so in the future. Because without them the human being becomes morally an animal. "The rejection or destruction of these values ​​(religious, spiritual, moral, cultural, civic or political)," wrote the great Florentine humanist Giorgio La Pira, "... inevitably leads to injustice, persecution and oppression."

Philosophers and representatives of many religions speak of a crisis of values ​​today. The works of great writers are dedicated to this crisis. Not infrequently, the politicians also remind of this. But nothing changes in the situation.

Immortal moral principles of mankind, which are indispensable for human life, are often forgotten or hypocritically misused to cover up actions that directly run counter to them. Many of the so-called new values ​​are more suited to justifying and justifying egoism, vanity and arrogance, the power of money and unbridled consumerism, than as reasonable principles that are in harmony with human nature.

The dilemma already formulated by the sages of antiquity - "to be or have" - ​​appears in a new, almost threatening way in our day. Because human life is more and more subordinated to the urge to own. Consumerism and commodity fetishism, these negative consequences of the market economy, push the striving for an enrichment of the spirit and the development of culture, for the perfection of human thought and consciousness, far into the background. Freedom of possession is considered to be the highest achievement in history, as it were its final point. But that is nothing other than the renunciation of striving for a better, more humane, truly human future.

If human society goes into the future with the distorted, false values ​​of today, then we can confidently write them off. Because that would mean the final exit of man as Homo sapiens, as the highest work of creation. The return to the spiritual and moral values ​​inherited from centuries, to a humanistic, truly optimistic worldview is one of the most crucial tasks of our time. It faces all of humanity. It is global. Because without this wealth of values ​​that people have accumulated over thousands of years, they will not be able to cope with the dangers that threaten them and not be able to solve the problems that stand before them as a tremendous challenge. Especially in our time, people and the whole human race have, due to the globalization of their existence, the increasing unity and interdependence of the world in all their parts, common, global interests, above all the interest in their own survival. Under these circumstances, the eternal values ​​acquire a special, life-determining meaning. At the same time, they have become even more comprehensive.

Since humanity today is in a real position to self-destruct because it causes either an atomic inferno or an environmental disaster, the value of life has become a planetary, indeed, in a certain sense, tragic magnitude. For the first time in history, the problem arises of preserving not just the life of an individual or a nation, but that of all humanity.

Today the value of nature is an important measure and criterion for the protection and salvation of the human community. The task of preventing an environmental catastrophe undoubtedly also faces all of humanity. Otherwise it can no longer be understood.

All of this means that the values ​​of morality must also be materialized in world politics. This requires creating a system of collective control of global processes, of which we have already spoken, developing effective cooperation between states and peoples on an equal footing, and subordinating national interests and national action collectively to global, global interests and action. In other words, from the point of view of values, too, there is a need for a new policy capable of leading humanity out of the impasse in which it is today.

Unfortunately, up to our day, generally human values ​​often - too often! - eke out a shadowy existence, and politics goes its own way, which are very far from these values. The same politicians who affirm their loyalty to general human values, who swear by the principles of humanism or the moral precepts of religion, very quickly forget them when it comes to practical action. Then their "principles" are brutal, selfish calculation, intolerance, arbitrariness and violence against people, even against their own compatriots. To this day, this is all too often simply accepted. However, it is not so rare that the immorality of the politicians, their ignorance of general human values, ultimately hits them like a boomerang and sweeps them off the stage of history along with their ambitions.

In 1995 the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of the smashing of fascism. His story is undoubtedly one of the most striking and convincing examples of the shameful and total failure of a policy based on the suppression of general human values ​​and absolute contempt for all principles of morality.

We also know such examples from Soviet history. This is especially true of Stalinism and its consequences. Even later in the post-Stalinist era, the invasion of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, other actions of this kind that contradicted the values ​​and principles of human coexistence, left deep wounds in our own country.

Today, as new conditions have arisen for condemning politicians for disregarding universal human values, references to history are no longer sufficient.

Today we have to think of something else: What demands does the time make of us today, since the fate of no individual person no longer exists for himself, since the fates of all the inhabitants of the earth are closely interwoven?

In this situation, can anyone still overlook the fact that observance of general human values ​​is an indisputable imperative of our time and that it can lead to catastrophic consequences if these values ​​are ignored or ignored any longer? Only if one leans on these values ​​can one find a solution today for the enormous global problems, which further intensification would be a real time bomb for the future of mankind.

We note with satisfaction that the representatives of the most varied ideological currents and creeds, scientists from the most varied of schools, have come to this conclusion. But politics is still lagging behind. Isn't this the deeper cause of many problems of our day?

It should be emphasized that some values ​​are given particular weight in international politics. Above all, this includes the value tolerance. Given the growing diversity of the world, its viability, and that of its individual components, depends to a large extent on how the existing differences are tolerated. The UN declared 1995 the year of tolerance. Its charter states that tolerance is essential to prevent wars and maintain peace. That is undoubtedly correct. But one can also put it more pointedly: Tolerance has become a decisive human value.

Overall, the 20th century has been a century of intolerance. Intolerance - fueled by nationalism and racism, by the insatiable greed for profit, for territories, for raw material sources and sales markets - has determined the climate in interpersonal relationships as well as in social conditions and in international politics.

In our day, intolerance is fueling numerous bloody conflicts - from the republics of the former Yugoslavia and Somalia to Rwanda and Sri Lanka to Afghanistan and Chechnya. This is one of the phenomena of past history and of today's everyday life, which has spared not a single area of ​​human relationships, not a single region of our planet. To enforce tolerance in relations between people, between their communities, between peoples and states, as the UN demands, is a guarantee that the value of man and the freedom of every people, every nation and every minority will be recognized and beyond decide their own fate.

Tolerance in the broadest sense requires respecting the views of the other, refraining from any attempt to force one's views and beliefs on another. That means dialogue, prevention of conflicts and resolution of contradictions.

In international politics in the narrower sense, tolerance means looking for mutually acceptable solutions based on a balance of interests. This is painstaking detail work, it is negotiations that do not amount to a zero-sum game, but to compromises with which one can overcome even the most difficult problems.

Tolerance does not, as some say, mean forgiving everything and ignoring contradictions. It means understanding the differences as ideological, political and moral riches. And of course it is the way to mutual understanding and respect.

Understanding is another common human value. Understanding was and is talked about in a large number of international documents. But this term is often used thoughtlessly, and nothing happens afterwards. Today it is important to give this term back its original meaning.

All of the great positive changes of the past few years have been possible primarily because states that until recently were enemies found mutual understanding. That is, they understood and took note of each other's interests and found a balance. Understanding does not and cannot mean that the differences, especially the differences in interests, are ignored. In other words, it does not exclude the possibility that the sides may pursue different intentions in the joint and coordinated solution of problems. But it demands that agreements be made in good faith on specific issues, which of course are conscientiously fulfilled. If obligations are not accepted and fulfilled with an honest heart, understanding is impossible. But in order to achieve understanding, one must above all know each other well, understand the worries and the possibilities of the partner. And not just among political leaders or politicians. Real understanding is achieved above all when the peoples trust each other. To this end, it is of fundamental importance that states, peoples and ordinary citizens deal with one another in an impartial manner.

The experience of the last few years has convincingly proven this. When broad contacts between citizens of the USSR and the USA were initiated at the time, the relationship between the two peoples changed and they understood how much they were dependent on each other and how determined they were to work together. That became an important factor in politics.

To promote the interaction of peoples with one another, to dismantle the barriers that stand in its way, is a common task of all who really want peace and peaceful cooperation. A very important aspect of this problem is the enormous responsibility of the media. Unfortunately, it cannot be said that they always play a positive role. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television programs chase the cheap sensation. Often there is simply disinformation, usually in the form of one-sided, biased reporting. In this way they educate, whether someone wants it or not, to be foreign and even hostile between peoples.

The relationship between the West and Russia is a good example of this. Recently the media in the West, but unfortunately also in Russia's neighboring countries in Central and Eastern Europe, have been trying to sow new distrust of the Russian people. Legends are spread about massive amounts of radioactive material being smuggled out of Russia. This is often not confirmed, but the seeds of doubt have been planted. Or one spreads the assumption that the natural striving of some former republics of the Soviet Union for active cooperation with Russia is again a manifestation of Russian imperialism ...

Obviously there are forces who still regret that the enemy image of Russia, which dominated the past, has faded or has completely evaporated. These forces would like to see distrust of the Russians re-emerged and people to fear a "danger from the East" again. Such things do not happen by themselves. Behind such lying propaganda there are always certain interests and political goals. We mention this to warn that misconceptions are always a prerequisite for suspicion or the destruction of existing trust; they undermine the understanding we need so much today and tomorrow.

Incidentally, the Russian media are not without sin in this regard either.

Tolerance, understanding and trust are inextricably linked with another fundamental human value: solidarity - solidarity between people, with the near and distant citizens of this planet earth; Solidarity with the poor and the needy, with the suffering and the homeless.

In recent years the world has seen several moving examples of humanist solidarity. Let us only remember the wave of compassion and direct support from our citizens after the Chernobyl disaster, the earthquake in Armenia or later on Sakhalin. The global community, social organizations and ordinary citizens showed true human solidarity with the war victims, e.g. in ex-Yugoslavia, with people affected by natural disasters. One can safely say that the idea of ​​solidarity is taking ever deeper roots in the world.

Despite everything, however, there is also a noticeable deficit in solidarity. This applies above all to the politics of the states. Here, instead of solidarity, one too often has to experience alienation and indifference to the suffering of people and whole peoples. This affects both the domestic policy of many countries and the international sphere. Calculating egoism and even the attempt to take advantage of the suffering of others are the order of the day. All of this applies above all to the relationship between the developed part of the world and the developing countries. That has already been mentioned. Yes, we repeat here too, certain steps are taken. But too often one gets the impression that many of these steps serve primarily to calm one's conscience. The lack of real and effective solidarity with the "Third World", because its needs are ignored and close cooperation with it is refused, creates the breeding ground for dictatorial regimes with their unpredictable behavior in interstate relations, for numerous internal conflicts that affect millions To make sacrifices.

The 21st century, yes, the whole of the next millennium will become an epoch of worldwide tragedies if human solidarity does not prevail against the disregard, even contempt of the individual human being and the fate of billions, which is so widespread today.

Voltaire once said that the history of all eras before his time was a history of fanaticism. It can be said that the history of the two centuries that followed was a history of ideologies, or, more precisely, of ideologized politics.The usefulness of the knowledge, skills and intellectual potential accumulated over centuries has been increasingly minimized over time. Great insights from scientists, thinkers and naturalists were denied recognition. That happened to Malthus at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century or Einstein in the 20th century. Instead, people's ability to destroy themselves grew.

Fanaticism and ideologies have not disappeared in our time either. But they have lost important positions. The ideologies, however, change their appearance and adapt to the new circumstances. Now - not because of a whim of the mighty, but as a result of objective processes - we are entering a world of other dimensions in which general human values ​​acquire life-determining significance. Preserving these values, inherited from millennia of human history, and translating them into practical action is not easy. Above all, this requires a high level of understanding of the problems of the present and no less high moral qualities. One and the other cannot be had without targeted effort.

These efforts must be aimed at creating the cultural prerequisites for solving the tasks that have arisen. That means promoting education and upbringing, decisively strengthening the role of spiritual factors in people's lives. This places an enormous responsibility on the intellectual forces of humanity. What is required is science, which must be able to provide original solutions, taking into account all contradicting development factors. What is required is a culture that uses its means to bring politics and morals closer together. The religions are challenged, in whose history the general human values ​​always held a high place.

For the future it will be of prime importance that science is given greater weight. The focus is on the humanistic use of their knowledge. Society must exercise reasonable control over scientific and technological developments which can have dangerous consequences for humans and humanity. Scientific knowledge must fertilize politics to a far greater extent. The perfection of education gains no less, but perhaps even greater importance. It is not just a matter of giving the vast majority of people access to education and knowledge. It is also a solid foundation for raising the moral level of education. Education must lay the foundation for people to recognize their common problems; it must prepare the young world community.

The same task - to bring people closer together - has to be solved by culture. The unity of the world community will be unattainable if there is no rapprochement between cultures on the basis of common values. It is about a rapprochement and mutual penetration of cultures, not that national cultures suppress others, that the independence of the numerous cultural communities is destroyed. This does not mean the worldwide spread of the so-called mass culture, which does not enrich the spiritual world of man, but devastates and withers it. After all, it is unthinkable that the various denominations can contribute to the common cause of helping general human values ​​to break through all over the world without overcoming the enmity between the religions and the confrontation between the creeds. Each denomination has its own value. Ecumenical action, the interaction of the various religions and their currents on a common humanistic basis is an essential prerequisite for mankind to overcome its current difficulties and blockages.

Ultimately, the rational person must see himself as a global person, as an individual who takes responsibility not only for himself and for the fate of his community, but for the globe, for all of humanity. Today the world public pays great attention to the problems of human, national and minority rights. That is justified. The other side of the coin is just as essential - the responsibility of every individual as well as of every national and state community to themselves, to other people, other communities and above all to all of humanity. Much less fuss is made about this responsibility than about rights. Life has given us the task of striving for a harmonious development of the "earth" system, to which man and the rest of nature belong. However, this presupposes at the same time unity and mutual penetration of rights and duties - duties towards oneself, towards one's neighbor, towards present and future generations, towards the whole earthly world, which is so vast and at the same time so small.

Mankind must develop global thinking - this demand is undeniably on the agenda today. It has common foundations with individual thinking and arises as a natural result of its development and perfection. Basically, the whole history of thought is a story of expanding its limits, its horizons. Now the time has come for this horizon to encompass the entire globe.

We can already observe today how people are gradually adopting a more comprehensive, global view of the world.

The individual, who receives a wealth of information from various sources, above all via the press, radio and television, even from the most remote corners of our earth, is drawn into the vortex of world events, whether they like it or not. So the understanding grows in modern people that they have to work together with other people because their life is already taking place in a very real world within world boundaries. Common features emerge more and more clearly in the diversity of human existence. The tendency towards rapprochement and mutual penetration of peoples and cultures can no longer be overlooked. Obstacles and boundaries fall, the common human nature of the individuals who come from different branches of the common tree of earth civilization is revealed more and more.

The human being shapes his individuality, his ego more and more, but at the same time grows into a universal personality, a being that feels his connection with everyone who lives on earth strongly and deeply. That is the process in which planetary, global thinking arises. This in turn strengthens the foundation of the New Thought, which is the social and spiritual basis for searching the way to a new human civilization.

These civilizational processes create the urgent need to develop general human values ​​and to apply them in practice.

In this field too, politics is in the aftermath. The demands on them are growing. Ultimately, they too are determined by the nature of general human values. So far politics has not yet cleared the hurdle that is determined by the principles of morality, by the objective circumstances of the new age. If politicians want to save the life of future generations, they will have to learn to overcome this hurdle.


Version: 01/14/2017
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Joachim Gruber