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Time and again, people succumb to the illusion that they have to take to the streets and break windows when they are wronged. Politicians of all shades are already fantasising about coming popular uprisings and civil war. This rebellion against violence “from above” is understandable because people find it hard to bear and also want to fight it off with violence. However, a hundred and more years of history have shown that he who is so stupid as to believe that he can raise against the state will gamble away. The state is well equipped.
A pacifist world can only come about through a profound change in social and economic conditions. But to achieve this, humanity must choose a path other than that of violence. Already at the beginning of the Second World War, Albert Camus wrote in his diary: “Do not drive anyone to riot. One must be gentle with the blood and freedom of others.” He recommends educating one’s fellow human beings comprehensively and learning self-control as the first commandment (1).
Tolerance, however, is not synonymous with yielding. It is a virtue that makes peace possible. In addition, there is enlightenment and education, a formidable task that requires much time and patience: People must learn about themselves, their nature, their ways of reacting and those of others, and thus become “drive belts” of change in the world (2). Young people need humane and courageous role models to be able to steer the world on a different course for once.
Without coercion and violence – in absolute voluntariness
Only by people getting together and thinking about how they can solve the upcoming social and economic problems together will humanity progress and the world recover. On a voluntary basis, they like to associate. Even the child cooperates if it is not forced. Coercion and force stifle the natural need to cooperate. The concept of freedom must then be followed by that of non-violence.
Why shouldn’t adults be able to deal with the problem of a virus without coercive measures such as gene-altering vaccinations or freedom-stealing isolation? They can also help think through how interstate problems can be solved without a devastating war. Under no circumstances should the solution of humanity’s problems be delegated to politicians! (3)
A political example of inappropriate coercion was the Russian Revolution. There, the Bolsheviks used the tsarist principle of violence, oppression and coercion instead of choosing the humanist path and addressing the people and letting them go free. Perhaps the Second World War could have been prevented in this way.
Tolerance is not synonymous with giving in
Albert Camus attributed this significant statement to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his 1939 diary entries (4). However, from 25 October to 16 November 1995, the 28th General Conference of the member states of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) adopted a “Declaration of Principles of Tolerance”, extracts of which can be quoted below. In the preamble, the UNESCO states write:
“Determined to take all positive steps necessary to spread the idea of tolerance in our societies – for tolerance is not only a highly valued principle, but a necessary condition for peace and for the economic and social development of all peoples – we declare”:
– “Tolerance means respect, acceptance and recognition of the cultures of our world.”
– “Tolerance is a virtue that makes peace possible and contributes to overcoming the cult of war through a culture of peace.”
– “Tolerance is not synonymous with yielding, condescension and indulgence.”
– “In accordance with respect for human rights, practised tolerance does not mean tolerating social injustice or abandoning or weakening one’s convictions.”
– “Tolerance at the level of state action requires justice and impartiality in legislation, in the application of laws, and in the judiciary and administration.”
– “In today’s world, tolerance is more important than ever before.”
– “Tolerance is necessary between individuals as well as in families and communities.”
– “Education is the most effective means against intolerance.”
– “Education for tolerance is one of the most urgent educational goals.”
– “We commit ourselves to the promotion of tolerance and non-violence through programmes and institutions in the fields of education, science, culture and communication.” (5)
Camus: “Drive no one to riot!”
At the beginning of the Second World War, Camus writes in a letter to a desperate man:
“You have a task, do not doubt it. Every man possesses a sphere of influence, more or less. He owes it as much to his defects as to his merits. But be that as it may, it is there and it can be used immediately. Do not drive anyone to riot. You have to be sparing with the blood and freedom of others. But you can convince ten, twenty, thirty people that this war was neither inevitable nor is it, that all means have not yet been tried to stop it, that it must be said, written if possible, shouted out if necessary! These ten or thirty people will spread the word to ten others, who will in turn spread it. If inertia holds you back, well, start all over again with others.” (6)
Youth need humane and courageous role models
In order to be able to steer the world in a different direction, young people need humane and courageous role models. These can be parents and grandparents on the one hand, and teachers on the other. But first people have to recognise themselves. They have to become aware of their nature and their psychological reaction patterns – and in a next step also recognise other people (7).
As a rule, people cannot simply acquire this knowledge through simple learning processes. To change their emotional attitude, they should enter into a therapeutic relationship with a psychotherapist who is a real “judge of character”. Through a relationship of trust, the individual experiences acceptance and compassion. This enables him to work through offending experiences. Through this, the individual gains an understanding view of himself and his fellow human beings.
A strengthened and self-aware adult (whether mother, father or teacher) is then a suitable role model for the youth looking up to him. Equipped with common sense, he musters the courage to use his own mind, thinks for everyone else because he is not afraid of his fellow human beings but communicates and cooperates with them. He also does not obediently submit to any alleged authority, but remains true to himself and his ethics. He openly professes non-violence, peace, voluntarism and the spirit of responsibility in family and society and sees public spirit as a desirable goal for all people.
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Dr. Rudolf Lothar Hänsel is a teacher (retired headmaster), doctor of education (Dr. paed.) and graduate psychologist (Dipl.-Psych. with focus on clinical, educational, media and individual psychology). He taught for many decades, trained university graduates at BAYER AG in Leverkusen, and founded and ran a model school for former school failures in Cologne together with colleagues. At the Bavarian Academy for Teacher Training and Personnel Management, he was the institute director responsible for training guidance counsellors for all types of schools. At the end of his professional career, he was a state school counsellor for the state capital Munich. As a retiree, he worked for many years as a psychotherapist in his own practice. In his books and educational-psychological articles, he calls for a conscious ethical-moral values education and an education for public spirit and peace.
He is a regular contributor to Global Research.
(1) Marin, Lou (ed.). (2013). Albert Camus – Libertarian Writings (1948-1960). Hamburg, pp. 268 and 273
(4) Marin, Lou (ed.). (2013). Albert Camus – Libertarian Writings (1948-1960). Hamburg, p. 268
(6) Marin, Lou (ed.). (2013). Albert Camus – Libertarian Writings (1948-1960). Hamburg, p. 273