Klaus-Jürgen Grün
Tuesday March 24th, 2015

The Moral Bookkeeper Living Inside Us All.


He is not my favourite concept of self.

How we all would like to see ourselves.
Self-confident, humorous, tolerant, spontaneous.

No: he is industrious, stubborn, accurate.

Just what we all want bookkeepers to be like.

Our moral judgement takes the characteristics of the bookkeeper. It compares words and behaviour of others with our values and then assigns consequences. In doing so, we weigh things against each other like in a debit and credit account that have nothing to do with each other. In the book “Christie Malrys Double Bookkeeping”, the author asks how we deal with all the small instances of meanness we are subjected to by others on a daily basis.

This is a question that concerns all of us. He comes up with the idea of starting a life bookkeeping in the form of double accounting. The protagonist, Christie Malrys, writes down everything he experiences under “debit” and “credit”. The slights are debits and must be made up for by corresponding credits, meaning experiences that were nice (for him). For instance, Malrys comes up with the idea of paying back a neighbour who never gives him the time of day by making a scratch mark on his car. A house that he finds offensive gets a thick painted line on its façade.

You think this is over the top? Sure. Pure Fiction? No. Our double accounting wants justice and will not hesitate to apply small or embarrassing ideas. After all, our values, which have been underscored by our sense of justice, are not officially calculable or exchangeable like Euros or Dollars. They exist exclusively in our very personal exchange rate mode. The correct exchange rate lies in our eyes or perhaps in that of our reference group.

So what is the right, appropriate, just “credit” for an Islamist who sees his God exposed to ridicule? What is it for us when we see the Greek Minister of Finances show the finger at Günter Jauch’s show? Public “beheading” by TV? Higher interest and credit rates? Appealing to the public to not spend their next vacation in Greece? As it is, the slights, that is the “debits”, are at a majority in real life, and a balance sheet that is constantly in the red numbers will easily tempt us to become more and more ingenious when it comes to looking for a balance. From the perspective of the others, we get more and more spiteful and unjust. Those who spend all their time looking to balance “old accounts” will miss a lot of life looking for suitable measures.

Wherever the moral bookkeeping is especially conservative, it will not see the accounts balanced. Practicing its balancing justice, it will also demand harsher punishment. Soft or moderate punishment would debase some behaviour. Those who believe in this system think that evil deeds cannot be paid for dearly enough. Conversely, those who criticize conservative bookkeeping look upon those strategies as upvaluation of a misdeed to turn it into a rare commodity. Not everybody is supposed to be able to afford it.

There is a general disagreement about how a balancing between good and evil should be accomplished. But there is agreement that there should be some redress. Either by revenge or by mercy, but justice must be done. You have to pay back if you overbalanced on your account.

While in financial bookkeeping we have strategies for minimizing double accounting, we get an overflow when it comes to moral bookkeeping with double standards. A moralist will certainly deny ever being calculating. This would weaken his moral position. He will not even admit that human behaviour and moral values can be measured at all.

And instead of laying open the criteria for his measuring and retribution, he simply will deny having any such strategy. Behind the moral judgement is a mental concept which transports a calculation of weighing good against evil. Yet at the same time it camouflages this background concept. Moral bookkeeping will camouflage that it is bookkeeping at all.

What humans say instead was stated by George Lakoff in his disarming book “Auf leisen Sohlen ins Gehirn“ (voyage into the brain on soft shoes) like this: “I am totally aware of what I think. It is exclusively my own decision what I think and which conclusions I draw. All persons can think in the same way. And in thinking, I understand objective truths as they are found in the world. All things have a basic meaning and can thus be mentally followed as they exist. This is why I, like all other persons, can think and speak objectively.”

Well, I wish that were how it is.

(Translated by EG)

Klaus-Jürgen Grün
Saturday February 16th, 2013

It Feels Like Being Struck by Lightning!

A pope gave notice, lightning struck, and a Meteorite (Meteorit) explodes in Central Russia – this cannot be a coincidence! It is high time that zoo directors, along with leaders of states and their advisors all over the place remember their central competence: the carefree happiness of the animals entrusted to them.

It borders on the irresponsible if we leave humans in particular totally in the lurch when it comes to finding causal connections. What we need is a definite, official declaration. Why don’t we have a state religion that explains how the unpredictable coincidences and accidents of the universe are a prudent and planned destiny of the all-encompassing logic?

Instead, every individual person is left alone with his or her small and error-prone understanding.

The average citizen is overstrained, which makes him unhappy. How is he – probably equipped with only a G8 graduation diploma – supposed to come to terms with the number 13, which incidentally is made up of the last two digits of the year 2013? Hardly anyone takes the pain to actually take a closer look at the digit 2. Because it, too, like the 13, is a prime number.

The Zero between the two prime numbers probably indicates the nullity the world – exposed between two primes one of which even is the 13 – will have to accept as its future destiny.

Consequently, we can under no circumstances ignore the cosmic events that happened during the last few days. They are just harbingers of the approaching apocalypse. Some among us have foreseen this for a long time already.

The least we can expect from our government is that it protects us against all harm. But that is exactly what it fails to do. The meteorite could just as easily have hit the nuclear power plants of Biblis or Schweinfurt. A few thousand kilometres between Russia and Mid-Germany are less than a stone’s throw if you think in cosmic dimensions. Nobody is prepared to deal with this kind of scenario. Our governments failed.

Now it almost happened and the media distract from the problem. People like the astronaut and physics professor Ulrich Walter of Munich are cited, saying shamelessly: “It was pure coincidence”. But every human being not narrow-mindedly thinking in terms of physics or other precise sciences knows that this cannot be a coincidence.

It is providence, that is what it is. And there is a moral quality to it, because it is the punishment of justice that will never permit for humans to just live in the here and now and perform the routines of their daily work. Because everyone only thinks of him- or herself, living just in his or her small world. Obviously, there had to come a time of reckoning for this.

So where are the zoo directors telling us in the face of these cosmic powers that it feels basically small-time slutty if there are still people on strike because they want more income at Hamburg airport; if some people are still worried about saving both Greece and the Euro – and, yes, how irresponsible politicians behave if they now start thinking about winning or losing in the coming Federal Elections?

In the hour of misery, the truth will come out: politicians, too, only think of their own well-being. Consequently, every one of us will have to deal with the unpredictability of cosmic events and accept what little consolation the zookeepers will hand out.

(Translated by EG)

Klaus-Jürgen Grün
Wednesday June 15th, 2011

Meeting Churches …

During the last few days, there has been quite some lament about the 33rd Evangelical Church Congress having produced plenty of words, yet there not being much of a chance that many actions follow.

What makes this opinion interesting?

Politics is not made with paternosters, presumed Machiavelli almost half a millenium ago. Today, we know that he was wrong. Church congresses do make politics, but not in a responsible way. Instead, they do it by building up moral pressure. Because if you get active, mostly even just if you refrain from getting active, just because you are afraid to violate taboos, you are acting all but in a responsible way.

Let us just take a closer look at the details how a pious visitor of a church congress – no matter if catholic or evangelical – understands them. We will find the criteria rather alarming. First and foremost, the behaviour of a church congress friend cannot be considered behaviour in the proper sense of the word. It is more like being operated. Because the pious Christian visits the church congress in order to make sure that he is executing his God’s wish. In the Christian sense, only behaviour he can reconcile with the conscience of his God is good behaviour.

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Klaus-Jürgen Grün
Thursday March 18th, 2010

Catholic Ministration and Priestly Celibacy

The people expect the Pope to make a statement. He is supposed to use a public occasion and the strongest terms for declaring how abominable he finds the fact that Catholic priests have been using novices as lust objects for millennia. The general expectation shows how poorly the people understand the mechanisms and mode of operation for moral verdicts in general and the Catholic sexual teachings in particular.

Because if the Pope allows himself to be impressed at all by the moralizing pressure of the current times, he will only succumb to a certain degree: his assurances will have exactly the level of commitment that halfway pacifies the spirit of the time outwardly while leaving the option for him to internally get out of the tight spot in the eyes of public judgement at any time.

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Klaus-Jürgen Grün
Friday February 19th, 2010

Emergency Announcements

Late in the morning of February, 18th, 2010, all news services in Germany interrupted their programs to send an “emergency announcement”: “Homicidal maniac kills teacher at a school in Ludgwigshafen”. Why is this an emergency announcement?

What makes this news important? What is it the media want to achieve by reporting it?

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Klaus-Jürgen Grün
Monday November 2nd, 2009

Our Daily Fear Give Us Today!

Vortrag1aSince the serum against swine infection is available, the producers of same have made a strange discovery: people have lost the desire to fear the virus. It goes without saying that this makes the parties concerned a little nervous. They fear they might end up not selling any of the serum, because the Germans refuse to take the vaccination. The political institutions, too, see themselves challenged. After all, it was they who were supposed to boost the production by creating the fear that perhaps the serum might not be available in large enough quantities.

Now we get the opportunity to study the patterns of how fear is created. Almost all of us know the swine infection exclusively from the media. If there had not been reports by the media about it, swine infection would never have become an anxiety factor.

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Klaus-Jürgen Grün
Wednesday October 28th, 2009

What Remains of a Day

What remains of a day is a little bit of memory. It might be some of what was said in the presentation. Mostly, it is something quite unimposing. We wake up noticing that we dreamed about it. So it keeps mushrooming as we think about it during the day, creating some kind of chemical substance in our brains that interacts with our suppressed wishes and fears. After all, every individual human being carries around enough of them as unfinished demands.

This is how ghosts come into existence. We all have a tendency towards being dominated by ghosts. They are hallucinations particularly useful for telling stories about. But as soon as you have told stories about something, it exists in space and time. It starts looking like a historical fact.

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Klaus-Jürgen Grün
Sunday September 27th, 2009

“Beauty Is Still Permitted” or “Equality Legislation”

Mona_Lisa“Regardless of her having an excellent lawyer, she would have lost at court if she had not opened the front of her dress and captivated the jurors with her glamorous beauty” says the inventor of the philosophical essay, Michel de Montaigne. We are talking about the classy Greek prostitute Phryne. The establishment wanted to get her prosecuted for godlessness. She had claimed that her beauty was no less than that of Aphrodite herself.

Modern judges, too, sometimes let themselves be influenced by the beauty of the accused. After what I just told you, the many ugly people who do not possess the beauty of Aphrodite or Phryne can no longer hope for a mild verdict. Being plain is discriminating.

In Germany, we introduced the “Common Law of Equality” (AGG) three years ago. It forbids you to discriminate for racial or ethnic reasons, for reasons of sex, religion or ideology, because of a handicap or sexual persuasion. Beauty is not part of the list.

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Klaus-Jürgen Grün
Wednesday September 16th, 2009


For several months, I have now enjoyed travelling through Germany and presenting my book “Anxiety – About the Usefulness of a Feared Emotion” to the public. My experience during these travels not only confirms what I postulate in the book, but should definitely be written down both on paper and on the comment pages of an internet blog.

FriedhofIAfter one of my presentations on “Fear of the Dead” as we humans cultivate it, a young lady sought me out and told me she had found my words very inspiring. Consequently, she had the desire to tell me that she, personally, was not afraid of the dead. In fact, she even made a habit of walking through cemeteries at night all by herself.

I warmly recommended that she read my book, because in the process she would find out a lot about herself.

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Klaus-Jürgen Grün
Wednesday August 5th, 2009

Kopf oder Bauch

Vortrag1a People working in the business sector usually claim that their decisions are based on rationality. Almost everybody makes business decision every day. Although it has been emphasized by numerous economists of the 20th century – if not earlier – that a decision culture based exclusively on rationality has a limited potential, it is still considered “polite” to give rational reasons for your decisions.

The latest crises in global financial business seem to prove the economical theories developed since the 20th century. To be sure, complex systems can be described rationally, but when far-reaching decisions have to be made, rationality is apparently only of minor importance. The course of the current crisis in particular shows almost in a “student model” way how decision processes work. The real cause has less to do with reasons consciously given and much more with emotions like fear, striving for power, and avoiding shame.

If we assume that it was based on rationality, the question must be asked if it could not all have been prevented before it happened, or else: why is it apparently so difficult to get the crisis under control now?

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