Roland DürreThursday May 9th, 2013
Please forgive me for writing this article on Ascension Day – nowadays better known as “All Father’s Day”. I just experience, once again, how people have been traumatized because other persons (and their social systems) think they own the absolute “truth”. That hurts. Consequently, here I am again, trying to make a statement about virtues and vices. Even at the risk of talking beyond my own competence.
I doubt if such as thing as “the truth” even exists. We with the all the limits of our human existence only have certainties. They have nothing to do with the radical term “truth”.
Yet it is those certainties of ours we torture each other and ourselves only too often with. Consequently, I hope that the time for these truth claims will someday be a thing of the past. Just as I believe that words like guilt, morals or even revenge should become something we no longer need.
Unfortunately, it still happens that so-called truth is used for dogmatic purposes and then demanded of as many persons as possible, often using psychological force. And the subsequent moralizing makes us suffer and causes unhappiness and illness in many of us. That is bad!
The important virtues for a life lived with responsibility and social conscience are tolerance, ethical behaviour in the sense of humane decisions made according to shared and ethically responsible values, transparency and civil courage!
For instance, I believe humans basically wish to live autonomously and yet socially acceptable in communities. And that human happiness is nothing other than succeeding in making the opposing ends individuality and collectiveness meet in a healthy way. And the rest should be manageable autonomously with respect, ratio and common sense!
If we can do that, we will also re-discover our courage and joy in life.
(Translated by EG)
Roland DürreTuesday April 30th, 2013
On systems and their agents, epikie and civil courage
Now they are probably again going to postpone the trial in Munich. I am sure that this is quite awful for many persons, because it is all about a particularly unfortunate chapter of our national history. After the trial, said chapter will probably turn out to be even “more unfortunate”.
However, the NSU trial is also a good example for another negative development in our society. Our social systems get both a life of their own and de-personalized. The employees become more and more system agents and remote from reality. They ignore what our society actually needs and subordinate themselves to some super regulation, questionable rules and their own paranoia when having to make decisions.
For instance, from the outset, they decided to choose a trial chamber that is too small “for reasons of safety”. But what stage have we reached if we cannot even guarantee safety in our trial chambers? Can we really permit the rightist scene to restrict our freedom of decision to such an extent?
At this juncture, I just have to hint at our Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution: maybe they should focus more on the safety of our judicial institutions, rather than doing one disservice after another to our democracy by probably illegal and totally controversial activities of their dubious v-men.
And since we are all afraid the verdict might not hold in the appeal stage, the law is interpreted in such a way that it no longer has anything to do with what our society actually needs. Of course, it was totally out of the question that, for instance, the Turkish Press representatives were not admitted as observers of the trial. Just as it is out of the question that now a newspaper like the FAZ – with its many readers – is allegedly to be excluded from trial report status.
Processes and rules obviously were often given priority over common sense. Unfortunately, they interpreted the actual wording of the law in a most restrictive way, ignoring what had actually been the purpose of the law. Instead of looking for solutions that would make sense and have a chance of survival, they bowed like slaves before what was allegedly inevitable.
In our system, epikie (Epikie), an important even if hardly known virtue, is too often forgotten. In a nutshell, epikie means you should “hold up the laws of a nation in such a way as a sensible legislative body would have meant and wished for them to be held up”. If you want to practice epikie, you often need another primary virtue, namely civil courage (Zivilcourage), also known as moral courage. Those are the virtues we need, along with common sense. Both should be applied, based on socially accepted values.
And I am afraid there are sectors of our society where these virtues, as well as a healthy and value-based common sense, dwindle more and more. But that is not a problem, because there are still humans around who actually practice all these things and have an influence. Consequently, when all is said and done, I am quite optimistic.
My readers, however, are welcome to speculate which circles I am talking about …
(Translated by EG)
Roland DürreSaturday April 20th, 2013
Both in the “social” and “non-social” media, I perceive a “Hoeneß-Hype” today. To be sure, I can understand it. But still, it horrifies me. Now Uli Hoeneß is made the scapegoat – and that is not fair.
Let us safely assume that a huge majority of persons who have more money thabn your average citizen invested part of their money “illegally”, even though it was and is forbidden. But then, many, perhaps all persons do forbidden things all the time, don’t they? If you are an exception, please let me know. Because then you are a saint. If, however, you deny it, you are a liar and hypocrite.
Especially when it comes to money, things get complicated. People prostitute themselves for it – in the truest sense of the word. And they find buyers. Lots of them. It happens as a matter of course, even if it is forbidden.
How many people committed theft when they were young, even though it is forbidden? And it is all quite normal and human. Just as it is normal for women to abort, even though it is forbidden or judged amoral.
However, society, as well as every one of us, does not have a right to constantly shove the moral attitude up our noses. Because it is all so normal and human. Let those who are free of sin throw the first stone.
So rich people try to avoid the complicated tax legislation. And the borderline between legal and illegal will easily get blurred in subjective judgement. And it will constantly move, often imperceptibly and in small steps. All of a sudden, something that used to be a trivial offense is now a crime. For instance: under the rule of our honourable Prime Minister of Bavaria Franz-Josef, things that would today let your hair stand on end were quite normal.
And now, we suddenly have a new “tax moral”. It is probably not based on too honourable motives. And what used to be normal is shameful all of a sudden. Regardless of the fact that we always knew it – and regardless of the fact that people who used to do it were rather respected in a Bavarian “What-A-Guy” way.
Basically, this is exactly the bourgeois hypocrisy and lying still burdening our society (and it will probably continue to do so). I hope we will not get too many of those “new moralisms”.
Why can we not just correct what went wrong in a rational and sensible way, instead of judging the parties concerned, or even calling for revenge!? That would mean not belittling persons morally, but instead just repairing the damage done by evil. Take their money, instead of punishing them. And remember that there is no such thing as justice.
Some consistent public transparency for every action would prevent much of what happens today. We should promote and realize it if we wish to “improve” matters.
Back to the “Causa Hoeneß”. There is one more wish of mine. It would be nice if our society were to invest all that money we will now probably get from Uli for something meaningful. But I have my doubts.
(Translated by EG)
Roland DürreSaturday February 9th, 2013
Some friends of mine organise a conference or a workshop. I am part of the team. Here is a first outline of what the conference will be about. It was written by Marc Borner (mb). We have not yet decided on a title and date.
Since the content nicely supplements one of my recent articles (Work has not been created for humans – Nicht der Mensch ist für die Arbeit da …), I would like to publish the following text by Marc:
Since the 19th century, Homo Oeconomicus has been the dominating concept of our business life. It views the individual person as part of a total mechanism that is supposed to function and can be optimized and analysed mechanically. The individual person becomes an “homme machine”, represented by a number. The belief that those numbers can then be controlled in volatile work surroundings is based on exactly this short-sighted image of business players.
This approach totally ignores who actually initially did all the work. To be sure, every individual person is also part of a company, but besides being a mere means to an end, he is always also the reason why the company exists. If this idea is forgotten, the consequence will not only suffer massive economical loss, but also a progressive alienation felt by the individual participants in a business process, which will cause damage to the emotional capital.
More recent scientific work, especially in the fields of psychology and neuroscience, proves that the aforementioned assumptions are correct. They also show a way out, pointing towards non-reduced work conditions characterized by participation, trust and responsibility. In this manner, you can create a fear-free, transparent area where clarity prevails and individual persons work together at eye-level, instead of against each other.
Generating these kinds of work conditions that meet the needs of the individual persons a lot better will stimulate a homeostasis between enterprises, entrepreneurs, managers, employees and laborers. It will create a new concept of leadership and make an enterprise not only more successful, but also take it back to where it originated: as an institution serving the general well-being.
The workshop will explicitly deal with this topic and try to both enlighten us on the current scientific state of the art and build the bridge to practical applications.
I rather like this text. We were already successful in finding eminent speakers for the event. Now I am interested in finding out how you feel about the text and/or if, for example, you would be interested in the topic and probably attend this kind of workshop.
(Translated by EG)
Roland DürreSunday February 3rd, 2013
This is the last of the presentations by Rupert Lay I recorded for the Ronneburger Kreis with Bernd Sielaff between 1995 and 2004.
I can remember it quite well. On Sunday morning, I had to get up early and load the video equipment (camera, lighting, microphones, tripod…) into the red BMW. After all, we wanted to arrive in Ronneburg or Frankfurt at 9 a.m. in order to prepare everything for the recording. And late in the afternoon, we rolled back to Munich on the motorway.
Now, all recordings from this time are available on my youtube channel. It was well worth the effort.
It is well worth taking an occasional glimpse at and listening to – why not with interruptions or “leaks”?
(Translated by EG)
Roland DürreTuesday January 29th, 2013
This morning, I heard on the Bayern-2 news that more than half of the German employees suffer from stress caused by their job. If you ask me, I would modify the statement: “caused, among other things, by their job“. As to the information itself, I believe it. Our government wants to do something about it. I find that a little on the humorous side. It sounds like another one of those nice statements of intent where there is actually no real possibility of change.
The message reminds me of something I experienced a short time ago.
One of my friends is a very intelligent, well-educated, integer, friendly, responsible and sustainably successful manager. In fact, he is one of those persons I would like to recruit for InterFace AG on the spot.
He is a very loyal employee in a German concern and has personnel responsibility. A year ago, the concern gave him a new task, so he took responsibility for a new area. It was an area where much had gone wrong, yet this area was rather important for the economic success of the enterprise.
He started with all the enthusiasm in the world, motivated the team, invested a huge amount of personal energy and managed to improve the most important business indexes – and thus the cost-return situation – in a most impressive way within one year.
But the concern is in a phase of change. Considering this situation, the numbers you get to read are quite good. But they are not good enough for the directors. Because the financial plans are ambitious. And the stock exchange has high standards.
Consequently, after one year, my friend is now being asked to reduce the team by three. He has no idea how to maintain what has been achieved, let alone how to continue in the same way with three less. Management, however, says: “all you have to do is put enough pressure on everyone, then they will somehow manage“. Personally, I would like to emphasize “somehow”.
Now he has to identify three “underperformers“. The rest will be done by the personnel department (HR for human resource).
Naturally, this causes stress for all parties concerned. Mind you, there is no doubt that there are more prudent ways towards success. There is a high probability that the path the enterprise decided upon will be detrimental in the long run. You can easily come up with reasons for this (provided you can ever give reasons for anything that relates to the future). But more often than not, cost reduction through personnel reduction is considered to have “no alternatives”.
And I am happy that I am “my own entrepreneur“.
(Translated by EG)
This is a true story. I will not give you details, such as the concern, the task and other particulars. My friend would be made to suffer if this kind of information were to go public.
Roland DürreTuesday January 8th, 2013
Last week, after having seen the play “Endless Fun” at the Volkstheater near the Stiglmaierplatz, we rode home. We were truly impressed and moved. Some way or other, there was nothing left to say.
At Munich Central Station, we changed from the underground train to the S-Bahn train. The two pairs of seats on the opposite side of the aisle were occupied by a family. They looked like they had an immigration background and apparently were not very wealthy. A middle-aged couple with a son at the threshold to adulthood.
The mother sits at the window, diagonally opposite of me. The son next to me, separated only by the aisle. Father sits opposite of the son, also an aisle seat. On the vacant window seat opposite of mother, they deposited their gloves. They all emanate an abundance of happiness and harmony.
The three must have had a nice evening, at least that is what I think. The good mood is addictive, which is something you get rather rarely in an S-bahn train. It is just wonderful.
Barbara is sitting next to me. She is reading something. I happen to have my Kindle with me. Basically, I never read in the S-Bahn. Because there is so much to see and experience while you sit there. But then I decide to open my Kindle, after all. And I also start reading. It is a stupid, but still rather exciting detective story. The story is called Aurora and it is about murders in the wake of the Cold War.
Once in a while, I glance towards the people riding in the neighbouring group of seats, sharing their happiness. After the exciting play we saw, this feels nice. Then I continue reading.
In Neubiberg, the three of them exit. As they exit, I want to take another look. But it is too late: they already left.
And suddenly, I see their gloves still sitting there on the seat. At this precise moment, the S-Bahn train already departs – taking us to the next station, which is also our final destination: Ottobrunn. We are going to exit here. And suddenly, I get a bad conscience. Because I had busied myself reading. Otherwise, I would certainly have noticed that they forgot their gloves. And I would certainly have prevented their loss.
Now I am truly sorry about this. Because I have to assume that the loss of three pairs of gloves will certainly dampen the feeling of great happiness this small family enjoyed.
Which means an unhappy ending to a nice evening. And I could very easily have prevented it from happening – if only I had not read this stupid detective novel.
Later, my thoughts returned to this experience a few more times. That is why I write it down. Life is certainly strange.
(Translated by EG)
Roland DürreMonday January 7th, 2013
The German language is really beautiful. It might well be true that its sound is not as melodic as that of some Romanic languages. But the words really have huge power. With small prefixes, you can open up all kinds of various meanings and a huge treasure of nuances.
For instance, you have the judge, German: Richter. He has an office where he can judge (“richten”). Besides, you can also “scharfrichten” (have an executioner), you can prepare things (herrichten/hinrichten), you can teach (unterrichten), you can carry something out (verrichten), discharge of something (entrichten), adjust (zurichten), organize/relate a message (ausrichten).
You can also destroy (vernichten) – but that is clearly not in this category: mistake. Sorry. It has nothing to do with “richten”. Linguistically spoken, “richten“ (to judge) probably has something to do with justice. Or at least that is what it should be about.
But all those words with prefixes “xxx-richten” have a shared dark side to them. I do not like to be executed or prepared, neither do I wish to be subjected to final judgment. “Scharfrichten” sounds evil. In “unterrichten”, you find the word “unter” (under). You are “instructed“ in something or about something. Carrying out a service sounds rather hierarchical, the same is true if you have to discharge of something. And I do not enjoy being adjusted. And if someone does some “ausrichten” for me, then I can think of better expressions.
Apart from the judge, we have the mediator (Schlichter). And this is basically (schlicht) about mediating (schlichten). I do not know if “schlicht” has something to do with “schlichten”. But I find “schlicht” (moderate) great and the same is true for “schlichten” (mediation). Neither can I think of any variants of “schlichten”. There is no “entschlichten” or “verschlichten” or “ausschlichten”. Some way or other, I think this is a good idea, too. Simply “schlichten”!
Then I ask myself what kind of society I would prefer? A society of mediators or a society of judges. One where you judge or one where you mediate?
The answer is easy to give …
Now some of you might counter: “But isn’t that utopian, a society of moderators, instead of a society of judges!”
But that is not something that upsets me. Firstly, I believe that at least we in our cultural circle are well under way in this respect. Secondly, I believe utopian ideas exist in order to become reality one day. Remember, for instance, that in our society men and women are equal. Who would have believed anything like this could be possible at all 150 years ago?
Consequently, I dream of a violence-free society where we shape our future through co-working, co-operation, col-laboration, co-living , co-creation und com-munication at eye-level.
And until this is reality, I am happy if the judge protects me from the executioner.
(Translated by EG)
Roland DürreSaturday January 5th, 2013
“In the biological sense, a business cycle is sustainable if it does not produce any waste“. Consequently, we can say:
The aforementioned definition of sustainability was given by Klaus Töpfer during a conference in the early summer days of 2012. At the same conference, he said a few more things that seem important to me.
Change Produces Knowledge. Knowledge Produces Change.
Perhaps this is an explanation for the high acceleration that seems to take place in our time. The “age of information” makes knowledge available for everybody at ever higher speed. Consequently, we can change our world faster than ever before. In doing so, we again generate a lot of new knowledge. And so on, and so forth…
Now the question might arise: how can we escape from this vicious circle? We might wish to minimize the change and the acceleration happening in our individual and collective lives through more knowledge?
But is that really what we want? Maybe the acceleration is what we desire, like a drug that provides us with “never ending fun”?
I think it makes sense to spend a little time thinking about this.
(Translated by EG)