Roland DürreMonday January 9th, 2017
PEACE must not become a religion, because then we will quickly become un-peaceful.
That is also the reason why there must be no project PEACE.
As you all know, I was going to start a project PEACE. Well, more than ever, I am in favour of PEACE. But no longer as a project.
In the last few months, I have had many dialogues with wise and peaceful persons. Like me, they are convinced that peace is the most precious commodity for us humans. And I learned a lot from them and thought a lot about what I can do for PEACE.
Here is what the current state of affairs regarding my ideas is:
I no longer believe that peace can be brought about by organizations and projects.
A short time ago, a strong lady came to me and said:
“Roland, I am now retired, I have lots of time and I would like to support you in your project PEACE”.
I had to tell her that, according to my understanding of PEACE, there cannot be a successful PEACE project:
The only possible project is to live for PEACE yourself.
Very individually and initially only in private. So I asked her to start her own “project” and simply live for (and work towards) her own und all our PEACE. Consequently, I believe there have to be many small peace projects. Everyone first and foremost works on them for himself or herself and individually.
And that you have to deliberately refrain from coordination and mutual agreements. That would be dangerous and quickly cause manipulation and ideology. And it would probably do more harm than good.
So it is my idea that we all should not organize anything. Instead, we should open our sensors wide and be considerate and free – perhaps as a swarm with others who want PEACE. That sounds religious. I do not like religious patterns.
But perhaps PEACE can work if peaceful persons live their beliefs exclusively for themselves and if the convictions they have are based on their own ethically responsible judgement and on the values of humanity (such as the Golden Rule, the Biophilie principle, human dignity being unalienable …).
I think even “peace-loving” people must NOT actively try to convince others towards being PEACEFUL or act as missionaries. All humans have to come to their own conclusion about PEACE being the requirement for everything else. Otherwise it will not work.
And, above all, nobody should be willing and able to sacrifice themselves for what they believe and thus become martyrs! Because this is not how PEACE can work. Consequently, no organization and no project for PEACE can be a success and actually bring PEACE. In fact, perhaps even the symbol for PEACE I chose and inserted at the beginning of this article is questionable and might be criticized.
It is not easy for me to formulate my complex ideas. If I succeeded in making a little clearer what moves me, then that will make me happy.
And I will continue to strive towards my own PEACE..
(Translated by EG)
Perhaps this is a process – can we call it evolution?
Roland DürreMonday October 27th, 2014
Currently, I am thinking a lot about morals and ethics. One of the reasons is that I discovered how, for almost all persons, moral rules dominate almost all their decisions. This is especially true for all my wrong decisions.
Until recently, I believed that decisions are usually based on either rationality and common sense (brains, ratio) or intuition and heuristics (gut feeling). I thought this was also true for my own decisions.
And now I discover that I was profoundly wrong in many cases (and had to suffer consequences). Simply because I believed: “this is how I had to decide, because this is what you do”. Or in other words: I was incapable of resisting (too cowardly to resist?) the “this is how you do it” or the “this is not what you want to do”. Because my decisions (especially the bad ones) were influenced by morals and moralizing.
Besides morals and ethics, you will also find some ingredients in the “Hotpot“ of philosophy which are hard to digest, such as “religion” or the virtue “tolerance”.
“For us, religion is sacred!”
“You have to be tolerant!”
I, too, believe tolerance is a precious value. The ethical person will say:
You should always be tolerant!
Tolerance beats morals!
The only thing you should be intolerant about is intolerance!
Well, one might counter that intolerance against intolerance is again intolerance, isn’t it?
Let us take a look at tolerance in practice using the example of religion. Both our Federal Constitution and the Bavarian Constitution give the “Freedom of Religious Practices” very special protection. It is almost conspicuous. And the law drawn up in accordance with the constitutional regulation strictly prohibits the violation of “religious sentiments”.
Instead of just demanding tolerance and respect, it actually means you have to subjugate yourself before the religious sentiments of others if you really strictly want to abide by it.
For me, this requirement is too much. Who is to decide what is a religion and what is not? A mass takes upon itself an absolute obligation towards theories and rules they basically themselves invented. In doing so, they cite a special, higher, external non-explainable instance. And then they systematically hand this “belief” on from generation to generation – which eventually leads to the creation of such systems as churches with all their advantages, but also with very significant disadvantages.
But how to decide which kind of belief that has become a system is a religion? And who is fit to decide? If I carefully read the chapter about religion on the Bavarian Constitution, then I get the impression that the fathers of the constitution mostly meant the Christian religions. And among those only the “better” variant.
So is this absolute tolerance demand for “religious sentiments” really acceptable? Especially if people who are victims of their religion believe themselves to be in possession of the absolute truth and consequently demand things which in the worst but frequent case violate humanity?
Perhaps this is why the beautiful term tolerance has now deteriorated to become a “buzzword” – just like, unfortunately, did the words freedom, common welfare and sustainability.
A short time ago, I demanded tolerance in my commentary on a blog. I also called it a basic “primary virtue”. And the reactions told me that there are actually some moralists who already seriously demand a “tolerance police”.
(Translated by EG)
For the time being, this is my last post on morals and the like. After all, opposing morals and moralization is already some kind of morals and moralization.
😉 Starting tomorrow, I will again write about whatever comes to mind from everyday life.
Roland DürreFriday October 17th, 2014
There are many people in my limited world who I appreciate and like a lot. Some of them think the meaning of morals is “behave in such a way that you always follow the shared values and virtues as a good person”. Personally, I do not really see morals as something all that positive. Consequently, here is what I reply when I hear them talk:
So what exactly are morals and ethics? What exactly are values and virtues?
And then I come up with examples and ask them what is “morally” the correct thing to do:
- “Being in favour of order and peace” or “openly demonstrating for freedom by marching on the streets”?
- “Progress and change are a good thing and come at a price” or “Progress or change must never be an end upon itself”?
- “You have to go and vote!” or “You can refuse to vote if this is how you voice your protest”?
- “It is a human right to drive your car as a matter of course!” or “It is a basic human obligation to do without a car altogether, because too many resources have been destroyed already.”?
- “Let everybody feel free to fly as much as they desire!” or “Going by plane can only be the Ultima Ratio.”?
- “In sexuality, freedom need have no limits” or “You only should do it with one partner and your sexual practices should be limited”?
- “Women have the right to dress loosely” or “Women have to cover everything that is not supposed to be seen in public”?
- “Prostitution must be forbidden” or “Demanding fairness for those who prostitute themselves.”?
- “Women must have long hair, men must have short hair” or “Everybody may wear their hair as they wish to!”?
- “Removing body hair is hygienic and beautiful” or “Removing body hair is amoral(!)”?
- “Shorts are a normal thing to wear, even in business” or “Wearing a suit and tie is obligatory in business!”?
- “Strike is a NOGO when public interest is violated” or “Going on strike is a social obligation.”?
- “You have to have a fence around your property” or “You should not fence in your property.”?
- “Everybody must be willing to die for his fatherland” or “You have to become a deserter when war is threatening!”??
I could easily come up with many more examples.
But then: WHO can, should, must, may decide what is wrong and right?
Ethics try. They want to find a compromise between various positions by seeking a consensus that matches both the society and the times and try to legitimize said consensus. But ethics, too, always fail.
There are even “ethics commissions” which want to and are supposed to answer the difficult questions of life. Instead of consensus, however, all they ever come up with is compromises – which are just as flat as their attempts at justification. Yet those compromises are then heightened to become “new” morals.
Morals almost always will turn out to be (either consciously or subconsciously) “know-it-all” behaviour driven by interests.
“You” simply know what is right and wrong. “You” basically own the “truth” and can tell others what they should do. “You” can therefore assume you are better than your fellow citizens.
As I see it, “morals” will mainly generate enemies and frustration – and it will also cause defiance. All too often, the “moral rules” are nourished by questionable sources, such as religion and its equivalences. The collective constructs of systems that put themselves beyond and above human beings with their dogmata decide what is “morally correct” and what is not.
The consequences are hatred, arguments, conflicts, fear, intolerance – and war! Both on a small and a large scale.
Well, those are my arguments against the firm belief in morals by some people. Yet I can well understand those who are in favour of morals. Because if you no longer believe in morals, then this is like someone took away the carpet of life you have been walking on. After all, we all have been “morally educated” and have become more or less victims of our own moralism.
As soon as we leave the protective gear of morals, we must go and look for a meaning in our personal lives and behaviour. And it is not always easy to find a balance between what you found and what you perceive as social reality (and its morals).
I wrote this article for the community “Strategische Moral” in Google+.
Roland DürreTuesday October 14th, 2014
Not too long ago, there was a huge uproar. A leading decision that said circumcision is unlawful had been handed down. Consequently, circumcisions were now violations of the law. However, this could not be made official policy, because, after all, you had to consider “religious rites” and “religious freedom”. Thus, they quickly made a new circumcision law where circumcisions for religious reasons are again legal in Germany.
And now, nobody says anything. As I see it, too little is said. To be perfectly honest, I do not even know if the new law was actually passed or if now they are only permitted to do what it says in there because everybody thinks it has been passed. One of the reasons is that so many new laws have been introduced and that our “big coalition”, as well as the EU, passes law after law.
For me, however, what matters is not laws. What matters is humanity. Meaning: common sense, philosophy and psychology. They deal with taboos which, as we all know, play an important role in our lives as rules. For instance, sexual activities committed by a father with his own daughter are taboo. Nature did well in this respect. In this case, the taboo is very useful in order to avoid an undesirable sort of reproduction (inbreeding).
Cannibalism is another taboo. The very idea of eating human flesh will usually cause disgust, both individually and collectively. I presume this taboo is because probably none of us would appreciate being eaten.
If I remember correctly, then the new “circumcision bill” was passed at high speed. The reason was: “We all want religious freedom, don’t we?”. I am sure it was another one of those situations where no alternatives existed. The question comes to mind why we still need parliaments and politicians when there is no alternative for social decisions?
Thinking back to the discussion of the time, I can find lots of arguments against this law. It is not in accordance with a developed society and cannot be reconciled with a constitutional democracy. It means a huge regression in terms of enlightenment and humanity. Unfortunately, it seems that most people in our country do not really seem to care. After all, it does not directly concern them. Besides, the archaic rites of religious communities are not something most people are even slightly interested in.
Matters would probably be totally different if circumcision violated a true taboo, rather than just damaging life.
Consequently, I will now come up with an artificial situation. In order to illustrate both the absurdity of our social mentality and of religious circumcision, I will extend the religious circumcision ceremony a little in my mental concept.
Let us assume that there is a totally newly discovered African tribe where all children – both boys and girls – are circumcised. For boys, this means the “totally normal” ceremony as practiced in several religions and cultural circles. Let us take the harmless variant for the girls – in order to minimize brutality (where only the outer labium is removed). Basically, the procedure as such is quite cruel and unreasonable.
Now I will construct my mental concept further and assume that this African tribe takes all the flesh from these circumcisions as ingredients for a celebration soup – which later is consumed by the tribesmen as part of the festival. This is just some superstitiousness they believe in.
And all of a sudden we are disgusted. We would witness an outcry of indignation throughout the entire country. Mind you, this would not be because of the circumcision, because nobody is interested in it. Instead, it would be because of something that everybody considers absolutely “disgusting” and “abnormal”. Totally amoral…
And everybody would be in favour of telling this small African tribe in no uncertain terms that they just cannot do this kind of thing and have to stop it immediately. Even if it is a habit they have been practicing for millennia.
Well, I simply chose this example – which some readers might find tasteless – in order to point out the following:
It is not the cruelty of circumcision practiced on children and the life-long damage for the parties concerned that will activate persons. Disgust, however, would immediately make all the people protest.
And that is something that gives me pause.
And I find it even more appalling if eventually “circumcision” is called moral. Currently, we have almost reached that state of affairs.
The “circumcision law” I mentioned before could easily also have been formulated differently. As they used to do formerly with abortion laws. For instance by continuing to consider circumcision illegal, yet not punishing it in religious cases if certain requirements are met. That would have been a clear prohibition with exceptions when it comes to prosecution. At least, it would have guaranteed that the behaviour as such is considered illegal.
(Translated by EG)
Here are some more comments on the subject:
In Egypt, every other woman between 16 and 30 has been circumcised. What do the “keepers of freedom” in the West do about it?
As far as I know, the disposal of the results of circumcisions is not explicitly regulated in Germany. It is probably considered medical waste.
Eating human flesh is a taboo. Regardless, persons who ate the corpses of their comrades in an emergency situation (plane crash) in order to safe their own lives are sometimes described as heroes.
When I was staying in Peking, I ate duck. Duck brain is considered a big specialty and the prerogative of the oldest person sitting around the table. That was me. Thanks to the friendship of my hosts, it was tolerated that I did not eat the brains.
Roland DürreFriday July 4th, 2014
According to our Western mythology, Adam and Eve were the first humans. And they managed to spoil all our chances for paradise – says the saga. Because they were too greedy and consequently the devil camouflaged as a snake was able to seduce them. As far as I remember, that is how I learned the story at school.
A short time ago, I heard a nice joke about the same topic:
Person A: Where would we be if Adam and Eve had been Chinese?
Person B: Dunno.
Person A: We would still be in paradise!
Person B: Why?
Person A: Because they would have eaten the snake and left the apple to rot (Adam would have caught the snake and Eve would have cooked it). …
Unfortunately, the punch line is almost too obvious …
To make up for it, I can actually see something positive in the “Adam and Eve” story from this perspective. Isn’t it a nice metaphor for surprisingly simple and still very effective solutions?
All you have to do is do the right thing at the right time!
And it also tells us that greed is always a bad motivation.
(Translated by EG)
I took the picture from the Wikipedia page (Wikipedia-Seite). Here is the note you find there about the picture: Adam and Eve (Maarten van Heemskerck, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg). Note the highlighting of the gender difference through the use of different incarnates.
A good friend of mine (female) in my own age-group told me that, for her, the topic “Adam and Eve” and more of the same religious stuff was finished when she was in second grade in elementary school, i.e. when she was twelve. That is when she told the RE teacher about having heard humans were descended from apes. She then asked very innocently how that could be reconciled with Adam and Eve.
And she was rather surprised when, as a reply, she got a rather intense cuffing. Ever since that day, her interest in Religious Education was gone.
I am better off: after all, I learned as a child in Religious Education that only the New Testament should be taken seriously. The rest is rather doubtful. Intuitively, I then put Adam and Eve into the Old Testament.
Roland DürreFriday November 22nd, 2013
Here is a short follow-up on the Indian trip I returned home from less than two weeks ago.
Naturally, this means that there are good and evil Gods. There are “utility Gods” used for a certain purpose. For instance in order to be prosperous as a merchant or in order not to be caught thieving. Some Gods seem to exist for the sole purpose of luxury. You do not need them, but they are quite impressive. For lovers, there are allegedly also very romantic types.
Also, the gods always have some connection or other with animals. For example someone told me that inside a cow’s stomach there are more than three million Gods, all of which, however, are a little different from the next one.
I also got the impression that Indians sometimes create their own God. In my opinion, this is quite an attractive idea – design your “do-it-yourself” God that exactly matches your personal need. After all, we are all individuals and have our very personal “world”, so why not also have our very personal/private God?
More often than not, I got the impression that, in India, there is plenty of religious freedom. However, there are also some Christians and Islamists. In Southern India, for instance, we saw many churches. This was particularly obvious in areas such as GOA, where the Portuguese influence used to be quite strong. Among the Christian Gods, the dominant ones are Jesus and Mary. You will find many images showing them, often pathetically kitschy.
The reason why I noticed Islamists was that I heard the Muezzin calling to prayers everywhere night after night. As I perceived it, there were fewer women on the streets in Islamic areas. And if they were seen, they were mostly wearing Burkas. I saw only few headscarves. Consequently, I am assuming that the Islam in Southern India is a stricter variety. Of course, you will not see images of God.
(Translated by EG)
On the picture, you can see my office god Ganesh. He is sitting in my managing director’s office and sees to it that all is well at InterFace.
Roland DürreThursday November 7th, 2013
On my journey through India, I see my daughter preparing for an exam in philosophy. In order to test my competence, she asks me questions out of her textbook. Here are a few examples:
”What use is Philosophy?“
I cannot spontaneously think of a proper answer. Rather than saying something wrong, I tell her I do not know. Consequently, she tells me the correct reply her textbook offers:
”Philosophy teaches us where we come from, where we are headed and who we are“.
But that is not true, I think. If you read this definition precisely and literally, it is actually totally wrong. After all, philosophy will not give any meaningful answers to these questions. To me, this definition looks at least “pre-Darwin”. Let me take a closer look at the three factors mentioned.
”Where do we come from?“
Don’t we have sciences, such as anthropology, biology or the evolutionary sciences, that describe the development of humans from “humanoids”? Would it not be better to lean on archaeology or the research into human history, rather than philosophy, when trying to answer that question? Even “religious history” might be helpful. And, if you look at it in absolute terms, even physics – when dealing with the Big Bang. Along with her natural partner: mathematics.
”Who are we?“
This is another area where I see little room for philosophy. I would rather try to find my answer in psychology, neurology and perhaps sociology when we are talking society.
“Where are we headed?“
When I was an adolescent, there was a time when I wanted to research the future. Those were the days when I was an enthusiastic reader of science fiction. I believed it might be very exciting to at least come up with potential future scenarios in the form of possible variants from the “cybernetic” understanding of complex processes in the present and past. Later, however, I ended up studying mathematics.
Allegedly, today we have such a thing as futurologist science and management. Mind you, a short time ago, a “futurologist manager” (who, incidentally, earns good money on the job) told me that futurologist science is basically a misunderstanding, because the future is something you cannot research. But you can certainly “manage” it. I cannot comment on that, except that I know “futurologist scientists” who also earn (quite) good money with it.
As you can see, we have lots of scientific disciplines dealing with us humans and our lives. I like calling them the “life sciences”. And as always, I believe they should cooperate with and supplement each other.
But then, what is the mandate of philosophy? In my opinion, it should sharpen the human mind. And it should teach us how to question everything in a wise way.
Philosophy should be an applied science. The professors should wish it to be so. They must manage to equip as many people as possible with the tools they need for developing their own, high competence in judgement.
With this in mind, I see philosophy, above all, as a science that needs to educate humans. We need it in order to be able to find a reasonable balance between our individual and the collective needs. In order to give us the competence for more often judging correctly than wrong and thus make our behaviour and decisions more often good than bad.
In recent years, at least in Europe, philosophy was the carrier of enlightenment. For me, this is one of its most important tasks. In the future, philosophy must continue to strive for enlightenment. It should teach us to ask questions. Because enlightenment can and will never be finished.
🙂 On the internet, they would say that we in Europe are currently living through “enlightenment 4.0″.
Philosophy is about striving for insights through thinking. Consequently, philosophy will also always be about morals and ethics. Perhaps it can push the negative sides we currently find in the religions a little to the background. It is possible that philosophy can help humans to find their own and human God, or else the divine element in themselves.
If philosophy managed to achieve this, it would be a wonderfully useful science. A science which can leave the ivory tower it locked itself into. Consequently, I get angry when I see how thoughtlessly philosophy is defined in Bavarian school simply as the science of the “where do we come from, where are we headed and who are we?”. That is oversimplified.
Even if this almost religious definition of philosophy in the textbook is only meant metaphorically, it does not make any sense. Stupid sentences are far too often excused with the statement that, after all, they were meant “only metaphorically”.
Because you cannot develop absolute truths and morals from stories created through the collective thinking of humans and their hair-splitting and one-sided interpretation. That is what happens in religion and it is exactly what philosophy should avoid.
(Translated of EG)
Roland DürreThursday October 10th, 2013
After a time out, Rupert now gave another long presentation. It was on September, 7th, 2013 in Frankfurt. He had prepared it for his friends and the “Ronneburger Kreis”. I was truly happy to be part of it.
Eilika Emmerlich organized the recording of the presentation. She also realized the production, along with Studio Pieper.
Consequently, I now proudly present two brand-new videos with this Rupert Lay presentation. Due to the total length of the presentation, we have two videos, because on this day, Rupert squeezed a lot of insights from his life into one presentation.
Here we go:
Enjoy as you watch!
(Translated by EG)
And on March, 29th, 2014, Rupert Lay again plans to talk to us.
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 DürreThursday May 2nd, 2013
Ethics and enlightenment, too, are some kind of belief.
This sentence was something that really was hard to digest for me.
I used to believe that I am a non-believer. After all, I question everything and follow the principles of enlightenment and reason. I try to behave “ethically” – meaning that my decisions are based on a balance of values following a value system I myself worked out in a very responsible way. That would be a value system I consciously strived hard to achieve, having taken pains to finally arrive at a formula that is compatible with the world consensus which, for instance, can be found in the Golden Rule or in the UNO Charta. We are talking a value system where tolerance and civil courage are extremely important.
And then it dawned on me that this certainty of mine is also just a belief. It means that I, too, believe in something like the Christians, Jews and Muslims believe in a personalized God, or like other religions believe in their deities or just something higher in general. Or like the atheists happen to believe that there is no God. And they will probably soon come up with the foundation of a religion of their own. To be sure, this sounds logical, but then it seems to be a contradiction in itself.
Incidentally, I never asked myself the question whether or not there is a God. At least not as long as I can remember. Simply because I know I am not good at these kinds of topics. After all, it would mean that I know I know nothing.
Today, I would say: “I think I know nothing”. Well, I do not know anything and neither can I know anything… It all happens just between the ears. And how should I know if something we humans ourselves invented actually exists?
It is also part of my belief that there is no absolute truth. This is also because truth happens between the ears only. Besides the fact that “between the ears” is often a very chaotic place. As I see it, the head is capable of a lot of fantasy, but it is probably too small for reality. So how could the result be some absolute truth – if it was we ourselves who invented or felt everything?
Consequently, I now believe that all we think we know is just belief – some kind of religion. And the only hope that remains for me is that my own belief – in enlightenment and reason (which probably do not exist either, because they, too, are only our experience) – will be more help to me than the belief of others. Especially when they want to force their belief onto me (and others) – and threaten to punish us when and if we do not convert.
My second hope is that my belief in enlightenment, ethics and reason is probably a little more humane and ethical than all the varieties of believes you come across in this world.
However, I kissed the illusion that enlightenment, reason and ethics are absolute truths good-bye.
(Translated by EG)
Well, this is one of those texts you can only write during a lonely train trip – in this case it was from Munich to Stuttgart.