Photo of Joseph Beuys,

Dear Adriaan,

In our dialogue on this website I asked you some time ago about the Bernard Lievegoed vision on violence as a possible help to understand what is going on nowadays. We hear about war and terrorism in the Middle East and around the world.

In your response you made a distinction between the closed communities on the one hand and the open economic live, in which people work for each other, on the other hand. You pictured the situation like this: ‘As there is a terrorist bomb exploding on the one corner of the street, a few streets further on people drink coffee and do shopping.’

This is indeed sometimes reality in cities like Beirut, Aleppo or Istanbul. It is an extreme difference in living. But it seems to suggest that religion and activities motivated by religion belong to the wrong and inhuman side of life. We should be liberated to individuality meeting on an economic transaction basis like producing, selling and consuming.

Maybe this is not exactly what you mean and the two realities are not as contradicted as I summarize here.  Sometimes I recognize the judgement of religious people that the western way of life (European, American) is egoistic and materialistic. Our capital driven society creates calculating and superficial people that do not connect to deeper values. Religious people like those who visit churches and mosques and temples, but also those who commit murder, express a deep longing for meaningful life. Maybe they don’t find what they are hoping for or what others think they should be after for, but still there is this need for meaning. And I share this need.

Adriaan, you also wrote the often quoted sentence of Joseph Beuys: “We find the new mysteries at the train station.” I strongly feel this is a hopeful direction we have to look at. I think it will be helpful for me, and maybe for others as well, if you are willing to explore this quote a bit deeper in a next blog. Maybe this is an inspiring perspective.


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