More and more people are longing for simple explanations and solutions. An unmistakable sign that our living conditions are becoming increasingly complex. For this reason, we will publish 12 blog posts this year that deal with this timely issue.
It is important for us to consider very different perspectives in order to offer you the most stimulating possible offer. For this we have been able to win four well-known guest authors who, with no editorial filters, write about their personal thoughts on this very interesting topic. Look forward to philosophical insights from Dr. Ina Schmidt, humorous thoughts of our therapeutic clown Michael Trybek, astute thoughts by our language and legal expert Carlos A. Gebauer and constructive considerations of our health expert Christoph von Oldershausen.
We wish you a stimulating read.
Your Liechtenstein Academy team
Orientation in times of change.
Why we do not always need ground under our feet to find support.
Everybody knows these moments when we feel like we are losing control, the overview or even the ground under our feet. This might be the moment when a deal we thought we had made falls through, the moment when we get the promise of a new job or the wonderful moment when we fall head over heels in love. The usual security disappears – all of a sudden the world shows itself from another side and we are not quite sure where it will lead or what exactly is happening.
But can we ever really be secure and certain? Particularly in our present time, concepts such as agility, mobility, innovation and diversity buzz around in our heads, and even when we think about what these concepts really mean, we sometimes lose the conceptual ground beneath our feet. But – and this is perhaps the really interesting question – do we really need this ground in order to find support and orientation? It is certainly not possible without this ground, but can we not also succeed by placing ourselves in the flow of change and transformation, in order to learn to move within it?
The philosopher Plato was certain that there are two abilities that can help us in this; two special techniques that we should learn from our parents in order to get through life well and make us immune to ignorance. In his laws, the Greek thinker writes that the ignorant are those «who can neither write nor swim» (The Laws, III, 689). According to him, both activities enable us to learn to move in a «sea» of possibilities. In writing we give expression to what we have gained in impressions – we write down thoughts, ideas, plans, concepts and love letters, so that an externally visible and communicable image emerges from our inner being. Writing makes it possible, beyond oral speech or conversation, to record something that seems to us to be significant. We can pass it on or connect with people who are far away, but we can also simply «capture» thoughts for ourselves. The Platonic idea of writing, of course, did not know of text messages with their limit of 160 characters, but certainly Plato would have been interested in what possibilities this would open up for written exchanges, in terms of new order and structures.
The second ability is less connected to written characters, but requires physical technique. Swimming is an activity which, like writing, does not arise by itself, but must be learnt from others. In the best case these are other people whom we trust to teach us what carries us when we plunge headlong into another element. Swimming is a skill that teaches us to learn to move in such a way that we are carried, that we can move even though we have no firm ground under our feet. We go along with movements and changes in our environment and even learn to use them for our own progress.
So what does it mean to learn to swim and write – in a sea of possibilities, a flood of information and waves of new insights? We can only succeed in moving within it, orienting ourselves and making decisions if we reflect on a human aspiration that also plays an important role in Platonic philosophy: the desire to do what we do well. This is the quest for competence and ethical conviction. To put ourselves in relation to what we believe we know and what we believe we have to do is both the prerequisite and the goal of a «spiritual» swimming lesson. We must decide for ourselves whether we approach this ability through language, conversation or writing, and who we choose as a «swimming teacher». It is a matter of taking the leap – not necessarily into the «refreshing water», but certainly into a vast sea of perspectives, convictions and creative spaces, which we should accept as a challenge, especially in these changing times.
Written by: Dr. Ina Schmidt