It is by placing itself in constant places of risk that the human identity grows and develops. Can we take up the challenge of human suffering in the world today to develop something new?
Joan Sleigh’s opening lecture at Ethical Individualism: Transforming Self and Society.
Ethical Individualism: Transforming Self and Society was the title of the latest Social Initiative Forum event organised by the Section for Social Sciences at the Goetheanum in collaboration with the Friends of Waldorf Education. It brought together more than 100 participants from all over the world seeking to explore the power of individual responsibility and activity in the resolution of present social challenges. Through workshops, open discussions and artistic experiences, participants were introduced to Anthroposophical approaches to inner development and in service of social transformation.
The gathering was organised particularly, but not exclusively, for young people who are re-searching ways of engaging responsibly in some of the most pressing issues of our time such as poverty, marginalisation and inequality. Designed partially as a seminar, partially as an open forum, it gave the young participants the opportunity to meet an interdisciplinary group of experts working toward social transformation out of their own creativity. Together we looked at ways in which to find the inner strength required to make individual and collective decisions that help heal society and the planet.
The event was made possible thanks to the support of our funders Iona Stiftung; our co-organisers the Friends of Waldorf Education and our collaborators and contributors, which included organisations such as the Barefoot Guide Collective (South Africa/Worldwide); Monte Azul Community Association (Brazil); Nyendo Lernen (Kenya/Germany), SES Foundation (Argentina) and stART International e. V. (Germany/Worldwide). They all delivered unique content for this event, which was carefully tailored to the theme, accessible for all participants, interactive, informative and inspiring.
The forum also counted with the participation of individual contributors such as Gerald Haefner (Head of the Social Science Section at the Goetheanum), Truus Geraets (Netherlands, Social Initiative Forum co-founder), Peter Krause(Germany, Aktiv Zukunft Leben), Christopher Charles (Australia, Legal Practitioner), Pieter Holloway (South Africa, the Breeder Centre) and Patricia Persky (Spain, Casa ASIA) who enriched the gathering by exposing central questions around the themes of Anthroposophy and social work, social entrepreneurship, the sphere of rights and education.
The event programme contained cultural experiences to accompany the gathering’s questions and themes. On Friday Aeham Ahmad’s concert “Music for Hope” highlighted issues around massive migration, the cruelty of war conflicts and the power of the human spirit to rise above suffering through hope, friendship and inner strength. On Saturday the West Midlands Ensemble’s Eurythmy performance “Dreamscapes” was a pure expression of the human being’s capacity to create beauty and harmony all through the power of art.
Also on Saturday, social workers and practitioners were able to expose their work during an Open Forum – a session open to the public that included musical interventions, short talks and a marketplace of initiatives. It was a real celebration of social work around the world that begun with Afghan dancing and closed with African drumming and singing.
The Social Initiative Forum was founded to strengthen relationships between social workers, organisations and world-citizens dedicating their life-time’s work to supporting vulnerable communities to develop the right conditions were a dignified life is possible for its members. Ethical Individualism was the 13th event organised by the Social Initiative Forum since it was founded in the year 2000 by Anthroposophical Social workers. Since its inception, the Forum continues to grow and develop into a tight network of individuals, projects and organisations who gather regularly to share experiences, discuss challenges, celebrate achievements, develop skills and form new partnerships and collaborations.