HUMAN COMPETENCE and SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
The All Africa Anthroposophical Training took place in Kenya from the 1st – 8th August. Nearly 70 delegates were hosted by the Franciscan Family Centre at Karen in Nairobi. The welcome we received from Vincent, Bruno and Julia was heart-warming and our hosts offered an excellent venue.
The days were full with the morning work concentrating on human faculty building, encompassing thinking, feeling and willing. The afternoon sessions were designed to enrich our professional lives. The evenings consisted of summaries of the day’s work given by delegates, followed by Michaela Gloeckler leading us on a journey through individual and social development.
The mornings began with an invigorating session of eurythmy led by Cobie Roelvert, followed by a short introduction to the day. Thereafter, in small groups we were tasked with observing the four elements of earth, water, air and fire in our individual capacity, from three different aspects: our knowledge, our observations in the present and then how the elements related to our humanity. The sharing of this work, which was guided by a facilitator, stimulated lively conversation and inspiring insights. The morning was rounded off by working through the Seven Conditions of Esoteric Training. I personally found exploring and understanding these seven conditions a strenuous, but rewarding process.
Daily, the eurythmy reflected the themes in an inspirational way. We experienced the solid earth, the fluid water, the rushing air and the flaming fire in movement. We practiced threefold walking and felt ourselves as noble pillars of light. We experienced the vowels and then to our wonder saw how these gestures can be found in nature. I found them all represented in a banana tree! We were led through the evolutionary sequence of the consonants and experienced the connection to the four elements.
The best way to describe the afternoon sessions is to state what was on offer, as follows:
Child study and support by Andrea Seemann
Ethical business by David Wertheim-Aymes
Biodynamic farming and gardening by Angela Hofmann and the practical work by Anne and Rolf Bucher
Anthroposophical Medicine by Friedemann Schad
Care for mother and baby by Carola Edelmann and Ulf Beckmann
Therapeutic eurythmy by Julia O’Leary
Prayer and meditation by Richard Goodall
The daily report back sessions were inspiring and indicated that all the above workshops were excellent. It was good to get a glimpse into and overview of the work. My focus was Biodynamic agriculture which was attended by a large number of delegates. The concern for the fertility of the earth, heirloom seeds sharing and wholesome food is great. Our theoretical work was done at was Franciscan Centre and the practical at the farm at the Mbagathi Waldorf School. Angela was a shining example of transforming desert sands in fertile lands. Our group highlight was making Cow Pat Pit and the eventful journey to the school through congested traffic on poor roads, passing the many roadside vendors. We had a chance to experience Nairobi.
The evenings were presented by Michaela and what a seven day journey it was, encompassing so much food for thought! She asked the question: ‘How can we be educated so that this gaping gap between wealth and poverty can be tolerated by human beings today?’ She stated that the social problems need educational solutions and that educational problems need therapeutic solutions. Michaela said that the highest social competence is, to know your self.
An antisocial drive in our thinking is the desire to convince the other that our opinion is right, whereas being socially competent is learning to come into conversation and help the other to become a better thinker. She pointed out that a seeker of the truth will sacrifice his opinion in the quest for the truth. As Christian Morgenstern said, ‘Those who are looking for the truth have to go alone.’ The antisocial drive in feeling is projection and we can overcome this tendency by learning to live with the expectation that the other is different from what we think, and that we respect that we are all developing human beings. Development means being open! The antisocial drive in our will is when we act and disappoint others, whereas being socially competent is questioning ourselves before we act, knowing that when we do what is needed, we respect the freedom others and make them happy! To be socially competent is learning to look from the others’, and not one’s individual perspective. She pointed out that evil is in the world so that we human beings may wake up to the good!
The highlights of the conference were many. I loved meeting my brothers and sisters from Africa and have returned to South Africa knowing that each delegate will be returning home, carrying his/her light and ‘lighting up’ our African continent. My personal aha moment was that we human beings are masters or ‘expert handlers’ of warmth, and therefore we are the transformers on the earth and have immense power. Do we harness this power or abuse it? Even more significant, are we conscious of our power? We were addressed by Victor who informed us about the growing Waldorf movement in East Africa. Father Herman had the occasion to address us and tell us about his work as a Catholic priest in Kenya. He celebrated mass on the Sunday morning for those who were interested and Richard also celebrated The Act of Consecration of Man on three occasions. As we were staying in a Franciscan place, Michaela closed the day with the prayer of Saint Francis. She invited delegates to recite the prayer in the different languages from the continent which was another highlight.
A big thank you to all who made this excellent and enriching conference possible, and especially to Michaela, Vincent, Julia and our Franciscan hosts.