Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Survival of the Social

"What do we observe in human life? Is it brotherhood, or the struggle for existence that has accomplished great things in mankind's development--or have both impulses contributed to something? The Russian scientist Kessler gave a lecture in 1880, in which he showed that the most progressive animal types, those most capable of development, are not the ones that do the most fighting, but those that give mutual support to one another... In all of nature we see examples of the cooperation of single beings within a whole. Consider the human body. It consists of independent beings, millions and millions of cells... What causes the cooperation of these small cells? Man's soul is the cause....The soul sees with the cells of the eye, thinks by means of the cells of the brain, lives through the cells of the blood. There we can see what union, what association, means. It means the possibility for a higher being to express itself through the members when they are united.

This principle is general for all of life. Five people who think and feel harmoniously together, are not just the sum of the five...a new higher being is in their midst...It is not the one, or the other, or the third, but something entirely new that springs from the union. This new entity arises only when...the single individual draws strength not only from her/himself but also from others.

...The struggle for existence has its justification because we are individualities who have to make our way through life...In a sense, the words of Rusckerts hold here: when the rose beautifies itself, it also beautifies the garden. If we do not make ourselves capable of helping our fellows we shall be poor helpers. If we do not see to it that all our talents are developed, we shall have little success in helping others. In order to develop these talents, a certain egoism is necessary , because egoism is connected with initiative.

...Everyone would like to know how to unite struggle for existence with brother/sisterhood. That is very simple...replace struggle with positive labor, replace combat with the ideal...try without fighting an opponent, to introduce into life what your experience and cognition have found to be correct...

You will see that we develop our talents best when we live in community, that we live most intensively when we take root in that totality."
Excerpted from 'Brotherhood and the Struggle for Existence, R.Steiner, Berlin, Nov 23 1905, published by Mercury Press, Chestnut Ridge, NY

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