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The Inner Sanctuary and The Uprooted Generation

by Roland Rottenfusser and Niocolas Riedl
Contemplation does not directly change the world, but it does change people by bringing them closer to themselves again. Our situation in a facade democracy with a compliant majority, with rigid state power, and with laws that are almost always against us, is not unlike that in a prison - a prison with larger cells, perhaps.
The Inner Sanctuary
Contemplation does not directly change the world, but it does change people by bringing them closer to themselves again.
by Roland Rottenfußer
[This article published on Oct 28, 2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, Das innere Heiligtum | Rubikon.]

"Looking into one's own self" - this is how Willigis Jäger describes contemplation. Everyday religion in the West doesn't have much in common with mysticism - perhaps because a deep, intimate connection to the self would make us more independent of spiritual and secular authorities. In particular, the Christian cultural sphere is characterized by a deficit of spiritual exercises - whether physical, energetic, or meditative. The contrast between active and contemplative life is still familiar to many; under the pressure of economic conditions, however, a strong preponderance of activity oriented toward efficiency has emerged. Reflection, contemplation, concentration, contemplation come too short - with serious consequences for the spiritual condition of the individual as well as the community.

Franz Jalics was a Jesuit of Hungarian origin. In 1974 he went to the slum district of Bajo Flores near Buenos Aires/Argentina to live among the poor. After the military coup in May 1976, Jalics was arrested and imprisoned for reasons that are still not entirely clear. Perhaps a confrere had joined the leftist guerrillas in the Argentine civil war of that time, which made the Jesuits suspicious to the new rulers. Franz Jalics spent a total of five months bound and blindfolded in captivity. An unimaginable situation in which he was haunted by a roller coaster of agonizing emotions and images.

But the Jesuit possessed an antidote to the madness, hatred and despair: the Jesus Prayer. It consisted of nothing other than the permanent inner repetition of the name "Jesus Christ." As a young priest, Jalics had been looking for new forms of Christian spirituality and had come across the Jesus Prayer, which the early desert monks had already used to achieve a state of inner peace. In its long version, the prayer read, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me." Jalics pronounced alone the name of the founder of the religion - Jesus Christ. In thousands of repetitions of the formula, he struggled for forgiveness for his tormentors and survived - even psychologically - in a reasonably healthy state. He felt the continuous invocation of the name as a process of purification and developed his own school of contemplative retreats based on his experiences.

Self-contemplation can be resistance
This true story is interesting in that it represents an answer to the question, "What are spiritual practices good for?" Yes, spirituality or religion as a whole appear through it in a new light. The background of this incident is a political one. In dictatorships, upright people, as well as people without political ambitions, can suffer torture and imprisonment. What forms of resistance are there against superior power? Politically interested people, especially on the left, call here above all for liberating action. Of course, it would have been better to break out of prison than to remain in prison praying. Better than breaking out would have been to sweep away the whole fascist spook in a large-scale revolution. Then no one would have been imprisoned - at least not for political reasons.

But what if someone is stuck in prison when subjectively - but also objectively - he has not the slightest chance of escaping? How can he manage in such a situation not to lose courage, to preserve the intact core of his personality, thus in a way to snatch victory from his tormentors?

Many of us, even at large, feel as if we are in prison, at least as far as our options for political action are concerned.

Especially in Corona times, we are surrounded by walls of legally sanctioned injustice; by the ignorance of most of our fellow human beings, who are hardly to be won over as fellow campaigners; by loud blockades and impossibilities that nip political resistance in the bud.

In many respects they may only be prisons of thought - in relative freedom there is always something we can do to fight for a more just world. And yet our situation in a facade democracy with a compliant majority, with rigid state power, and with laws that are almost always against us, is not unlike that in a prison - a prison with larger cells, perhaps.

What to do when all avenues seem blocked and everything that could be done does not lead to the goal? One way might be to first shift our gaze away from the doing itself. It is not necessarily political defeatism and typical spiritual unworldliness to state: Meditation does not open prison walls, but it sometimes makes prison more bearable. It opens up spaces of inner freedom where the outer one - at present - seems impossible. Spiritual exercises can help to avoid being broken under the most adverse circumstances. And whoever is lucky enough to be released as an unbroken person has the strength and integrity to continue to stand up for a more just world - a world without prison walls, if possible. Waiting for world revolution while picking off the "flowers on the chain" (Karl Marx) - that is, everything comforting and subjectively relieving - sometimes takes too long.

The inner sanctum
The meaning of contemplation, however, is not dependent on extreme situations, which fortunately most of us never get into. The word contemplation - from the Latin contemplatio, to look at, to contemplate - means first of all the concentrated contemplation or reflection on an object, the immersion in an object in order to gain knowledge about it. These can be objects of everyday life or of the material world. Traditionally, however, contemplation means above all the contemplation of non-material phenomena such as life and death, love, transience or ethical principles. Often, God himself or the divine is also the main object of contemplation.

In ancient Rome, the eponymous temple (Latin templum) was originally a place where augurs, quasi-official soothsayers, sought to ascertain the will of the gods. Later uses of the word temple made the word familiar in the context of monotheistic religions as well - think, for example, of the Temple of Jerusalem. Today, the word generally stands for "sanctuary," "place of worship." Although contemplation is in principle also possible for atheists and agnostics, historically a religious background is more typical.

Even without theological expertise, many are familiar with the contrast between an active and a contemplative life. In the Christian tradition, the mythological archetypes of these two ways of life are Martha and Mary. Jesus is said to have been a guest of the sisters, and while Martha took care of the practical aspects of hosting, Mary sat moved at her master's feet to listen to his spiritual teachings. Martha complained that Mary was not helping her with the household chores - quite a common dynamic in residential communities. In response, Jesus is said to have sided with Mary: "But one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good part; this shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:42).

Juicy vitality or spiritual drought?
Subsequently, the Catholic tradition came to favor the contemplative over the active in a way that is rather strange to people today. Even pre-Christian Greek philosophers knew this partisanship for theoria, the spiritual, inward and "theoretical" life in contrast to the grasping influence on the outer world. Pythagoras compared life to an event in which the spectators had chosen the better role. The practical man, Pythagoras said, lusted after fame and fortune; the philosopher, on the other hand, was in search of truth, which he could attain only through contemplation and reflection. Christian philosophers later adopted the ideal of contemplation, which Plato also represented, but charged it with mysticism, as it were. Through retreat and internalization, bliss and ultimately the vision of God could be attained.

Hermann Hesse created vivid prototypes of the active and the contemplative man in his novel "Narziss und Goldmund". Goldmund, the lively, restless wanderer, who also becomes entangled in love affairs; Narcissus, the monk and intellectual, who participates in life more as a spectator. At one point Narcissus describes the difference between the friends thus:

"The natures of your kind, those with the strong and delicate senses, the inspired, the dreamers, poets, lovers, are almost always superior to the rest of us, us spirit-men. Your origin is a maternal one. You live in the fullness, you are given the power of love and the ability to experience. We spiritual ones, although we often seem to guide and govern you others, do not live in the fullness, we live in the aridity. To you belongs the fullness of life, to you the juice of fruits, to you the garden of love, the beautiful land of art. Your home is the earth, ours the idea. Your danger is drowning in the world of the senses, ours is suffocation in a vacuum. You are an artist, I am a thinker."

Although the passage speaks of a certain envy of the introvert for the extroverted "bon vivant," both characters are described here affectionately and essentially as equals.

Shadow sides of the activity society
It is clear that the zeitgeist has completely turned since the Middle Ages, that the vita activa is held in far higher esteem today. Modern man is a doer, subduing the world and shaping it to his will. In management language, he organizes the "doing" and "operationalizes" processes. In doing so, however, he does not act prudently, but - especially with regard to the ecosystem and his own mental health - almost senselessly.

Interestingly, however, not only capitalism has given preference to the active, energetic human being, because this seems to be economically more exploitable; socialist theory also prefers action, especially the revolutionary deed.

But work in general is also held in high esteem among leftists as a form of self-expression through non-alienated activity. Less popular, on the other hand, are mere dreaming, planning and reflection.

Thus, in his play "Die Heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe," the convinced socialist Bertolt Brecht castigates the mere "Es-gut-Meinen," the reflective Auf-der-Stelle-Treten, which is not really able to abolish the class antagonism. The piece culminates in the aphorism "See to it that you leave the world not only having been good, but leaving a good world." Neither the strenuous work on oneself nor even the honest effort finds grace with Brecht - only the successfully completed revolutionary deed. Here a decisive contrast becomes apparent: the deed changes the world; reflection or contemplation rather changes the human being.

One can give preference to one or the other here; but the fact is that both are needed. Brooders and procrastinators - like Shakespeare's character Hamlet - can get stuck in the trap of mere potentiality, in "I could, should, ought." They may be going in the right direction, but powerlessly and indecisively. On the other hand, unreflectedly pressing ahead can do a lot of damage because their power has no direction.

The fear of self-contemplation
Our time needs contemplation more urgently - not because it has the greater value in the field of tension "active/contemplative", but because it has fallen behind due to an economically dominated zeitgeist. The word has gone out of fashion - and so has the reality behind it.

Yes, a large part of our culture is virtually characterized by the avoidance of contemplation, all the incessant rushing, scattering and gawking at screens, which perhaps has one innermost reason above all: the fear of real self-encounter.

The political-economic system and the attention thieves of the media dock on this deeply rooted fear.

Conversely, contemplation can be a form of resistance to the appropriation of our minds by salesmen and manipulators. Self-contemplation leads to people becoming "self-identical," frugal in a good sense, thus less susceptible to seduction and blackmail. Goals beyond that - such as "encountering God" - one may or may not accept for oneself. It is something different than meeting oneself - maybe it is basically nothing else. There may be different views about this, shaped by worldview and individual life experience. But above all, contemplation - may one add "Christian" to it or not - closes a painful gap. I want to explain this in a little more detail.

Spiritual practice deficit in the West
Yoga, Qi Gong, mantra chanting, Zen meditation - many people have at least dabbled in spiritual practices from the Far East. Mostly without converting to the underlying world religions Hinduism or Buddhism. It is noticeable that such practices do good, and also the wisdom on which they are based is often very stimulating for people from the West. But have you ever practiced Christian spiritual exercises? Even those who have a Christian family background and are familiar with church attendance and religious education probably have to pass here. Yes, even religious people sometimes find themselves at a loss as to what Christian spiritual practice should even be.

Christian "bodily practices" are usually limited to alternating between the sitting, the standing, and the kneeling postures at services - at Catholic Masses, Lutherans forgo kneeling. There is prayer - communal or private - which is usually quite wordy, whether traditional prayers like the Lord's Prayer or freely formulated prayers. Just as, in general, Christians find it very difficult to "get out of their heads." All the incense waving, the music and the wealth of images found especially in Catholicism do not change the fact that we are dealing for the most part with a word and scriptural religion. For the believer, all salvation comes from the spoken and written word; spiritual life is limited to the study and, at best, the ethical implementation of those words.

In Islam, there is a prayer that requires relatively extensive physical activity. Prostrations above all - the faithful touch the ground with their foreheads. That is why salat, the prescribed ritual prayer, is also called the "yoga of Islam." The Sufis, Islamic mystics, know even more forms of practice. There are a number of Sufi ritual dances. And dhikr, the silent or loud visualization of single words and phrases or the 99 names of Allah. This is similar to chanting Hindu mantras. It is not just a matter of memorizing the meaning of the words, penetrating them intellectually and translating them into ethical behavior; the sound structure and the energetic charge of the short formulas, according to believers, exert an immediate effect - virtually bypassing the mind. They put the practitioner directly into the presence of God and cause a transformation of his whole being.

Transforming man instead of accompanying stagnation
In "ordinary" Christianity, but also in other non-mystical expressions of religion, the claim to transform man does not play a recognizable role. The intention here is above all to support and comfort man in his actual state, to accompany him in his everyday problems and to prepare him for a transcendent salvation that is to become manifest only later - after death. Man is not to change fundamentally - this might even be undesirable with certain secular and ecclesiastical authorities. He should not approach God independently - for this there are the priests as mediators.

At most, prayers are desired that have the character of petitions to a heavenly superior, so to speak. One tries to persuade God to services, which he would not have come on his own.

The necessity to remain in contact with the "cosmic mail-order house" becomes superfluous with the moment of the "delivery" - so long until there is a need again.

What is "contemplation" in contrast to this? I describe contemplation here as the practice form of mysticism. As such, it was and is known - under different names - in many religions and cultural circles. Concretely speaking, contemplation can be described as a mixed form of prayer and meditation, as a prayer without or with very few words. In a certain way one can even speak - which sounds paradoxical - of contemplation as mysticism in action. But this does not mean action in the conventional sense, but rather an allowing and opening oneself. Willigis Jäger, Catholic priest and Zen master, writes: "Contemplation at its peak is more a state of receiving than of active doing. This state basically cannot be taught, but only awakened."

What Franciscan Father Richard Rohr wrote about prayer applies to contemplation. Rohr immediately connects it to a deeper critique of the Zeitgeist. "Western society tends to be an extroverted 'doer' culture. In this, prayer becomes a rash attempt to change God and make ourselves important, rather than what it should be: an inward exercise to change the one praying or the one praying." This inward-facing direction of prayer is crucial. For "change will inevitably occur when we stand silently before the mysterious and wholly containing Great Presence, and when we allow the divine gaze to touch and heal our subconscious."

Focusing instead of chattering
When Rohr speaks of silence here, his definition of prayer is already very close to an understanding of contemplation. In any case, one must not imagine mental chattiness in this kind of prayer. Contemplation can also mean being completely wordless before and in the midst of this Great Presence. Or the focusing on it with the help of very few, but selected words, as Franz Jalics practiced it in prison with the Jesus Prayer. The well-known monk from Altötting, Brother Konrad, said in the 19th century: "I don't pray, I just hold my heart in the love of God." This sentence paints the ideal picture of contemplation.

If one defines contemplation as a form of meditation, it is a variant in which the meditator does not lose himself in emptiness - although this term from Buddhism is also often misunderstood. Rather, a fullness is experienced, into which the meditator can dive with his soul or heart. That which is experienced is not completely value-neutral, rather it possesses the qualities of goodness, warmth and joy, a deeply comforting and sheltering inner home.

If, on the other hand, one defines contemplation as a form of praying, then it is a mode of communication of subtraction. Subtracted is everything redundant and chatty, every "And then you could, dear God, also do this for me ... and this ... and this...". This form of prayer can also be sincere, especially if it includes asking for the good of others. However, it is not typical of contemplation, which is very much focused on concentration, reduction and repetition, and ultimately even on silencing, so that a "speaking" ultimate reality can be experienced.

In contemplation, then, "less is more." In the inimitably concentrated style of Taoism, the 7th century classic "Shodoka" by Yoka Daishi says it:

In silence, it speaks,
In speaking, it is silent.
Roland Rottenfußer, born in 1963, studied German and worked as a book editor and journalist for various publishing houses. From 2001 to 2005 he was editor at the spiritual magazine connection, later for "Zeitpunkt". He currently works as an editor, book copywriter and author scout for Goldmann Verlag. Since 2006 he has been editor-in-chief of Hinter den Schlagzeilen.
____________________________________________________

The Uprooted Generation
A youth is growing up to whom freedom has become alien, thinking has become too exhausting, and feeling has been trained away.
by Nicolas Riedl
[This article published on Oct 8, 2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, Die entwurzelte Generation | Rubikon.]

"The young people nowadays ...", one heard and often hears the elders lament. In the past, the lack of understanding of the following generation was directed at their rebellious mischief. For some time now - it seems - the generation conflict has turned into its opposite. It is not so much the rebelliousness of the youth that is lamented or criticized as their tendency to conformism and uncritical adaptation to all the agendas that are being whipped through by multimedia. Be it gender equality here, climate protection there, or currently the total vaccination of the population. Like an unprotected computer, the operating system of young people can be loaded with any program. What are the pillars of this development?
No ode to the youth!
As can be seen from these introductory paragraphs, the following article is not intended to idealize youth. On the contrary, it hardly leaves a good hair on its head, even if the entire youth is not to be lumped together. As is well known, the exception proves the rule. At the same time, it is important to emphasize that this is not intended as an apportionment of blame. This youth - like pretty much every other youth before it - cannot help what is "done" to it. Transgenerational mechanisms are always at work; the mindset and actions of one generation in turn influence the mindset and actions of the next. Basically a truism.
In this respect, this text with all its sharp tones should be understood as an attempt to describe the state of today's youth. Admittedly, no claim is made to completeness. This subject area is too comprehensive.
For an article about youth, it is helpful, if not indispensable, to briefly say four or five sentences about oneself. After all, it makes a difference whether text lines about youth come from someone who is already retired or in his so-called midlife crisis, from the perspective of a twenty-something reflecting on the wild years, or from a teenager taking a self-critical look at himself and his peers.
Now, at 28, I find myself, in a sense, in limbo between past youth and the thirties gateway to final adulthood. By attending not particularly conventional forms of school and going through the second educational path, my youth and the young years of the twenties were certainly not representative, but perhaps for that very reason they allowed me a certain bird's eye view. Also because I gained insights into the most diverse milieus through the most diverse stations of life. Through my living situations in shared apartments, I still have a lot of contact with Generation Z, the so-called Millennials, despite a certain age difference. In short - when I write about this generation, I presume to know roughly what I'm writing about. Simply from personal experience. But now long enough of the preface!
The lost generation
There is a magic in all beginnings. Hermann Hesse did not live to see the IKEA slogan "Are you still living or are you already living?" Otherwise, he probably would have written, "In every beginning lives a magic." Yes, a magic lives in the beginning. In a sense, youth is the beginning par excellence. The beginning of experience. The first kiss, the first youthful sin, the first beer, the first joint, the first vacation without parents, the "first time". But if the magic is inherent in these beginnings, it can be equally quarantined by this dwelling. So long that he can no longer develop his magical something either.
Millenials experience a youth in which the beginning feels like an end and accordingly can't evoke any magic.
The first kiss? Is that even possible with an FFP2 beak mask? The first youthful sin? What should it look like? We all play by the rules! The first beer, the first joint? It's a gift! The first vacation! Only in non-risk areas, and only where you can get there without "flying shame".
Over all this hangs the sword of Damocles of multiple crises - climate, pandemics, unconquered patriarchy and so on. All in all, the world appears to be a very threatening and at the same time endangered place. Not a place to live lightheartedly and carefree. A place where the seriousness of life and the arduousness, the burden of the world are imbibed with the mother's milk, as it were.
Raymond Unger described a double-lever mechanism in his extremely readable book "On the Loss of Freedom". If the young person were a tree, what is currently happening could be aptly described as follows: The treetops are being torn to and fro by the storm of multiple crises, and at the same time the tree is being uprooted as identity politics erode all the self-evident things that provide orientation (1). Whereas in the past the family was still regarded as a fixed anchor point and membership of one of the two sexes as secure, the ground of former self-evident truths has been completely loosened. A lack of grounding in the face of simultaneously conjured-up storms of crisis creates the uprooted person of today's youth: he can be pushed around and reprogrammed at will by elitist ideology drivers.
But what are the supporting pillars of this development? They will be outlined below.
Mental well poisoning
As is well known, the spirit forms matter. However, if the spirit is poisoned from an early age, only trash can manifest itself. And the spirit of young people is poisoned in a way that is historically unparalleled. Such a spirit can no longer create a tomorrow in which it is worth living. Let us look at the components of this poisoning in detail:
Language
George Orwell already described in "1984" how in totalitarian systems the reduction of language is used to limit the horizon of thinking. How are things to be thought through in depth if the terms to make what is perceived tangible are lacking? If the language ability is inadequate and poorly developed, the tool to open up the world is missing. But then the necessary immunity of the mind to ward off manipulation is also lacking. Language constitutes reality, and if this very language is limited, fenced in and perforated, reality - or what one perceives of it - remains equally limited.
What about the language of young people? Last year, an actor friend of mine read me a letter by Sophie Scholl. The letter impressed me. Not only because of its content, but also because of its form. Her choice of words, the way she phrased it, in short, the whole language was multi-faceted, complex and had a certain something that could be described as beautiful. Yet Sophie Scholl was not primarily known for being a lyrical genius. It was more normal at the time to not only know how to use language, but to exploit it to its fullest. This impression was confirmed to me when I rummaged through old letters of my ancestors. In the past, it seems to me, the - German - language was used much more in all its possibilities than is the case today.
Language today - where to start? Perhaps where language thrives through its use: in reading. That's something that seems to be completely lost on the current generation. Twitter messages are limited to characters in the three-digit range. Memes likewise comprise no more than these characters. Reading longer texts is no longer something the current generation does in the way it used to. It has to be, because otherwise this generation wouldn't talk and act the way it does. In this hectic hustle and bustle, the permanent distraction, there seems to be no more room for hours of book reading. Accordingly, the linguistic capacity of an entire generation is degenerating.
In addition, there are two crucial toxins that poison language enormously. One is the linguistic pandemic of anglicisms and the other is the tiresome gendering.
Anglicisms or simply "random" - excuse me (!) -, arbitrarily placed English words, pollute the language. Examples?
"You would appreciate it, if this stays between us" (German: Du würdest es begrüßen, wenn das unter uns bleibt?)
"No offence, but I didn't like that at all" (German: No offence, but I didn't like that at all).
"Maria ghostet mich schon seit zwei Wochen"(German: Maria has been ignoring me for two weeks).
The completely out of place use of English words lacks any sense and defaces the language!
If that were not already bad enough, gender gaga is making its way into this over-academicized generation unhindered.
The gender death star now disfigures numerous works and diverts attention from the content to a completely absurd equality debate.
Equality between men and women is not done any service in the process. Instead, language is restricted and defaced with the consequences described above.
One could develop this point still page by page. Unmentioned here would be all the abbreviations like "YOLO", "lol", "wtf" or the increasing entry of emojis, which replace the precise description of states of mind as a blurred-representative symbol.
In short, language is being dumbed down, leaving behind an increasingly speechless youth that lacks words. And where something like a thought process once took place, blind actionism, infantilization and hysteria now prevail. The decline of language is now reflected in pop culture. As early as 2013, one could sense where the journey was headed when poetry slammer Julia Engelmann was celebrated with her now not particularly witty contributions as if Goethe himself had returned. Seven years later, it is enough to simply drool "lelele" and "nanana" into the microphone in a "rap song" to land a hit with it ...

Sources
Rezo. With this name everything would be said to this point actually already. But after all, it's hard to complain about language reduction in the previous point and then leave the explanation of something at a single word. So let's take a closer look at what it's all about with the topic of sources from which Generation Z draws its knowledge and worldview:

Radio! Another word that actually says it all. Pretty much all YouTube formats that address young people in Germany converge at this collection point. Funk belongs to the public broadcasting media and is thus the social media arm of the compulsorily fee-financed ruling media.

In concrete terms, this means that the millennials, who are almost all on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, cannot avoid these formats and are almost unable to escape their influence.
In addition, aggressive censorship has no longer carried the stamp "Made in China" for quite some time, but now has a firm place in the media system in Europe. Anything that does not correspond to the opinion of the rulers is quickly deleted or at least shadowbanned by the usual platforms. Sorry, there is no German term for this.

In plain language, this means that this generation is under the spell of a strict pre-selection of information and influences and can no longer access content outside of the ruling opinion.
Combined with the reduction of thinking capacity through flattening of language, there is almost no escape from the thin corridor of one-dimensional views.
We started the point with Rezo, so we bring it to an end with Rezo. Strictly speaking, with a quote from him, "There is only one legitimate opinion!"

Hedonism and escapism - or not being in the world anymore.
Is this generation still in the world? The question may seem silly at first. After all, you can point to the young people standing bodily in front of you and say, "Look! There they are! They are in the world, of course." Yes, the physical existence is indisputable. But what about the spiritual and emotional presence? Are young people present on that level at all?

How often does the cold blue light of digital devices fall on young people's faces, day and night? The keyword is digitalization. It is penetrating more and more inexorably into the lives of not only young people. Digitization in schools is aiding and abetting this ominous development. After all, digitalization is being imposed on children and young people as a result of compulsory schooling. The tree species are now "learned" on tablets instead of being experienced through their own encounters in the forest, i.e. through real touching, real feeling.

How many young people really grow up with the experience of getting to know the world in its analog nakedness for several weeks or even months at a time? Directly, immediately, without an intermediary medium? Or in such a way that the landscape is abused as a photo backdrop for the next Insta-shoot? Generation Z is the first generation to grow up with being degraded as an actual subject to an object consisting of data. And most of them still consider this to be natural.

This is not the place to rehash the whole issue of the evils that digitization brings for young people. Researchers like Manfred Spitzer have already done outstanding and groundbreaking work on this by showing that digitization is the true plague of our time! Not because it is bad per se, but because it places itself at the center of being human, instead of enveloping the lives of us humans in an invisible and helpful way. Digital end devices, if they land too early in children's and young people's hands, rob the adolescents of their physical abilities - motor skills, eyesight -, destroy their character through deadening and the associated loss of empathy, and at the same time are toxic for mental strength. All this can be read at Manfred Spitzer or also at Alexander Unzicker (2).

The new generation is sinking deeper and deeper into the parallel worlds of social media, YouTube and other digital spaces. It has been proven that digital spaces within digital screens exercise dominance over analog, real-world realities, to the extent that they captivate the attention of those in physical space and begin to dissolve the analog environment in their perception (3). The grounding, the grounding with the real world is gradually lost. The degree of mental-emotional being-in-the-world fades away. With fatal consequences.

This development is visible to the outside world in many ways. It is not only the smartphone that is constantly in our hands and the symbolic image of the "smobie" that was born from it that is emblematic of this evil. Just look at how many of the young people are walking around with the wireless AirPods in their ears. Raustun is rather bad, they could get lost. In plain language, this means that many young people walk around for several hours a day with beaming gizmos in their ears or are constantly connected.

Or the smartwatches that adorn more and more wrists. Some say they wear them so that the app installed on them can tell them whether they have taken enough steps during the day. In this respect, one could also speak of the fact that both mental-emotional and physical being-in-the-world is on the wane. In order to be sure whether they have exercised enough during the day, many people trust the data on their watches more than their own body sensation. On the one hand, the so-called wearables are becoming a substitute for one's own body sensation, and on top of that, they are visually paving the way toward the fusion of man and machine - the core dream of the transhumanist avant-garde.
If digitization were not a huge evil in itself, the uprooting of young people has additionally been significantly advanced by another factor for about 1.5 years. You can already guess what it is: the tiresome C-theme.

Masks cover the faces of young people, separating them from their environment. Who even knows the smell of the draft in subway stations, the scent of spring air?

A great deal of good literature already exists on this subject as well. The philosopher of education and anthropologist Matthias Burchardt and the immunologist Stefan Hockertz, who has meanwhile left Germany, should be mentioned here. Both wrote already very readable contributions and books on this subject (4).
What does all this mean in relation to time? The alienation, the not-being-in-the-world-anymore, is not only to be understood in purely spatial terms, i.e., that digital natives spend a weighty part of their time in digital rather than analog spaces. It also has implications for temporality. This should be explained at the same time, prefaced as a reminder by a quote from George Orwell's "1984":
"He who controls the past controls the future: he who controls the present controls the past."

The current life of young people is for a large part characterized by permanent distraction. Cell phone or online addiction is a mass phenomenon. However, this is far more than a kind of drug problem that could be eliminated through withdrawal therapies. In his book "Selbststeuerung: Die Wiederentdeckung des freien Willens" (Self-control: The rediscovery of free will), neurobiologist and psychotherapist Joachim Bauer describes the ability to control one's own urges, which is essential for happiness and success in life, in order to achieve larger goals that lie further in the future.
Too abstract? A concrete example Bauer gives in the book: Some may be familiar with the "marshmallow experiment" conducted with children by psychologist Walter Mischel in the 1960s. Children are presented with a plate containing a marshmallow. They are then told that they will receive two marshmallows as a reward if they can resist the temptation to eat the marshmallow immediately for a while. Specifically, this was to determine whether children are capable of resisting temptations that would bring short-term gratification in order to be rewarded with greater gratification in the longer term. In other words, can the child defer immediate pleasures for the sake of a longer-term goal?

Long-term observations showed that the children who were able to resist short-term temptation later achieved more success in their lives, were happier, and were more socially stable. On the other hand, children who could not resist short-term temptation later fared exactly the opposite.

According to Bauer, this ability is not innate, but is learned in the first twenty years of life - or not. Against this background, the researcher sees an enormous danger posed by consumer goods and specifically mentions the smartphone (5). Man's new best friend always promises immediate satisfaction of needs. A new Insta-Like there, a new e-mail here. Longer-term goals are becoming a distant memory. At the same time, we lose the ability to sit on our butts and work on one and the same thing with concentration and focus over a longer period of time. Not to mention the musical creativity that cannot arise in such a state.
Let's now stretch this dynamic a little further.

What does this mean for the future of a generation when, due to ubiquitous smartphone use and the omnipresence of the digital, it is completely unable to envisage longer-term goals or even make plans that go beyond the next 24 hours?

With this collective mindset, how is a country or city supposed to be sustained as a livable place? How is infrastructure to be maintained if no one is on top of the deterioration of transportation routes, electricity, gas and water supplies? Hardly any engineers, technicians, architects, farmers, indeed simply people who can tackle and plan for the long term, will grow out of a generation so digitally trained. An influencer career does not cultivate a field!
Complete deindustrialization would be the long-term consequence.
The aimless drifting in the present - and this does not mean the focused existence in the now according to Eckhart Tolle (!) - will eventually also result in the loss of a sense for the past. A generation conditioned to Insta-stories available 24 hours a day can hardly grasp what happened 24 years ago. A process of "ahistoricizing" is picking up steam. This is already evident on one level in the radical renaming of street names because the namesakes are now said to be unacceptable. If then still historical personalities with joke figures of the present are compared or equated, also historical models fade or become regarding their effect completely distorted. An example of this is the spasmodic and absurd effort to portray Rezo as the new Rudi Dutschke.
A generation is growing up that moves blindly across the timeline. The rear-view mirror to the past is fogged up, the present fogged in front of the windshield, and the navigation system in the future without a mental GPS.

What remains? What does such a generation leave behind? What relics that transcend time remain? Keyword art and culture. So the art and culture that need for their creation the above-mentioned musical creativity, which is so lacking.

"Everything can, nothing must." - Woker sleepwalks between hypermoralism and failure to meet one's own standards.

Whether feminism, anti-racism, Corona and, of course, climate - large sections of the youth delude themselves as if they had the highest morals in the respective subject areas. Their commitment to whatever is better goes by the name of "being woke. No area of life is spared and is critically scrutinized by the moralizing eye of youth. The culprits for the manifold miseries of the present time are then always found very quickly: In the field of feminism, gender inequality, sexism and racism, the "old white men" have to serve as the bogeyman. At Corona, of course, it's all the "röööchten, verschwurbelten Nazi-Querdenker-Impfgegner" and at the climate all people over 30, who would have led the world to the abyss. Quite in such a way, as if the young "climate activists" would have held it differently, if they had come only earlier on the world.
And that brings us to the crux of the matter: From the point of view of the woken youth, everyone is to blame ... only they themselves are not. A hand held out with an extended index finger is known to have four fingers pointing at you. Thus, the double standard is oozing out between all the words and deeds of the woken youth. They are constantly blaming others for misdeeds that are so often committed by themselves.

This is most evident in the climate issue. Some young people actually talk about "flight shame" and forget to delete the vacation photos of past air travels from Instagram.

From my own experience, I can tell you about the huge gap between the moral standards and the reality of some climate activists. For example, I lived in a shared apartment for a quarter of a year with a "Fridays for Future" spokeswoman. On the street, she presented herself as Greenpeace, but living together in a shared flat gave me the feeling that I was living under the same roof as the oil industry. Unwashed dishes piled up in mountains, one's own clothes were scattered in the common rooms, and a sense of responsibility seemed to be a foreign word in the small, immediately private sphere. In my student union job, I also worked for a few days with another climate activist and was amazed at his incompetent actions and his lack of any sense of responsibility.
Young people want to save the world(!) climate and fail in basic everyday tasks in the immediate microcosm. They want to achieve the 2-degree target and can't manage to do the kitchen duty twice a week. You want to fight 2033 and fail to clean your room before 20:33.

One could laugh, if it were not so serious. Serious, because an ominous mixture is brewing here in this generation. On the one hand, it consists of the feeling of being morally vastly superior to the rest of the world. On the other hand, this attitude is contrasted by an enormous inability to take responsibility for the simplest things or to take a good look at one's own sins. At the same time, from a hedonistic point of view, the world is seen as a giant self-service store with all-inclusive service. In conversations, lecturers and instructors told me in bewilderment how they had to deal with a youth who lulled themselves into the basic assumption that everything would be borne after them, as if the whole world, everything and everyone, had to bow to their wishes.

Ultimately, the image of a politicized youth is an illusion. We have a youth alienated from itself, instrumentalized, incited against the older generation.

The supposed rebellion only strikes a purely visual note. You see young people with cardboard signs and colorful clothes and supposedly different genders on the street. But they resemble a troop of Star Wars stormtroopers visiting a Holi color rush festival - even if the uniforms are colorful, the uniform remains a uniform. In concrete terms, this means that although the youth outwardly give the appearance of rebelliousness and diversity, on the ideologically superordinate level they are uniformed in lockstep. This is evident, for example, in the strict adherence to corona rules. And when it comes to the climate, thank Rezo, we know: "There is only one legitimate opinion on this subject!

Cultural Revolution 2.0?
In his book "Childhood 6.7", childhood researcher Michael Hüter described in detail how in the respective epochs of human history those in power secured their supremacy. Namely by trying to gain access to the children, more precisely their spirit, in order to plant there the seeds of the respective ideology and to bring these against the parents in position (6).

Certain - at least in the approach (!) structural - parallels can be recognized between the Chinese Cultural Revolution and what is happening today. Under Mao Zedong, within the framework of the "Great Leap" - sounds almost like "The Great Reset" - an attempt was made to unhinge the entire old social system of norms and values of China, which had been shaped by Confucianism for thousands of years, and to establish a completely new social structure. Several tens of millions of people were murdered in the process - so this comparison should be taken with a grain of salt - and young people were incited against their elders, dissidents and unpopular intellectuals. Indoctrination and permanently alternating political campaigns were the order of the day. Family alliances were also broken up and children were alienated to the root (7).

Today we see a generation incited against the old and the old. Observable in children who call their grandma riding a motorcycle in the chicken coop an "environmental sow," or in the blanket condemnation of the elderly as "old white men." The classic image of the family is falling into disrepute, and referring to it is considered conservative or almost "right-wing. Instead, young people are aggressively propagated life models and issues that are diametrically opposed to the classic family models and wishes for children. Key words are "LGBTIQ" and the legalization of abortions. There is a real war of ideas against the tried and true and our culture. The renaming of streets and squares and the tearing down of statues of "unacceptable personalities" mentioned above bear witness to this. Also to be mentioned would be the Cancel Culture, the eradication of "unacceptable", because "discriminatory, sexist and racist" cultural assets. In Canada, there have already been book burnings again (8).

Outlook
Unfortunately, there is a lack of clues to add a positive conclusion to the end of this paper. Children are our future. And in view of what is currently being done to children and young people, the outlook is unfortunately bleak. Millions of children and adolescents have been mistreated in the worst possible way, and the excesses of this will be felt in a few years' time, when today's young people are shaping the society of tomorrow. Admittedly, things may get better at some point, but there is a long dry spell ahead.

And finally, it should be remembered once again that what has been described above is not an apportionment of blame, but rather a description of what is being done to an entire generation through institutional and ideological channels, to which it has been and is being systematically and most viciously conditioned.
Whether one has fallen away from the faith or not, all that can be said toward the end is, "God - or whoever - forgive them, for they know not what they do! Seriously!"

Sources and Notes:
(1) Unger, Raymond: On the loss of freedom: climate crisis, migration crisis, corona crisis, Munich, 2021, page 86.
(2) Spitzer, Manfred: The smartphone epidemic: dangers for health, education and society, Stuttgart, 2018.
Spitzer, Manfred: Cyberkrank! How digitalized life is ruining our health. Munich, 2015.
Unzicker, Alexander: If you know where your mind is, your day has structure: guide to thinking for yourself in crazy times, Frankfurt am Main, 2019.
(3) https://www.kunstforum.de/artikel/eine-archaologie-des-computerbildschirms/
(4) Burchardt, Matthias: Versuch über den Homo hygienicus, in: Hannes Hofbauer; Stefan Kraft (eds.): Lockdown 2020 - Wie ein Virus dazu benutzt wird, die Gesellschaft zu verändern. Vienna. 2020. promedia. Pages 122 following.
Hockertz, Stefan W.: Generation Maske: Corona: Angst und Herausforderung, Rottenburg, 2021, pages 78 following.
(5) Bauer, Joachim: Selbststeuerung: Die Wiederentdeckung des freien Willens, Munich, 2015, pages 42 following.
(6) Hüter Michael: Kindheit 6.7: Es ist höchste Zeit, mit unseren Kindern neue Wege zu gehen, Melk an der Donau, 2018, pages 118 following.
(7) Baron, Stefan; Yin-Baron, Guangyan: The Chinese: Psychogram of a World Power, Berlin, 2018, pages 100 following.
(8) https://de.rt.com/international/123962-bucherverbrennung-als-versohnung-skandal-um/

Nicolas Riedl, born in 1993, is a student of political science, theater and media studies in Erlangen. He got to know almost every type of school in the German education system from the inside and also the interpersonal coldness of the working world during a commercial apprenticeship. The media and Ukraine crisis in 2014 was a caesura for his world view and perception. Since then, he has been dealing in depth and self-critically with political, socio-economic, ecological as well as psychological topics and found his way back to his passion of writing through the Rubicon. As far as his technical skills allow, he produces films and music videos. He is a member of the Rubicon Youth Editorial Board and writes for the Young Feathers column.
Beliefs and convictions are important for the survival and functioning of the individual in the world. But at the same time they should be private matters, which people are welcome to talk about and even argue about, but never should anyone try to establish them by force. There is nothing wrong with creating a society in which a whole range of these beliefs, explanations, sciences, myths and narratives coexist. However, none of them should be transfigured into the universal truth, no human being should be subordinated to it. Only then is free development, a life in equality and freedom possible.

So let us no longer fall for the narratives that are imposed on us from above. Whether corona, "master man," growth, transhumanism, even science - all these are potential instruments of domination that can be misused to control and dominate us. So let's not believe any of these myths sight unseen, but begin to form our own picture of the world. It can be so much richer and more diverse than the one-dimensional narratives that are chewed up for us. Let's create a colorful world that contains many narratives, many stories. That's how we can break the power that ideologies hold over us.
Felix Feistel, born in 1992, writes in many ways about the idiocy of this world and also against it. In a world reduced to numbers and data, which has always been alien to him, he searches for humanity and the meaning of life. He tries to use his powers and talents to create a world worth living in by opposing injustice and destruction. Despite the madness that is rampant everywhere, he is not ready to give up his belief in the goodness of man and his potential to transform the planet into a paradise. He is a member of the Rubicon Youth Editorial Board and writes for the Young Feathers column.




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