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The Humor of Jesus and The cry of the poor

by Marc Batko, W Meyer and K Chavent
After much meditation and reflection, I firmly believe that Jesus made fun of individualism and profit-oriented economic systems. Winning people to trust the infinite, invisible and transcendent God was surely his central goal. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” he asked his calculating counterpart. “No sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. You are worth more...!
THE HUMOR OF JESUS
by Marc Batko

After much meditation and reflection, I firmly believe that Jesus made fun of individualism and profit-oriented economic systems. Winning people to trust the infinite, invisible and transcendent God was surely his central goal. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” he asked his calculating counterpart. “No sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. You are worth more than many sparrows!”

Jesus seeks to elicit faith and trust from the everyday experiences of his compatriots. Not trusting in the Creator out of nothing seems ridiculous. Could all the magnificence of the universe have arisen through chance or accident? No, that seems preposterous. That birds fly in patterns, that flowers are more radiant than emperors, and that human bodies can heal through self-organization and divine intervention are clear to the unprejudiced eye.

Marc’s Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber on substack.com. 
We are also faced with the temptations of materialism, spiritual pride and megalomania. Perhaps it is the barrage of advertising that convinces us of our inadequacy and imperfection. Advertising is the word of the sellers, not the word of the workers from below. That we are divine and earthly as Kierkegaard taught is drowned out by the unending assault “Buy, buy, buy.”

Life can be lived on many levels or even not lived at all. “Friendship with the world is enmity with God,” we read in James. “Without humility, there is no sense of wonder,” Kierkegaard warned. “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near,” was Jesus’ first word. Martin Luther made Jesus’ first word the first thesis in his “95 Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences.”

Back in 2017, http://www.perestroika.de published the “95 Theses Against the Rule of the Financial Markets.” “How can you know the signs of the weather and not the signs of the times?” Jesus asked. A contemporary paraphrase could be: “Are not two mayors or two bankers sold for $1000?”

Trusting God should be a no-brainer. By faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ. Faith that is personal and never private is more interruption than custom.

Christian faith that is historical is worlds away from "feel-good cultural Christianity.” Don’t let Jesus and revolutionary faith become a shopping jingle! Build your house on the rock, not on the sand of speculation. There is one friend closer than any brother. Dual citizenship and inrternationalization are fruits of empathy and humility and results of the new person in Christ!

Conventional Christianity and Prophetic Christianity

In his prolific life, Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) sought to introduce New Testament Christianity into the comfortable Christianity of Copenhagen, Denmark. Tame language and social acceptance are central in conventional Christianity. In the US, fundamentalist TV networks (like TBN) emphasize "growing in Christ" and don't even mention the hunger, suffering, poverty and violence in the atomized and commodified world outside!

Jesus is and was the Messiah inaugurating and representing God's boundless love and present and future eschatological reign. Christianity is life, not doctrine or dogma. Faith that is always personal and never private is more interruption than custom. Remembrance is key; “there is one friend closer than any brother.” The race is to the most humble and most selfless, not to the richest. Can we become spiritual and post-materialists as a counter-culture minority in a culture that runs after outfielders and tap dancers?

"Without humility, there is no sense of wonder," Kierkegaard warned. If we don't become as children, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. The child is the model of obedience and curiosity losing himself or herself in the wonder of the moment. Adults become possessed by their possessions and often miss life by concentrating on the ladder of success. Jesus spent his life comforting the poor and decrying poverty, not fomenting fear and the myth of self-righteousness.

Christianity is historical and international, not insular, morose and comfortable. 

Hearkening back to the prophet Jeremiah, Jesus announced the new spiritual covenant written on our hearts surpassing the old covenant of the temple and the law. Under the lordship of Jesus of Nazareth, stoning adulteresses is forbidden and disciples are allowed to pluck corn on the Sabbath. "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." 

The law prepares us for the mercy and boundless love of God and loses its absoluteness. As liberation theologians Benedikt Kern and Julia Lis (cf. the Institute of Theology and Politics) proclaim, charity means toppling the powerful from their thrones. The last will be first and the first will be last. What you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.

By faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Dogmas, ceremonies, rituals and even priests and pastors can detract from the words of Jesus. By their fruits, you will known them. Why do you spend your money for what is not bread?

Consider the lilies of the field, they aren't competitive and don't cry for corporate welfare! Outwardly, we fall apart but inwardly we are renewed.

The prophet Jeremiah carried around a broken pot to show the destruction about to befall Israel. The US economy is an economy of indebtedness and enrichment that resists correction and fashions a whole theology justifying speculation, tax havens, tax avoidance, stock buybacks and mini-second betting (the casino economy).

Profit-making is different than profit-maximizing (cf. economist Ulrich Thielemann). When profit is made absolute, stakeholders, nature and the future are taken hostage. "If I don't maximize my profit, I will be crushed by my competitors and will disappear."

When profit is made an idol, system criticism is repressed and the fetishes of market and competition are heralded as natural laws.

See how the consumer culture refuses self-criticism and waste criticism! Trump even made the Eli Lilly CEO Alex Azar the Secretary of Health and Human Services even though the price of insulin tripled under his rule of Eli Lilly. Already a millionaire heiress before her nomination, Education Secretary Betsy Devos replaced public schools with private schools and was enriched through student debt charges. 

Now Biden's new neo-cons, Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, the US assistant Secretary of State, and Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defense seem like retrograde copies of the Project for the American Century, Richard Pearl, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld. On the eve of the destruction of Iraq, the land of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the cradle of civilization, the neo-cons issued the Project for the New American Century to justify the sole US supremacy and hegemony in the uni-polar world order. In an interview on KBOO.fm radio in the 1990s, Richard Pearl said solidarity meant agreeing with the US. In 1945. the UN Charter prohibited war and threats of war. 

Liberation theologian Dorothee Soelle warned that the arms race kills even without war. In the hubris of megalomania, neo-cons claimed we are an empire and make our own reality to which the rest of the world must adapt! Victoria Nuland admitted the US "five billion dollar investment" in the 2014 coup against the elected leftist Ukrainian president Yanukovich and recently conceded the existence of US-assisted "biological research facilities" in Ukraine. Anthony Blinken refused any phone communication with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

War and militarism can never be an answer or solution. Every war has two losers, poet William Stanton argued. The American empire is sure to fall in its insularity and insolence. "The one thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history," lamented Albert Einstein. Defense Secretary Austin calls for total victory and the uncoupling of Russia from Europe. 

Russia is part of Europe and has pleaded for its sovereignty rights for twenty years to the deaf uni-polar hegemon. Russia demands that the Ukraine not be armed with nuclear weapons as a NATO state. It can take only four or five minutes for a hyper-sonic missile to reach Moscow from Ukraine.

Austin raked in millions as a Raytheon CEO and adopted a worshipful attitude toward weapons. Financed by the military-industrial complex, the US media resists criticism and the arising multi-polar world and applauds the misanthropic Russophobia and hatred of China.

We are two lost souls swimming in the same fish bowl year after year, the successful British rock group Pink Floyd exclaim. Have we discovered the same old fears? The Project for the New American Century repeats the uni-polar myth that the US can only be controlled by the US Behemoth. Truth and reality must give way to the pathological narcissism and pathological paranoia of the US neo-cons. Still history shows with the United Kingdom that empires can become democracies and accept their interdependent place in a changing multi-polar world.

"Without vision, the people perish"

In elite democracy, the deciders are not the elected and the vast majority are never consulted on issues of war and peace, social security and barbarism. In the last two decades, the US has cancelled important arms agreements with Russia, reestablished the blockade of Cuba and even threatened war (Trump) on three sovereign states before the UN General Assembly.

Housing is a human right and is incompatible with private profits and market logic. Housing is a creative human challenge since we are not clams with built-in housing (cf. Housing as a Human Right). In financial market capitalism, everything is done to avoid frightening the financial markets that are likened to timid, super-sensitive deer. After the 2008 meltdown, the financial or speculative sector should be shriveled and the public sector expanded. 

The collapse of the energy company Enron should have been a warning. Enron added future profits to its current balance sheet and organized 2-day blackouts in democratic districts in San Francisco like the Mission district.

Reconciliation

Reconciliation means relativizing a conflict by finding agreement on a higher level. Back in the 16th century, the philosopher Rene Descartes said the assumption of an existing God was rational and God's non-existence was irrational. To win an argument, Descartes argued, tell the disputant he is right. To overcome restlessness, learn a little philosophy or theology. 

God is not necessary but more than necessary in our secular world, the Tubingen theologian Eberhard Juengel explained.

The response to the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that rapid change is not only desirable but possible. Japanese philosopher and researcher Kohei Saito wrote. During the pandemic, we learned that we can dramatically change our way of life overnight - we started working from home, bought fewer things, flew and ate out less. "We proved that working less was friendlier to the environment and gave people a better life."

The singularity of Jesus is a scandal to reason and worldly thinking. Christian theology declares that the universal needs the particular to be concrete and convincing. The penultimate needs the ultimate as its vision and goal. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian and author of Costs of Discipleship, Ethics, and Letters and Papers from Prison, is the highest name in Germany. After attempting a July 20, 1944 murder of the tyrant Hitler, he was martyred in the Flossenburg concentration camp in 1945. "The language of proclamation runs crossways to the language of time," he exclaimed. "Life is inevitably fragmentary." "For me, death is not the end but the beginning."

Kairos time, different from everyday time, is the time of decision, Bonhoeffer taught in his book Ethics. With Hitler's assumption of power, Germany found itself in a biblical time of decision. "International Jewry was exterminating Germany," the misanthropic chancellor kept repeating again and again. Because of the "total war," all power had to be given to Hitler. All areas of life, including churches, schools, and athletic events had to become obedient to Hitler in those twelve dark years.

Concentration of wealth and income leads to a narrowing of debate and censorship. Five or six corporations dominate 90% of publishing and 90% of broadcasting. Conventional, trickle-down and money-out-of-thin-air economics prevail at US universities. System alternatives and system criticism are excluded from the educational system. Scholars, professors, researchers and students are told to accept the dominant myth or narrative of profit maximization. If they refuse, their research and writings will be barred from important journals and their academic accreditation will be jeopardized. This is really neoliberal totalitarianism. 

Capitalism can only survive if it is radically changed so that market distortions and contradictions are removed. In his vital book The One-Dimensional Man, the sociologist Herbert Marcuse showed how the one-dimensional society suffocates in fear and becomes intolerant of criticism. With its massive wealth, the US often seems insolent and arrogant, winning the war after losing all the battles!

The Care economy, the steady-state economy and the de-growth economy are radical alternatives to trickle-down myths and casino economies.

Person-oriented work is vital in transitioning to a post-Fordist and digital economy. With encouragement and humility, nearly everyone could become a formidable translator, researcher or story-teller thanks to DeepL.com. Profit-maximization can be idolatrous and constitutionally offensive. Stakeholders, nature and future generations must be included in economic development. By eliminating tax havens, tax avoidance, stock buybacks and mini-second betting, trillions of dollars can be recovered to aid states and communities in re-balancing distribution and overcoming the food, housing and health crises.

Inequality hurts, economist and 2001 Nobel-prize winner Joseph Stiglitz emphasizes. All of society is affected and even traumatized by exploding inequality. According to the constitution, the Federal government should protect the life, liberty and happiness of all citizens.

But instead of being pro-active, the US government has not strengthened social security as a foundation of life. One earning $5 million only pays social security tax on the first $142K. The US government has not removed the other market distortions: tax havens, the tax avoidance industry, stock buybacks and mini-second betting. The state has become “the errand boy of the banks” (Bill Moyers). inept and inert.
The Prophets and The Warners

"The light shines in the darkness, not only above the darkness" (John 1)

"Behold, I make a new spiritual covenant that I will write on your hearts" (Jeremiah)

"Hearts of stone can become hearts of flesh" (Amos)

"Behold, the injustice of the callous rich and powerful who sell the poor for a pair of sandals" (Amos)

"How can you know the signs of the weather and not the signs of the times?" (Jesus)

"By faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ" (Romans)

"I came to bring not peace, but a sword" (Jesus)

"Unless you turn and become as a child, you cannot be born again and enter the kingdom of God" (Jesus)

"Many false prophets and false Christs will come and deceive many" (Jesus)

The Son of man will be known by his wounds suffered for human redemption and the end of human sacrifice.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the land promise to Israel.

Learn to think spiritually, not carnally.
____________________________________________________________________

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

the ceremony of innocence is drowned.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

are full of passionate intensity. 

(William Buttler Yeats, 20th century poet

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The time has come
During Advent, darkness approaches its peak, while at the same time the light of hope shines ever brighter.
by Willy Meyer
[This article posted on 12/21/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-zeit-ist-gekommen.]

With each passing day of Advent, darkness increases, yet Christians feel hope, joy and promise right now. Filled with inner gratitude, they light small lights in confident anticipation of their salvation. They have been doing this for many hundreds of years, often in spite of the most adverse circumstances and the ridicule and incomprehension of their fellow human beings. They express their gratitude even in these times of arbitrary exclusion, of a global environmental catastrophe brought about by the military-industrial complex, and of a looming, all-devouring totalitarianism. Are they still in their right mind?

"Rejoice always. Give thanks in connection with everything" (Thessalonians 5:16,18). Rejoice? Give thanks? The way the world is right now, few people feel impelled to such behavior. The world is bad, there is war in many places, lack, fear, oppression, tribulation and misery. On the horizon no ray of light of approaching salvation, rather still gloomy prospects, for it still more concentrated and hopeless, soon available mRNA-triple vaccinations (1) for example, or the digital total surveillance (2). Inflationary rising prices and energy shortage cloud the pre-Christmas mood, everywhere the worry stands gigantic and darkens everything in its shade.

And yet the English author Daniel Defoe had his hero Robinson Crusoe write in his fictional autobiography in 1719: "All of our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have." ("All of our discontents about what we want seemed to me to spring from a lack of gratitude for what we have") (3). Crusoe was the sole survivor of a shipwreck and spent 28 years of his life on a desert island, which he subjugated in all the glory of Protestant enlightenment. He was, however, just as much a simple man who struggled with his creaturely fate, as Michel Tournier's adaptation of the novel (Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique, 1969) vividly demonstrated.

How is it conceivable that a person in such a hopeless situation would fall for the idea of being grateful for what is, or rather for what he has? In Crusoe's case, one could start with the fact that at least his bare life was left to him. Moreover, he found everything necessary for survival on his desert island. The fact that he was able to hold out there for no less than 28 years, however, is due in no small measure to his own ability to show gratitude. Gratitude and humility are powerful attitudes that not only bring joy to those who experience them, but also strengthen those who express them.

Gratitude Research

Gratitude researcher Dr. Robert A. Emmons defines gratitude as a conscious process by which we appreciate all the good things in the world, such as beauty and diversity. In doing so, we acknowledge that there are things or living beings outside of ourselves that are worth fighting for, that we are even indebted to them for giving us rich gifts. Religious people often find this recognition easier, since they have an awareness of spiritual dimensions and effective forces anyway (4).

In fact, shown gratitude has a positive effect on the grateful person. Studies show that those who show gratitude subjectively feel better and also experience demonstrable health benefits because of their attitude.

On a psychological level, grateful people are more awake, active and lively; physically, they have lower blood pressure, lower levels of inflammation-promoting biomarkers and deeper night sleep; in the interpersonal sphere, they behave more empathetically, are more helpful and feel less lonely or even isolated. The positive effects listed have been demonstrated in several studies (5). Of course, sincerely grateful people are by no means concerned with personal advantages - quite unlike the Freemason and co-author of the U.S. Constitution Benjamin Franklin (1706 to 1790), who in his autobiography (1771) anecdotally and not very modestly tells how one can win over one's fellow men for oneself by asking them for a small favor, for which one then shows gratitude (6), a phenomenon that subsequently entered science as the "Ben Franklin effect" (7).

Gratifying effects

Sincerely witnessed gratitude, on the other hand, connects the doer and the thanked, thus laying a foundation for a sense of togetherness and togetherness. The thanker testifies to his dependence, his vulnerability; the obligor to his magnanimity and fellow humanity. In this way, a social bond is created between the two, from which social networks are spun. Now gratitude is not always necessarily directed to a concrete person; it can just as well be directed to life itself, to the world, to nature, to the grace and miracles that surround us, whereby the thankful person consciously locates himself as part of this great creation.

Admittedly, it is no great art to express one's gratitude in the face of unexpected help or overwhelming abundance. It is quite different when one can feel and even express a sense of gratitude even in difficult times and in the face of overwhelming challenges. Many are currently frightened by the hubris of the powerful, the deep divisions in society, the rampant curtailment of fundamental rights, the ever louder drumming of war. Even the Christmas season has lost its magic and harmony - peace within the family is gone, the churches pay homage to genetic experiments and the climate agenda, the consumer mania buries any spiritual impulse among those who are eager to buy.

Pausing with gratitude

But I feel gratitude. My life is so much richer and easier than that of my ancestors. I enjoy until recently undreamed-of advantages and benefits, immeasurable treasures of knowledge and experience. Certainly, the past two and a half years have not passed me by without leaving a trace. They have turned many friends into strangers and forced me to do without things I had taken for granted in my daily life. They have shaken me to the core; they have called everything into question and demanded truthfulness. I had to realign myself and my life and leave the comfortable path. I had to take a new path, overcome hurdles, show courage and strength, even if I sometimes lacked it. For that I am grateful.

Life has blessed me beyond measure. New friends crossed my path, more satisfying tasks presented themselves unexpectedly, everyday life had to be completely reorganized, values came under scrutiny, fundamental questions were asked. All this did not happen overnight and not by itself. It was neither particularly easy nor painless, nor is the process complete. But I set out on the new path - and for that I am very grateful.

Practicing gratitude

There are ways to initiate a grateful attitude within yourself. At the end of the day, everyone can give thanks for all the beautiful and positive things that have happened to them that day. You can do this in the form of a list, a diary entry, a prayer. Guidance and help can be found in guides such as the book "Thanks!" by Dr. Emmons (8), websites such as Thanx4.org or Greater Good in Action, which explain how to write a gratitude letter or take other steps toward consciously living gratitude.

"A time has arrived for us that brings great joy ... From high heaven a shining silence fills hearts with bliss ..." The well-known Christmas carol exhorts gratitude not for material goods or individual benefits. Life itself and salvation through turning to and trusting in divine assistance are the gift for anyone who wants to accept it. It does not lie colorfully wrapped under the blinking Christmas tree among countless other boxes. Whoever wants to find it must go out, leave behind familiar comforts and rituals, perceive with all senses and an open heart the abundance, love and light that await us.

We do not live in easy times. But we have the opportunity, thanks to our free will, to choose our view of this world. Despair and self-pity - or amazement and joy? Resentment and anger - or confidence and contentment?

Persistence in habits - or courageously treading new paths? And yes, even this free will is a gift for which we may be grateful and which we should accept mindfully.

"The best thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole secret of life: to give thanks for everything" (Albert Schweitzer, 1875 to 1965).

Sources and notes:

(1): https://de.euronews.com/next/2022/01/19/gibt-es-schon-bald-die-dreifachimpfung-gegen-corona-grippe-und-rsv
(2): https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/wirtschaft-verantwortung/digitale-impfpaesse-fuer-reisen-was-haben-die-g20-wirklich-beschlossen-li.288922
(3): Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe. Penguin 1985, p. 141.
(4): https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good
(5): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022399908004224 and https://gedankenwelt.de/dankbarkeit-ist-gut-fuer-dich-und-deine-gesundheit/ and https://naturheilzentrum.com/de/news/dankbarkeit-gesundheit-dankbar-fuer-das-leben/
(6): Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography and Other Writings, Penguin1986, p. 113.
(7): https://effectiviology.com/benjamin-franklin-effect/

Willy Meyer, born in 1963, is a single father of two children and a teacher. He lives in Hamburg and has been involved locally in education and social change for two years.

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The Festival of Love
Let's take Christmas as an opportunity to liberate love.
By Kerstin Chavent
[This article posted on 12/20/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Das Liebesfest.]

Christmas is approaching and with it the question of how to give ourselves gifts. How about using the feast of love to actually give ourselves our love - from our full hands, without skimping? This requires the decision not to look at the neighbor to see if he might have received more, but to first give ourselves a gift. After all, we can only give to others what we have ourselves. This brings us into trust. Instead of jealously guarding the love of others, we give it and ourselves freely. In this way, love can step out of the prison of exclusivity and spread throughout the world.

Yours forever! You belong to me! Until death do us part! Happiness as a couple should last as long as possible. We fall in love, float in seventh heaven, make joint plans for the future, walk down the aisle - and in many cases want our hearts back after just a few years. Disappointed and hurt, we sweep up the pieces and enter the war of the roses. Nearly half of all marriages end this way. Nearly 40 percent of closed marriages were divorced again in 2021. In 2005, the figure was 52 percent (1).

In addition, five million people in Germany live as committed singles (2). These are people whose life plan does not include entering into lasting relationships with two people. On average, one in three Germans is single. Most of them live in Hamburg, Berlin and Thuringia. Every second person under 30 lives without a steady partner. In the family formation phase between 30 and 39, this proportion drops significantly. While only one in four people in their thirties is still single, the proportion of singles from the age of 40 levels off at 28 percent (3).

The reasons commonly given for the increase in partnerlessness are that women today are more independent, that the motivation to overcome crises together is declining, that for many people their careers are more important than cuddling, and that we have become too demanding and altogether less committed. With so much choice, one can afford to be picky.

Inclusive exclusivity

Thus, two tendencies cross over that at first glance seem mutually exclusive. On the one hand, we long for freedom and unboundedness; on the other hand, we long for stable bonds in which we feel secure, safe and secure. Both longings get in the way of each other in our way of life. We cannot reconcile fidelity and loyalty with the fact that we also find other people attractive and seductive. Our partnerships usually cannot stand the fact that we also fall in love with others.

The most beautiful thing in the world means we have to choose. Either-or. Either the other or me. As soon as sexual attraction comes into play, it's over with openness and tolerance.

Nothing is colorful here, there is only black or white, all or nothing. While we cheerfully wave rainbow flags and unhesitatingly choose between soon to be 80 "genders", it is out of the question for most of us to share our own partner with others.

Since sparks usually stop flying during sex after a few years at the latest, the lust in love only continues in secret. The forbidden fruit is tasted in secret. The life partner should not know about it and is lied to. The relationship threatens to break down because of the truth. Thus many partnerships are based only on the illusion of trust and an honest togetherness. When it comes to love, we play a double game. We no longer show ourselves as we really and truly are, but twist ourselves in such a way that the domestic peace hangs at least somewhat straight.

Distrust and frustration cloud the initial rosy clouds. Often this is the moment we have children. At least genetically, love is supposed to last. The result is 2.15 million single mothers and 462,000 single fathers (4). How many of the 21 million couples in Germany stay together not because of love but mainly because of the children, the house, the car, the bank account, social obligations or habits is not statistically recorded.

Passion that creates suffering

About one-fifth of couples separate because their partner has cheated (5). Even though adultery has no longer been punished as a crime in Germany since 1969, in many cases, as the term implies, the marriage has broken down. Often, the infidelity of one person begins with the jealousy of the other. For this it does not always have to go to the point. For us to fear for the bird in the hand, often a look, a word, a gesture is enough.

There is hardly anyone who is completely unfamiliar with jealousy. We all know what it is like to feel devalued, second-rate, rejected. Accordingly, we think jealousy is something normal and consider it legitimate. Originally, the term means morbid bitterness. It is, as the name suggests, a form of addiction. Addiction is defined as a dependence, an uncontrolled craving for a certain state of experience. The powers of the mind become subordinate to this craving, whereupon the free development of a personality and the social opportunities of an individual may be impaired (6).

"Jealousy," as defined by the Online Encyclopedia of Psychology and Education, "describes a painful emotion that is felt when recognition, attention, love, respect, or affection is not received, or is received insufficiently, on the part of a valued caregiver in relation to one who is thus actually or supposedly more favored. Jealousy arises when one's claim to affection or love, perceived or real, is challenged by one's partner by showing that very affection or love to someone other than oneself, thereby causing a strong fear of loss" (7).

Rejection, indifference, or rejection, which is perceived as painful, are most often set in childhood. However, while the child's jealousy usually disappears when he or she receives attention from the parents, a jealous partner demands unrestricted attention that is exclusively his or her own.

You alone shall be my lucky star. This exclusivity leads to a spiral of mistrust in which insecurity, fear, grief and anger can result in violence, even murder and manslaughter.

Jealousy excludes love

Nothing offends us more than when love is withdrawn from us. No sooner do we think we have it, than we fear losing it again. The butterfly of happiness seems so fragile that those who have a damaged self-esteem must live in constant fear of being disappointed, humiliated, ignored, betrayed. The partner is clutched ever tighter, the demands become ever more insistent, until the initial dream becomes a nightmare.

As long as we consider jealousy to be a part of love, nothing will change. The majority of marriages will continue to break up, people will continue to be killed out of jealousy, we will continue to get caught up in lies and thus prevent what we want so much: to love and be loved.

But even if we have not been raised religiously, it has been deeply imprinted in us that there can only be one: one God, one love partner, one lid per pot.

For a long time, it made economic sense to tie women to the hearth and give men the assurance that they would not raise and inherit cuckoo eggs. But today, this model of life is outdated. Or does it make someone happy to guard their partner like a gun dog, yapping at everyone when they smell competition? Do we like making ourselves emotionally dependent on another? Do we like ourselves suffering in the role of the angry, nagging, pouting, powerless? Do we feel good about our jealousy? Or do we long to finally be able to love freely and in peace?

New life model

The way out of the dilemma leads us first directly into it. According to the theologian and peace researcher Sabine Lichtenfels, we have to get past the idea that jealousy is our right and an expression of the claim we believe we have on the one who has become involved with us (8). But jealousy does not belong to love. It makes us demanding and evil. When we are in jealousy, we are not in love. Only when we realize that jealousy is a kind of cultural disease can we think about the cure and overcome it.

This is not possible on the personal level alone.

"It is centrally and decisively a political question whether we succeed in developing new social solution models in which love becomes livable without the familiar concomitants of fear of loss, jealousy and hatred."

But our civilization does not give us a model for this. We have no models of how living together without jealousy can work. Therefore, in order to create a new image of love and new forms of living together, we have to use all our inventive spirit. In this, according to Sabine Lichtenfels, lies our historical task if we want to contribute something to the elimination of general misery.

"Sexual contact with other women or men," she writes further, "is not a constriction in the relationship, but an enrichment, if we allow it. Sexual contact with one or a third is not a reason to abandon, but the opposite, if we allow it." What we suffer as an offending rejection, an affront to the ego, can be understood as the fulfillment of the universal longing for love that excludes no one and includes everyone.

Love your neighbor as yourself

The liberation of love is not about having as many sexual partners as possible, but about not banishing love of neighbor from sexuality. What are we burdening each other with, projecting all our desire onto just one person? How many relationships break up because we have not learned that real fidelity is not determined by sex, but by the truthfulness of the relationship, the prerequisite of which is honesty and authenticity?

Learning this is not done with a snap of the fingers, but demands a fundamental rethinking from us. Whether a new, free and lively form of togetherness succeeds depends on our willingness to invest in our own development and to build up the forces of trust within ourselves.

Only when we really stand by ourselves do we no longer have to burden other people with our mistrust, our fear, our frustration and expect them to make our lives more beautiful.

We no longer stand starved before our partner in the hope that he will give us something we don't have, but share with open hands what we have to give. We no longer suck each other dry and then throw ourselves away when we are empty, but experience a new fullness that is nourished by a flowing give and take. We can make this a gift to ourselves. Let us love our neighbor as ourselves. Let us give ourselves the love we try to wrest from others and share it generously.

Let us look ourselves in the eye and recognize our uniqueness, our specialness, our beauty. When we see that, others can see it too. In this way we become mature for the love of two, which does not need a collar and a leash, but enjoys the beauty of the other without wanting to possess it. Let's try it. Let's let go of our fear of being abandoned and alone. We are not alone. We are many!

Open the door

Many of us have a longing to stop feeling constricted, guilty, bitter. The most courageous have long since begun to speak out and to lift the burden from their souls. Do you know this too? Do you feel the same way? A real brotherhood, a real sisterhood are about to emerge, a real solidarity between the sexes, even more so when they love the same person.

If we learn to play with open cards, competition can dissolve, and with it jealousy and envy. We know that we are complete and do not need a lid.

Let us take the feast as an opportunity to stop keeping our love imprisoned in the prison of exclusivity, and let it spread everywhere. May it sound from everywhere: Love is born today! May heavenly hosts give wings to this birth and let it take root deep in the earth. Open the door of your heart and let it flow!

This is how Christmas can be. Not with pinched faces we sit around the tree, but in the consciousness of the life that pulsates in us. Let us not hinder it. Let us no longer allow conventions to be imposed on us that make us unhappy. Let us recognize in our neighbor the loving being, the bubbling spring, the deep clear lake. Let us make this joy for ourselves. Let us give ourselves away. Let us take each other in our arms and feel the happiness of the encounter, the trust, the bliss and let us wish each other a Merry Christmas!

Sources and Notes:

(1) https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/76211/umfrage/scheidungsquote-von-1960-bis-2008/
(2) https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/173640/umfrage/lebenseinstellung-single-aus-ueberzeugung/
(3) https://www.elitepartner.de/magazin/finden/singles-in-deutschland/
(4) https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/318160/umfrage/alleinerziehende-in-deutschland-nach-geschlecht/
(5) https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/1034490/umfrage/umfrage-zu-trennungsgruenden-in-deutschland-nach-geschlecht/
(6) https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abh%C3%A4ngigkeit_(Medicine)
(7) https://lexikon.stangl.eu/15438/eifersucht
(8) Sabine Lichtenfels, Soft Power. Perspectives of a new women's consciousness and a new love for men, Meiga 2017.

Kerstin Chavent is an author and language teacher living in the South of France. Published in German so far are "Die Waffen niederlegen", "Das Licht fließt dahin, wo es dunkel ist", "Krankheit heilt" and "Was wachsen will muss Schalen abwerfen". It was her experience with cancer that led her to write. Her themes are dealing with illness, raising awareness of creative potential, and awakening consciousness in a changing world. Read more on her blog, "Conscious: Being in Transition."

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The lifeblood of the soul

In a time when we are to be educated to be cautious and against each other, it is important to dare to trust anew.
13.12.2022 by Jürgen Fliege


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