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Goodness in History

ProjectBackground

Project Background

The content of our daily newspapers is sprinkled with news about crime and corruption. The entertainment industry is draining blood and stories of fear and violence. The Green movements emphasize human mass destruction of nature. Most of our history books are organized around wars. The Holocaust witnesses and literature shocks us with stories of cruelty, suffering, and inhumanity. Our children come into a world of a disaster, a world in which the youngsters wonder 'what kind of world is that and why am i here?', 'what happens to these adults who are to take care of us and be our role models?' The role-models children get from history are either triumphant brutality or suffering, righteousness or pieta, predatory or victim instincts. Cynicism crawls into the child's heart. The inhuman starts to be seen as human, war start to be seen as an engine of progress, cruelty becomes a form of generosity, science - a gear of war.

Is this really true though? Couldn't we take just the opposite thesis stance: the glowing warmth of joy and goodness even in the darkest corners of history is the strongest reason to live, to keep and develop the human form? What about precious moments of simple joy, kindness and generosity? Aren't those the moments that keep existence and history rolling?!

Can we make an ethical turn towards clear examples of goodness for our children to get inspired by? How does goodness work? Is it possible for countries to take ethical stances? What is the role of the individual in the actions of goodness? What is the role of public organizations? Is it true that Christians, Jews and Muslims are in such opposition as presented? Do we have examples of the opposite? Where are they? Lets find them, lets put the spot light on the good, on harmony, on acceptance, on kindness, on generosity as pragmatics, not as an exception.

Nationalism builds on pride from a perceived belonging to a so called nation. Collective shame is also based on the same perception of national identification. Do we want to keep such feelings and perceptions alive? Can goodness inspire all of us independently of national associations? Is goodness limited by national borders? Or is it a most intimate personal pragmatic way of being?

The word goodness is heavily associated with deeply religious Christian interpretations, but the church can not hold copyrights on that concept. We want to explore joy and goodness in its free form, not necessarily associated with religious and other institutions, in the light of our daily habits.

In order to search for goodness and learn from it, we suggest also a school program presenting these questions to the young people and asking them to develop projects searching for historical cases of goodness, for pragmatic moments of generosity in times of peace or times of war.

An important aspect of the project is to stimulate interest in experience of history through the senses: smells, tastes, sounds, dreams, physical postures, images, not only language. History could be also something that happened during a child's life, i.e. including 'our time'. In Marcel Proust's terms: the most pure and grand joy a human can feel is when s/he holds eternity,when s/he can experience fully the past in the now, overcome time through a senseual memory.

In that sense, this is not a research project, it is a creative project, when a human has to create something, which is no longer to be found. Such creativity brings joy.

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Page last modified on December 21, 2009, at 07:37 PM