Felix wrote to me that he wanted to start an appeal to encourage more people to direct their own thoughts from the critique and analysis of existing conditions more towards the desired future. Because at the beginning there is always the thought. If we want a new world, we first need new thoughts.
I had just read "Who, if not Bill" by Sven Böttcher and was very taken with his vision for "Team Mensch". Felix's suggestion fitted in perfectly, so we combined the two and launched the appeal.
The first reactions disillusioned me. Again and again I read "If *you* really want to change something, *you should* do this and read that" or wishy-washy "We need this and we need that". I complained that *the others* didn't understand that we had invited them to participate in the change itself.
Stupidly, I have got into the habit of always questioning my own whining: if these answers bother me so much, they must have something to do with myself. It was so obvious: I had called for readers to write a utopia, while I had to admit to myself that I felt unable to do so, could not believe in it, felt a great resistance to it.
For God's sake! Elisa. You are in charge of the Mutmach editorial team and you can't come up with your own utopia? I couldn't let that sit, so now I sit down and overcome my inner resistance, venture out of the comfort zone of complaining into the new world as I like it.
# Relationship with ourselves
Where to start? There is so much to do and change. I quickly lose track of it all, so I organise my chaos of thoughts and work my way out in a circle from the individual into the world.
In my vision, we all know ourselves very well and like ourselves. We learn from an early age that we are valuable and have a place in this world. Otherwise we wouldn't be here. Others may be annoyed with us, we may have conflicts, experience pain and separation, but they will never question our self-worth. We will know how to deal with it, lick our wounds and realise that life goes on and is fun again as soon as the wounds are healed.
# Relationship with others
Thanks to our self-care and self-awareness, we experience a whole new way of connecting with our fellow human beings and all life that surrounds us. We listen to each other instead of judging or criticising each other. We learn from each other and trust each other. We feel sympathy for some and like others less, but hatred or mistrust has disappeared because we have recognised ourselves as human beings and can therefore see everyone else that way.
We feel a natural curiosity towards people of other cultures, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, body type. We do not delude ourselves: What is foreign to us may at first cause fear or trigger prejudice. It is important that we recognise these and turn them into curiosity. Wanting to learn from each other. Celebrate our diversity as human beings.
We know that we cannot own anyone and no longer burden our love and relationships within partnerships, families and friendships with duty and guilt. We understand that they unfold on their own when we relinquish control, which was always an illusion anyway. We feel supported by our relationships with our fellow world - people, plants, animals, earth, lakes, oceans ... - safe and free at the same time.
# Fulfilment instead of prosperity
For this reason, we no longer need material wealth to feel secure. It is the exchange with others that makes us feel confident in life. We recognise the abundance of nature, that there is always enough for everyone, unless a few usurp unlimited wealth out of a lack of trust.
What do we do all day then? As Sven Böttcher also describes in his book, in our new society everyone can do the occupation that he or she enjoys. We are so different and versatile that everything will be taken care of.
Some like to tailor clothes, others provide entertainment with videos and theatre, some are fascinated by permaculture and plant and harvest food, others like to process it into delicious dishes; some love wine growing and singing, others like to care for sick and elderly people or play with the children.
Only yesterday I experienced this in the present: a friend bought a house nearby, which includes a huge piece of land. He had never planned to own so much land. Together with his girlfriend, he decided to grow organic vegetables. Since this is extremely much work, they asked friends and followers on social networks if anyone wanted to help in exchange for vegetables. And so yesterday, ten of us stood there together and planted 3,000 little vegetable plants for eight hours on a Sunday.
I will regularly help my boyfriend with the gardening because it is a wonderful balance to working at the PC.
In the evening, after the work was done, we drank wine together that my friend, a winegrower, had brought. And we talked about how we realised how good it is for us to help others. That we all faced existential fears in one way or another due to the pandemic, but now - thanks to such days together and mutual help - felt safer than ever. For several months now, my friend has also been sharing the house with his sister and her husband, as they have not been able to find a flat they can afford and their savings are almost exhausted. They model solidarity and feel enriched by it.
How nice to realise that here, where I live - in a village in the centre of Mallorca - I can already see my vision in action everywhere. Even if the majority of people do not yet join in and seem to be travelling in a different matrix, I realise that the new world I wish for already exists in parallel.
I am very fortunate to come from the middle class and to be able to look around a bit everywhere. I learned foreign languages and, as a foreigner, got to know different people of all income levels in France and Spain. In Ibiza, I spent a whole evening talking to a millionaire at a high-class restaurant opening, who ended up crying in my arms because she was so touched by my genuine interest in her feelings.
A few days later, I was sitting on a rocky cove drinking beer out of cans with friends I had met in my then neighbourhood near Palma. They worked as construction workers in Mallorca, had family in Madrid and kept telling me about their worries about being so far away from family so often. About how their wives complained because all the day-to-day child rearing was left to them while they didn't know what to do: They had learned nothing else, and it seemed to me that their work was fun for them, despite 38 degrees in the shade, simply because they are fun-loving people.
I noticed that the rich woman was much more unhappy and lonely than my poorer friends. I could imagine how she would have enjoyed herself together with us on the beach. But just as construction workers can't just go to a millionaire's party, millionaires can't just march into the nearest regular pub and make connections. I just read a very inspiring paragraph about this in the book "Reset: Less is More" by Erika Helene Etminan:
*"We thought the caste system was abolished? Far from it, it is only more subtle than in India. But it is not only the self-proclaimed upper class that plays this game; all social classes have their own cults. With a cult, one celebrates one's group/class membership and identity. It is hardly possible to move up to another, higher class if one does not master the 'secret language' that is valid there. But going down to the lower classes doesn't work either. One remains among oneself, no fraternisation please! With a cult, you celebrate your own lifestyle: you stage yourself and your own identity. Life is a big theatre!
I wish for fraternisation in our future! To be able to laugh with humour at the quirks of one's own "class/group", to accept ourselves and others as we are, and to allow a natural transformation to come from this. Letting go of what harms us, taking over from others what brings us joy. And above all: listen to each other, observe and reflect on ourselves and our habits as a "class". Curious to get a taste of what others are doing.
# "Less superficiality - More profundity".
This title is also stolen from Etminan's book. I wish we would open up more to the really important things, accept and show our vulnerability. Now that we really listen to each other and are curious about each other, we have nothing to fear. It will be a great liberation for all of us to be allowed to be the way we feel: also sometimes bad-tempered and grumpy, also angry and sad, offended and pushed back. We finally understand all these feelings, especially the unpleasant ones, as the spice that makes life worth living.
This aspect is probably one of the main reasons that repulsed me about such a utopia: the mistaken belief that there should only be pleasant feelings - the very thought makes me nauseous. No, life plays in all colours and emotions. No one wants only sunshine. Refreshing rain, wild storms, raging thunderstorms belong to life.
As I write, I notice the next mistake here: A utopia only concerns the man-made system anyway, not the natural circumstances of life such as death and love, which we cannot control. This realisation alone fills me with relief and inner peace: our system is man-made, and therefore we can change it.
# Nature everywhere
Through our rediscovered connection to nature, we plant trees like crazy, marvel at the infinite generosity and abundance that the earth gives us, learn permaculture and are surrounded by plants and water, whether we live in the city or in the country.
Even today, some neighbourhoods in Hamburg or Leipzig seem to me as if a few apartment buildings had strayed into the forest. So it is possible and only needs to be extended to all other city districts that have been completely concreted over up to now. Nature often comes back even through asphalt, if only we stop "repairing" and building.
# Transforming beauty
We have also realised that beauty is good for us. So we design our neighbourhoods and places of residence more consciously and more beautifully. In the art exhibition "Beauty" by Sagmeister & Walsh, one and a half years ago in Hamburg, I saw photos of urban places that had been created completely without thought and had never been consciously designed. Desolate and ugly car parks, tunnels and noise barriers can be designed beautifully and enrich the everyday life of city dwellers ("Beauty" by Sagmeister & Walsh, chapter 5).
One example is particularly impressive: Tirana, the capital of Albania, was in a terrible state after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. The mayor Edi Rama, son of a respected artist, decided at one point to bathe it in colour.
*"Some residents loved their new colourful city, others hated it and asked him to hold a referendum. It turned out that 60 per cent of the participants approved of the changes. Rama additionally had hundreds of illegal buildings demolished and thousands of trees planted. The changes led to a decrease in crime and increased tax revenues, as the population was made to feel that the government was finally doing something. Tirana has now become something of a tourist attraction, something that would have been unimaginable a few years ago. "*
Also in Rio de Janeiro, an artist sat down with the inhabitants of a favela to make it more beautiful.
*Side by side with the residents, they created paintings that integrated buildings, squares and streets. The favela project earned international praise and became an inspiration for similar projects in other parts of South America. "*.
In my vision, all people create their homes together and artfully, colourfully and vibrantly.
How do we shape politics in the future? In my new world, it somehow does not appear. Perhaps because people organise themselves locally in small, manageable groups and no longer need politicians at all? They are superfluous. We all live locally oriented, some travel and network groups of people as a kind of ambassador between communities, most live in their place of residence and have no need at all to travel all the time anymore, as they now shape their everyday place as they wish. Maybe they go on a trip for a change of scenery and to build new synapses in their brains, to learn, but life becomes much more relaxed and less hectic.
I haven't travelled in over a year - except for two weekend trips to the neighbouring islands - and I don't miss it at all. I love where I live. It's easy when you live in Mallorca? It wasn't always like that. Until the end of February, I lived near Palma in a rather built-up neighbourhood right next to the airport. I missed nature, I missed social contacts, and I was constantly flying to Germany to see my family, but also to enjoy the forest and the lakes.
Two months ago - startled by the total curfew a year ago - I finally moved to the village and found a place here that has everything that makes me happy: a forest on the doorstep and a train connection to Palma, so that I am also environmentally mobile. I don't need a car. It's enough if we share a vehicle as a larger group to transport furniture or whatever.
# Economy and production
Yes, we still need furniture, we still love to dress up nicely, kitchen appliances make housework easier. But we don't build anything new, we repair and reuse everything that works. No new cars are produced, they are properly maintained and repaired. No new laptops and mobile phones - these are also repaired. The earth's resources stay where they are. We've already taken enough and look at how we keep reusing them.
For example, after moving house, I was already able to furnish my new flat almost exclusively with second-hand furniture that has been lovingly restored by other people. Second-hand shops are sprouting up. A friend is developing an app that allows people to lend each other clothes. This way we can treat ourselves to new looks without needing money or producing textile waste. We just have to get used to sharing. Here, too, so many approaches are already there. Tirelessly, the new world is already being created by many people whom we have so far overlooked because of our concentration on the evildoers of world politics.
There are no more big corporations and no more profits. They are simply gone. I don't know how long it will take for that to happen. Change is as slow as ageing, we don't see it until a few years down the line, and we don't know how either. But it is happening. Maybe because we start boycotting products, stop shopping like idiots, because we have now learned to recognise and satisfy our real needs, so that the whole consumerism craze as a substitute satisfaction stops all by itself, almost without us even noticing it.
Team Mensch knows about its power in my future. We know that we determine how we live. Each individual is absolutely aware of his or her impact, so that no single actor can usurp too much power. If someone thinks he or she is now the king or queen of the world and makes laws that make no sense to us, we simply ignore them. We might give them a pen and paper to put their fantasies on paper if it gives them pleasure. And then we hang them on our fridge and smile with amusement, "Oh, how sweet that they imagine we'd go along with such crap."
We live in our little communities the way it feels good to us, and our only laws are given to us by nature. From it we learn, and our questions in the back of our minds are, in all small and big decisions: Is it in harmony with the flow of life, and what makes a life worth living as a human being?
This is how we transform the "tyranny of small decisions" described by Maja Göpel into the "blessing of small decisions".
# Breathe a sigh of relief
There you go! As I end this text at this point, I feel my back straighten, my chest expand, and my thoughts continue to hop-skip towards this new world. Into it. A little further every day.
And before I know it, I have new wrinkles at the edges of my eyes, I have grown older, more fulfilled, and I see it: the change that was always already happening at the same time as we were crying out for it. "I am already here," he said, but we didn't hear him because we were too busy turning to the apocalypse, which was and is also always here at the same time. And every day anew we can decide in which direction we devote our thoughts and consequently also our energy and our actions.
I continue to love reading books critical of the system. But always with the question in mind: what conclusions can I draw from them to work for change in my small decisions and behaviours in everyday life?
Note: This text first appeared on rubikon.news: https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/das-team-mensch-9