Upheavals which brought endless suffering, but also unexpected waves of willingness to help; which made visible the cracks in the thin ice of our still not really democratically constituted Europe and strengthened neo-nationalism; which shook our feeling of security regarding the threat of Islamist terror; which showed us the catastrophic humanitarian and ecological consequences of an unfettered monetary system; which confronted us with increasing urgency with the question of what is really important to us on this earth.
That in turn is not a new question! Just annoying that we cannot answer it without the answer having an effect on our own life. Perhaps it might help to formulate this outlook with the help of some words of Rudolf Steiner, who said: “If you seek yourself, then seek outside in the world. If you seek the world, then seek within yourself.” Might the upheaval in the end be in ourselves?
A few weeks ago I visited an elderly gentleman who had established a farm in the wonderful low mountain landscape of Virginia with the primary aim of giving the bees a dignified place to live: in a country in which two thirds of all bee colonies are driven about in huge containers in order to fertilise the gigantic monocultures which are the reason why they would starve outside the flowering time without these transports in the first place. There are regions of China in which the fruit trees are already pollinated by hand because there are no longer any bees.
The reason for my visit was the idea that the far over 1,000 Waldorf schools worldwide should start to keep bees before the arrival of the hundredth anniversary of this educational movement in 2019 or, where this is prohibited, plant trees for them.
Bees are beings of the sun which are not just needed to fertilise two thirds of our food plants but show us above all the state of our souls. To say it with Steiner’s words once more: “The whole bee colony is actually permeated with love.” The love we carry in our hearts is the “substance of the bee colony”. What dies when they die? What happens with us when we turn the earth into a place in which they can live? Will it then turn into a place in which people can live in accord with their humanity?
The question thus arises whether we are affected sufficiently by upheaval to make the decisions which change the world. The bees are a wonderful picture of the spiritual power without which our freedom lacks dignity: the power of a love which wants to take effect. Love is the honey of freedom without which our existence on this earth turns bitter.
Henning Kullak-Ublick, class teacher from 1984–2010 at the Flensburg Free Waldorf School; board member of the German Association of Waldorf Schools, the Friends of Waldorf Education and the International Forum for Steiner/Waldorf Education – Hague Circle.