The massacre of My Lai and the massacre of the Second World War… where did this continuum of violence stem from? How was it possible for the Holocaust to happen? Will it be possible to end global violence – once and for all?
I want to introduce the book “Future without War” by Dieter Duhm with a personal experience:
Some time ago I met a few women for a talk. It was a warm evening, we sat outside, surrounded by lovely flowers in bloom. In the growing twilight Luz Maria from Colombia told us the story of her life. She was visiting Europe for the first time. She is a 50 year old campesina, a peasant, who can neither read nor write. At the age of sixteen she was almost killed. The machete missed her head by inches, hit her left thumb almost severing it. Her husband and her eldest son were killed years ago. Since then Luz Marina has cared for herself and her six children all on her own. The campesinos are easy game for the armed groups, be they military, police, paramilitary, guerrillas or simply bandits who are not bound by any moral authority nor subject to the rule of law. Only in the last few years over 150 people from her village were killed, some of them in a most gruesome way.
Luz Marina however cannot go away. Where to? The situation is just as bad elsewhere; at least there in her village she has a small piece of land where she can grow food to meet the basic needs of her family.
The fate of Luz Marina is the fate of millions, probably billions of human beings who live on our planet today. Where should they go?
Future without War has been written in response to such fates. The book wants to save people. To do so it sets aside all the sweeping gestures and trendiness of today’s world of short-lived effects and advertising spots. The reader is asked to study its theory, sentence by sentence, thought by thought. And by so doing it conveys the logic how to effectively help the world. This book explains how the earth can be healed.
The author, himself confronted by violence early on in life, has left all conventional paths behind and has dedicated his life to the question of how a non-violent world can be created. He is, as many visionaries are, way ahead of his time. He has had to overcome many barriers in a life that has been beset with difficulties and hostility. In this book he leads us into the intellectual and spiritual space of a “Healing Biotope”, the first of which was developed a few years ago in Southern Portugal.
Apart from some biographical sketches, the book is a collection of texts and talks which he wrote and gave while teaching at the Peace School of Tamera. Repetitions in the content were often unavoidable but even so they can prove useful by helping the reader to follow the train of thought from different angles.
In this book Dieter Duhm hands on to the next generation the basis of his political knowledge for a future without war. He sheds light on the countless possibilities available to us human beings, if only we are ready to open upto new intellectual and spiritual resources. The Earth, her human societies, her crisis areas and trouble spots, her creatures, her atmosphere, her waters and biotopes can be healed just as the body of a human being can be healed, as soon as we discover the necessary healing forces and put them into action.
On first sight, the aims of the book appear impossible. Nevertheless, it does reveal new courses of action which have not yet been considered or tried before. It sets out a global vision where individual thoughts come together rather like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and bit by bit the full picture gradually develops until it all can be clearly seen. It is at this point that we are able to unerringly follow the path towards a humane future.
What is being taught in this book is the knowledge of a new era. It teaches us to no longer separate theory from experience, spiritual and intellectual work here and everyday life there, the objective world “out there” and a subjective world “in us”. Equally it teaches us not to separate between those who live in crisis areas and those who do not, i.e. ourselves, who have a roof over our head and full refrigerator. We are all part of one and the same family of life. We all suffer from the same illness. Our own healing, together with help for the world’s poor, and protection for the natural world are all part of one and the same process which we must adhere to and reinforce by adopting life-changing decisions.
It appears to me that in a book that claims to present a concrete concept for a future without war, it is essential to introduce the author and shed some light on his background.
What kind of human being is behind such thinking? What was his path to development?
The author Dieter Duhm was born in Berlin in 1942 in the middle of World War II. He experienced violence first hand, in Berlin during the nights of bombing, on the refugee trail to Southern Germany and then afterwards in his new homeland by Lake Constance. He was a stranger and was seen as not belonging in the village. One day, barely six years old, a group of local boys grabbed him, tore his clothes off, tied him to a lamp post and smeared him with tar from head to toe. Again and again they banged his head against a stone kerb. He had done nothing, but to them he was “the stranger”. They needed someone on whom to take out their own anger and their own homelessness. It was there that he received his first lesson on the nature of fascism.
He was about 14 years old when he first heard of the concentration camps. At first he refused to believe that it was true and his mind struggled against the idea telling himself that they must all be criminals and as they must be adults they would not find it so hard or suffer too much. Then he began to persistently ask questions of his parents and of people he knew. He must have troubled them quite a lot. His hopes of finding easy answers soon faded the more facts his research unearthed. There was no consolation in Auschwitz: it was a reality, a reality that could never be undone.
He clung to one last hope that the horrors were the reality and would perhaps never be repeated. But also this hope shattered. Years later he became one of the leaders of the leftist German ‘68-Student-Movement. Together with his comrades he fought against imperialism and the Vietnam War. He saw the photos of Vietnamese women with their breasts cut off. He saw the pictures of people burnt by napalm. He realised then that this was the reverse side of Western morality and culture.
Then he experienced the murder of a man whom his comrades believed to be an informer. This made him realise that an elementary fact of political life is that ideological beliefs are interchangeable as long as man’s character structure remains the same.
In other words it will all remain the same as long as human beings grow up under the same old conditions, as long as they are exposed to the same sexual prohibitions during puberty and as long as they experienced the same fear of loss and jealousy during adulthood.
Why was it that the visions of an ideal human society could not be realised? Because the obstacle does not exist in outer conditions only, but is to be found primarily in the inner structures of human beings and in their ways of thinking. It is impossible to build a free society with people who have been formed and shaped in authoritarian circumstances. It is impossible to create a humane form of free love with people who have been repressed and who have condemned sexuality. It is impossible to establish a non-violent society if inner impulses of hatred and violence are simply suppressed and left unresolved. A revolution that has not taken place in the inner realm will never succeed in the outer world. This is one of the lessons of history.
(D. Duhm: The Sacred Matrix)
However, the leftist movement did not go along with these ideas.
Dieter Duhm did not re-integrate himself into bourgeois society. He declined various offers for professorships. In the face of global violence he was not able to put up with the daily routine.
He decided to retreat to a lonely farm house in Lower Bavaria and there to reflect on it all. The massacre of My Lai and the massacre of the Second World War… – where did this continuum of violence stem from? How was it possible for the Holocaust to happen? How could good family men turn over night into concentration camp executioners? Is it possible to end global violence once and for all?
His country retreat turned into an intellectual and spiritual workshop for a humane future. He occupied himself with many different sources of thinking and wisdom, with Nietzsche, Hegel and van Gogh, Rudolf Steiner, Jesus, Lao Tse, Wilhelm Reich, Prentice Mulford, Teilhard de Chardin. Slowly the individual fragments of knowledge began to fall together and show a new overall picture, a preliminary stage for his later holographic view. A new intellectual and spiritual pattern began to form itself based on the latest findings of biology, cybernetics, psychoanalysis and mathematics as well as art, history and theology. A vision emerged: yes, it was possible! Peace could prevail.
Out of the vision he formulated a political concept beginning where wars are an occurrence of daily life and are forever breaking out anew as in the relationships between human beings, between man and woman, between children and adults, individuals and society, nature and man. It is in these areas that a change has to take place, where a shift in practise has to be shown, not only intellectually, or in words, but also by concrete example.
He began to put his ideas into practise, created in 1978 the first “Social Experiment”, suffered many setbacks, met resistance, slander and hostility from society at large. He started from scratch again ever deepening and correcting his concept. Long years passed without any visible sign of success. But he kept at it.
His belief in that inner life pattern which in later works he calls the Sacred Matrix still grows. Although he turned away long ago from Christianity and all other religions, a prayer for help and support started to grow inside of him that became forever louder. He does not know to whom he prayed – it was simply prayer all by itself.
He founded his belief on compassion, research and experience rather than on traditional dogma. Above all of this was his belief in humanity, in its powerful insight and capacity for truth.
In 1995, after long years of preparation, he finally founded the Tamera centre in Portugal together with his partner in life, Sabine Lichtenfels; the physicist Charly Rainer Ehrenpreis and others. Today, after more than 30 years of work, the project has entered a phase of realisation corresponding to the original dream.
The book is something like a political legacy for the next generation. May the young people of all countries adopt its thoughts and may they cooperate to create a future without war.