Evelin Lindner's Publications & Teaching
Publications | Teaching | 2012 Book on A Dignity Economy | 2010 Book on Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security | 2009 Book on Emotion and Conflict | 2006 Book on Humiliation and International Conflict
Profile and Past
CV English | CV French | CV German | CV Norwegian | CV Chinese | CV Japanese | CV Spanish | CV Portuguese
Evelin's Global Life World and Scientific Enquiry | 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nomination | 2014 HumanDHS Lifetime Award | 2009 "Prisoner’s Testament" Peace Award in Norway | 2006 SBAP Award for Applied Psychology | 1993 Global Responsibility Festival "Hamburger Ideenkette"
Pictures and Videos
The pictures are meant to document Evelin's efforts and whereabouts to the HumanDHS network
2015 pictures | 2014 pictures | 2013 pictures | 2012 pictures | 2011 pictures | 2010 pictures | 2009 pictures | 2008 pictures | pictures until the end of 2007
|Picture taken by Evelin Frerk, www.evelinfrerk.de
Please see more pictures here
Evelin Gerda Lindner, M.D., Ph.D. (Dr. med. and Dr. psychol.)
Founding President (*)
I have learned so much from God that I can no longer call myself a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew. The truth has shed so much of itself in me that I can no longer call myself a man, a woman...
- Fourteenth century Persian Sufi poet Hafiz (see more here)
My personal, slightly varied version would perhaps go as follows:
I have learned so much from the larger universe of meaning around us that I can no longer call myself a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew. The truth has shed so much of itself in me that I can no longer call myself a man, a woman...
I do not believe, I experience!
- Joan Jonas, artist, 2015 Venice Biennale.
Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
― Rainer Maria Rilke, in "Briefe an einen jungen Dichter," 1929.
The highest that we can attain to is not Knowledge, but Sympathy with Intelligence.
- Henry David Thoreau, in "Walking," 1862
We strive toward knowledge, always more knowledge, but must understand that we are, and will remain, surrounded by mystery.
- Marcelo Gleiser, in "The Island of Knowledge," 2014.
He drew a circle that shut me out --
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!
- Edwin Markham, Oregon poet laureate (1852-1940)
When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
- Cree prophecy
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We have to learn to see the world anew.
- Albert Einstein
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
- Buckminster Fuller
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
- Margaret Mead (1901-1978)
People ask me, "Why are we here?" We are here to complete the final step in the evolutionary process, the simple step that has eluded humanity for thousands of years: Treat everyone around you with human dignity.
- Philip S. Berg
You are not required to complete the task [of tikkun olam, healing the world]; neither are you allowed to lay it down.
You don't measure your individual contribution against the totality of the task. You measure your contribution against the totality of your life.
- attributed to Rabbi Tarfon (as written in the Talmud)
We work for the unseen harvest.
- Irwin Abrams
I am neither a citizen of Athens, nor of Greece, but of the world.
To prevent someone who KNOWS from filling the empty space,
this is the goal that Wilfred Bion professes for his work, a goal I deeply resonate with.
To the nondualist, reality is ultimately neither physical nor mental, but an overwhelming state or realisation beyond words. There are many variations of this conceptualisation, at its core the view that while different phenomena are not the same, they are inseparable, or that there is no hard line between them. We see this approach in mystical traditions of many religions, particularly traditions originating in Asia... Kashmir Shaivism can be divided into three fundamental traditions, one of them Pratyabhijna Sastra, which emphasises 'realisation' and 'recognition' (of Anuttara, the Supreme). The Pratyabhijna school, in Sanskrit 'spontaneous recognition,' does not require any upayas (means), that is, there is nothing to practice. Recognising 'who you are' is all that is needed.
- Evelin Lindner (2007), Peace and Dignity: More than the Absence of Humiliation - What We Can Learn From the Asia-Pacific Region, paper written upon invitation from the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (ACPACS) at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, for their Occasional Papers Series, after the author had spent one month (August 2007) at APACS.
Spirituality refers to our relationship with the sacredness of life, nature, and the universe, and this relationship is no longer felt to be confined to formal devotional practice or to institutional places of worship… spiritual development is the intrinsic human capacity and yearning to embed the self in something greater than the self. In contrast, religions are the cultural mechanisms that can provide rituals and beliefs to aid this process.
- David Tacey
• Overview over Doctoral Research: Somalia - A Case-Study: Humiliation and Coping in War
Life & Work
It is my life-project to build Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (HumanDHS) as a global fellowship of concerned academics and practitioners. We are now ca. 1,000 people, globally, and ca. 40,000 people from more than 180 countries read our website per year. The vision for our network is to serve as a global enabling platform, giving space and encouragement to people who wish to dignify our world and transcend humiliation. We wish to stimulate systemic change, globally and locally, to open space for equality in dignity and mutual respect and esteem to take root and grow, thus ending humiliating practices and breaking cycles of humiliation throughout the world.
We attempt to "walk the talk" also within our network, which means that we invite diversity, not least diverse approaches to studying our very topic, namely dignity and humiliation. I contribute with my particularly broad historical and transcultural approach, however, this does not mean that others have to "sign up" to my approach. We warmly invite other approaches into our network, also if they are very different. Our motto is unity in diversity, or, more precisely, MORE unity, combined with MORE diversity.
In other words, I do not wish to dominate our network in any way, not in its theoretical approaches, nor in its practice. Rather, I am our network's principal pathfinder, ambassador, and servant. I do not serve any self-interest with my work with HumanDHS other than that I wish to nurture the vision of a new world, a world of equal dignity for all. I am not interested in building a personal "career," or get "tenure" anywhere (except that I consider myself to be initiator of and a professor at our World Dignity University, see my invitation), or publishing as many articles as possible, or defending a "turf," or "making money" - I live almost without possessions and money, and would need only marginally more funds in order to not be caught in humiliating situations (for example, I would like to pay resonsibly for a health insurance for myself, or, be able to take a taxi when I am tired instead of the bus, just to list a few examples).
If historical times were less critical, I would indulge in building my identity as an artist and designer (most of my work is lost, very little is preserved, see some drawings made in Egypt, or a mural in Hamburg, or my design of alternative ways of sitting - see the Office Cockpit project). However, since my global life has provided me with a unique set of experiences, I feel obliged to offer them to the human family, i.e. to invest in helping to build a world of more dignity. In times of crisis, "normal" life has to take second place. Current times often remind me of Nazi-Germany: We consider it to be obscene when people, who had the resources to stand up merely stood by and overlooked the atrocities that were perpetrated around them. To me, equally, current world affairs are in such a dire state that I cannot but stand up.
May I share a bit more about my background:
Usually, science, at least until recently, has been dominated by Western scholars. Therefore, much research is situated in a Western cultural context. A Western scholar typically begins research within his or her own cultural context and then makes some allowances for historic and cultural variations. Larger cultural contexts and an analysis of historic periods in human history are less emphasized. Dialogue and bridge-building with other academic fields and other cultural realms are not easy to achieve even in today’s increasingly connected world.
I have lived as a global citizen for more than thirty years (due to being born into a displaced family), and have thus acquired an understanding not just of one or two cultural realms, but of many (I use the term "citizen" in the spirit of peace linguistics, see also Newsletter 17). The result is that I paint a broad picture that includes historical and transcultural dimensions. In my work, the usual approach is inversed: I use larger cultural contexts as they were shaped throughout human history as a lens to understand the human condition, including emotions, with particular emphasis on dignity and humiliation.
On 10th June 2012 I received the following message:
I believe that this broad long-term and transcultural approach, an approach that rests on a hard-earned global identity, which in turn heals a family history of displacement, makes me uniquely suitable, and thus gives me particular responsibility, to be a nurturer of a global fellowship such as HumanDHS. Even though there is a growing number of people today, who, like me, are developing a global or at least multi-local identity and become citizens of the world, I do not personally know another person with similar global experience and skills, a fact that translates itself into a duty for me, a duty to put these skills at maximum use and not waste them. Being a professor at a local university, for example, is a role that many people can fill, however, I do not see many people being able to fill my global role, at least not for the time being. I hope this will change in the future. I wish to be able to retreat and gain some personal breathing space from this duty, which I carry proudly and with deep sincerity, but, which also weighs heavily on my shoulders.
I was born in 1954, into a family that is deeply scarred by the two World Wars, particularly World War II. The trauma that engulfs my family, for them, is a never-ending "normality." I believe, at least in hindsight, that this suffering gave my life its direction. "Never again" or "how can we build a sustainable bio- and sociosphere for the future global human family" became central for my life. Already as a schoolgirl, I was interested in the world's cultures and languages, and I eventually learned to familiarize myself (to various degrees) with many languages, among them the key languages of the world. My aim was to become part of many cultures, not only "visit" or "study" "them." I wanted to develop a gut feeling for how people in different cultures define life and death, conflict and peace, love and hate, and how all look at "others."
When I finished school, I studied for ten years, first psychology and then medicine. I used both studies for my own anthropological explorations. During those ten years, as a student of psychology and medicine, I studied and worked in New Zealand, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Israel, West Africa, USA, Germany, and Norway. I graduated in psychology in 1978, and in medicine in 1984, both from Hamburg University in Germany (later I gained my doctorate in medicine in 1994 from Hamburg University, Germany, and my doctorate in psychology from Oslo University, Norway, in 2001, downloadable here).
From 1984-1987, I worked as a Clinical Psychologist and Psychological Counselor at the American University in Cairo, and from 1987-1991, I had my own private practice in Cairo. I offered clinical psychology and counseling in English, French, German, Norwegian, and, after some years, also in Egyptian-Arabic. My clients came from diverse cultural backgrounds, many from the expatriate community in Cairo, such as Americans, Europeans, Scandinavians, Palestinians, and citizens of other African countries, as well as from the local community, both Western-oriented, and traditionally-oriented Egyptians. Part of my work was "culture-counseling," meaning that foreigners working in Egypt asked me for my support in understanding Egyptian culture, Arab culture, and Islam. My doctoral thesis in psychological medicine (1994) systematized this quest and addressed the topic of quality of life in a comparative manner (I examined how the notion of a "good life" is being defined in Egypt and in Germany).
In 1991, I found myself again in Europe. Perplexed by the lack of a sense of global responsibility in Germany, I founded the NGO Better Global Understanding in 1993 in Hamburg, Germany, and organized a festival with 20 000 participants under the motto "Global Responsibility." In 1994, I stood as candidate for the European Parliament, again with the wish to further global understanding.
The years that followed, led up to my work on humiliation that is the starting point for the HumanDHS network and this website. This work grew directly out of my global quest. The now more than thirty years of learning how to be a global citizen - starting when I was twenty - were no easy years. Particularly my attempts to integrate having a family were hurtful and exhausting, particularly when I approached the age of forty (please see To my Children and the Children of the World). Yet, more so, renouncing old yearnings and beliefs, building a global identity, and making the planet my home, not only theoretically, but also in practice, was hard work - see the geographical and chronological vision of my global life design. It was (and still is) like building a ship while at sea (Otto Neurath uses the ship metaphor in his work, see his "Protokollsätze" in 1932).
I feel that I have learned a number of valuable lessons on my path, lessons that are relevant not least for scientific inquiry. I have learned that human beings all over the globe share deep commonalities and that we are thus perhaps much less divided than is often assumed by those who are residents in one country and "visit" "others" as tourists, for business, diplomacy, or fieldwork. As long as one "visits" "others," or lives in expatriate ghettos, or defines others with labels such as "exotic," one stays "outside."
Over the years my intuition grew that, basically, all human beings yearn for connection, recognition, and respect, and that its withdrawal or denial, experienced as humiliation, may be the strongest force that creates rifts between people and breaks down relationships. I believe that the desire for connection, recognition, and respect indeed unites us human beings, that it is universal and can serve as a platform for contact and cooperation. I suggest that many of the rifts that we can observe around the world stem from the humiliation that is felt when recognition and respect is lacking. I do not believe that ethnic, religious, or cultural differences create rifts by themselves; on the contrary, diversity can be a source of mutual enrichment - however, diversity is enriching only as long as it is embedded within relationships that are characterized by mutual respect. It is when this respect and this recognition are failing, that those who feel humiliated are prone to highlight differences in order to "justify" rifts that were caused, not by these differences, but by humiliation.
I began developing this intuition already when I started working as a clinical psychologist with individuals and families in Germany (1980-1984). My experience indicated that humiliation is of crucial importance in human relations - both as act and experience - and that cycles of humiliation may permeate people's lives with an all-consuming intensity. Vogel & Lazare (1990) illustrate this point in "The Unforgivable Humiliation - a Dilemma in Couples' Treatment." Later, particularly during my time in Egypt, I understood how relevant these dynamics are also at group levels, or even at macro levels, between nations or whole world regions. The example of the Treaties of Versailles, humiliating Germany after World War I, is but one example.
During the years, I increasingly felt that the severity of rifts caused by humiliation call for research. I started designing a research project on humiliation in 1995/6, and conducted it at the University of Oslo, beginning in 1997, and concluding in 2001 with a doctoral dissertation in social psychology (reaching into anthropological psychology, philosophy, sociology, and political science). The research project was titled The Feeling of Being Humiliated: A Central Theme in Armed Conflicts. A Study of the Role of Humiliation in Somalia, and Rwanda/Burundi, Between the Warring Parties, and in Relation to Third Intervening Parties. Throughout the main phase of the four years of research, I carried out 216 qualitative interviews, addressing Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi, and their history of genocidal killings. From 1998 to 1999, the interviews were conducted in Africa (in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, in Kigali and other places in Rwanda, in Bujumbura, capital of Burundi, in Nairobi in Kenya, and in Cairo in Egypt), and from 1997 to 2001 also in Europe (in Norway, Germany, Switzerland, France, and in Belgium). Since 2001, I am adding other parts of the world, for example, Southeast Asia South America, and United States of America.
The initial research questions were: What is experienced as humiliation? What happens when people feel humiliated? When is humiliation established as a feeling? What does humiliation lead to? Which experiences of justice, honor, dignity, respect and self-respect are connected with the feeling of being humiliated? How is humiliation perceived and responded to in different cultures? What role does humiliation play in aggression? What can be done to overcome the violent effects of humiliation? Where can I observe cases of humiliation? If humiliation played a role after World War I for Germany, is humiliation just as relevant in more recent cases of war and genocide, such as Rwanda, Somalia, Cambodia, and so on? Is humiliation also relevant for relationships at even higher macro-levels, for example between "civilizations" or cultural regions such as was described by Samuel P. Huntington (1996)?
Since 2001, I have concentrated on building a Theory of Humiliation (please see background reflections from 2004, as short summary, and longer paper) and through this work I have in many ways contributed to creating a new multidisciplinary field in the academic landscape, namely humiliation studies, not as "single interest scholarship" but as entry point into broader transdisciplinary analysis. Humiliation, this is the insight, permeates everything, from micro to macro level, from the global and local political realms, to the inner workings of organizations and corporations, to our private lives, and reaches even into every person's inner dialogue and how we frame our selves.
In 2001, I met Morton Deutsch, whose work I had admired for years, and was deeply touched by the encouragement that he, together with Andrea Bartoli, Peter Coleman, and Betty Reardon, extended to me. They encouraged me to found an institute or center or global network for humiliation studies and affiliate it, among others, with the Columbia University Conflict Resolution Network, which had been founded by, among others, SIPA, ICCCR, and the Peace Education Program, and has been superseded, in 2009, by the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4).
Since we wish our Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies fellowship to be multi-local and global, we have expanded our affiliations globally to many universities and institutions (see, for example, our Links page, as well as the affiliations of the members in our Global Staff, Global Core Team, Global Advisory Board, Global Partners, Global Supporters, as well as Education Team, Research Team, and Intervention Teams).
Initially, we developed a long list of tentative names for our initiatve (institute or center or global network or fellowship), such as Global Network of Humiliation Studies, International Humiliation Studies, or Humiliation Watch. We finally homed in on Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (or HumanDHS, see how we developed our logo). I am working on building our network, fellowship, and program, writing book/s and articles, teaching, and giving lectures. Our aim is to invite academics and practitioners to contribute to our HumanDHs fellowship and to knit together academia and practice in innovative ways, helping to prevent and avoid cycles of humiliation, promoting a world of equal dignity instead.
Since we wish to emphasize non-hierarchical structures, I do my utmost to model a new form of leadership. After Don Klein passed away in 2007, Linda Hartling urged me to honor him by accepting his insistence that I should carry the title "President." Yet, I do not wish to do that in an unreflected traditional way. I prefer to be a facilitator and nurturer of our fellowship as long as I am needed, and step back when others can take over. Linda recommends the following book as background reading: Barbara Pachter, and Susan Magee (2000). The Power of Positive Confrontation. New York, NY: MJF Books. Please see also Michael Britton's, Brian Ward's, and Francisco Gomes de Matos' reflections on this topic. See also Mary Robinson making the point that our notion of leadership needs to be enriched, that it needs to be more enabling (she makes the point that women leaders are particularly called on to carry this new aspect of leadership forward). (As to my name, it reflects my global experience. As a child, my name was "Evelin Lindner." In my thirties, somebody asked me for my middle name. I had no idea what this really meant and and asked my mother whether I had any other names. She told me that I indeed had been given another name, namely "Gerda," which is her first name. So, my name transmuted into "Evelin Gerda Lindner." In 2006, when my book Making Enemies came out, the name "Gerda" was met with great antipathy among some of my American friends and we decided to drop it. Now, it seems that it is back, albeit as a "G." When asked whether I like my name, my reply is that I do not relate to it any more than that it is the linguistic narrative I was born into. As a child, however, I strongly disliked my first name "Evelin." I associated "e" and "i" with whitish-yellowish colors and feeble weakness and wished my name were full of "o"s, which I associated with a shiny sparkle of dark blue color and passionate strength.)
In newsletter 10, I spell out in detail that my role is two-fold: 1) as an enabling nurturer of our entire network, I promote unity in diversity, 2) as a researcher I am part of diversity, i.e., I have my own approach, one among many diverse approaches. It is of crucial importance, for me and our network members, not to mix both roles. In particular, I do not wish our members to "subscribe" to my personal research approach, because this would diminish the full range of diversity. As a researcher, I am merely one among many, hoping that my approach is useful, and wishing to encourage others, through my work, to develop their own perspectives. As an enabling nurturer of our overall felowship, I wish to bring to the fore the flourishing of a rich diversity of approaches to our topics of dignity and humiliation.
Let me return to my continued experience of living as a global citizen. I believe that it is not peace-inducing to define the essence of our selves by way of aspects such as nationality or ethnicity. My friends of color tell me: "I wait for the day, when I am not referred to as a 'black lawyer' but when I am just 'me,' just a 'human being'!" Albert Einstein, on his deathbed advised us to "... appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest." Therefore, I try to refrain from connecting "I am" (my essence) with any secondary identity. I limit the use of "I am" to "I am a living creature, a human being, a member of the family of humankind." I would not even say "I am a woman." To my view, all these characteristics are details that do not merit to define our essence. They are important, yes, and they deserve much more of our attention, yet, they need to be secondary to our inclusive humanity. I have developed a unity-in-diversity identity, or as I call it, a "sunflower identity": at the core, I place my essence of seeing me being born as a living creature (as part of the human family into a particular local social and cultural context and narrative), and at the periphery I am proud of three circles of petals that signify my diverse connections with a) the people around the world whom I love, b) the places around the world that I cherish, and c) the cultural achievements of our human family that I admire, wherever they may be located. In this sunflower conceptualization, the core trumps the periphery, yet, though secondary, the periphery flourishes better than if it were primary.
My concept of my identity is the same as my vision for the world: unity in diversity, or, more precisely, a win-win framing of more unity AND AT THE SAME TIME more diversity (as opposed to a win-lose framing of "unity at the expense of diversity," or, even worse, a black and white mutually exclusive "uniformity without diversity" or "division without unity "). This is achievable through the application of what we know as the subsidiarity principle, on which, among others, the European Union is built (meaning that the lowest or smallest competent authority attends to what it is competent for).
In other words, I wish to strengthen both, global and local identities, however, this can only have benign effects, in my view, when it is clear that our shared humanity, our common mindset of humility, and our mutual respect for equal dignity for all, trumps the seed of division that can lurk in diversity. Developing a global identity does not mean erasing local identities, on the contrary, it means adding a global layer on top of local layers of identity, and at the same time strengthening those local layers. It means "harvesting" from all cultural spheres their wisdom in support of Unity in Diversity.
By distancing myself from local and national identity, I do not wish to indicate that I disengage from local responsibilities. On the contrary, I accept more responsibility. I identify as much with German history as with Russian history or any history of the planet. I feel responsible for not repeating atrocities perpetrated by Stalin, or Hitler, or any other dictator. I define Russian history to be as much my history as Japanese or German history: my history is all humankind's history, and I wish to carry the shame and disgust for the destruction that all humankind ever perpetrated, and shoulder the responsibility to build a better world for all of humankind. The world believes that Germans during World War II ought to have stood up and not stood by when Jews were transported away. Six million people died in the Holocaust. Today, social and ecological resources are being hollowed out all around the world. I do not want to stand by, I want to stand up. To do so, I have to identify with all of humankind, I have to make all of humankind my primary identification, and relegate local identities to an important, but secondary place.
I resonate with wartime French resistance hero of 94 years of age, Stéphane Hessel and his call Indignez vous! (Cry Out!). Just as he "cried out" against Nazism in the 1940s, he calls on people today to "cry out against the complicity between politicians and economic and financial powers" and "defend our democratic rights." I recommend the seminal essay "Great Transition" by Paul Raskin. And I admire "What I Believe," by E. M. Forster.
Today, I design my life as a global citizen without a house of my own, living in the "global village," being housed by our HumanDHS network and supporters of our work, living digital (not using paper), and with a minimum of possessions. Wherever I go, I search for three gifts: 1) a loving context in a family home, I avoid hotels, 2) a mattress, since I work with my laptop on my knees, 3) if possible, a reliable online access, since I am the web master of this website and the nurturing of our work is done via email. I decline being full-time part of any local institution. I wish to stay globally flexible (which means that I also forego a full-time professor's salary).
I am the primary initiator and one of the first professors of a World University for Equal Dignity, or World Dignity University, of which our HumanDHS represents the seedbed. As part of this World Dignity University initiative, I welcome being affiliated with many universities around the world, as long as they agree to support my global mission.
It is important for me to make clear that my global life is not a homeless or restless life. I do not even use the term "travel," since I live in the global village and in a village one does not travel, one lives there, even if one moves around in it. When I look for cultural templates for my life, which treats our planet as one undivided locality, I think of migrating foragers, a way of life that defined being human prior to ca. 12,000 years ago. I resonate with what indigenous Native American leader Sitting Bull (1831-1890) said: "White men like to dig in the ground for their food. My people prefer to hunt the buffalo… White men like to stay in one place. My people want to move their tepees here and there to different hunting grounds. The life of white men is slavery. They are prisoners in their towns or farms. The life my people want is freedom." Clearly, I do not hunt buffalo, and I do not have a teepee. Yet, I refrain from defining a small geographical locality as "my home" and the rest as "not my home." My home is the entire global village, all of humanity, all the people living in that village. I do not see my life as nomadic, and, as mentioned above, I do not resonate with the notion of travel. Many people travel extensively, yet, usually, they have a "caged rat race" frame within which they travel. I prefer to "stay still" in the realm of love. I am closer to a person who chooses to opt out of the rat race to live a simpler life nearer to nature, for example, than to a frequent business flyer who travels in circles in the isolated elite bubble of international hotels. I never search for a "place to stay." I move between different relational contexts of love and "a place to stay" is secondary to being embedded into relationships of mutual care. In other words, I see myself being much more "still" and true to "my place," namely love, than those who sacrifice their soul for a rat race that is defined by large-scale societal frames that have increasingly become toxic during the past decades.
I admit, I am a trailblazer—I have not yet met another person who intentionally develops a global life design like me—yet, I believe that my path of global bridge-building could bring great joy to many more. Clearly, not everybody should follow—we need also people who stay—and not everybody who would wish so is in a position to do so. So far, only Western passports open all doors also to those with little monetary resources—and I was privileged enough to happen to be born into such a passport—while the rest is trapped in their countries by the visa requirements surrounding them. Not to speak of even graver barriers. The human rights tenet that "every human being is born free and equal in dignity and rights" has not yet been realized. Yet, there is also the inverse trap of hiding one's lack of dedication and courage behind fictional barriers. Having to stay put to guard one's possessions might be such an excuse. Freeing onseself from accumulated possessions beyond what one can carry in one bag would be a good start to overcome such barriers. Furthermore, the ecological footprint of a global life does not have to be large. I have moved about not just by plane, but by foot, bus, ship, and train; I know the desert on horse, donkey, and camel; I also have trained to build and fly simple gliders. And there is no need to become a hyperglot like me either; I have successfully communicated by simply being human. Global citizenship is also no intrinsic part of casino consumerism. On the contrary. It can be used as a path to avoiding unnecessary consumerism and bringing indigenous gift economy to the entire human family. It is actually very possible to learn from our migratory forefathers prior to the onset of sedentary life.
Here is a list of a few people or historical settings which relate to my life design (chronologically):
• Philosopher Karl Jaspers described the Axial Age (800–200 BCE) as "an interregnum between two ages of great empire, a pause for liberty, a deep breath bringing the most lucid consciousness." A quest for human meaning was associated with the rise of a new elite class of religious leaders and thinkers in China, India and the Occident, with a tradition of travelling scholars, who roamed from city to city to exchange ideas.
• Socrates (469 BC-399 BC) said (from Plutarch, Of Banishment): "I am neither a citizen of Athens, nor of Greece, but of the world." or "I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world."
• Perhaps I could be called a Peripatetic (NOT the French abuse of that word...), like Aristotle, who taught philosophy while walking in the Lyceum of ancient Athens (I thank Sibyl Schwarzenbach for making me aware of this word).
• Perhaps my path resembles that of a wandering monk (read more here, I thank Dennis Rivers for making me aware of this link). However, there is a profound difference between me and wandering monks: I am not homeless, I do not feel homeless, and it is not homelessness that I wish to highlight. I am at home wherever I am, and this is not an idea, it is not a hope, it is my personal and deeply lived experience.
• In the Middle Ages, there were no capitals or seats of government. Rulers were always on the move. Local communities, with their lords, based on agriculture, were rather sedentary and not yet interconnected as they are today. Anybody who wished to shape larger communities from smaller ones, who wanted to create a higher level of unity, had to begin with bringing local units together by traveling to them as a bridge-builder. Today, global mobility and communication are much more advanced. Yet, still today, global unity is lacking. By being globally mobile, I attempt to further this global unity. Clearly, I am not a medieval king. Still, I take the unifying task very seriously. I regard our HumanDHS network as a seed for an alternative global community. Not only am I not a medieval king, unification in former times was typically imposed from above, not by persuasion but by the sword. I wish to forge a new global identity and consciousness bottom up, a global unity-in-diversity identity, by bridge-building and inviting others to do likewise. As one historical example Otto I (936–973) may serve. He was a traveling king for 180 days a year. 1 000 years before I was born, in Europe, he represented a unifying force in Europe (albeit with the sword, against a common enemy; see the Diet of Auerstadt). Or, anybody, who has visited French castles will have noticed that they all have a room for the king, even if the king never came by. In this spirit, we encourage everybody in our HumanDHS network, if they have a guestroom, to declare their home to be a Dialogue Home for our network members. In this way, we aim at "democratizing" the efforts of former kings, by emphasizing their bridge-building and unifying work (while de-emphasizing any aspect of domination and staying clear of mistaking uniformity for unity).
• My life design resembles that of early humanists, who built their careers outside of universities (which, they felt, produced useless qualifications). Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (sometimes known as Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1466/1469–1536), for example, declined offers to accept a permanent position at a university.
• My path resonates with certain aspects of the lives of Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902), George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1866–1949), Peter D. Ouspensky (1878–1947), and their notions of Cosmic Consciousness Experience and the Fourth Way.
• Bertha von Suttner (1843–1914), pacifist, and the first woman to be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has inspired me. She showed the way to creating future-oriented organizations by placing them in the future as much as possible and as close to the present as little as necessary. She created new institutions, for instance, Die Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft (German Peace Society), and she was its president, even though this was forbidden for women at the time. In other words, she had the courage to transcend existing cultural boundaries.
• After reading my global life design descriptiojn David Balosa wrote (November 10, 2013) that it "made me think about Theodor Adorno's reasoning - "For a man who no longer has a homeland, writing becomes a place to live" (qoted in Dirks, 2001: 227, in Scott, Joan W., and Debra Keates. Schools of Thought: Twenty-Five Years of Interpretive Social Science. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001, pp. 227–251).
• Rosika Schwimmer was a citoyenne du monde (I thank Maggie McFadden for making me aware of her).
• Isabelle Eberhardt's explorative spirit impresses me (I thank Elisabeth Eide for making me aware of her).
• Arne Næss, Norwegian philosopher, looked back on his life in our 2003 Paris meeting and concluded that the one mistake he had made in his life, to his view, was to stay fixed at one university, instead of living a global life as visiting professor.
• The life of Teresa Hsu has been pointed out to me by Bjørn Pettersen. He writes: "As for 'religion' it is a misleading word, making for separation between God and man."
• My life follows in some ways that of American theater director and nomad Peter Sellars.
• In certain ways what I do is akin to the planetary walk of ecologist and environmental activist John Francis.
• In certain ways what I do is also akin to the life of the Peace Pilgrim (I thank Gay Rosenblum-Kumar for making me aware of her).
• French author Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio is a globetrotting novelist hailed as a child of all continents. He won the Nobel prize for literature in 2008.
• Edathil Prabhakar Menon has been a peace activist from the age of 16 when he took the vow of non-violence and became an ardent follower of the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave. (I thank Glen T. Martin for making me aware of him).
• Heidemarie Schwermer lives a life without money (see also the documentary Living Without Money by Line Halvorsen).
• Like "Elf" Pavlik, I see my work as global family building. I thank Ute Scheub for making me aware of Elf Pavlik.
• Increasingly, people live as global digital nomads like me, and internet platforms such as couchsurfing bring people together who otherwise would not meet.
• I am "a citizen pilgrim," whose "principal affinities are with the species and its natural surroundings rather than to any specific state, ethnicity, nationality, civilization, or religion," as described by Richard Falk in his essay Changing the Political Climate: A Transitional Imperative, Great Transition Initiative, September 2014: "The citizen pilgrim is not primarily motivated by averting danger and mitigating injustice on a global scale, although such concerns occupy the foreground of her political consciousness. The most basic drive is spiritual, to pursue the unattainable, to affirm the perfection of the human experience within the diverse settings present in the world. As Goethe said, "him who strives he we may save." By striving, the sense of time comes alive in citizenship and political participation, as it must, if the Mount Everest challenges of the Great Transition are to be successfully traversed."
• Joseph Beuys - "Frühstücksgespräch" 1/2 and 2/2 (I saw this conversation for the first time on 18th April 2015, truly understood Beuys' concept of the social sculpture and was surprised about its resonance with my path. His extensive work is grounded in concepts of humanism, social philosophy, and anthroposophy and led to his "extended definition of art" and the idea of social sculpture as a Gesamtkunstwerk, which, according to him, ought to play a central creative and participatory role in shaping society and politics.)
I wander in the global village, because I wish do to more than decry the world's ineptitude in addressing its global challenges. I wish to adapt my personal life to the world's global challenges, bringing my life "to scale" so-to-speak. Living a global life is one of my ways of doing more than just talk, but walk my talk.
Often it is a challenge for me to stand up for this life-design. Not seldom I am treated (I exaggerate to make the point clear) like a young stupid student, who is a bit crazy, who fails to have a permanent affiliation and a "normal" life, and who therefore altogether is a negligible entity. I am often advised, with somewhat patronizing pity, that I ought to become "realistic." Yet, to me, this advice sounds like telling a medical doctor to become "realistic" and give up treating patients, since they will die anyway. Typically, I meet mainstream disbelief, and are confronted with outcries such as "but, one needs to have a base to stay sane!"
Indeed, the novel elements in our HumanDHS vision (equality in dignity for all, not only locally, but globally), which are expressed, in my case, also in my personal life-design, are often difficult to explain. We are not lacking mainstream status markers, we are not lacking common sense, we have a different vision, a vision that might indeed be of crucial importance for humankind's future.
There are many advantages connected with my global life, both for me personally, and for our network. In the following, I attempt to spell out some of them. I do that because my experience is not shared by many and is therefore rather unfamiliar to most. First, personally, I feel liberated by my nomadic life style, liberated from having to accumulate possessions. (This does not mean that I do not cherish great achievements that would not have been created in a nomadic society, for example, built structures that stood for millennia, like the Egyptian pyramids, or pieces of art; in other words, what I feel liberated from is not possessions per se, but accumulating possessions just for the sake of accumulating, see You Don't Need to Buy This by Amitai Etzioni and The Communitarian Network). I also cherish being part of many families around the world and living many parallel lives. As mentioned earlier, I never look for "a place to stay," but always for "a way to be part." Having an extended global family, with members from many cultural backgrounds, all with diverse sets of perspectives on the world, teaches me first-hand understanding and respect for the diversity in our world. This is what helps me to bring my life to scale with the global challenges that we, as humanity, face.
I cherish the beauty of humankind's cultural achievements, in all cultures (see the description of my sunflower identity above). They are my aesthetic homes. What hurts me deeply is the fact that these achievements are not necessarily valued and visible locally. Currently, the desire for higher status, often translated into an urge to imitate the wealthy West, leads to a degree of global ugliness and dysfunctionality that it often crowds out local beauty and functionality. This state-of-affairs pains me deeply, and transience helps me tackle it. By deconstructing local environments, by searching for the often unfulfilled potential for beauty and functionality, I try to enjoy and nurture this potential for more diversity (see, for example, our World Clothes for Equal Dignity, or World Design for Equal Dignity).
For our HumanDHS fellowship, the advantages of my global nomadism are numerous. To begin with, through my global life, I am pro-actively maintaining the "inside-outside" orientation that is crucial for our global work (both outside and inside perspectives are essential to leadership). In this way, I can better hold our global vision. Furthermore, there are lots of down-to-earth practical advantages. In order to find like-minded people around the world, for instance, to identify people who not only talk the talk but also walk their talk, it is important to get to know people within their social contexts, preferably not just via email or short visits. Living truly globally allows me to serve our network as a global "pathfinder," as a global "collector" of like-minded people. The fact that I usually stay in one place for a while, but not unlimited, enhances my ability to meet people. Many people make an extra effort to see me when they know that the duration of my stay is finite. A mixture of face-to-face meetings and appreciative emailing allows for building our global fellowship that is wider and deeper than a local network based only on physical co-presence or only on virtual contact could ever be. This approach serves our aim to inspire many people and organizations around the world, and motivate them to invest in the vision of dignity. For example, we invite professors at all universities worldwide to motivate their students to do research, and develop curricula that could feed into and help build our face-to-face and online education activities. However, we invite not only professors and students, but also practitioners, in short, everybody who shares this vision to invest into building a global community of dignity (see also our applied ideas).
In other words, I wish to sow as many global seeds as possible, and multiply our message locally and globally, at all levels, and in all segments of society, and this in a long-term fashion, not just as a short-term business, or project, or enterprise, or campaign.
To conclude, my global citizenship expresses the vision of our HumanDHS fellowship in many ways. We, as humankind, have to be cautious with old solutions when we wish to find new paths. My life respresents a search for new solutions, and I am proud that I avoid many old solutions that are narrowly nationally defined, even though I am aware that this still often collides with the mainstream way of looking for solutions. Second, my global citizenship honors the fact that we need to go beyond local and national identities and embrace all of humankind as one family that is united in equal dignity. Third, it brings my life to scale with the global challenges that humankind faces, both ecologically and socially. And fourth, it is very practical for our aim to build an alternative global community of equal dignity for all.
In the early twenty-first century the world finds itself in transition from a traditional culture of coercion to a culture of creativity (though still in its infancy). Creativity will be central to building a sustainable future for the bio- and sociosphere of our human family. Art is a field that fosters creativity. My life could be called as a piece of art, an artistic experiment in serving humankind as a paradigm shifting agent, learning from Thomas S. Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). See, for an example of social art the work done by Amy Franceschini and her friends. In the Transformation Theory of Adult Learning (1991) Jack Mezirow explained how disorienting dilemmas can bring about transformation, dilemmas that unsettle our fundamental beliefs and values. Intercultural communication can have such unsettling effects. I introduce disorienting dilemmas into my own life, through my global quest, intentionally, but also into other people's lives, for example, when I reply to the question "Where are you from?" by saying "I am a member of our human family, like you — I am from planet Earth" (or something in this line). By ways of this reply, I introduce a disorienting dilemma between the culture of the past, and an envisioned culture of the future, a culture in which we define ourselves primarily as part of the entire human family, with shared responsibility for our home planet, rather than lending primacy to our divisions. My life design represents an experiment for a future world culture of true humanity and equality in dignity, not least through its distance to out-dated unsustainable definitions of what is reality and what we should strive for. In many ways I validate the insights of, for example, William Ury (1999), who explains that knowledge as resource for livelihood brings back the win-win framing and wisdom of pre-agricultural hunters-gatherers prior to ten thousand years ago. The disruption and uneasiness that I cause by NOT catering to contemporary mainstream expectations, could be regarded as a measurement of the degree to which we are still anchored in past definitions, many of which may be dysfunctional for a long-term sustainable future.
I would like to invite everybody to try replying "I am a member of our human family, like you" (or something similar), when asked "Where are you from?" The effect will be a deep transformation, for you and your social environment, albeit not always a smooth transformation. I invite everybody to muster the courage to face up to the disruption that is entailed in shifting paradigms.
The new paradigm that I wish to bring into the world is thus a global consciousness - with all its consequences. In The Need for a New World, I explore the notion of communal sharing (CS, Alan Fiske, 1991). It presents itself as a paradigm that would be suited to become a leading paradigm for the human family, a leading paradigm in all walks of life, from economy to academia (as mentioned above, I consider myself to be among the first professors at the World Dignity University, a university where the common good of all humankind guides academic inquiry, rather than national or corporate interest). In my life, I try to embody communal sharing in a number of ways. The problem with new paradigms (Thomas S. Kuhn, 1962) is that they should not be anchored in old paradigms, or, to be more precise, anchoring new paradigms in old ones must be avoided as much as possible if the new paradigm is to have a chance to be seen. However, living a new paradigm without a supporting culture and supporting institutions is difficult. And this is also the dilemma I face. If I take the new paradigm seriously, I should do my utmost to emphasize communal sharing in my life over a self-oriented money orientation. I should invest as much as I can into promoting the new paradigm by working for HumanDHS, and as little as possible in self-orientation, be it with respect to earning money or evading payment (I do not wish to evade taxes, for example). Since I lack any safety net for this pioneer work, I continuously run into difficulties. Well-meaning friends often advise that I should turn to the old paradigm to address those difficulties ("settle down" and be a professor at a university, for example), overlooking that somebody like me, who dedicates her life to making a new paradigm visible, should avoid this strategy as much as possible.
The pragmatics of promoting new paradigms resembles extraordinary expeditions, for example, expeditions to as-of-yet unconquered mountain peaks. I compare our HumanDHS work with an expedition to an not-yet-reached plateau that is located at a much higher altitude than humankind has reached so far (representing the new paradigm). Expeditions are structured in very different ways as compared to "normal life." Expeditions require a certain timing, a particular build-up of strength, and a very special level of dedication. Certain expeditions should not be envisaged altogether if the leaders are not willing to invest their utmost. As explained at the outset, we, as HumanDHS, are now about 1,000 personally invited members globally in our network, and our website has been read by more then 40,000 people from 183 countries only last year. In other words, I, together with our directors, lead an expedition with a large number of people following us. If I take this expedition seriously, I cannot switch to "normal life mode" in the middle of it. We first have to bring the expedition to a certain level, a level of self-driven momentum, where it can continue by itself. Otherwise, the expedition will fall back, and all so-far invested effort will be lost. We have to keep up maximum concentration and maximum dedication until the expedition has at least reached the edge of the plateau and there is a chance that the majority of the participants can proceed further without me, or at least without me investing all my energy and time.
Again, I invite everybody to join our efforts in shifting paradigms.
Allow me to summarize my contributions to our HumanDHS work, inviting all like-minded people to join in:
- I donate my lifetime to building our HumanDHS fellowship. Every year, I donate, in kind, the full-time professor's salary that I forego. I decline offers for a fixed position as a professor in any particular place in the world, since I want to stay globally flexible.
- I do that in order to develop our HumanDHS network as a "seed" for an alternative global community that truly walks the talk.
In practice that means:
- As Founding HumanDHS Director and President, I manage our Globally Mobile HumanDHS Headquarters. I work on the nurturing of our network's relationships, on developing our global organization, and convene our two annual conferences via email (ca. 200 incoming emails per day)
- As Global HumanDHS Ambassador, I meet with people around the world in order to identify and invite new like-minded members into our network - see the geographical and chronological vision of my global life design
- As academic lecturer, I give lectures wherever my path leads me (I am usually invited as guest professor). I consider myself to be the first professor of a World University for Equal Dignity.
- As academic author, I write books, articles, and chapters.
- As part of "walking the talk," I use my own life as a paradigm-shifting message: The human family faces global challenges, and in theory, this is accepted by many. However, only few dedicate their practical lives to the common good of all humankind. The largest global organization, the United Nations, has as its members not individuals but nations. Diplomats, though they live globally, have to serve national interests. Transnational corporations do not serve the global common good, nor do global criminal and terror networks. The average individual is usually fixed within national interests, if not simply by their mortgage. I wish to experiment with bringing my life truly to scale with global challenges.
- Zest of life: The assumption is widespread that one has to "settle down" to be happy. I suspect that this is a myth that emerged through the past ten thousand years of agriculture as an argument to keep underlings put. Since only very few people today attempt to return to the more nomadic lifestyle of the first ninety percent of human history, it is not widely known how much zest of life is unlocked as soon as one puts the quality of global relationships first, and the accumulation of quantities of possessions attached to one place second. I experience an enormous increase of my joy of life ever since I had the courage to stand by my life design (that I live since I am twenty years old, but only dare to endorse as my "official" life since I am forty five), and finally rejected the notion that only a sedentary life can be satisfying.
- Healing of trauma: My new-won global identity has healed my trauma of displacement and painful search for "who am I?" and "where do I belong?" The trauma of displacement that my family suffers (together with millions around the globe who ask "where do I belong?") can, to my view, best be healed by inviting all attachments and losses that are locally defined into the global care for a sustainable bio- and sociosphere for the entirety of our human family.
- Academia: In order to face global challenges, global transdisciplinarity is urgently needed. This entails a call for global living, connecting, research, and teaching. I attempt to heed this call.
- There are more aspects to my global life that would take up too much space to explain here. Please see for more my publications page.
Many people come to me with skeptic objections - please let me address some here:
My point is not that everybody should emulate me and live as a global citizen, physically. The point is rather that everybody needs to develop a sense for humankind's shared responsibility for our planet. We, as humankind, need to sit together and think through how we can protect not only biodiversity, but also cultural diversity (both are, of course, interconnected). In that context, we need to think, for example, through landownership. It might be unwise for humankind to give too much land to initiatives that exploit only one resource, say timber or ore. Perhaps it is important for humankind to give land to indigenous peoples with cultures depending on land. Many indigenous peoples have developed cultural knowledge of how to utilize a wide variety of resources of their land, knowledge that may become as important for humankind as biodiversity, which in turn often depends on cultural diversity. For humankind's survival, we might need to develop an all-encompassing sense of what is needed: some people may want to be global citizens also physically, like me, others not - what is important is humankind's shared responsibility for our planet.
As to planet Earth's resources and the fear that there may not be sufficient resources to support billions of global citizens, to my view, again, humankind has to sit together, gauge the "carrying capacity" of "spaceship" Earth, and design public policies, together, to reach a balance. There are many strategies available, from educating women (among others to alleviate them from having to produce too many children as a form of old-age security) to more creativity with regard to technological solutions for producing energy and food, and so forth. Basically, the solutions are on the table already, what is lacking, at the current point in history, is the "political will," around the world, to implement solutions. In other words, we observe a lack of informed citizens, citizens who push politicians to take care of the common good of all humankind instead of losing this focus in struggles at local levels.
As to the size of social structures and bonds the human mind is capable of handling, and the fear that people get too stressed if they have to deal with too many people, I lived in Cairo, Egypt, for seven years, and was amazed to see a culture of living-together so tightly packed that others would get insane: in other words, there is a cultural element here. And there is a personal element, too, of course. I personally have a network of friends that is about one thousand people strong and I guess that others may get stressed. However, there is no "obligation," even for a global citizen, to develop deep personal relationships to more people than she or he can handle. The important point, again, I would say, is the sense of shared responsibility, also with people I do NOT know personally.
I am often asked to summarize my message. Please see here a very short summary, a short narrative, and a longer paper.
Please see furthermore the video-taped introductory lecture Dignity or Humiliation: The World at a Crossroad. I gave it as a lecture at the Department of Psychology at the University of Oslo (Harald Schjelderups hus, Forskningsveien 3, as part of PSYC3203 - Anvendt sosialpsykologi), on 12th January 2011 and 14th January, 2009. See also the video site of the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Oslo. Please see a background paper for this lecture in the first issue of the Journal of HumanDignity and Humiliation Studies, March 2007. For an earlier version for the introductory paper, see here or http://ssrn.com/abstract=668742 (this paper's SSRN ID is 668742). For more recent papers see, among others, "The Need for a New World," and, since this lecture was given in Norway, "What the World’s Cultures Can Contribute to Creating a Sustainable Future for Humankind," a paper prepared for the 11th Annual Conference of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (HumanDHS), 23th June-1st July 2008, in Norway. The latter paper hightlights the significance of Norway and Norwegian contributions to world peace.
With the HumanDHS network and fellowship, and the humiliationstudies.org website, we wish to invite everybody to contribute as equals, as equals in dignity. I see my role in facilitating and protecting this process. My personal desire is to nurture as much as possible our shared vision of building a world which transcends humiliation, a world in which we hold hands in mutual respect for equal dignity. I wish to contribute by building relationships of shared leadership. For this task, I offer my life and stand out as "me" just enough, no more. Whatever I share here, is in service of this role, nothing more. In line with my theoretical work, my "religion" is humility, love, and awe (for the vastness of the universe and our ignorance as humans). I resonate with Rudolf Otto's notion of awe before the mysterium tremendum et fascinans ("the awe-inspiring, mesmerizing mystery"), I feel close to philosopher Plotinus and his view on love as much as to the wisdom of Persian Sufi poet Hafiz (see top of this page), or the raw experience emphasized by the Pratyabhijna school in Kashmir (Pratyabhijna Sastra, in Sanskrit "spontaneous recognition," emphasizes mere "realisation" and "recognition," rather than requiring upayas (means), that is, there is nothing to practice). Any separation between "normal" life and "spiritual" life is meaningless to me. My entire life is "a prayer" or "a meditation." I see myself as a paradigm shifter toward love, on the background of the humility of awe (perhaps I am a possibilian in David Eagleman's language). Equal dignity for all does not mean that everybody should be the same, or strive to become "lone heroes"; it means to create relationships of solidarity where rankism is avoided, where rank is not abused (Robert Fuller). It means that hierarchy is kept to the necessary functional minimum. In the same spirit, engaging in "polishing of ego facades" is something I find stultifying and detest. When I offer my experiences of struggle and insight, then I do this as a vehicle to encourage more authenticity in others, to open space for everybody inside and outside our network to be creative and co-lead. I wish to refrain particularly from trying to turn myself (or our fellowship) into a marketable product. I do not wish to "sell" our insights for the personal advantage of a few. I do not wish to turn a quest to address the deepest questions posed by humankind into a mere program for jobs.
If you ask me about my religion then my answer is, as already mentioned above: humility, love, and awe. ‘Community’, ‘love without reason’, and ‘beauty’ are the words which describe my core life orientation and experience. My religion is love, humility, and awe in the face of a universe too large for us to fathom.
My entire life could therefore also be called "artful prayer." Humility indicates to me that I do not pick one religous belief system as being more "right" than others. I resonate with fourteenth century Persian Sufi poet Hafiz, who said, "I have learned so much from God that I can no longer call myself a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew. The truth has shed so much of itself in me that I can no longer call myself a man, a woman..." As I wrote earlier, I see myself as a paradigm shifter toward love, on the background of the humility of awe (and perhaps this resonates with David Eagleman's coinage of possibilianism).
I appreciate all efforts that highlight the commonalities that connect religious beliefs, the openness for the deeper dimension of human existence, being gripped by "the ultimate concern" (Paul Tillich), the work of Rudolf Otto, who studied world religions and wrote about The Idea of the Holy and the Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans. Humility also indicates that I am not concerned with advantages just for myself, I wish to transcend any ego-orientation, also in the spiritual realm. Even to pray for other people would be almost too singular to my taste, what about all those people I do not know who would need support... I choose to dedicate my entire life as "a prayer," not for help or happiness, but for a deeper fulfillment of the promise of humanity and more authentic growth embedded in humble and loving respect for equal dignity for all. My work and my life are thus the "words" of my prayer.
In other words, even though a lot of space on this website is used for presenting my reflections and my work, this is done with a sense of profound humility. It is done to encourage others to find the difficult path between authentically standing up in this world, for a better world, while steering clear of turning this into a mere "ego-trip." We learn from physics that it is unscientific if a researcher does not explain his or her own position (an electron, for example, appears as a particle or wave, depending on the researcher's approach - this is the famous particle-wave duality). I believe that a social scientist has the duty, both epistemologically and normatively, to contextualize her own work even more than a physicist.
May I therefore ask everybody to help me and us to properly contextualize our own work by sharing our own positions and experiences, while avoiding to cloud our message or appear egotistical? I extend my warm gratitude to all of you! Please see our Stories page and contribute to it!
Please see here my publications, my first book on humiliation, and my personal pictures and some videos.
See some selected examples of my teaching on our education page, and a full list of my lectures and media appearances on FRIDA (Database of University of Oslo, Norway, search for Etternavn: Lindner, Fornavn: Evelin).
See also the initial long version of Giving Life to the Human Family, which entails my personal life story, and was written in 2006 for the journal Offerings, or see the final version published in 2008 in Offerings with artwork and pictures added.
You find my CV here: CV English, CV French, CV German, CV Norwegian, CV Japanese.
If you wish, please read also about the 2006 SBAP Award for Applied Psychology, and about the "Hamburger Ideenkette" Festival of 1993.
And, please see a summary of my Humiliation Theory here: Short Narrative, Longer Paper.
If you wish, please read also about Global Life World and Scientific Inquiry, and about my concept of Globalization & Egalization.
Please see also the film Humiliation and Coping in War, a compilation of short clips from Somaliland, cut from altogether ca. 10 hours of video material and 100 hours of audio material that Evelin Lindner collected in Somaliland in 1998 (the film was produced in 2000) and Rwanda/Burundi (1999) for her doctoral thesis The Psychology of Humiliation: Somalia, Rwanda / Burundi, and Hitler's Germany (University of Oslo, Department of Psychology, Part One of Doctoral Dissertation in Psychology (Part Two: 12 articles), submitted 31st October 2000, ISBN 82-569-1817-9).
I would like to thank Lasse Moer for his work in creating this film.
• This is my first book. Please see here more details about this book. See more publications here.
• Tatomir Ion Marius kindly gifted this wonderful poem to me (thank you dear Tatomir!), let me share this poem with everybody. It expresses the love that I wish to encourage us all to invest into our relationships with others, not just with our immediate families, but with everybody:
EVELIN GERDA LINDNER (poem in acrostych)
Ever the flowers will be able to reach You?
Vision of Peace so kind and sweet,
Endless beauty which spreads the Light of the Spirit,
Leading to ways of freedom and fulfilling dreams,
Imortal now, through lifetime good works and deeds,
No words can express the gratitude I feel…
Goldenheart, so rare in a cruel word,
Even if breaks some parts of it,
Radiating love and understanding,
Deeply concerned of the other’s needs,
Angel on Earth, You are, this is my belief…
Looking to the stars, so few are bright,
I prefer to see, the one true which shines,
Not far in the sky, but near, on this earth,
Devoted to the Peace and to the work,
Never will be one more star like You,
Emanating so much kindness and warm energy,
Restitution of the human Dignity…
POEM IN ACROSTYCH FOR
EVELIN GERDA LINDNER
WITH MUCH RESPECT
I WOULD LIKE TO BRING YOU ALL THE FLOWERS OF THE WORLD AND GIVE THEM TO YOU AS MY SIGN OF GRATITUDE FOR YOUR WORK, ADMIRATION AND LOVE I FEEL. YOU ARE EXTRAORDINARY!!!!!!!!!!!!
VON ALLEM HERZEN,
With deep respect, love, friendship and everything I have,
• Dedicated to Evelin G.Linder, in anticipation of her 2011 birthday.
An imaginative short story by Francisco Gomes de Matos, a peace linguist from Recife, Brazil.
THE DAY D I G N I T Y DECIDED TO EDUCATE HUMANKIND
One day, DIGNITY woke up with an unprecedented determination: to educate all of Humankind.
Why? DIGNITY was tired of witnessing/being told/reading about so many forms of indignity taking place, so many terrible types of humiliation being perpetrated on Earth. Notwithstanding some advances in human relations and in the ways humans treated one another, animals and the environment, much needed to be done, globally, for every person on earth to do her or his share to make every place on Earth truly worth living. But how could Dignity achieve its commendable, humanizingly ambitious goal?
First of all, by educating all teachers (at all points in the educational continuum) as DIGNIFIERS, that is, as educators who could help prepare students of all ages to learn to act, to interact respectfully, dignifyingly at all times.
Secondly, by educating all parents and child guardians as CO-DGNIFIERS, who could raise their children according to DIGNITY-based principles and practices.
Thirdly, by offering university-level programs for world citizens in all languages (spoken, written, signed). Would that be an impossible goal? No, because DIGNITY provides the foundation for Human Rights and Responsibilities and its constructive, TRANSformative power impacts all professions. So the time was ripe for DIGNITY to implement a kind of DEVELOPMENT that Humankind had never imagined would come true. To carry out such sustainable goal, DIGNITY would be inspired by the pioneering work done by WORLD DIGNITY UNIVERSITY and by similarly designed initiatives.
So DIGNITY started its journey, commitedly, confidently, compassionately, constructively, courageously, and creatively....
Gradually, all of that became a new universal reality, characterized by everlasting PEACE, NONVIOLENCE, and NONKILLING.
From that day on, DIGNITY became not only the major WORLD CHANGER but the most effective HUMAN CHANGER. Let's pray for such day, in every faith/religion, in every way.
• I would like to share a message that Latha Nrugham sent after our 19th Annual Conference in Oslo, Noway, in August 2012. The purpose of sharing Latha's words is to encourage others to aspire to a level of love that reaches beyond romantic or parental love, beyond the love of charity, toward love for all human beings and all of humanity, love for the miracle of life itself, for living creatures for their own sake. We live in times where self-interest is emphasized; love has lost its standing and is dismissed as naïve. My life journey is characterized by resisting this pressure, by standing by what I feel is my inner truth, namely, love, humility, and awe and wonderment. To me, it is the highest manifestation of being a Homo amans ("loving being"). This means also that terms such as ascetism or altruism are missing my experience; it is about being on a path toward ever more fullness rather than "giving up" anything. I am still a student of this path, yet, it makes me infinitely happy to know that some results are already visible. This is what Latha wrote on 25th September 2012:
"You are one of those persons who could overcome tremendous odds and not be bitter or resentful or experience discontent. There is no greed in you.
There is hardly any ego or pride in you. You smile differently when you bring others into the 'limelight', :-), you are genuinely glad to share each resource you come across.
You have overcome the clamp of private possession.
Not once during the conference days did I see you prioritising yourself, even when slumped in the sofa chair, you still had your mind awake and listening, ready to propell yourself as needed.
You have learnt to regulate and channel yourself, not for your profit, fame or power or personal satiation, but so that you can share what you can with others.
You know the value of letting go and allowing processes to run their own courses, so despite provocation, you do not react or retaliate.
These are, in my view, the characteristics of an extraordinary individual. One I support as a part of the cosmos."
• Tora Eikeland read the following poem to me, on 20th February 2013, in Stord, Norway, because, to her view, it describes my way of life particularly well. The poem is titled "Slik vil vi reise" / "It is thus we wish to travel" by André Bjerke, from En kylling under stjernene (1960):
Slik vil vi reise på jorden: som frø brister
opp i en retning av grønn tilsynekomst.
Ikke som flue på ruten eller turister,
men som en plante reiser fra blad til blomst.
Slik vil vi reise på jorden: som temaet i en sonate
stadig på nye steder forvandler seg selv.
Eller bare: som barn i barndommens gate
løper efter en ball en sommerkveld.
Translation by Evelin Lindner:
It is thus we wish to travel on this planet: like seeds bursting up
in a direction of green appearance.
Not as fly on the windowpane or tourists,
but as a plant that moves from leaf to flower.
It is thus we wish to travel on this planet: as the theme of a sonata
constantly in new places transforming itself.
Or just: as children in childhood's way
running after a ball on a summer evening.
• Inga Bostad skrev Å vagabondere: Fri som en fugl, sier du. Men hvor hører fuglen egentlig hjemme? I Morgenbladet, 25. oktober 2013.
On Evelin's birthday: A wish for every day
by Francisco Gomes de Matos, a peace linguist, Co-founder, The World Dignity University initiative, 8th May 2014, together with his wife Helen
The day Evelin was born, a deeply humanizing concept was generated
By her living as a global citizen, DIGNITY is being inspiringly demonstrated
She believes that by our
sharing the Earth dignifyingly Humankind's character-conduct-communication will be elevated
and by our implementing the goals of the World Dignity University initiative people from East and West as DIGNIFIERS will be educated
In unison, as members of the Dignity community Evelin farsightedly founded
in all of our languages, let's joyfully say
From May 13th 2014, let's commit to making every day a LET's LIVE IN DIGNITY day
Message from the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
On July 14, 2004, I picked a "message from the Emperor, or Empress," after placing a coin, at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
The piece of paper that I received entailed the following personal message:
"Never turn aside from the road that your convictions tell you to follow, whatever obstacles you must surmount on the way. Be true to yourself."
The piece of paper entailed also a poem by Empress Shoken:
Cut, if need be, through thick briars,
Knots and brambles, tangled thorns,
For the path that's yours to follow
Must be trodden to the end.
(Shigeritaru ubara karatachi haraitemo
Fumubaki michi wa yukubekari keri)
The paper commented this poem as follows:
This poem was composed, in the traditional 31-syllable form, by either the Emperor Meiji or the Empress Shoken. It is hoped that the poem's message will have particular meaning for you.
The paper explained, furthermore, the poetry of the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken:
The Emperor Meiji was especially fond of composing poems in the traditional waka (31-syllable) form, and left a collection of 100,00 of them to his people. The Empress Shoken joined the Emperor in this art, and is said to have composed 30,000 herself. Many of these Imperial poems, such as the present one, express explicit or implicit ethical admonitions in the Shinto tradition.