To be young in the storms of the 21st century

To be young in the storms of the 21st century

04 July 2019 116 views

by Johannes Kronenberg

Johannes Kronenberg (27) was born in The Netherlands and works in the Youth Section at the Goetheanum since 2019. His background in both study and work has its roots and fire in the arts, sustainability, (youth) education, and transition.

In this article, he touches on his motivations to work in the Youth Section and to deepen in Anthroposophy in order to meet the challenges that meet the youth of the 21st century.

“It’s stormy outside, really. Waves are high and the wind is strong. Ships, even whole fleets sink. In former times the wisdom of the stars, of this bright grand sky above, was used to navigate in these circumstances. However today, it seems that even these anchor points of cosmic guidance are not a given any longer. Undefined clouds are covering their guiding lights. And there I am, and there we are. Hold on.”

I experience our youth — living at the beginning of this 21st century — as being in great existential search. Recently a major Dutch newspaper published that one out of four Dutch students run into a burnt-out state. Other studies share that a major part of the same youth suffers from depression, fear, and loneliness. And yes, we run, we scroll, we selfie, we click, we overwork, we have fear to miss out, and are overwhelmed and overrun by.. by whom or what actually? What is the matter?

Simultaneously, in so-called ‘developing countries’ youth are struggling with access to drinking water, feeling of safeness and ‘harbors’ to be heard as young beings. These polarities, for example, happen in the context of a so-called globalised world, a world running in a parallel track as the current young generation: the track of getting close to a global burn-out. A pathway where not only ecological, economic, and social crises are manifesting, but also a track where it seems that humanity and youth are being challenged with an existential identity crisis as such; a philosophical crisis, a spiritual crisis. The fundamental questions about what it means to be human and; a search for the ‘new human’ seems to arise at the frontier of our consciousness.

In the midst of these challenges, where the shadows seem tremendously large and the wind pulls strong, the counterforce of creating the new seems to be waiting to be addressed and used. In what kind of world do we want to live? How do you shape your daily life? How do you encounter the other? Where lies your commitment, and freedom?

I incarnation

The above is something I can confirm out of my own observation of the direct environment around me. This phenomenon happens in the space where we youth are seeking for our striving; building the fundament that supports the rest of our lives; a space and stage of life which can be cultivated, supported, and offered as an open harbor, as an opportunity to meet yourself, the other and the world. An environment where powerful questions can be formulated, not only by words but also by hearts, through art and (re)search. It is the stage of life where the so-called I incarnation can take place, the moment where questions such as ‘Who am I’, ‘What do I want to do’, and ‘With whom’ starts to appear.

The good

After being born in the Camphill community Christophorus in Bosch en Duin, The Netherlands, I was intrigued and deeply touched by observing this community after my family left and returned for a visit as a 19-year-old. What I witnessed, I realised, was the Good. I wanted to understand what I so gratefully experienced as a child, and why this community had to downfall. So, I started my conscious search for what it means to understand, listen to and live anthroposophy consciously. After my first encounters with the Dutch Anthroposophical Society and the literature of Bernard Lievegoed, I was able to formulate that I wanted to ‘protect’ and nourish the source of where it comes from, and help to bring it into the 21st century. As I start to understand now, this source lies within all of us, especially after the free decision to work and live with the Foundation Stone Meditation as a work of the heart. But of course, a tangible place where people gather, where shapes come into matter, and where eyes can meet, is extremely important. And so is the Youth Section as such. This nourishing of the source and opening for the emerging future has been my intention and motivation ever since. Simply put, I see great potential in Anthroposophy to know oneself and ‘transform the world from its fundaments anew’. This brought me many powerful encounters worldwide, with bright beings, driven to transform our humanity and world towards what I would like to call the good; “ That good may become, what we from hearts found, what we from heads direct with a single will.” (last part Foundation Stone Meditation).

The above expresses both my personal and wider intentions. But it does also express my concerns and sense of responsibility towards humanity as a whole; and the question of the new human. My study and work in the arts, education, sustainability, and leadership helped me in the last years tremendously to initiate the things I did so far. The team in the Youth Section is working on all these questions out of great conviction, openness, and commitment. Therefore I am very grateful to be invited to help shape the Youth Section space at the Goetheanum.

With confidence, will to collaborate, and joy,

Johannes Kronenberg