Our society is undergoing an upheaval. Musician and artist Wolfgang Niedecken explains why it is important to stick together in difficult times.
Marginalisation is one of the greatest problems of our time. Those who elevate themselves and their group into an exclusive circle, while marginalising others in the process, are creating conflict in a globalised world. This occurs quite automatically, as the feeling of not belonging to a group is one of our most ancient fears as a species. We witness this marginalisation every day on both large and small scales – in families and school classes, in Germany, Europe and all around the globe.
En route to more justice, interaction and participation, we must focus on two groups: those who are inside the bubbles of prosperity and those who are outside them. Those inside need to be awakened, enlightened and informed such as to avoid leaving space for those who stir up fears of “those people out there”. I share some responsibility in that regard. As artists, we must ensure that people’s empathy does not completely dry up. If everyone just thinks of themselves, that is the end of our civilisation. Dignity, decency and respect are key. And it is necessary to reach out to those on the outside – on a human, a political and an economic level. Again, I feel some responsibility when it comes to this. Those able to live in a state of freedom and prosperity, who have a voice that is heard, have an automatic obligation to help in places where marginalisation, injustice, discrimination, poverty and conflict reign. I would like to take this opportunity to relay that message to all defenders of the status quo.
”As artists, we must ensure that empathy does not completely dry up.“
In the local dialect of my home city of Cologne, there is a saying: et hätt noch immer joot jejange (“things have always worked out so far”). But today, that seems to be stretching the limits of its validity. Now that our social problems are so enormous and diverse, with conflicts becoming more rather than less frequent and the gap between rich and poor widening instead of narrowing, we can only make progress as a group. We need a coalition of the decent – and one that crosses party lines, at that. In doing so, we should focus on the younger generations – without excluding the elderly. Not only because we are due to hand our planet over to them, but also because they are best equipped to inherit a spirit of togetherness from us.
Published on KfW Stories: Monday, 17 September 2018