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Alan speaks in a very symbolic and esoteric manner in some parts of his books. Although they can be read anthroposophically, passages speaking of Atlantis, archangels, gods, etc. do not need to be taken literarily to be meaningful. The more you read, the more you will realize he uses many different religions to express ideas in a symbolic manner and not in a religious manner. His writings are not religious. In some places his writings are meant to refer to religious events in a historical way. In some places he is using religious figures (from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, Ancient Roman and Greek Religions, etc.) in a symbolic manner. However, at no point is he promoting a specific religion or speaking from a religious point of view.
I have kept the writing as close to one-hundred percent original so you will also find that he speaks of Australia often and some spelling or manners of speaking may be cultural. Any words I have changed are presented like this: <word>.
Also keep in mind that these books are written by a Waldorf teacher with decades of experience who also studied with a Steiner student himself, so he speaks to an audience that is dedicating their lives to the Waldorf method without exception.
Because of this, all of his views are not reflected in the Earthschooling curriculum and not all of them may be ones you want to embrace or are able to use. In all of Alan Whitehead’s writings the opinions are his own and may not align with Earthschooling or Waldorf Books. In some cases, we will be updating some of these chapters in the future with additional and/or updated information.
Ultimately, however, as I read through these passages I find I can distill wisdom from even those paragraphs that do not resonate with me.
We invite you to read with an open mind and heart and with eagerness to learn and discuss…
United Nations Day
It is over half a century since the founding of the United Nations in 1948. It is over three decades since October 24, 1980, was designated as the very first United Nations Day.
Both years, 1948 and 1980, are luminous thresholds of global consciousness, resulting in firstly the birth, and secondly the global recognition, of not only the world body, but its morally ringing charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
A distinguished if controversial Australian, Dr Herbert Vere Evatt, helped frame this most remarkable of global documents. Dr Evatt, in 1948-49, was the first President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The UN charter is essentially a document of human freedom, and Dr Evatt’s credentials am well chronicled in this fractious area. In the post-war Red-phobic era he staunchly opposed the banning of the Communist Party in Australia. It may have been political self-immolation, but it won him the respect of the international community – which in tum elevated him to its most prestigious position. The United Nations was a largely unwanted child of its impoverished and impotent between-wars League of Nations mother.
The genesis of the UN charter is generally agreed to have been conceived, in 4th century BC Greece, with the (regretfully slave-borne) Democracy awakening.
Then, some 1500 years later, we have the Magna Carta – the ‘big charter’. This was a liberation document alright, but one giving freedom mostly to the aristocratic landowners from interference from the crown – ‘baron power’ in action.
‘Church power’ (Protestant that is) is the hallmark of the next major step in personal liberty consciousness, the English Bill of Rights in 1689; this was an incremental but vital step in the long path to freedom.
The American War of Independence set the scene for the next tortuous lurch in liberty awakening. ”All men are created equal …” still rings like the Liberty Bell in-the soul of humankind.
For true people power we have to slip back across the North Atlantic to Revolution France, with its clarion call to Liberty, Equality and Fraternity – values enshrined in 1789 in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. “Men are born free and equal in rights … ” – and so on.
Sadly, this small but genuine people-power flame was extinguished with the subsequent rise of the anachronistic and degenerate ’emperor power’ of Napoleon – and a rogues gallery of despots and war criminals to follow.
Enter left onto the stage of world history with Herbert Vere Evatt, and his unprecedented Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Surprisingly;’ this is not a tome, rather a succinct and morally inarguable golden document enshrining a mere thirty paragraphs. These conclude with the sobering reflection that the above rights are only valid when they do not infringe on other’s rights. The integrity of the UDHR is confirmed by the fact that fascists and fundamentalists of all shades have always opposed it! The document details the inalienable· rights and freedoms that every global citizen should enjoy – but so many do not.
Most of them are freedoms from, such as ‘freedom from arbitrary arrest, slavery, degrading treatment – and a plethora of other hateful discriminations. The more positive freedoms of can ‘be grouped into nine broad categories, with the following · throwing light on how Australia rates 60-odd years later in this ‘freedom of’ scenario. First there’s Freedom of Speech – mmm, not bad, I suppose though some of our defamation, libel and slander laws are increasingly gagging people who may otherwise expose corruption and perfidy in our midst.
Freedom of Association is safe; that is since Joh Bjelke Petersen’s assault on this core liberty in Queensland a couple of decades ago was repelled; as usual by people power. Freedom of Vocation is also happily untouched.
Australia’s annuls bulge with stories of the working class, social underdogs and misfits climbing to the top of the occupational ladder. There are, however, still some entrenched and frustratingly intangible inhibiting factors in vocational advancement, especially for the marginalized and for women. Then there’s Freedom of Thought (philosophy and religion).
As stated earlier, Dr Evatt was instrumental in largely exorcising this in Australian society. One can safely preach and practice anything from Catholicism to Communism to Calathumpianism in this most liberal of democracies.
Freedom of Movement we can take for granted. There are, though, some legal restrictions on leaving the country, such as having a criminal record and bankruptcy.
Freedom of Marriage. Again, no problem: unlike religious Right-ruled nations where women in particular are considered the mere goods and chattels of families and spouses alike.
Freedom of Property; with some sensible exceptions, like gun and other prohibited objects and substances, and media ownership, one is permitted to own whatever one can afford.
The last is Freedom of Education. This is not only a right, but in Australia is compulsory. So in the strict definition, school is a form of enforced custody rather than freedom.
It must be conceded, however, that both individual and community welfare is fostered by this, apparent contradiction. Article 26, Section 3 of the Charter is an example of both its succinctness and its liberating spirit:
“Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” Note ‘parents’, not the State.
The U.N with its world-emancipating charter is based in New York. History will probably recognize The Big Apple as yet another great city, in the spirit of Athens, Paris and London (the respective cradles of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ and parliamentary democracy), in the struggle to win fundamental freedoms and human rights. As such, the Americans, their most emotive symbol being the Statue of Liberty, can be justly proud. But so can we; after all, it was an Australian, one of the great liberal thinkers of his time, who was the very first President of the United Nations General Assembly. He it was who presided over this timeless assertion of human individuality, dignity, and liberty.
If one thinks, as many do, that the United Nations, underpinned by its wonderful Declaration of Human Rights, is beset with shortcomings, which it is, or is a decaying or irrelevant global institution, just imagine the world today, with all its terrors and travails, without it.
Australian Herbert Vere Eva – first President of the United Nations General Assembly.