During the past three days I’ve had the pleasure of participating in a 3-day workshop with members of the Tällberg Foundation. It has taken upon itself the mission of exploring in the most uncompromising way the question that is on all of our minds but that many of us haven’t quite yet got to formulating: “How on earth can we live together?”
With this question one takes a breath-taking leap into trying to see patterns, connections and relationships that are there for us to discover but which we haven’t bothered with, or which in our everyday we see in a fleeting moment until they vanish in schedules and other structures that destroy free thinking. In the end it is about giving time to look with an uncompromisingly open mind which is prepared to reach the conclusion that it will never know. What I take with me from Tällberg is the feeling that the greatest challenge to answering the big question is our own human instinct to build a shelter in which we can be warm and keep the wolves outside. It’s an instinct that has had a certain value to our survival, until it reaches absurd levels, as it has, for example, with consumer society today, and then becomes counterproductive. What Tällberg reminds me of is that inside the shelter we end up believing that there are only wolves outside. Yet, there is so much more than that, and, by the way, the wolves may not be the greatest danger at all.
The founder of this organization, a visionary called Bo Ekman, now Chairman Emeritus, explained the reason that he formed this unusual organization and here, most unexpectedly, I found the connection to my own story. As a child in Sweden after the war he had prepared a presentation for his class about what a day in a concentration camp looked like. He had done a great deal of research about this, partly I think to shock his teacher who had been a strong supporter of National Socialism during the war. He shared a photograph of this man which he managed to snap just as he was about to take the cane to another child.
When I thought of the beautiful tree that has grown out of that troublesome little seed planted in Bo Ekman so many years ago, I see that there can be so many extraordinary things that can grow out of the many seeds planted in that once terrifying garden of legacies left by the second World War.