My short manifesto on the art of living

Dietrich Grönemeyer, 2006

Don’t let life just drag you!

Close to 7.5 billion people live on our Earth today, almost three times as many as in 1950.

The terrible poverty of many countries is in stark contrast to the vast riches and affluence of the major industrialized nations. Scientific advancements mean we can now solve problems that just a few decades ago were considered a threat to humanity. As doctors we can identify and heal diseases that would have been a death sentence in earlier times. We can alleviate pain and ease suffering, which our ancestors often had to painfully endure. The preconditions for a dignified life were never better. 
And yet, our world is under threat like never before. War, famine, fatal epidemics and inadequate medical care are a threat to all of us, worldwide – not just in Africa.

A lack of options, either material or intellectual, is not the problem. Rather it is a lack of respect for the life given to us that is our downfall. Without respect, nothing melds together; vanity and egoism automatically triumph over humanism – to the detriment of all and every single individual. 

So it is high time that we returned to focusing on the important things, the fundamentals of an individual art of living that can be to everyone’s benefit if we all try:

  1. View your own life and all our lives as a gift to be treasured and protected. It is too precious, and too short, to frivolously put at risk. So enjoy it, taking your share of responsibility for yourself and others. You are an essential part of the great whole, society and the universe. 
  2. Never forget your wonderment at the complexity of your human existence, at the interaction of your organs and cells, at the unity of body, soul and mind. It is an incredible gift to feel this alive and be able to think about the miracle of life. 
  3. All people are equal, because they all have the same right to each be respected as a special, unique person and treated with dignity. This principle of mutual respect links us with all people in a global brotherhood. It must be nurtured with loving care. 
  4. Live in peace and love with other people and with creation as a whole. For each of us, in our place, must stand up for this world of ours, for the people, the animals, and for all plants. We need to live in harmony with nature, the nature of which we ourselves are a part, which nourishes us.
  5. Stand up for your convictions and beliefs, but always respect that others have the same right. Our freedom of individual thought depends on the tolerance with which we treat our fellow men, take them seriously, encourage them to reveal their personality and help them without asking something in return. 
  6. Learn to live your life yourself, to shape it like an artwork, to separate the important things from the unimportant, to be yourself within the greater whole. Everyone is unique, everyone can be creative and active in their own special way – taking action instead of being told what to do. That is worth living with passion for, and drawing strength from the confidence rooted deep within us. 
  7. We need head and heart, knowledge and common sense, passion and courage, respect and charity to live life responsibly – for ourselves and as part of the global community that supports us all if we support it. Our own life could become an artwork and generate happiness. Our greatest gift!