Portrait No. 49

Hans-Peter Dürr

Quantum physicist, environmentalist, believer in humanity, cherisher of everything living. INSPIRING.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Written by:

Oh, I’m so excited about this week’s portrait! It’s the first scientist I’m drawing! Science and I, we’ve never been on good terms. My interest in areas like physics, chemistry, mathematics and such lacks in enthusiasm, to put it mildly. These were the subjects that messed up my grades in high school and turned me from a swot into a… well, a swot with bad grades in the so called exact sciences.

So why am I so excited to write about a scientist? A physicist, nonetheless. Physics was the subject that gave me my first F. A sheer disaster!

"The foundation of the world is not material, it is spiritual." (Hans-Peter Dürr)

Well, to be honest, I didn’t know anything about Hans-Peter Dürr until a few weeks ago. I had never heard of him before, although he is one of the initiators of the environmental movement. A great thinker and activist, not just a scientist. It was Evi, my trusted friend who helps me with the intricacies of the German language, who put him on the list. She liked him because he didn’t put science above all else. He didn’t abolish faith, like many scientists do. He included every kind of life in his world view, in his universe view, and left enough room for blurriness and uncertainty.

"Nature, which continuously develops, has become too slow for us. But why is nature slow? Not because it’s stupid, but because it waits to see if the adjustments it makes can prove to be successful. But we humans don’t take that time." (Hans-Peter Dürr)

Maybe I should add that he was a quantum physicist. And please don’t ask me to tell you what quantum physics are, I have no idea. Or maybe I have a hint, a blurry concept in the back of my head, after reading Dürr’s book „Why it’s all or nothing“. But that’s the beauty of quantum physics, nobody really knows what it is. Nobody really has to. This particular scientific theory accepts the fact that our language, any language known to mankind, is too limited to explain the world. It also accepts the fact that we don’t have to in order to be able to live a prosperous and fulfilled life.

"Peace isn’t impossible, we just have to want it." (Hans-Peter Dürr)

Hans-Peter Dürr survived WWII. Suffering and death were the constants of his adolescent life. When you watch all your friends die, your neighborhood getting leveled up with the ground, you know this kind of destruction should never ever happen again. Dürr pointed out that peace isn’t possible in a world where people work against each other to achieve their goals, instead of working together, supporting each other. If getting to the top is the ultimate goal in life, if competition represents the very foundation of progress in a society, be it financial, scientific or technological, this society is doomed to fail the majority of its members. Just look at a mountain, how much surface does its top have? Definitely not enough to hold all humankind, let alone every other living creature on this planet.

"Our Western consumption culture, our economical race which despises life itself, only represents a small niche within our possibilities. Yet many people believe that these economical constraints are general laws of nature." (Hans-Peter Dürr)

So what should we do in order to stop the imminent handmade disaster heading our way with dizzying velocity? Dürr proposes a bold, and in my opinion very sensible solution. We should mobilize the intellectual, spiritual and ethical potential lying within our own society. We should take all these people offering alternative solutions seriously and include them as a "constructive, alive, creative and critical element in the shaping of our future world society."

Let’s work more on our other possibilities by tapping more into our intellectual, spiritual and ethical potential. I’m sure we can find some other ways to satisfy our reward system than just buying stuff incessantly.