Pieter Breugel the Elder - The Harvest of the Hay
The Fullness of Human Life
What are the conditions that create health in human social life - that give it the potential to truly thrive ? Concepts such as love, respect, dignity come to mind ; relationship ; cooperation ; an element of freedom, which permits people to unfold themselves ; yet also elements of rules and boundaries, for protection of their safety and well being.
The threefold social idea is a body of observations on human social life, first outlined by Rudolf Steiner in 1918. It describes three realms of society, namely those of protections, rights and the law ("rights life") ; economic life ; and the realms of art, education, science, religion etc, designated together "spiritual cultural life.' It also explores characteristic differences and conflicts that arise among these three areas - as well as possibilities for their healthy interaction.
Rudolf Steiner's writings on the threefold idea are among his most strenuous to grasp, and dense with historical reference ; but also, once penetrated, some of the most satisfying, calling forth a robust and positive image of society - of the fullness of human life. This image is not just a source of hope and goodwill, but potentially, a foundation for practical work. Not least, the threefold idea can serve as a diagnostic tool concerning what goes badly or disharmoniously in society - helping to identify both the "why" of problems that arise, and possible means for solving them.
The threefold social idea was first introduced at the worst of times, and under the worst conditions imaginable : immediately after the carnage of World War I, and in the decade of crushing inflation that followed. First and subsequent efforts to "implement" a threefold structure in geographic areas, schools and businesses, have met with very with mixed success. Like other new and important ideas, it's taking time to become a reality.
This article series takes its starting point in statements Rudolf Steiner made repeatedly in discussing the threefold social idea : namely, that to take real root in society, the threefold idea first needs to be rightly understood by enough people - at which point they'll simply begin to implement it in their own actions and decisions in everyday life, beginning with those smallest and closest at hand.
The effort here is to create overview articles, and share previous overview efforts by others ; and to show how threefoldness lives - or is distorted - in our own world today. The intention is to stimulate deeper and vigorous study of Steiner's own work, and the impulse to work toward threefoldness with others - again, starting in the smallest and most immediate ways. This series is intended as a portal, a doorway to Rudolf Steiner's threefold social idea for any thinking person of goodwill. Examples and elaborations here arise from my own 40 plus years study and consideration of Steiner's social idea, and my own experience of life. Your comments are welcome. For more posts in this series, continue to read through in sequence !
With best greetings,
Jeff Smith RN (Retired)
Living Waters Wellness
Next in series : Introducing Threefold
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Jeff Smith RN, born 1950. A registered nurse since 1984 - but holistic in my outlook to health since probably around 1968. Living Waters Wellness considers not just the health of the physical body, but our soul and spirit, our social forms, our environment - and as a matter of fact, our whole earth. It's a new website, and a work in progress - but by all means, have a look around !