From the May 2003 Idaho Observer:
Mut Zur Ethik
Courage to Take a Moral Stance
Q: What do you get when you throw a Vatican Catholic, a British Protestant and a Polish atheist into a pot of boiling social problems and give them each a ladle with which to stir one another?
A: Problem solving intelligence.
The 11 annual Mut Zur Ethik (MZE) (Translated from German, Courage to Take a Moral Stand) Conference will be held Sept. 4-7, 2003, in Austria. MZE is a yearly gathering of Europeans who may have only one thing in common: Their concern for the future.
For 11 years intelligent, compassionate and extremely diverse people have been traveling from all over Europe, putting aside centuries of bloody ethnic, national, racial and religious conflict to address contemporary issues indiscriminately affecting all Europeans. Drugs, alcohol, the destruction of families, political corruption and economic depression are just a few of the problems affecting all Europeans regardless of their nation of origin or their spiritual beliefs.
Today's Europeans are the descendants of those who survived thousands of years of bloodshed. In centuries past monarchs had little difficulty convincing their ignorant masses that it was God's will they should rape and murder citizens of rival nations and members of rival religions. Technological advances in travel and communications, however, have been opening the collective eyes of Europe to the realization their ancestors fought and died to increase the wealth and power of bloodthirsty despots -- not to protect their homelands from heathen invaders.
Eva-Maria Fullner, MZE organizer and editor for the Swiss opposition publication Zeit Fragen (or Current Concerns) explained that they wanted to provide a forum that would bring Europeans together for constructive dialogue that could end the cycle of phony wars that define Europe's history of death, destruction and human misery.
By 1992, MZE organizers had resolved to bring the entire spectrum of European nationals and their divergent social, religious and political beliefs under one roof. They settled on a format for the conference that has proven to be extremely effective.
MZE organizers announce a theme (such as the destruction of the family) for the annual conference. They then develop questions relative to the theme and sent them out to people all over Europe determined to be capable of providing MZE with a written response in advance of the conference. The question was accompanied by an invitation to sit on a panel at the conference. The panel sits together in a semicircle facing the audience. Without time limits MZE would lead a discussion of the subject before the panel. At the first conference, a few people got very mad, stomped out of the room and never came back. Other people got really mad, stomped out of the room -- but came back, said Fullner.
She also described an interesting aspect of post-Iron Curtain Europe that most Americans have never considered. She explained how the eastern countries like Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia that had lived under communism have nothing. The only way they could attend the conference is if we raise the money to pay for their travel. But since it was so important that they have a voice in our discussions, we make sure they are able to come, she said.
Over the last 11 years ago, MZE has accomplished something unprecedented in European history: It has brought the most diverse and historically irreconcilable factions on the continent together and has provided the venue whereby Europeans can, finally, see each other as humans with common problems -- not as the Protestants, Catholics, Germans, Frenchmen, Italians, Slavs, Spaniards and Poles they have been conditioned to believe were responsible for causing them.
Another interesting thing to note is how WWII affected the people of Europe. The war destroyed so much that the people had to work together to rebuild. American culture, on the other hand was shaped by the Great Depression. It taught Americans to be selfish and hoard food and other items; it launched the me generation that persists to this day.
After thousands of years of phony conflicts, Europeans are finally realizing they are all human, have common problems and common enemies. For the first time they are coming together as individuals with distinct differences with the intent of solving the problems of Europeans while respecting those differences.
Americans can learn a lot from the MZE example. Various factions within our own country have been manipulated into hating one another for our petty philosophical, racial and religious differences so that our shared enemies can profit from our disagreements and accumulate political power -- just like what has been happening in Europe for centuries.
The IO plans to be in Germany for the 11th Annual MZE Conference. We desire to experience first hand what MZE is doing in Europe and bring it home.
Just imagine how mad the bad guys will be when the citizenry finally realize that we have a common enemy -- and it ain't us. (DWH)