On Diversity and Cultural Competency
A statement from Jane Bradshaw, the General Secretary of the ASinA
I’d like to talk about diversity and cultural competency in relation to the Anthroposophical Society in Australia. It’s come to my attention that there has been some polarising conversation on this theme since we began publicly addressing it in our May ASinA Newsletter and in a post on the ASinA website. The recent Hearts Online webinar (6 June, 2021) provided an opportunity for individuals discuss these issues and to the members to present questions to the four presenters speaking to this theme.
Now I would like to respond with a statement myself concerning this ongoing discussion.
Foundation Statutes of the Anthroposophical Society of 1923
As members of the Anthroposophical Society, we know from the Foundation Statutes of the Anthroposophical Society of 1923 that the Society is entirely public. Anyone can become a member as long as they recognise the justification for of an institution such as the Goetheanum in Dornach in its capacity as a school of a spiritual approach to understanding science. Membership is open to all, without regard to nationality, social standing, religion, scientific or artistic conviction.
The Anthroposophical Society in the world consequently rejects any kind of sectarian activity. Party politics is not considered to be one of its tasks to address.
But we have to ask: what is sectarianism? Is it enough that we stand by the Statutes of 1923, or is appropriate and timely to make a public statement in regards where we stand as a community, within the Australian context?
Do we portray an open and interested face to those seeking us out, either through the ASinA website or when joining in our events and activities?
Are we concerned with how the Society is viewed from the periphery?
Standing as an individual who hears a universal call
I do not stand as a spokesperson for the Society. I am not authorised to speak on behalf of it. I stand as a nurse, as an individual who hears a universal call to stand for human rights. I bear witness to injustice and inequity, and I question what is meant by ethical individuality and the role I play in the zeitgeist.
If I accept what Rudolf Steiner says about freedom of thought in the human realm and if I acknowledge that every thought is impressed into the world ether too (GA194, 30 Nov 1919), then this is the karmic responsibility of everyone.
Freedom of thought, freedom of speech
But accepting complete freedom of speech: this is different. What if words are ignorant, or threatening, are misogynistic or racist or untruthful? I could not accept complete freedom of speech within my family, my community, or within the Anthroposophical Society.
So let us begin to search deeply within ourselves. Let us investigate through our threefold thinking, feeling and willing selves. Let us listen deeply within and listen to each other.
Jane Bradshaw, General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in Australia.
‘Knowledge of human worth, feeling for human dignity, willing love for humanity: These are the most beautiful life fruits nurtured in mankind when he assimilates what is bestowed on him by spiritual science’
Steiner, R. ‘Anthroposophy’s Contribution to the Most Urgent Needs of Our Time’, Lecture 5 September 1921.