Evelin Lindner's Global Life World and Scientific Enquiry

Reflections in December 2004
Reflections in June 2004
Very short summary of my thoughts and observations, 2007
Reflections in December 2008
Reflections and chronological description of my global life design
Some texts on global citizenship of care and dignity


Reflections in December 2004
I was born into a displaced family (more precisely, a family of forcibly displaced people) and I grew up, not so much in my actual geographical and cultural environment, but in my father's imagination and stories of the farm that he had lost (which is now in Poland). I grew up with the deep-felt identity of displacement of "here were we are we are unwelcome guests, we are not at home, and there is no home to go back to." Most of my early years were characterized by the feeling of a lack, lack of belonging, lack of roots.

Slowly, over the years, I learned that identity is something people can choose and construct. I understood that I could construct different layers of identity and choose or "hook up to" displaced-people identity, or German identity, or Polish identity, or European identity, or global identity.

I found peace and calm and a tremendous sense of belonging in constructing my personal identity as follows: When I am asked "Where are you from?" I usually reply: "I am from planet Earth, I am a living being, and I am a human being like you. If you wish to know more, I will tell you more. It is a longer story." In other words, my identity today is constructed like an onion, or like a sunflower. At its center, at its core, there is my identity of being a living being, a fellow human being. This is my essence, and here is also the limit of my essence. All the rest is secondary and "a long story": I love my friends around the world, I love the Norwegian landscape, I love Jerusalem, I love the desert, I love flying, I am ashamed of the atrocities inflicted by Hitler, or Stalin and any other perpetrator and their followers, in other words, I am ashamed of the atrocities that humankind has perpetrated, and I am proud of humankind's achievements. When I am in Japan, just to give an example, I explain that Japanese history is MY/OUR history and that I wish to learn more about MY/OUR history. And that Japanese culture is MY/OUR culture; I would avoid saying sentences entailing the words "your history," or "your culture."

In other words, I would avoid saying sentences such as "I am..." and then complete this sentence with the name of a nation, or the name of a profession, or a gender label. Why? Because my essence is not to belong to a nation or a profession or a gender category. My essence is to be a living creature and human being. This is my primary identity. This does not mean that I am not in love with or attached to certain places or people more than to others. But all these attachments are secondary. If I were to say, "I am European," for example, I would introduce a misplaced essence into my identity, an essence that creates false fault lines to people from other parts of the world. Clearly, this does not mean that I am not particularly attached to Europe. Evidently, since I grew up there, I know it very well, and care for Europe in a specific way. However, this is not the core essence of my identity. The core essence is to be a fellow human being of all other human beings on our planet, ready to shoulder our joint responsibility for our tiny home planet.

I know that my choices, though relevant to me, are not necessarily convincing to others. Yet, I believe that conceptualizing the core essence of our identity in other ways than as our shared humanity, is potentially dangerous. When Adolf Hitler came to power, a number German Jews were adamant that they were Germans more than Jews, in short, they had constructed a German identity more than a Jewish identity. Still they were subsequently killed because their essence was seen to be Jewish by their murderers.

Because of this, I recommend my layered identity as a blue-print for nurturing peace. I am often asked: "Where are you from?" As explained above, I avoid replying with the name of a country or nation, or with an otherwise lesser entity than the entirety of humankind. Instead of giving the usually expected answer, I explain my point, I explain that the usually expected answer, in my view, is prone to undermining world peace and that I therefore have developed an alternative answer. So, what I do is not just a theoretical vision, I apply it everyday in practice.

The result is a profound anchoring that I feel in the world. And it is not just my imagination that gives me this feeling. My way of presenting myself as a fellow human being, indeed opens hearts and minds of many people I meet around the world to our human commonalities. Their warm-hearted love that they then extend to me, is what anchors me in this world and gives me a deep sense of belonging and roots.

Reflections in June 2004
In order to understand a globalizing world, we need "global" research, as well as the participation of researchers who have a global outlook and global experience. In my case, a specific biography of displacement made me acquire a profoundly global perspective and identity. As a result, in my conceptualization, psychology is embedded within broader historic and philosophical contexts and is profoundly intertwined with global changes. The aim is to avoid single interest scholarship, work transdisciplinary, and probe how even local micro-changes may be embedded within larger global transitions.

In my case, a specific biography made me acquire a profoundly global perspective and identity. The lack of a clear sense of belonging during childhood (being born into a family of displaced people) made me particularly sensitive to identity quests and urged me to learn about and become part of the rich and diverse world culture that belongs to all of us, as opposed to being part of any particular national sub-culture. Adair Linn Nagata wrote an article in 1998, Being Global: Life at the Interface, whereby living at the interface means living as an immigrant in another culture. In my case, I have accustomed myself to living in many cultures and in many interfaces, more so, have made the very interface my home.

My personal development parallels recent epistemological trends in many ways. Psychologists, for example, are at present beginning to overcome their "physics envy" (Ray and Anderson, 2000, p. 180) and start to integrate quantitative research approaches into larger contexts and allow for triangulation with qualitative research paradigms. My personal development also parallels the current trend towards rather relational theories in social science, away from individualist concepts that do not capture the complexities of a relational, emotional, and social world.

I believe that both, my personal maturation and current epistemological trends are intertwined with and nurtured by a growing awareness that humankind is One single family. As long as people lived rather apart, it was not seen as possible, for example, that people from different cultures could indeed understand each other. Cultures were regarded as a priori separate, and not as part of one single culture of homo sapiens, where people react to each other in relational ways, and altogether are perhaps more similar than different.

My conclusion after three decades of global experience is that we, the human inhabitants of Earth, are more similar than different and that there is ample common ground on which we can build. I suggest that this common ground connects people and draws them into relationships, and, if this trend is cherished, respected, and nurtured, and if people are attributed equal dignity, it can help turn differences that separate into valuable diversities and sources of enrichment as opposed to sources of disruption.

Even though having a "global horizon" is on the increase,(1) still most people respond to the question "where are you from?" with the name of a country. This outlook entails a framing of the world in terms of my people, my history, in relation to your history and your people. In my case, I have developed an identity of being a citizen of the global village, and thus all people's history is my history and all people are my people. This does not mean a rejection of local, national or regional identifications; it means lovingly including them within larger outlooks, broadening inner horizons and going beyond usually taken-for-granted inner boundaries. In my case, side-effects of this inner development are, among others, a longer time horizon as to my academic analysis, and transdisciplinarity in my academic positioning, both, as mentioned above, also representing current avant-garde trends.

There are still few people around with such broad backgrounds and global anchorings, yet their number is increasing and more and more people are drawn into this trend at least to some extent. Thus, my perspective and standpoint is not only particularly "global" but also future-oriented. My experiences and analyses will probably become more common in the future, both in the daily lives of lay persons as well as in scientific practice.

Ray and Anderson (2000) carried out surveys and interviews, which show that we currently witness the emergence of a new movement, the Cultural Creatives. When I read their characterizations, I appear to be at the forefront of this movement with my global outlook, my quest for broader meaning (2) (as opposed to narrow material or status gratifications), my desire to build bridges, between what Ray and Anderson call Moderns and Traditionals as well as toward what Ray and Anderson would perhaps call Pre-Moderns. I also bridge the Consciousness Movement and Social Movement that make up the Cultural Creatives Movement, according to Ray and Anderson.

In my view, my intuition that humiliation, a deeply relational concept, plays a core role in a globalizing world is deeply anchored in my global life world. Few people from the rich West try to enter into deep relationships with the rest of the world. Even when they travel, they pay visits, from my country to your country, and maintain the illusion that the West is somewhat independent from the rest and that discord can be attributed to culture difference, to them and their (backward) culture, or their unfathomable evil motives. Many travelers overlook that the rest of the world is deeply connected with its rich parts and that this relationship is probably more relevant than cultural differences. And, this relationship may be characterized by feelings, such as admiration, or envy, or, when we talk about serious disruptions such as terrorism, by feelings of humiliation.

Very short summary of my thoughts and observations, 2007
I am often asked to summarize my message. Please see here a short narrative, and a somewhat longer paper. However, let me make an attempt to be even shorter in the following paragraphs. I have one main message, that I sometimes break down into four sub-messages or sub-objectives (see further down). The starting point for my work is that we, humankind, have to humanize globalization. I have coined the term egalization to signify that we need to implement truly - not just in rethoric - the idea that every human being possesses equal rights and dignity. A decent global village (see Avishai Margalit's work on a decent society) has to be built from the ramshackle global village that we live in at the current point in time. If humankind fails to achieve this, humankind might share the fate of the Titanic and face its demise. In an interconnected world we are all in one boat. Self-interest confluxes with common interest. Working for common interest is no longer optional altruism, but imperative for self-interest. Since the wealthy of this planet have more resources, and will face lethal backlashes (for example, terrorism) if they fail, they need to hurry and urgently take on the task of egalizing globalization in partnership with the rest. Everybody can and should contribute to this project (see in this context our Call for Creativity). By doing so, one does not only help "save the world," but also reaps a sense of meaning that otherwise cannot be achieved. This project is nobody else's responsibility and opportunity but mine and yours. The state of the world is dire, far beyond pessimism or optimism. We need to be profoundly alarmed and put all our energy into saving the Titanic from going down - rather than indulge into denial, panic, finger-pointing, or destructive pesssimism.

I break this main goal down into four sub-objectives:
1. The story of Marie Antoinette may illustrate the first sub-objective. It certainly is not true that she said "Let them eat cake (brioche)" when told that people were starving, this story was penned by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. However, the story could still be taken as a short-hand description of elite ignorance and how it may lead to death (the French aristocracy lost their heads under the guillotine). In other words, I wish to convey the message to the privileged of this world that their blindness (or worse) may cost them their lives. It is suicidal to stay unaware of the fact that casually displayed ignorance on the part of the wealthy may trigger feelings of humiliation in the beggars. It is suicidal because these feelings of humiliation may backlash. And feelings of humiliation risk backlashing with violence the more the world becomes interconnected, the more the downtrodden are moved by the human rights message for equal dignity for all, particularly if they, together with those who identify with them (see research on mirror neurons) gain access to lethal weapons. I call feelings of humiliation the "nuclear bomb of our emotions." Double humiliation is the result when the haves preach human rights to the have-nots, while at the same time allowing their ignorance to make the situation for the have-nots more humiliating. Double standards humiliate doubly. In other words, the wealthy do not only carry a particular responsibility, it is also live-saving for them to engage forcefully in egalizing globalization.

2. The story of the Wall Street financier illustrates the second sub-objectives. It is the story of a wall street financier, who, after having indulged in luxury (sports cars, penthouses, trophy girl friends, etc.), ends up investing in social responsibility, because it provides more meaning than any accumulation of self-focused gratifications could ever render. The message is that we need to ask "what can I do for the world?" and not "what can the world do for me?" The first question is much more gratifying than the latter. Investing one's energy into humanizing and egalizing globalization provides more meaning and satisfaction than holding on to self-centered "just world" beliefs. Many among the wealthy choose to define themselves as victims of injustice ("why should I care..."), or as comparably poor ("others are richer than me, why don't they go first..."), and thus avoid taking responsibility for the world. Yet, just-world thinking has no protective effect; in an inconnected world it is potentially both suicidal and homocidal. The haves of this world need to stand up and partner with the have-nots of the world. All together need to come out of humiliation in a Mandela-like fashion (Gandhi, Martin Luther King...), and not with genocide and terror (Hitler, genocide, global terror).

3. It it useful to look at long-term human history. This has three pay-offs, at least. First, it provides the calmness, composure, and serenity that is necessary to undertake the constructive social changes that is needed at the current point in history. Second, it opens space for mutual respect across fault lines. Third, it spells out a roadmap for the future and offers reason for hope. By looking at long-term human history, we detect that a culture of honor is an adaptation to the fear flowing from the security dilemma (a term used in international relations theory) that reigned during the past 10,000 years or so of human history, when people lived in a compartmentalized world and used land as resource for their livelihood (see William Ury's work). The security dilemma is a tragic dilemma, and consequently, the culture of honor forces people into tragic choices ("better dead than humiliated" has driven heads of families/states into duel-like wars that killed and maimed millions). In contrast, a culture of dignity, or, more precisely, a culture of equal dignity for all, can emerge in a unified human family where knowledge is the resource. The culture of dignity is much more benign than the culture of honor - among others, it opens for the Mandela path out of humiliation. Even though the culture of dignity is not yet realized anywhere on planet Earth - it is a vision for the future - it is worth working for it. The culture of dignity is not only more hopeful, it also represents the only suitable adaptation to the new world of global interdependence and interconnectedness that we live in. The culture of honor is of little help today. It was an adaptation to a past that was fundamentally different. None of humankind's forefathers saw planet Earth from the perspective of an astronaut. The term "global village" did not exist, nor did concepts such as "global cooperation to solve global social and ecological challenges of climate change, poverty, and violent conflict." In the past, under circumstances of the security dilemma, the aim was to keep enemies safely out of one's ingroup. This was old Realpolitik (or "security," or "counterterrorism"). A new concept of Realpolitik needs to focus on "human security." This means heeding the fact that in an interconnected world unilateral action no longer stays unilateral, that violence and humiliation no longer pacify, but come back in kind, in a boomerang fashion. A formerly compartmentalized world needs to be united today into a new global ingroup, or global community, to tackle common challenges and give the survival of all humankind a chance. To reach that end, the available cultural diversity within the human family must be harnessed and woven into a new context of unity in diversity. Elements that violate equal dignity and/or are divisive can no longer have a place. Cultural diversity needs to be boosted in today's world - it is as crucial to protect and nurture cultural diversity as biodiversity - however, diversity enriches only when embedded into unity.
Reasons for hope are, among others:
•  Knowledge as the resource for livelihood offers a win-win frame that is more benign than the win-lose lose frame that is forced into the foreground when limited resources such as land are the main resource.
•  All humankind defining itself as one single ingroup is more benign than many outgroups confronting each other, not least because it frees humankind from malign outgroup biases.
•  The ideal of equal dignity for all invites everybody into developing their full personal potential; no longer are underlings tools in the hands of their masters.
•  Cooperation with everybody is more constructive and benign than cooperating only within one's ingroup to keep outgroup enemies at bay.
•  Avoiding, preventing, and healing humiliation has a higher probability of succeeding than tackling the security dilemma.

4. The most significant danger at the current point in human history stems from the risk that the path toward a culture of dignity may be hampered by ubiquitous feelings of humiliation, which, when translated into retaliatory acts of humiliation, might send humankind back into the past of a divided world. I call this risk the danger emanating from "clashes of humiliation" (rather than Huntington's "clashes of civilization"). Clashes of humiliation need to be healed and prevented, not taken as pretext to turn back into the past.

Reflections in Decmeber 2008
What if you were to imagine that you have the task to develop a global network, a global fellowhsip, a global movement, a truly global network, fellowship, and movement. The first decision you may take is to design your life globally, as a kind of globally mobile ambassador, to find potential new members and invite them into your network.

The next question coming to your mind may be the following: What is a truly global network?
You will notice that usually global networks comprise many members from the so-called "West," and fewer from the "rest." In other words, your first task would be to design your global life in ways that bring you to the "rest."

When I began creating our HumanDHS network in 2001/2002, I started out with inviting those people I already knew through my doctoral dissertation on humiliation. Since my dissertation was located in Europe, with strong links to North America, and my field work had brought me to Africa, we soon had members from Europe, North America, and Africa. However, Asia, and South America, to name just two regions, were not well represented. As a consequence, I accepted an invitation of friends of our network to use their apartment in Japan as a platform to include more members from Asia into our network. In this way, I spent altogether ca. three years in Japan, China, and Australia (2004-2007).
Clearly, other parts of Asia still require more attention, however, my plan is to turn to South America before giving more attention to Asia. I hope and plan to spend time in South America in 2011 or 2012, and I am grateful for any invitation!

Sometimes I insert a "writing break" into my itinerary so as to be able to finish new books. For writing, I look for invitations anywhere in the world, where members of our network kindly include me into their families.

As you see, my global life design follows the needs of our network. In order to develop it globally, I have to spend time in those world regions where we wish to strengthen our network. These requirements have to be balanced with other needs, for example, I have to spend time at the locations where our conferences take place, and I need to retreat for writing. Clearly, this life design requires much more pre-planning than "average" life designs would demand. I hope that one day we will have many HumanDHS Dialogue Homes around the world, where people are welcomed who wish to manifest global citizenship of care and dignity like me.

A global life design: Reflections and a chronological description

• See pictures at www.humiliationstudies.org/whoweare/evelin/pictures.php
• See videos at www.humiliationstudies.org/whoweare/evelin/videos.php#lindner
• See lectures, talks, and interviews at www.humiliationstudies.org/whoweare/evelin021.php
• See publications at www.humiliationstudies.org/whoweare/evelin02.php

• 1954 born into a displaced family from Central Europe (Silesia)
• 1974 beginning to live and work globally, in many countries within Africa, Asia, Europe, and America, among others for longer periods in Norway (regularly since 1977), Germany (regularly since ), Switzerland (regularly since 2000), France (regularly since 2001), or Belgium (1984–1991), the Middle East (regularly since 1975), Egypt (1984–1991 and since), Somalia (1998), the Great Lakes in Africa (1999), Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma (1981), China (regularly since 1983), Japan (2004–2007), New Zealand (1983), Australia (2007, 2011), the United States (regularly since 1982)

History of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network

Schedule in more detail

Some texts on global citizenship of care and dignity

Global Dignity: What Is It? How Do We Achieve It?
In: Journal of Urban Culture Research, Volume 8, 2014, Arts and Social Outreach – Designs for Urban Dignity, Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.
This paper brings together Evelin Lindner's thoughts about global dignity with the experiences and insights she gathered in Thailand in March and April 2014. It draws together the presentations she gave at two conferences: Urban Dignity: What Is It? How Do We Achieve It? and Global Dignity.

• Living Globally: Global Citizenship of Dignity and Care as Personal Practice
See the long version of Lindner's contribution to the anthology Global Citizen - Challenges and Responsibility in an Interconnected World, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Sense Publishers, 2014
(A Global Citizen lecture series took place at the University of Oslo during fall 2012).

• Emotion and Conflict: Why It Is Important to Understand How Emotions Affect Conflict and How Conflict Affects Emotions
In: Deutsch, Morton, Coleman, Peter T., and Eric C. Marcus (Eds.), The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, 3rd Edition, Chapter 12, pp. 283-309, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-118-52686-6, 1272 pages. See the Book Launch Event Page.
See here the long draft for the update of this chapter for the third edition of the handbook in 2014 from the second edition in 2006.

South America 2012: Reflections on a "Digniventure"
End of March to End of July 2012, South America

Fostering Global Citizenship
In: Peter T. Coleman and Morton Deutsch (Eds.), Psychological Components of Sustainable Peace: An Introduction, Peace Psychology Book Series, New York: Springer Science+Business Media, 2012, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4614-3555-6_1, ISBN: 978-1-4614-3554-9, ISBN 978-1-4614-3555-6 (eBook), chapter 15, pp. 283-298. See the flyer and invitation to the book launch on November 7, 2012. Please see the video of the book launch on the ICCCR website and on YouTube.
The papers listed further down represent the first four drafts for this chapter, developed from February 2010 to December 2010. The papers are rather different from each other. They illustrate the process of developing the ideas for this chapter. The title of each draft was suggested by Morton Deutsch, as was the main structure of each paper, including most of the main section headings. The titles and the section headings thus represent a question, or a challenge posed by Morton Deutsch to Evelin Lindner to respond to. The text of each section can therefore be read as a responses to Morton Deutsch's formulation of the headings.
• Paper 4, March 10, 2011: Fostering Global Citizenship 2
• Paper 3, October 15, 2010: Fostering Global Citizenship 1
• Paper 2, May 30, 2010: Why Global Citizenship Is Needed for Global Peace
• Paper 1, February 25, 2010: Harmonious and Sustainable Peaceful Relations: How They Can Be Fostered by Fulfilling Basic Human Needs and Nurturing Positive Emotions and How the Frustration of Basic Needs Can Lead to Destructive Emotions and Interactions

How Multicultural Discourses Can Help Construct New Meaning
Paper presented at the Second International Conference on Multicultural Discourses, 13-15th April 2007, Institute of Discourse and Cultural Studies, & Department of Applied Psychology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.

How Becoming a Global Citizen Can Have a Healing Effect
Paper presented at the 2006 ICU-COE Northeast Asian Dialogue: Sharing Narratives, Weaving/Mapping History, February 3-5, 2006, International Christian University (ICU), Tokyo, Japan.

• The Evolving Family: Giving Life to the Human Family
In: The Offerings Book on Women and Birthing, Chapter Two, pp. 38-41, 2007.
Please see here a long version of this paper, written in 2006.


(1) Ray and Anderson, 2000, carried out surveys and interviews and report that there is a newly emerging movement, the Cultural Creatives, who have a global outlook, even if global experience is lacking.

(2) I was early on influenced by Victor E. Frankl and his work on Sinn (meaning), see Frankl, 1972, and Frankl, 1963, and recently I detected a related Japanese approach of "Meaningful Life Therapy" by Morita and Levine, 1998, see also Reynolds, 1987.

Some References

Frankl, Victor E. (1963). Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy. New York, NY: Washington Square Press.

Frankl, Victor E. (1972). Der Wille Zum Sinn: Ausgewählte Vorträge Über Logotherapie. Bern: Hans Huber.

Morita, Shoma and Levine, Peg (1998). Morita Therapy and the True Nature of Anxiety-Based Disorders (Shinkeishitsu). New York, NY: State University of New York Press.

Nagata, Adair Linn (1998). Being Global: Life at the Interface. In Human Resource Development International, 1 (2), pp. 143-145.

Ray, Paul H. and Anderson, Sherry Ruth (2000). The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Reynolds, David K. (1987). Water Bears No Scars: Japanese Lifeways for Personal Growth. New York, NY: William Morrow.