Who is the most ethical world leader

Dignity: The ethical side of sustainability

04/23/2018 - A guest contribution by Dr. Alexandra Hildebrandt, photo: symbol image © Pexels

In it he shows that the idea of ​​one's own dignity is deeply rooted and embedded in the inner conviction of "what distinguishes us as human beings and in which our actual humanity is expressed in our own actions."

It shows that human dignity is only inviolable if people have become aware of their own dignity. Only then can they no longer be seduced. For him, the idea of ​​the dignity of every human being is the decisive prerequisite for the construction and continued existence of any democratic society. There are many books on sustainability, but hardly one that goes so deeply into people themselves and reflects their condition in social and global contexts: The extent of the long-term problems we create through short-term solutions is now, at the beginning of the 21st century, " has become so obvious and so self-destructive that we have no choice but to orient our activities in the future to ideas that make life and coexistence of people more enjoyable in the long term need to learn on a global level the dangers associated with this nearsightedness, it takes a lot of time "until we seriously begin to look for such a long-term common orientation."

In the short term - as is particularly evident in the corporate context and in politics - indecency, the undignified behavior of executives and managers (who have not yet developed their own dignity) can be a successful strategy. Influence, power, property and their own advantages as well as profits at the expense of others are more important to them than peaceful cooperation. That doesn't solve our problems in the long term. Unfortunately, decent (dignified) people often prefer to keep quiet and think their part. But by "remaining so calm, aware of their own inviolable dignity, these special persons inevitably leave the setting of standards and the enforcement of their respective interests to those who, in the absence of such awareness, make the loudest announcement of what they think matters most." This is precisely why they can assert themselves so well and ruthlessly pursue their interests.

Therefore, those who are aware of their dignity must not hold still. It is urgent “no longer to regard it as beneath one's dignity, to take a public position, to express what one is no longer willing to accept and to ensure within the scope of one's possibilities that the dignity of people is no longer trampled underfoot , injured and undermined. "

Sustainability also has an ethical dimension

It is also a book that shows Hüther's path to sustainability: He has a special memory of the 1962 bestseller “Silent Spring” by the American biologist Rachel Louise Carson, which marked the beginning of the global environmental movement marked. A few years ago he saw the two documentaries by Austrian filmmaker Erwin Wagenhofer: "Lets make money" and "We feed the world". Here he found many of his insights confirmed: how things are in global business in the financial system and in global corporations in the food industry.

Those responsible for the insidious financial transactions and the food corporations dominating the world market were "in the formal sense" very educated people. They attended the best schools and graduated with the best exams, studied at renowned universities and also obtained excellent academic degrees here. But what they got here had nothing to do with education. With this knowledge, they turned others into objects and used them to maximize profits.

In his garden, under a tree, he asked himself: If everything that has been tried so far doesn't work, how do you do it? In doing so, he came across the inner compass, "which helps us not only to act in such a way that others are not injured, but we do not injure ourselves in the process: our dignity."

Hüther understands like few scientists how to really touch the recipients of his information and findings. This is also an essential aspect of sustainability communication. Unfortunately, it is incomprehensible to most people due to the very factual and often scientific basis. It has to move closer to the people, sustainability has to be simply explained and understandable.

“Especially when communicating ecologically and socially compatible products, it is important to explain to the consumer why this product is better than a conventional one. When it comes to independent and reliable ecolabels and labels, it is just as important to make it clear why they differ from 'homemade', company-owned labels, which are mostly just 'greenwashing', "says Claudia Silber, who works at Öko -Pionier memo AG is in charge of corporate communications. It is the interface between the company and all media, and its work is based on the seven voluntary commitments adopted by the ethics committee of the German Council for Public Relations in 1991. It is a great achievement of Gerald Hüther's current book to also show the ethical side of sustainability, which does not neglect consumer behavior.

This is what distinguishes dignified people according to Gerald Hüther:

  • They are sustainable consumers who pay attention to compliance with social standards and ecological manufacturing processes.
  • They have raised the idea of ​​a dignified life in their consciousness, are aware of their dignity - and are not (no longer) seducible.
  • They have developed an inner picture of who they want to be.
  • You want to gain orientation and security in social life.
  • You are mindful and careful.
  • They do not accept anything from other people that would harm the dignity of others.
  • They experience themselves as valuable and do not suffer from a lack of meaning.


Gerald Hüther: Dignity. What makes us strong - as individuals and as a society. Collaboration with Uli Hauser. Albrecht Knaus Verlag, Munich 2018.

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