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Interview with the President of the Republic for radio Štajerski val

Ljubljana, 01/17/2007  |  interview

The interview of the President of the Republic of Slovenia Dr Janez Drnovšek for slovenian radio Štajerski val is published below.
Published on: 17th January 2007

Speaker: The President of the Republic, Dr Janez Drnovšek, has proven once more that he does not differentiate between the big national and small local media. He has again taken the time to speak with the listeners of the Štajerski val radio station about the most pressing issues of our contemporary world. In the interview, for which we have chosen the title A Better World, he encourages us to establish friendlier and more sincere relationships, to protect nature, and to create a more righteous world for everyone. President Drnovšek was interviewed by Barbara Furman.

Barbara Furman: In our efforts to improve our lives, we have to focus primarily on improving ourselves in order to become better people. If we are going to do this, we have to remain open to new knowledge. If you are sensitive to this point, you will certainly want to remain with us during the minutes that follow. Dr Janez Drnovšek, our President, believes that it is high time that we dispel all sorts of suffocating misconceptions, and he invites us to do so. In one his most recent reflections, published on his Gibanje za pravičnost in razvoj (Movement for Justice and Development) website, he warns us about the world becoming increasingly more unbalanced, which does not only manifest itself in climatic change, but also in the deterioration of the Third World due to its drowning in hunger and disease, in ever more numerous political crises and in conflicts that the international community is far from being able to control, as the President points out. Yes, this was also discussed in last week's interview at his official premises, and at that time Dr Drnovšek reconfirmed that he is an incisive conversationalist, and above all, a warm, reassuring and scintillating personality. Allow me, first of all, to thank you for taking the time again for our listeners. So let me start by asking you about your feelings regarding this winter, which practically does not exist. Does it not seem as if nature is trying to tell us something?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: My greetings to all of you who are listening. This year's winter is strange, indeed. We have practically the same temperatures in January that we had last August, and this is further evidence of the climatic change that is taking place on our Earth now. I often point this out in my books and in my public appearances. The human race is tampering with the Earth and its climate, and if we do not stop this process we will end up destroying both. Therefore I try, along with many others, to warn people about these issues so that mankind and, above all, those institutions and people who can influence such developments, namely politicians, the economy and the media, begin to behave differently. However, these very players are also the most reluctant when it comes to raising their awareness. We can perhaps find a solution in establishing a considerably greater critical mass of people in the world who are already aware of this and who will put pressure on politicians and institutions to act differently, and to recruit different personnel as well.

Furman: If we touch upon the latest events a bit by bringing up yesterday's forecast of the European Community, or rather its appeal that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by twenty percent by 2020, may I ask you whether we can consider such forecasts of European politicians authentic and based in fact… in short, can we believe them?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: We have to admit that Europe is trying the hardest on this. But I am afraid that European goals, too, regardless of how serious they appear, are still insufficient, because the destruction of the climate is progressing even more rapidly; this is confirmed over and over again by each new estimate or analysis, and each time matters become worse and worse, and this process of destruction is accelerating. It is thus a serious question as to when we shall reach the point when these goals become inadequate or when they have been set too low. There is an even greater problem in the fact that others do not emulate Europe’s efforts, above all the policies of the US, which is not capable of rising above the interests of its big corporations and their profits – these corporations would then often be forced to abandon profitable activity in order to avoid polluting the environment or increasing the costs of environmental protection – all of this is surely unattractive to numerous corporations and the amassing of capital. Unfortunately and for the time being, capital is winning and the environment is losing. China is also polluting excessively; it has been developing at a very high rate of speed without taking into consideration any environmental standards, and not even social standards. So now we have a paradoxical situation in which a communist country such as China is creating perhaps the greatest social inequalities in the world; it has an extremely poorly paid labour force, which consequently destroys jobs elsewhere in the world due to its high competitiveness. On the other hand, China also destroys its environment excessively, to the point that has already become much too obvious. When you arrive in a large Chinese town, you first see a huge cloud of smog, so huge that it creates near-darkness – the sun cannot even penetrate it. These processes are very serious. Of course, the Chinese and Americans alike do not only pollute their own countries, but the whole world as well, bringing on climatic change for us, too. Sadly, today's global politics are not equal to this task, as there is a lack of sufficient awareness and ability, and the capital behind it is unfortunately often far too powerful.

Furman: You have stated on the Gibanje website, among other things, that we cannot expect a bed of roses in the future and that the world has no true and resolute leadership. Those of you who are spiritually aware, and I have you in particular in mind here, do you feel or sense what is coming?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Yes, it is true. This is my intuitive perception of the issue, which can also be explained rationally. Therefore, I have often written that there is a danger of humankind obliterating itself if it does not change its ways. There are several scenarios for catastrophe. There were times when we were afraid of a great war between the two superpowers, while today, such a direct threat no longer exists, because the Soviet Union has gone. On the other hand, there are all the more acute crises in the world that are becoming increasingly dangerous. The clash of civilisations is also intensifying, notably the conflict with the Islamic world. More and more acts of terrorism originate from this conflict, and the even greater risk of nuclear terrorism, for example, cannot be excluded. Ultimately, this could have much more serious consequences. And in the absence of some other catastrophe, like a terrorist disaster or war caused by the world as unbalanced as it is today, an ecological disaster will undoubtedly occur at a certain point. Here the clock is ticking, our time is nearly up, and soil, water and air are being destroyed. At a certain point it will be too late. We will reach the point where everything will be so irretrievably polluted and ruined that it will be impossible to do anything about it when we realise that the agony is already literally here. This can be perceived both rationally and intuitively. Personally, I perceive this quite strongly. However, there are many who would prefer not to see or hear this, because they are bound to their mechanisms of profit, power, authority and mastering the world. The superpowers continue to fight each other for their egoistic interests. In today's world and even in the UN, no one represents the interests of mankind as a whole, but only their own individual interests. Unfortunately, the UN is much too often ineffective and cannot address these issues in a proper manner. That is why I am saying that at some point the world will be awakened by a major disaster or shock that will indeed clearly indicate the need for mankind to change its ways of behaving, as well as its values and priorities in order to function differently, and to establish more sustainable development, which will in the long-run enable us to survive and which will differ from the unsustainable development of today's world. What we can do is try to make people aware of this problem, as many people as possible, thus increasing the pressure. The issue is to increase public awareness so that people will increasingly perceive what is happening, followed by pressure on politicians, corporations and the media, all of which could do much more than they actually do, since they have access to an audience who listen to them and could therefore influence people's consciences and their level of awareness.

Furman: In short, and as you often point out and also wrote about yourself, to indeed begin changing the conditions in the environment we live in and in the world in general, it is first necessary to begin with oneself and begin to change. But as we know, the answers to the question of how to become a different and better person lie within ourselves – they only need to be sought out and listened to. That is why, Mister President, I would like our conversation to be a kind of invitation to a journey into oneself. How would you invite us on such a journey, one that would be worth taking?

Dr Janez Drnovšek I think that it is highly important for every person to establish a certain inner balance or some kind of inner peace. I always say that the answer to everything negative that we face in our lives is that we should always act positively, by facing bad with good and positive ideas and with positive feelings, and not to succumb to despair, sadness, anger or depression. And this is the key to everything. It certainly sounds good, but to achieve this in various life situations is not all that easy. Someone might ask: "how will that help if I am jobless or live in poverty?" But this also does not hold. You see, if you are sure that things will go well and if you are positive and confident of a good outcome, and if you think positively, the problems will ultimately be resolved. Things will somehow fall into place, as they should. And if not, and if you end up falling into a vicious circle of despair, self-pity, anger, sadness and so on, the latter may all be considered negative energies, which accumulate in ourselves and build up a certain imbalance. Things will therefore certainly be no better, but even worse, and you may consequently also fall sick. Just as a positive attitude attracts something positive, meaning that things will go well, the accumulation of all that is negative in a person can also function adversely. If one cannot face adversity in a positive way, this indeed attracts ever-new misfortunes or, to quote one of the popular sayings, misfortunes never come singly. Once they start occurring, there is no end to them, because a person is then seized by this negativity or negative energy. It is carried inside, in the mind, in thoughts and feelings, which keeps on attracting still other misfortunes. This might sound simplistic, but it is the very essence of the issue. We sometimes meet people – I also see this elsewhere in the world – who live where poverty and misery are most present. Although living in deepest poverty, they are positive and do not despair, so that one finally gets the feeling that in spite of their poverty they are more content and happier in a certain way than, for example, the super rich somewhere in America who have literally everything and yet need a psychiatrist to teach them how to live so they won't fall into depression. I think that the world needs more positive energy because, unfortunately, there is too much negativity, which, as we can easily see, constantly piles up in different conflicts and hatreds, which can rapidly lead to wars and clashes, even genocide. With the existence of imbalance and once these enormous social discrepancies and an unjust world have taken shape, people begin to feel that everything is unfair and that life as it is only serves the interests of the few, and not all people… this is why negative energy reproduces itself, which further intensifies these imbalances. Where people manage to compose themselves, to raise their level of awareness or energy, they positively influence other people and their environment, and, last but not least, contribute to addressing world issues. The more there are of such people, the more will eventually be done in this respect. And when there are ultimately enough of such people, we we will finally be able to establish sustainable development in this world, and ensure the existence of mankind and justice.

Furman: We are talking with the president of the Republic, Dr Janez Drnovšek, about how life is interwoven with good and bad, and how difficult challenges are always an opportunity for personal growth.

Dr Janez Drnovšek: We have to be aware that life simply consists of negative and positive sides. We could say that it consists on the one hand of problems and misfortunes, and on the other hand of beneficial things and goodness, and that this is just part of life. One cannot imagine life without problems and misfortunes, without being hurt, without negative things. Those who say that life punishes them by bringing them only misfortune, must be aware that life is simply like that, that nobody has any guarantees or assurances. One might somehow experience more favourable circumstances in the material sense; however, this does not at all mean that it will make such a person happier. If we are faced with problems, the key question is whether we are able to overcome them with our faith, positive approach, positive thinking and goodness. If we are capable of this, then the problems, temptations and even suffering will help us finally become better human beings, to lift ourselves above the negative, to strengthen our energy, to actually grow through these temptations and at the end achieve, through suffering, the balance, inner peace and strength we are talking about. All that our whole spirituality should long for. But temptations in life are to be experienced, so let us not complain if we have to face them, because temptations are a necessary part of everything in life. Our suffering, too, is a constituent part of our present life. The only important thing is to learn how to face it and whether we are able to confront it or not. Either we will surrender even more to grief, unhappiness and desperation and keep bemoaning our fate, and only this will occupy our minds, or we will succeed in getting out of it something positive and stop thinking about our misfortune, which will give us the faith to believe that things will somehow be settled for the good.

Furman: It is true, people lack such faith. What is the role of books on this way of awakening and consciousness-raising? Did they, for example, help you in this process, did you find them useful?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Books can sometimes be useful, some of them are, when they are written by enlightened people who have themselves succeeded in transforming their lives. Not by those who learnt to do so, who read these things in a book and then wrote an even more prominent book, something even more distinguished, but have never really experienced what they wrote about and have never gone through these phases of transformation. In this way, their writing cannot be authentic… it will not contain the right energy and will not help very much. You need a book written by a person who, for example, has actually achieved a high level of spirituality. Such a book could help you. It will move something in you, give you an impulse to start doing things differently, to recall things to your mind and start behaving in a different way…to start thinking.

Furman: Nowadays, numerous so-called "self-proclaimed" teachers appear and invite us to visit different workshops, therapy sessions and similar. How do you distinguish between the real and the inauthentic, the false ones? People sometimes have very negative experiences.

Dr Janez Drnovšek: You are right. Today we find many spiritual teachers who are not real spiritual masters, who act in a rather rational way … Many of them are also charlatans, people who are convinced that they themselves are something special, that they have achieved spirituality, know how to talk nicely about it and write intelligently, but in reality they have not reached that level of energy and awareness, they have not reached them in actual life and experience, but only in their reason and mind, which then created all this. But this very often also means that they have not reached beyond themselves, have not gone beyond their egos. Our intellect is strongly connected with our ego, with our physical existence, with everything we actually think is important to us, because the ego in particular always takes charge of us, ourselves, in all this. I sometimes say that at the moment man is capable of reaching beyond himself, escaping his own selfishness, he has perhaps taken the most important step of his life. When he knows how to help others, when he feels compassion for others, when he is not ignorant about other people's suffering, when he does a good thing and therefore feels good, much better, he has made much progress in himself. But this really has to be done. I would, therefore, like to recommend that people be careful with such things, not to opt for any sort of instant learning of spirituality or quick knowledge.

Furman: Anyway, when I occasionally talk to people, some of them sneer at spiritual content and respond very cynically. What interests me is whether people are really so different in their essence?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: In general, such people are self-oriented, they find material goods extremely important, they are occupied with questions, such as, how to get even more, how to live a perfect life, how to achieve power, a certain status, recognition and so on. They consider everything that goes beyond that unnecessary, even ridiculous. I sometimes say that such people have a kind of "locked, low level of consciousness". They cannot overcome their physical consciousness, which is closely connected with their egos. And the ego constantly asks itself the same questions: "How will I, as myself, survive in the best possible way in this world, how will I succeed in having a great time, how will I spend my free time in the best possible way, have more and more material things, more influence and so on. But when you look at them in the end, you ask yourself if these people are ever really happy, if their expectations are ever really fulfilled. No, they never are. They want more and more, they want to generate even more wealth, more material goods, collect more and more, buy yachts, travel here and there, and so on. But, you know, they gradually become bored, because all this does not satisfy them. They finally realize that all this is empty and they do not find real fulfilment in it. They may seem to be winners, but in fact they are the losers of this world. Winners can be those who are poorer, who suffer more, but make something out of their situation, achieve personal growth, overcome, conquer their selfishness, themselves. And only then does man find true fulfilment, the meaning of life… only then can he feel that this is the right thing.

Furman: Your reflection is, after all, confirmed by the fact that addiction is on the increase, i.e. that people resort to different addictions out of the need to compensate for some loss, some emptiness inside. There is more and more depression and suicide – in brief, it is obvious. However, I wanted to ask you – if we should reasonably hope for something better, it is probably very important to begin with children, to make an early start on introducing the proper values. If we have problems with ourselves as adults, how should we transfer this to young people? After all, doesn't the educational system reflect the current political situation?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: This is an important question. In Bistvo sveta (The Essence of the World), my second book, I address this issue as well. Upbringing is very important – it is truly significant what environment a child enters at birth. First of all, there is the question of parents – what they can offer, what kind of awareness of the world they create for their children and for themselves, what type of values they transfer. If their own consciousness is low, they cannot transfer anything higher to their child. Of course, the same applies to school, to teachers. It is not enough to fill a child with knowledge, with information, with all this. However, as far as values or a sense of conscience is concerned, there is a void. In fact it would be more important to create for a child a different, higher consciousness, a different attitude towards the world, towards life, and this would bring about a different start in life. Growing up, children face all this alone, often unprepared for real life. Especially in these modern times, so much is influenced by TV and the Internet. These media could provide positive messages and a better attitude to many important matters, but unfortunately they bring many negative things. I am afraid even beyond what the state of affairs reveals.

Furman: We are about to conclude this interview with the President with reflections on who is considered a great person today and what constitutes his or her greatness – this certainly involves the surpassing of one’s own selfishness, which has already been our topic.

Dr Janez Drnovšek: This is important. When a person can surpass himself, his or her egoism and therefore selfishness and self-obsession, when it is not of sole importance what will happen to him or her alone, how he or she will spend their time and be fully preoccupied with this. I respect all people who manage to take a step forward beyond this. Sometimes I see such people here and it makes me happy; I also meet them through the Movement for Justice and Development which I founded especially for the purpose of gathering such people together and spreading awareness. I am really happy to meet them. Sometimes I even come across a young successful entrepreneur whose sole preoccupation is not how to accumulate things, how to be even more successful, but who wishes to help others, and this is fine, this makes me feel really good. I respect such people. These are people I see helping the homeless, the elderly and other people in need without being obliged to do so, without being paid; they give of themselves and thus help other people. This makes them more complete, and much more satisfied; they live their lives more fully than those who chase material goods.

Furman: Since this is the beginning of the New Year, can you add a final point, some message, some words to live by for our listeners, some stimulating thought or call to positive thinking?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I believe I have provided a few in this interview, but it is always important to repeat that nothing should upset us, that we should be positive, that we should not give in to feelings of misfortune or sadness. Nothing should bring us despair, unhappiness and so on. We should all believe that things will sooner or later turn out for the best. The result may be entirely different than we imagined, but if we believe, really believe in it, accompanying this with positive thoughts and actions, everything will turn out right. And this is again what I heartily recommend.

Furman: Mr President, I hope that our audience have not only listened to, but also heard the numerous precious revelations which may help them change themselves as well as the circumstances they live in. We thank you and wish you all the best.

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Thank you, too, and of course, all the best to your listeners.

Speaker: The president of Slovenia, Dr Janez Drnovšek, was hosted by Barbara Furman in the programme Boljši svet (A Better World).
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