Jean-Louis Servan Schreiber: In critical situations, one of the powerful ways to escape the inevitable stress is to think of all those around us who are less fortunate than us and to try to help them, if only by calling telephone. In a circumstance where one is encouraged to isolate and confine oneself, the others are more sensitive than ever to all the signs that one thinks of them and listens to them. Nowadays, we can do it, at least a little. During the wars, what made the soldiers feel good was the delivery of the mail of their relatives. Nowadays, our means of remote presence are otherwise powerful.
Perla Servan Schreiber: My advice during confinement: meditate, to cook, write, talk to loved ones with zoom, multiply FaceTime with others.
Buddha news invites you to discover a chapter of the latest book by Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber, With time… Extract (chapter 16, “My values”):
“It has become a catchphrase: “We live in times without landmarks, where traditional values have faded, without being replaced by new ones. ” Hollow formula, because it is impossible for anyone to live without benchmarks or values. It remains to be seen whether these are positive or toxic, altruistic or selfish. I recognize that many of the ambient values of my youth have resisted the changes in the world badly.
These last came to us directly from the XNUMXth century: Christian faith for some, republican fervor for others, belief in the communist tomorrows which sings for a solid minority. In the aftermath of two atrocious wars, wasn't it natural to be a patriot, a social democrat, a human rights activist? We were not yet a feminist, a globalist, an abolitionist of the death penalty, a champion of sexual freedom or a resolute anti-colonialist. There were the building sites of my generation: to break down these barriers, to loosen these shackles. The job was done, often in fever, revolt and even wars (Indochina, Algeria), but that's how we moved, belatedly, from the XNUMXth to the XNUMXth century. Our modernized society is undoubtedly freer, more tolerant, more open, but also more individualistic.
In this XNUMXst century, the moral and social space around me reminds me of the Normandy bocage, the many hedges of which have been cut down to create arable land. The new expanse suddenly seems very empty until the new plants have had time to grow. Because collective values have historically been weakened, as their traditional sources have become obsolete. A certain morality was transmitted by religions, faith in the future by ideologies, collective rules by civic principles that the school no longer dares to transmit.
However, we do not live in a society of anarchic savagery. Even if it is often found wanting, respect for others, for their integrity and for their property, functions more or less in Europe. We don't feel the need to go out armed, like some Americans or our ancestors two centuries ago. Proof of this is that incivility, sexist or racist insults, attacks on property are denounced by the media and repressed, more or less well, by the police and judges. For security and solidarity, it is better to live in France than in the vast majority of nations on the planet.
So where is the problem ? What are we missing? Of the ideal, of meaning, of surpassing oneself, of the reasons for not being satisfied with an environment that is more or less comfortable where the media, which have become our directors of conscience, work above all to sharpen our consumer impulses.
For my part, I do not regret the time when values were dictated from the outside, by other humans supposedly invested with the power to speak the truth and the good. Whether they were priests, politicians or soldiers, we finally understood that they were only individuals like us, too often lacking in principle. No wonder trust in any form of authority has plummeted. I do not see how the latter could go up, because society will continue for a long time to train profit officials, rather than monitors of Republican citizenship.
After a war, collective values skyrocket. Hence the generous momentum which, in the years following 1945, led to the creation of health and redistribution systems, envied in all countries that are still far from it. If only the United States. But living in peace no longer surprises anyone, everyone has gone back to their little business, finding them sometimes cramped.
Like all young people, I began by believing in the prevailing discourse on what could give more meaning to my life. I quickly found Catholicism obsolete. Politically, at fifteen, I was a mendesist but the latter fizzled out. I was grateful to de Gaulle for having rid us of the Algerian tragedy and the weight of the colonies, while creating stable institutions. But as the sixty-eighters tagged it, one does not fall in love with a rate of growth nor in swoon in front of a normal democratic functioning. However, I have never lost sight of the fact that this normality, badly shared on the planet, remains a privilege.
The values that inhabit me, that make me act are internalized by mimicry and experience. Overall, they are not unique to me since I drew them from the Judeo-Christian moral heritage and from humanism, of which my native Europe was the crucible. But everyone has their own order of priority. Only one for me is sacred: life, its absolute respect for my human brothers and sisters, and as much as possible for the rest of the animal kingdom, therefore living.
Besides, I try to practice what I expect from others, even if they sometimes disappoint me. But not to the point of making me renounce my convictions. I see that my superego watches over my reliability: doing what I say, keeping my commitments, not lying. If I value reliability so much for myself and others, it's because I need to live comfortably to be able to trust, to count on those with whom I am in contact. Which led me to prefer not to promise what I wasn't sure I could keep.
In my educational principles, since I am fortunate to have children and grandchildren, the path of reliability is the example. I did not hesitate to formulate prohibitions with the youngest, then only advice as they became more responsible. But I knew that my actions, what they observe of my behaviors would carry much more than my words. When I try to clarify what comes to me from my mother or my father, I remember a few principles expressed. For my mother: “Noblesse oblige”, for my father: “It is easier to take on yourself than to take on others”. It was allusive enough for me to make my own mix, but I didn't forget them.
My parents will have bequeathed me more by what I was able to observe of their actions. My mother was demanding and passionate, my father smart and good-natured. Both, luckily, were equally loving and therefore tolerant. It seems to me that I had to pass on to my young people more paternal values than maternal ones. But it is they who will be able to tell when they reach the age of balance sheets… in a long time. Whether I like it or not, I am exemplary for others, for good or for bad.
One is never perfect or entirely despicable, neither holy nor demon, only human. This is what I think more and more to get closer as much as I can to a simple humanism, by being a good life companion for those who accompany me on my journey. I believe that the best legacy I can leave them will not be material, but moral. It was said of my father that he had a taste for others, so he was loved by those who approached him. What better ambition for myself? I am more and more aware that any word exchanged with others, any gesture that they can remember will leave a trace, even unconscious, in them. Every day I will continue to weave the memory that I will leave around me. To imagine that later they will think of me smiling is sweet to my heart. »