The Human Spirit

Lene Rachel Andersen
Bildung
Published in
4 min readSep 14, 2023

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What is that thing that sometimes happens between and among people? Can AI have it? Does it ever appear on Zoom, and can you join?

AI would not know why this is meaningful, would it? Photo by Melissa Askew

Have you ever had a really amazing experience, where you cannot put into words what it was that made it so special?

It may have been a dinner party: the food was good, the room was beautiful, everything was just perfect, but it was the people who made the difference. But it was not just that the people were nice, fun, and interesting — it was something that happened between you. It was, for the lack of a better word, the ‘spirit’ of that party that made it so different.

Or it could be a meeting at work, where the energy was all positive, creative, meaningful and fun, and you walked out of it almost flying a bit. Was it something somebody said? Maybe. Was it the topic? Perhaps. But more likely, it was, for the lack of a better word, the ‘spirit’ of that meeting that made the difference. Something happened among the people there that lifted you.

Whatever it was that happened, it happened within the space in-between.

Spirit in this sense is an interesting phenomenon. It is also, I hope, a very common phenomenon. Whenever people get together around something, there will always be an emotional dimension to it, and whereas most work meetings (and too many dinner parties) make no emotional difference, some of them do.

I am not suggesting that there are actual spirits joining the events; that some supernatural consciousness joins the party or the meeting and starts affecting everybody.

What I am saying is that we have a potential as human beings: to get together around a shared topic, task, goal, dream, hope, or meal, and through our words, attention, curiosity, and generosity generate that human spirit. That ‘something’ which would not have been there if we had not contributed to it.

An aspect of this ‘human spirit’ is that it seems to appear and flourish more among strangers than among people with whom we are already close. It needs new input to emerge. Once we stop adding to it, it is gone. It needs living, curious, caring, connecting people to ‘come alive.’

And when ‘it’ comes alive, so do we.

When we run out of strangers, we may help the ‘spirit’ emerge through the arts, beauty, music, or aesthetics. Or, believe it or not, through education.

One would think that Zoom meetings are not the best place for this kind of experience. But we have hosted Global Bildung Day four times now, and as we make our tour around the globe, that human spirit is there, undeniably. In the in-between.

As we sit in front of each our screens around the globe, and as we hear the presentations from Oceania, East Asia, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America, and thus travel around the planet, there is human spirit. Not least because, after the presentations, we go out into breakout rooms and discuss in smaller groups what we have just heard. The Global Bildung Day is a global conversation.

You can join

At the upcoming Global Bildung Day on September 21st, the topic is Education and AI, and we are getting together around this topic because there is something very crucial that we share as humans, but which AI will never have (for the lack of a better word): human spirit. As humans, we need to deal with this. And we need to develop education that inspires and connects us as humans, which is what bildung is very much about.

So, you are hereby invited to the Global Bildung Day: it is free of charge, it is on Zoom, you can see the full program here: https://www.globalbildung.net/gbd2023-september-21/, and you can sign up here: https://www.nordicbildung.org/events/global-bildung-day-2023-september-21/.

The Global Bildung Day is on the Equinox, when the day has the same length everywhere on Earth. As human beings, we share the daylight. We also share poor memory, so to make it easy to remember, Global Bildung Day is on March 21 and September 21, even though the Equinoxes are technically on March 20 and September 22/23.

Looking very much forward to seeing all of you online on Global Bildung Day.

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Lene Rachel Andersen
Bildung

Economist, futurist, author, full member of the Club of Rome. Works at Next Scandinavia, Nordic Bildung & European Bildung Network. www.lenerachelandersen.com