Tomas Bjorkman: How to use personal, inner development to build strong democracies

We highly recommend this TEDx Berlin presentation by Swedish entrepreneur and philanthropist Tomas Bjorkman, who tells the story about "The Nordic Secret" - the history of how "retreat centres" (or folk schools) in the Nordic countries developed the character of their late 19th century citizens, and laid in a basis for their remarkable 20th century achievements (we have covered this well on the D.A.).

What is interesting is that Tomas believes that we need a return, or update, of these retreat centres, in order to cope with the complexities and accelerated changes of the present. German philosophers like Goethe and Schiller - who rejected the idea of economically- and rationally-defined man and women, and asserted that our personalities are both embodied and social - need to make a comeback, says Bjorkman.

How can we get a perspective on our own befuddlements and seductions, so we can shape our own desires and will again (or what Tomas calls "inner-directed")? Challengingly, Tomas suggests that we first have to surrender to the fact that, as adults, we don't know how to develop our inner lives. 

We're deeply interested in the idea of adult development - and like Tomas, we can't help thinking that seizing its possibilities might be the key to the transformation and revival of politics. For more focussed research into this, please visit our friends at Perspectiva