Questions and Answers with Jürgen Schneider
Why does mankind need nature?
The greatest error, the biggest “lie”, is that man and nature are two separate dimensions. We are nature itself – living in it and at the same time hosting an entire universe of life – and therefore – because we are nature itself, we humans are drawn into this relationship with tremendous power.
Do you see the changes in children when you are out in nature for a few days in a row without any technology?
After the second day, practically everyone in the Camp lets themselves go. It’s like hearing someone taking a deep breath – actually breathing a huge sigh of relief. Then they start exploring the site; they get dirty, they make smoke instead of fire, they get stung by a mosquito because it needs the blood for their offspring, they sing songs to try and tame the chickens, they bring an egg – still warm – from the chicken coop and they love to go to the neighbours for milk – he has a calf and a young Labrador.
How have children reacted to having been on ROOTS Camp?
I’m coming back next year, for sure!!
I’d love to come back, but I’d need a proper toilet!!
Have there been children attending the Camp who haven’t managed?
No – once they’re there – not!
In your opinion, do you think nature and experiences in nature are neglected in childhood today?
The average “radius of movement” of a child today has decreased from about 8km from the home to about 500 meters (!). They can’t tell a frog from a toad and they don’t see a calf but a baby cow. What can I say …? I think we are raising a generation inappropriately and in a terrifying way. If we kept guinea pigs like this, we would probably be charged for cruelty to animals.
Do you think that nature is generally neglected these days?
We are still trying to make it “subservient” to us. We try to “survive” in it, we consume it “outdoors” and for this we buy expensive “equipment” that completely isolates us from it and does not let us experience it. We spend practically the whole day in air-conditioned or heated and lit rooms, in cars, shopping centres and smart homes. Nobody goes barefoot anymore. In the slightest of summer rain everyone puts on rain coats and rubber boots … have you ever gone out when a thunderstorm really gets started in summer? You should do – it is an impressive experience.
What else would you like to say about nature and humans?
Ever since we decided to breed and tame animals, since we elevated ourselves above other living creatures and manipulated them for our purposes (to maximize profit), and ever since we categorized animals into beneficials and vermin – we no longer see ourselves as part of this incredible diversity, this indescribable miracle.
We have desecrated nature, we denigrate it, we deny other living beings a soul and consciousness, the ability to be happy and mourned, so that it is easier for us to put the incredible suffering of factory farming into perspective. We turn cattle into milk production machines by removing suckling cows’ young to within earshot. This is grim state of affairs and it will backfire on us one day.
In the last 30 years the earth has lost around 75% of existing insects (biomass!) And the outcry, the panic … where is it? We busy ourselves with distraction, envy and greed, we post vacation photos and take pictures of our dinners.
The Good News
It takes children about 2 to 3 days at most to quickly forget their everyday madness when they are among themselves and in a natural environment – just watched, not continuously checked up on and organized.
It’s up to us to respect this and to stop forcing them against their will to conform to the “real world”.
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