The statistics are frightening. More and more children of an even younger age become involved with drugs. To many young people the "real world" seems utterly unreal and quite senseless. The tendency is to escape into a dream world. There appear to be no tasks worth living for. Waldorf education helps the individual to gain confidence, social interest self-reliance and discover meaning in life.
Twenty years ago it would have seemed unimaginable; but in the Nineties it has become part of the scene. Dealers not only go for adolescents, but also for children of younger age groups, taking in an ever-growing clientele. What drug addicts themselves say about how they became hooked, may well alarm the listening adult.
The common factor in their motives is usually a search for an intensification of the experience of self. The world seems to offer them nothing that is at all adequate to this hunger for "experience". What is it these young people complain of missing? It is the experience of inner peace, of a feeling of freedom, of social balance, and the experience of their own individual power of imagination. Their sense of deprivation is a highly significant indicator.
Experts assert that by 2100 half the contemporary population will have succumbed to one addiction or another. What has led to this explosion of addictions in our time? However different individuals may be, we are all striving for one goal. We all long for personal, individual freedom. This longing springs from one source, the search for oneself, indeed for one's "Self", that is to say, one's spiritual origin. Frequently, it is only through encountering its very opposite, our shadow self that we can recognise our own true self.
The essential challenge of our day is not prohibiting or fighting drugs. It is the challenge of finding ways of strengthening the forces that form the Self, in finding ways to enable each person to form their own judgement. All those concerned with education will have to come to terms with one question: How can the coming generation be helped to unfold the individual forces at work in every one of them?
Through intensive schooling of the senses, through a cultivation of social life, through exact observation of each individual pupil and through the adult example of responsible behaviour to each other – the Waldorf School seeks to assist each child and young person to develop their own innate abilities. Above all pupils are encouraged to relate to one another with a sense of respect and responsibility. All educational effort is steeped in the conviction that it is this development of individual faculties that can and will determine whether the future will bring us disastrous struggle or whether it can be seen as a field of new opportunities for the human being.
Every form addiction takes – drug addiction being only the most extreme form – can rouse us to an awareness of the situation society is in. What can act as a prophylactic? One factor is certainly the attempt to give children an education which can unlock a source of inner harmony and even happiness in young people that can grow with them into their adult lives. This can never be done by indoctrination. It can be striven for in helping people to find access to their own, individual, moral and religious ideals.