The interests of the country as a whole

January 15, 1999
Albisgüetli Meeting, Zurich


Acting in the interests of the country as a whole means contributing to creating a community in which people can live with a maximum degree of prosperity, security and freedom. This is an ideal goal, and we are always on the way towards it without ever attaining it. It is a challenge for everyone. For only when a large number of people make a common effort to find ways of co-existing in solidarity will the goal draw nearer. With a view to this challenge, three things are particularly important.

First of all, it must be emphasised that every individual has a responsibility of his own. Each person must feel responsible, as far as it lies within his possibilities, for planning his own life. It is important to recognise and develop one's abilities and interests.

Not everyone is equally in a position to do this. Moreover, in today's complex world no-one can fulfil his wishes and hopes all on his own. We therefore need a legal, economic and social environment which must be created and preserved by the community. That is the task of a lean albeit allround efficient state. Let us not forget, however, that it is we ourselves who have to support this state. Self-responsibility must therefore be complemented by a sense of community. By this is meant accepting that we have a responsibility towards our fellow beings and a readiness to cooperate in a spirit of mutual respect.

Finally, we must take account of the fact that there is not only a need for cooperation between individual persons, but also between individual communities. Other communities resemble us to a greater or lesser degree as regards type and size so that relations may take on different forms. What is of the essence is a basic readiness to be open. Between countries, too, cooperation is best achieved if we combine an awareness of our own worth with a willingness to know and accept others. This concerns not only economic relations, but also social and cultural contacts.

The joint effect of bearing responsibility for oneself, a sense of community and openness towards others will best succeed in bringing about a high degree of prosperity, security and freedom.

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  • Hans Meyer
    Chairman of the Governing Board

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