What we can learn from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “these difficult years have forged an even closer bond between us than ever before.”

December 20, 2023 by Joshua
in Models

Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived in a culture whose values he disagreed with. He could have dropped his values. It would be easier and more comfortable not to have to push against resistance. He didn’t. He chose to live by his values, even when it was hard.

One result was that he couldn’t spend time with his family in person. Did that separation mean they loved each other less? Did it deprive him of expressing his love for them or receiving their love for him? Did it deprive them of expressing their love for him or receiving his love? No on all counts.

On the contrary, he wrote to them, regarding the separation:

“these difficult years have forged an even closer bond between us than ever before.”

In other words, when it resulted from being themselves more, what may have looked to an outsider like deprivation and separation created closeness and bonding. What creates and expresses love isn’t doing easy things, even it it means seeing each other more. It’s working together, solving problems together, overcoming resistance together.

He is a role model for those of us who choose not to hurt other people so we can fly. Not flying is easy. You are probably not flying right now. Not flying when everyone around you flies is harder, though becomes easier when most people around you don’t fly and live sustainably.

Bonhoeffer’s culture was Nazis. Few of us would have to oppose such overwhelming cultural differences. If he could do it as a person no more or less human than any of us, we can too. If we stop flying for deep values—like the Golden Rule, to Leave Things Better Then You Found Them, and to Live and Let Live—we will become closer to people we care for and who understand us.

Bonhoeffer 2003

Learn more about him in this video:

Read my weekly newsletter

On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Leave a Reply

Sign up for my weekly newsletter