Shepherd of Being


A “Shepherd of Being,” caught my eye yesterday as I was reading a book. It is how Martin Heidegger referred to our role in our own lives. In his view, we need to stand on the sideline and accept whatever fate grants us.

Passive and unappealing as Heidegger’s idea appears, it actually stems from his profound personal experience. In the 1930s, he actively supported the German Nazi movement. Its anti-minority policies were masterminded and enacted by his fellow human beings, and himself. When he conceived the idea of a “Shepherd of Being,” a decade or so after the war had ended, his thinking was that since humans were capable of committing so many crimes, perhaps it was better for them to stand by and simply watch their destiny unfold in front of their eyes.

In my mind, accepting the “Shepherd of Being” stance toward our fate is no justification for genocide and other crimes committed in the 1930s and 40s by the Nazis. Nonetheless, accepting our fate, if combined with other concepts, is a powerful and graceful way living.  More on the mystery concepts in the next blog entry! 🙂



Karo Caran, the Rainbow Poetess, is a poet and a non/fiction writer. Her novel, "Breaking the silence: A story in paintings" focuses on the censorship of art and gay relationships in the postwar, communist Poland. Her poetry-based memoir, "Life in a Footnotes" will be published this summer.
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