If you take the first two letters of the motto water, air, light and sun in German, wasser, luft, licht and sonne, it spells Waluliso. That was the pseudonym chosen by the self proclaimed prophet Waluliso, a Viennese peace activist. I first saw him in 1990 as he strode across the Stephansplaz, the square beside St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, surrounded by a flock of fluttering pigeons, creating quite a scene. He was dressed in a toga, wore a head wreath of olive branches, carried a crook and always had an apple in his hand. He looked like a man on a mission. He was in fact a man on a mission. He was Ludwig Weinberger, he worked tirelessly for the preservation of Danube Island in Vienna in the 70’s and peace & disarmament throughout the 80’s. He was there, front and centre when the Berlin Wall came down. He certainly was a bit of a character.
Who cares? He’s gone and that time has past. I thought of him recently because of a quote I saw that was shared on Facebook. There was nothing wrong with the quote but it made me think how easy it is to seemingly take credit for a clever piece of writing by sharing it on Facebook, without our being the author. Sharing those quotes is beneficial of course, we all do it and it brings awareness to situations that need to see the light of day. It’s a much different thing however to live out those convictions that we so ardently support. And that was precisely what he did, he was dedicated to his causes. He didn’t just talk a clever line about how all things should be in a harmonious world and hide behind platitudes written by armchair philosophers. First of all he lived in nine square meters from 1944 until his death in 1996, he thought more space would be extravagant when so many in the world had less. He got out there, created a character for himself which drew attention to the things he believed in. There was no social media, he couldn’t build a following on-line, he stood out there in the square and engaged as many people as he could. He lived it and I admire him for that. I certainly don’t have the courage that would take. On June 7th, 1998 a bridge was dedicated in his honour that takes pedestrians and cyclists over the Danube to the island he worked so hard to protect. Nice.