Are you an egoist or an egoist

Bert-Brecht-Gymnasium Dortmund

How current is Brecht's drama "The Good Man" by Sezuan in times of the corona crisis? Schoolchildren (EF) have dealt with this.

"Good deeds, that means ruin!"

On Friday morning (March 13th, 2020) the students of Ms. Granitza's EF German course wrote their exams on the subject of "The good man of Sezuan" - a scene analysis. And, as is so often the case, some of the writers had the feeling that such an "old" drama (premiered Feb. 4, 1943) had nothing to do with their lives today; perhaps quite distantly, and only if you really want to apply it to it. In the afternoon of the same Friday, the news came that all schools in North Rhine-Westphalia will be closed due to the corona virus until further notice in order to slow down the spread. Now it would depend on the solidarity of all fellow human beings.

Can Germany afford that? Can I make a difference through my actions? - These thoughts - how did we know that again?

"Not to let anyone spoil, not even yourself, to fill everyone with happiness, even yourself, that's good."


"People have enough and bare lives to save. Good resolutions bring you to the edge of the abyss, good deeds plunge you down."

Ms. Granitza took the opportunity of digital home lessons, created a trailer with the new teacher iPad and asked her students:


To what extent is the topic of the Brecht drama still relevant in times of Corona?


Some answers in the form of a letter to the editor and in other formats:

Ann-ChristinWestermann (EF): Egoism vs. Altruism

Bertolt Brecht already criticized it around 80 years ago in his parable "The Good Man of Sezuan", when a completely different, terrible world crisis, namely the Second World War (1939-1945), shattered many countries and republics: egoists make every situation for everyone involved worse! Now, in a new decade, even a century, this is exactly what Angela Merkel criticizes in a televised address during a crisis that the country has never experienced before. The new type of coronavirus is currently showing us how selfish some of us really are.

It seems to me that we're reliving the drama, just with a different crisis. Germany too has become a parable. Just as Sezuan stands for all places where people are exploited, Germany stands for all countries where people are infected with the coronavirus and the government has to consider strict measures against egoists. But what does all of this have to do with egoism? If this is not clear to you by now, you may be an egoist yourself or you still have not grasped the gravity of the situation. I can only repeat the words of our Chancellor Angela Merkel once more: “The situation is serious. Take it seriously too. ”Do you buy all the toilet paper as well? Or pasta, rice, disinfectant or soap? Don't get me wrong, I don't want to dispute the purchase of such products, but does it have to be these masses? And this is where egoism comes into play. Did you think of your fellow citizens, neighbors, friends or even family when you bought so-called "hamster purchases"? Probably not. According to the article "Researcher warns: Do not underestimate egoism" from the WAZ of March 21, 2020, around 40% of society are rational egoists for whom only their own benefit is the focus. Although this is the lower number compared to the 60% cooperative altruists who are ready to put their own interests aside for the good of society, it is still 40% too many in such a global pandemic. A quote from the article also fits this: “These contemporaries will always exist.” And they always existed, including in Bertolt Brecht's drama “The Good Man of Sezuan”.

For those who have not read it: The altruistic, good-natured prostitute Shen Te lives in the Chinese province of Sezuan. She is the only one who invites the three gods who are looking for a good person to come in. With the money given to her, she buys a tobacco shop and all who have heard about it want to use it only for their own interests. That too is selfishness. Anyone who takes advantage of the good-natured Shen Te for her money doesn't notice that she's doing badly. In her need she invents the fictional cousin Shui Ta, who is just as selfish as everyone else. In everything where Shen Te cannot say “No!”, The cousin, or Shen Te disguised as Shui Ta, comes to the rescue and shows his selfish side. Shui Ta is the complete opposite of Shen Te. He only thinks of himself, the money and his profit. How others feel about it does not matter. Exactly this problem of egoism ‘we now have again. The main thing is that the individual has enough toilet paper for himself. It doesn't matter whether something is left for the others. Well, in times of Corona, many underestimate the current situation. "I'm not in the risk group at all, so I can continue doing everything as before." - NO! But not only the adults express their egoism - I can only emphasize it again and again - UNNECESSARY hamster purchases, but also the young people with their "corona parties". From my point of view, this egoism takes it to extremes! “I'm young, what do I care about Corona?” They say. But when it comes to YOUR future and therefore climate change, they demand that the elderly do something. In my opinion, this double standard should be ended as soon as possible! "I am young, what do I care about Corona?" Could also be rephrased as "I am old, what do I care about climate change." And people only become active and do something when their own well-being is at risk. But what needs to be internalized: This is not about me or you. This is about US, as a community. It's not about whether you are infected yourself. The point here is that you are not a carrier and infect others. This video with the match, which went viral on the internet, is, in my opinion, a nice illustration of how one should behave: restrict social contacts and thus break the chain of infection. In the video you can see a number of matches burning. One infects the other, but then one moves out of line and thus interrupts the chain of fire. This is exactly how it works with Corona. If someone acts correctly and withdraws from the social environment, he saves several people. So no more meetings in the park or in the café as long as we are grappling with a bad pandemic. The social contacts must be restricted until further notice! So now we all have to become altruists and put our own concerns aside. Brecht's drama made it clear: You can only be a good person if you put yourself aside or even lose yourself. Fortunately, it's not that bad in reality. We are not getting lost in this pandemic! We are still doing well even without social contact, because we now have the technical options such as Skype, Instagram, Facebook and Co. There are even online lessons! Ten years ago, as the WAZ article suggests, we would have faced an even bigger crisis. Nowadays everything we want to do outdoors is also done on the internet, without any social contact.

If you want to meet you can do that on Skype. There are home workouts for sports and you don't have to go to the gym. Fortunately, there is the well-known landline telephone for contact with grandparents. In Brecht's drama it was difficult to be a good person, but to be a good person now in the Corona time, it doesn't take much more than just to stay at home. It has never been easier to save the world and yet some find it difficult and egoists do not make it easier. If you are one of these egoists, then I ask you: Just stay ‘at home and think before you act! You don't get very far with selfishness. This is also clear in “The Good Man of Sezuan”. Shui Ta is charged, and that's how Shen Te comes out again. As is well known, the good always wins. In the drama the question arises whether the world can be changed. The open end reveals: Yes, through good people who can put their own concerns aside for the good of others. The question that arises here at the moment is whether the coronavirus infections can decrease. The answer is: yes, if we all push back our egoism and think of our fellow human beings. So once again a hopefully clear appeal: Be good people and stay at home!

By Ann-Christin Westermann EF


AlanurDenizundNazrinAlili (EF): Creative debate

with the topic of egoism vs. altruism


MarleneKornberger (EF): Egoism vs. Altruism



JustinPrus (EF): Egoism vs. Altruism

Egoism = one looks for one's own advantages and does not take other people into consideration.

Altruism = selfless way of thinking and acting, opposite of egoism

My opinion on this topic (in relation to the corona crisis):

As you could see in the article (WAZ of March 23, 2020) or in the trailer, this topic is particularly noticeable now. I'm referring to buying toilet paper. People buy so much toilet paper because they are afraid that it won't be available soon or that they won't have the chance to go out and buy new ones. They want to be secure themselves and only think about their existence and not about their fellow human beings. So here one speaks of egoism. The example of toilet paper in particular is already so well developed that jokes are made about it, but it doesn't stop there. Of course there are also people who also think of the others, but if they no longer went along with the majority, then they would no longer have one themselves. So there is a cycle. When one starts, the others are forced to follow suit. I suspect that it would not have come to that if everyone had stayed calm and not started buying hamsters. But now to myself: I am 16 years old and could imagine a thousand things that are better than just staying at home. I want nothing more than to be able to go to my girlfriend, my colleague or just to be able to go to town and it is impossible to put into words how bad it is for me not to do so. If you then hear that there are people who live the same way as they did before the crisis, you ask yourself whether you should do it too, but there is a clear answer ... NO !!!! Everyone should think of their loved ones, because it could hit them too if you don't follow the rules yourself. You should use the time to think about things that have always been taken for granted. Use the time to spend it with your family, for school, for sports or just to chill out or something. I know it's easy to say, but the boredom or longing for some people is often very painful. I speak from personal experience. Stay home for a couple of weeks, because a couple of weeks is better than, in the worst case, never seeing some people again. Think of yourself, your loved ones, but also of your fellow human beings, because if everyone pulls together, we can also survive this crisis quickly and healthily. We have no choice but to make the best of the difficult situation.

Justin Prus (EF)

KatharinaLaske: Egoism vs. Altruism-up-to-date?

Dear readers of the WAZ article, dear viewers of the Bert Brecht film!

Almost 77 years ago Bert Brecht wrote a drama about egoism and altruism. During that time, it was recognized that as an altruistic person, you can't achieve much. Now in 2020 mankind was surprised by the so-called "Corona virus". A pandemic has broken out.
Now, dear readers, we ask ourselves whether there will come another time when selfish people win, even though we live in an allegedly so cooperative society?

Why is the subject of the drama “A Good Man from Sezuan” by Bertolt Brecht transferrable to the Corona era today? You will find the answer with me!
It is clear that the times are similar, but how are they?

In the beginning almost everyone acted like the main character (Shen Te) of the drama, namely helpful. Everyone was hoping that the fires in Australia would stop a few weeks ago and that no third world war would break out due to the problems between Iran and the USA.

Shen Te, who in this case stands for humanity, is exhausted and feels exploited. Because she only has to share and help, but does not get anything in return and is facing bankruptcy herself.

In 2019, the corona virus broke out in Wuhan, China. From then on it spread all over the world. State of emergency in Italy, Austria and many other countries. Panic broke out in what was actually a very cooperative German society. But nothing more could be seen or felt of cooperation. Many made hamster purchases and only thought of themselves. main thing I have enough toilet paper, flour, pasta and sugar to make ends meet. Many need a face mask, disinfectant and disposable gloves. But first of all, doctors, nurses and orderlies have to be taken care of. The hospitals, supermarkets, pharmacies and many others keep the supply going. The economic situation, on the other hand, is becoming more and more difficult. An example of this is the bankruptcy of self-employed people, restaurants, small shops and many other businesses. So please let the doctors save lives. You should also stay at home to avoid infection. If at all, only go out in pairs and with someone you live with. Do not stay in public places!

You may think you are the only ones in this difficult situation, but you are not. We all have the same problem and can only solve it TOGETHER. You can reach your friends, families, etc ... for example via Whatsapp or Face Time. Italy is a good example. All stand on their balconies and sing together, but with a distance. In addition, you can see in Venice that the water, since there have not been so many boats and ships, has become completely clear. At the same time, animals come closer to the shore due to the calm. What do you all mean? Is nature getting everything back or is it just a coincidence?

Have you already read Brecht's drama? No? Well then go! Reading helps fight boredom during this difficult time.

After reading the drama, learn from the parable and think about past and present! Think not only of yourselves, but also of others who are keeping our backs during this difficult time! THANK YOU to everyone who is still working and to those who maintain the necessary supplies for the people! THANK YOU to everyone who will also think of others in the future and not just of themselves!

Katharina Laske, EF

"Dear audience, come on, look for the end yourself! It must be a good existence, must must!"