• Camille Thommes

Prosperity for all.

A letter from ... Manfred Wittenstein, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Wittenstein AG. He trusts that engineers will contribute to a better world.

We're fine. We're fine. We here in Germany are fortunate to be born in a region that is not struck by natural disasters that threaten its very existence, where wars do not destroy entire villages and cities, where almost everyone has a roof over their heads and gets enough to eat. How do we deal with this gift of happiness? Shall we defend it with power against all those who were less fortunate? Or can we find opportunities that benefit everyone? It is still a dream today, but I am very much convinced that we can achieve prosperity worth living for all.

Wittenstein, my technology company that developed from a family business in crisis, has always seen itself as part of society. We have made our contribution to making our region, our Tauber valley, an attractive location for all the people who live here and find a job.

In a similarly responsible manner, we have tried to shape our commitment in the countries in which we established our subsidiaries. For example, we felt it made sense to discuss the structure of vocational training at our sites in Romania and the USA with the relevant organizations. At least for the USA, one can currently get the impression that this common path has reached its end. Or do we just have to wait for the pendulum to swing in the other direction? Do we have time to wait for this?

I have tried again and again to help this special spirit of our company to its right. In our philosophy, the words "responsibility, trust, openness, innovation and change" stand for this. They name how we act and how we want to live. Our values are not static, but must be constantly developed and filled with new life.

In front of all mankind, there are many difficult tasks. Just two examples: How close are we to the point where CO2 emissions can no longer reverse the overheating of our planet? Or: What is to be done to enable as many people as possible to live a life worth living? We can try to understand what a person hopes for who embarks on a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe. They are not fleeing because they do not allow the Germans their butter on the bread. You need a few chances, at least for a better life.

Since the beginning of my studies I have been convinced that technology can make a contribution to a better world. But what we, the engineers and scientists, come up with in this regard must always be a subject of public debate and is only a meaningful contribution to the future if it is supported by a broad social consensus.

Technology is never just good or just bad - that is always just a statement by demagogues. The hammer lies as smoothly in the hand of the do-it-yourselfer, who hits a nail, as in the hand of the criminal, who smashes the skull of his victim. Despite claims to the contrary, it is still impossible to predict the long-term consequences of technological developments. I can still remember how great it was in the beginning to be able to keep food fresh longer with film packaging. What about today? The plastic scrap drifts through the oceans in huge vortexes.

In 1972 the Club of Rome published the book "The Limits to Growth", a remarkable and rather gloomy treatise on the future of the world economy. Many of the predictions have not materialized. But not because the Club of Rome was wrong at the time. But because the report aroused many wise people and set reflections in motion. I am deeply convinced that as long as we keep our eyes open, we can make it. The human mind has an incredible reservoir and potential and we will find solutions if we work together. Of course, this is a very optimistic look into the future. Yeah, I'm an optimist. Nothing else would make sense.