We can ask: Why did this widespread disaster overcome the world? (Steiner refers to the first world war.) Indeed, the ultimate reason is that the interests of people have become so superficial, that it scarcely reaches beyond the most mundane. Of course, if people cease to interest themselves for the stars, then they start to interest themselves for chatting in cafés; If the human being stops to ponder his relationship to the higher hierarchies, then the desire to waste his time with commonplace play is roused. One only needs to look at the interests which satisfy the leading circles of mankind, see what these people do from morning till evening! And if one looks at this with understanding, then one will not be surprised that such a debacle as has happened, overcame mankind. After all, people are happy these days when they can define one thing or another with ease, characterise a concept in just a few words! They are happy if something or other is easily comprehended.
Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 190 – Vergangenheits- und Zukunftsimpulse im sozialen Geschehen – Dornach, March 30, 1919 (page 103)
Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger