On December 31, 1918, after four years of war, Dr. Steiner spoke in a somber mood about the fall of mankind into materialism and sleep. This is as much of a wake-up call today as it was then — for each of us to earnestly pursue our spiritual development in the present time of crisis:
“Our survey on this New Year's Eve is not meant to be a mere comfortable transition into the new year. It should not be — for anyone who is awake. It should be taken in all earnestness. It should make us aware of what is lying in the womb of time if the Spirit-Child is not to be given its place there. A true perspective of the new year can only be experienced in the light of the spirit. Let us try at this moment between now and tomorrow to tune our souls to this serious mood.
Tonight I would conclude only with an earnest word of direction. I myself do not yet wish to show you the actual way; I would only draw your attention to how this New Year's Eve has been received in the soul of an honest man who finds as he observes the world only material powers holding sway. It must be so regarded by the heads, the hearts, the minds and souls — if sincere — of those who do not want to turn to the spirit. There are others, also materialists, who are not sincere; they are sleeping, because then they do not need to admit their insincerity. This is the view presenting itself to our retrospective vision. This is the New Year's Eve mood!”
—Rudolf Steiner from Experiences of the Old Year and Outlook over the New Year (Part I), GA 187