Newsletter Nr. 17 (September 2011, subsequent to our 17th Annual Conference of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies in Dunedin, New Zealand, 29th August - 1st September 2011)
Compiled by Evelin G. Lindner, in 2011
(Note: This newsletter is written in British English, since this conference took place outside of the U.S. In our NY workshops, we usually use American English.)
Linda's and Evelin's feelings and reactions after our conference
Your feelings and reactions after our conference
Announcements and Good News
(Important note to our conference particants: During our conferences, we always make an effort to ask for your permission to have your pictures posted on this website. However, you may have overheard or misunderstood our question, or you may have changed your mind since, either in total or for specific pictures/videos, please let us know! Thank you! Since we wish to walk the talk of dignity, it is very important for us to do our utmost in respecting everybody's privacy. We refrain from gathering written permissions from you during our conferences, since we value the building of mutual trust in relationships, and we also would like to refrain from contributing to an ever more bureaucratic and legalistic society.)
On 29th August 2011, on Day One of the conference, Dr. Huata Holmes, as a representative of the local Maori Ngai Tahu Tribe, gave the Mihi Whakatau welcoming to the conference.
30th August 2011, Day Two of the conference, with two talks via video connection:
• Arts-based Pedagogical Work in the Amazonian North of Brazil by Daniel Baron Cohen, known as Dan Baron in Brazil, via video connection from Brazil (6.15 pm - 7.30 pm the previous day Brazil/East time, 15 hours time difference)
• Compassion, a Voice from the Past to Voices of the Future Presentation and discussion with Michael Britton via video connection from New Jersey, USA (6.45 pm - 7.45 pm the previous day US/Eastern time, 16 hours time difference)
Please click on the pictures to see them larger.
• Video clip from Adobe Connect: Dan Baron's Presentation and Carmen Hetaraka's Haka (this is an 'unlisted' video until we had time to edit it; please note that the comments to Dan from the audience were sounded out, we did not know that Dan's microphone would have had to be switched off; please note also that Carmen Hetaraka's Haka is at the very end of this video)
• Please see also the conversation video-taped for the World Dignity University initiative with Michelle Brenner and Carmen Hetaraka on 31st August 2011, in Dunedin.
30th August 2011, Day Two of the conference.
• Please click on the pictures or here to see all the photos of Day Two from Evelin's camera.
30th August 2011, on Day Two of the conference, Brian Ward received the Beacon of Dignity Award from the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network.
1st September 2011, after the Public Event on Day Four of the conference, celebrating together.
• Please click on the pictures or here to see all the photos of Day Four from Evelin's camera.
These are pictures from Linda's camera. You see Otago Harbour. You see also Rick Slaven with a Moa bird in the Otago Museum.
• Please click on the pictures or here to see all the photos from Linda's camera.
We had a wonderful conference in Dunedin, New Zealand!
Our conferences are part of our ongoing relationship-building work (rather than 'stand-alone' events). Also our 17th Annual HumanDHS conference was overwhelming and unique. Again, we managed to do more than just speak about the topics at hand in theoretical terms, we manifested experiences that drew us all into deeper understanding. We were true to the title of our conference, 'Enlarging the Boundaries of Compassion,” in many ways:
we stepped out of our usual 'armors' (professional, ethnic, national, etc.) and met as fellow human beings; thus we enriched the traditional approach to academic conferences (of fields such as sociology or political science, for instance) with insights from psychology, including the insight that connected knowing leads to greater clarity of argument and insight than traditional separate knowing (see Mary Belenky);
we avoided the downsides of overspecialization by drawing specialized research together to forge comprehensive viewpoints;
we included scholars from several disciplines;
we included participants from a wider range than just established academia;
we moved our conference (for one day) to an indigenous Maori community house, thus honouring the local place in the spirit of peace work (avoiding to treat Maori culture simply as 'folklore' for tourists, but taking Maori culture seriously);
we modelled selfless co-leadership;
we modelled and manifested conflict resolution in the relational ways that are also in line with indigenous Maori wisdom. This is to name but a few examples.
last but not least, we are at the cutting edge of trying out technology that has the potential to enlarge the boundaries of compassion by connecting people that otherwise would stay isolated (we were glad that few people participated in our conference online, since we did mere baby steps in our first ever experiment; we will edit the recordings and make them available so that they can be viewed at more convenient times).
At the core of our efforts to 'enlarge the boundaries of compassion' is our call to identify with the human family as a whole, with a 'we' that is inclusive, rather than with 'we' versus 'them' frames (see also Evelin Lindner's personal contribution to this effort further down).
Linda and I would like to begin by sharing with you our deep gratitude to you for joining us in making this one of our most special and most memorable conferences. Everyone participated by not only offering special presentations but also engaging in stimulating and thought-provoking conversations.
We are especially grateful to our host, organiser, and convener, Kevin P. Clements, who holds the Chair in Peace and Conflict Studies, and is the Director of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Otago University in Dunedin. We are deeply grateful for his leadership and support that he extened to us together with his wife Valerie, and the Centre Administrator Ann Hassan.
Dr. Huata Holmes as a representative of the local Maori Ngai Tahu Tribe, gave the Mihi Whakatau welcoming to the conference and we were deeply honoured and touched that he gave us his permission and blessing to be in Dunedin and hold our conference in his and his people's land.
Our next message of thanks goes to Brian Ward. For years prior to our conference, as well as throughout the conference, and subsequent to our conference, he was the caring hand that kept us comfortable. All, Kevin, Ann, and Brian never forgot even the smallest detail, from their generous pre-conference preparations, to their wonderful gifts in kind that they made possible for our participants - such as the conference facilities, tea and muffins and sandwiches twice a day, holiday home (Kiwi term: crib or batch), to name but three such gifts - to their deeply reflective comments and discourses, were beyond all our expectations. Their caring presence was extraordinary.
Our visit to the local Te Runaka o Otakou Marae (Maori community house) was breathtaking and we have no words to thank Janine Karetai, CEO at Te Kahui Matapopere, and her colleagues, for their wonderful hospitality.
Indigenous knowledge entails deep truths, truths that have been made invisible by layers upon layers of more recent historical dilemmas and cultural adaptations, and we were so grateful that we could taste and see this deep experience of truth, also through the eyes of Michelle Brenner and Carmen Hetaraka. As Brigitte Volz said: many of us felt that we had 'come home', that both the past and the future were not important anymore: here we were, having lived most of our lives elsewhere, feeling more at home here in Maori culture.
Richard Slaven deserves our special gratitude, particularly with regard to his health situation. He always stays in the background, very humbly, while making major contributions. He is the compassionate 'invisible hand' that is crucial for our conferences. What would our conferences be without his humorous-relational interventions! The care and love that Rick invests in relationships, always make our meetings very special.
We want to furthermore thank all our participants for their breathtaking excellence in insights and deep passion for taking action and building relationships!
Being with Dan Baron from Brazil, and Michael Britton from New Jersey gave us a taste of what is possible in the future. Many of us were brought to tears, when Carmen Hetaraka performed a Haka to Dan Baron in Brazil, after having listened to Dan's extraordinary and deeply touching sharing. The vulnerable people around the world tend to be isolated. Technology is a way to connect by bypassing the gatekeepers of mainstream power structures and give a voice to the 'global street' in ways that were not possible only a few years ago. Technology combined with a sense of global responsibility can give us the leverage to bring about the deep paradigm shift of enlarging the boundaries of compassion that is the order of the day in the face of local and global challenges.
We would like to invite everybody to contribute to this newsletter with your reflections (see further down)! We invite comments and thoughts both from the participants, and from those who were with us in spirit! And please send us your pictures to upload!
May we extend our very warmest thank-you to ALL!
There are no words to express our appreciation for your amazing contributions!
Evelin & Linda, on behalf of our entire network, 2011
Evelin jotted down the following personal reflections on the 4th September 2011:
First I would like to thank Linda. Here we start from an academic world which increasingly puts profit maximisation before its own foundational ideals of contributing to the common good of humankind. Many academics do indeed uphold the values that academia professes, however, they do so despite an overall frame that is not necessarily conducive. (We were amazed to learn through Michelle Brenner and her book Conscious Connectivity: Creating Dignity in Conversation that Victor Frankl thought that the academic world was more hurtful than the Holocaust, and at the same time we read in the Guardian that academic publishing practices are among the most abusive).
What is the response from our HumanDHS network? We reinvigerote and reimagine the foundational ideals of academia, thus upholding them, and we do that by combining the latest research (on the primacy of relationships, just to name one example of relevant research) with the wisdom that has emerged in the past, in various cultures around the world. We are thus at the forefront. Not only that, we also stand up to the criticism that is bound to come to us from the established structures (see, for instance, Thomas Kuhn and his work on paradigm shift) in ways that are in line with our values. We avoid working against old paradigms, instead, we attempt to model and manifest an alternative future already now, at least as far as we are able to.
Linda is a model of such new futures and I would like to express MY HIGHEST ADMIRATION AND APPRECIATION to her for how she held our conference in loving cohesion. She never enforced the model of leading through domination; she manifested mutual care and maintained respect for the equality in dignity of us all with her deeply relational approch to co-creation and co-leadership. She wonderfully modelled the dignity of equality in worthiness rather than indignity of inequality in worthiness. I have no words to thank her!
Now to my reflections:
Linda and I, we encourage everybody who is interested in our research to be aware that our work is rather new. Therefore, the lenses which you use in your work may not fit our perspective, sometimes even be a hindrance to view the world through our model. We have developed a large-scale contextualised geo-historical model, rather than stand-alone concepts, or stand-alone definitions, of dignity, honour, humiliation, and so forth. Linda and I, we therefore invite everybody to take the time to listen and learn before agreeing or disagreeing, before judging or advising. We recommend to aim for connected knowing, rather than separate knowing (Mary Field Belenky, 1997). From our point of view, our approach brings unexpected clarity into our understanding of the human condition from a fresh perspective. We believe that our approach adds to the many other valuable conceptual lenses that already exist. However, I repeat, some effort is required to see this, and agreeing or disagreeing should not be used as a shortcut.
In my case, my background of painful displacement has pushed me into a global life, which, as an almost unintended side-effect, has given me a view on our human condition that is somewhat oblique to much of what our forefathers and predecessors had the opportunity to develop, a view which I now try to make use of.
Brigitte Volz asked a very important question during the conference: When we speak about 'we', who is this 'we'? During our conference, we received an impressive demonstration from Carmen Hetaraka, who succeeded in bringing to life unity in diversity, both with regard to concepts and ideas, and with regard to people (with respect to people, unity in diversity could also be called solidarity in diversity, as Uli Spalthoff poignantly suggested in June 2011 in Oslo). Carmen said 'a good orator binds people together'. If we understand 'we' in this way, 'we' in the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network are the people who have as a common superordinate goal (as Michelle Brenner formulated it so well), a goal which binds us together, namely to share our humanity with each other, moreover, to share it also with the human family at large, and to do that in ways that are as deep, profound, and efficiently and effectively as we can muster.
However, 'we' do not envision to address our shared goals in uniform and monolithic ways, on the contrary, we approach them in myriad diverse ways. This is perfectly in line with the indigenous ways that Carmen Hetaraka modelled to us so brilliantly. In contrast to that, the combative debate style often used in Western cultural contexts risks bringing about uniformity and division, where 'we' represent a group of people who agree among themselves in unison, while standing in division (rather than diversity) to those who disagree.
The quest for conceptual clarity, as Kevin Clements so poignantly called for, can be framed similarly. Allow me to explain this by drawing together three very diverse conceptual approaches (many more could be used). Unity in diversity can be achieved or conceptualised, for example, through subsidiarity: the European Union, for example, uses the subsidiarity principle, meaning that local decision making and local identities are retained to the greatest extent possible so as to safeguard diversity. Subsidiarity reminds of Max Weber’s ideal types that are distinguished by their levels of abstraction. It also reminds of the contrast between Western digital culture and, for example, Japanese analog culture: a Japanese manager of a company, for instance, will not be satisfied if his Western colleague sends him a theoretical analysis of a problem, even though this analysis may distill and 'unify' the essence of the situation beautifully at a highly abstract level; the Japanese manager will request a photo or a video recording of the situation which would reveal the richness of analog reality with all its diverse expressions.
In our quest for conceptual clarity, let us first aim for the most global level of subsidiarity, or the highest level of Weberian abstraction, or the digital path. Doing this means to formulate core patterns. Such a formulation could be, for example: 'some countries have right-hand driving, others have left-hand driving'. At the level of lived reality, clearly, there are myriad more differences, and the situation is much more complex. However, describing these complexities does not undo the appropriateness of the first observation. Describing the diverse expressions that unfold within right-hand and left-hand driving contexts represents the local level of subsidiarity, a different level of Weberian abstraction, or the analog approach. All levels and approaches are appropriate and enrich each other.
Similarly, we can formulate the following digital observation: 'Among the most significant cultural transitions presently affecting the world is the transition to equal dignity and rights'. In lived reality, clearly, this transition spells out in myriad ways: as transition from segregation to apartheid, from domestic chastisement to domestic violence, and so forth, the list is infinite. This list represents the local level of subsidiarity, the lowest level of Weberian abstraction, or the analog approach.
Many dynamics and concepts, not least that of respect, can be, and, indeed, is being used in both core normative universes in very different ways:
(1) People, if so socialised, will respect unequal worthiness and rights. This was the case, for instance, as long as apartheid was called segregation. It was the case when white people's supposedly inborn superiority and black people's allegedly 'natural' inferiority were being respected,
(2) People, if so socialised, will respect equal worthiness and rights. This is expressed in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights'.
In my talk on 1st September, I introduced a role play with the aim to demonstrate those two normative universes. Two groups of 4 people from the audience greeted each other in different ways, thus demonstrating diversity and how difficult it is to integrate diversity. One group attempted to shake hands with the others, the other group raised their hands into the air. All participants had to find a way to first understand this difference and then greet each other despite of it. Then, in a second round of the role play, three groups were formed with the aim to demonstrate not just diversity among equals (2), but hierarchy (1). One group was instructed to regard the third group as their slaves, unworthy of being treated as equals, unworthy of a handshake, unworthy of even being seen. The second group was instructed to pat their 'slaves' on their backs in a patronising way, saying 'am I not a wonderful patron, I even love my slaves!'
Notions such as respect, humiliation, humility, shame, love, peace, etc., are embedded in very distinct ways into those two frames. Interestingly, the very meaning of the verb 'to humiliate' changed in the English language a few hundred years ago. In 1757, for the first time, 'to humiliate' was explained in the encyclopedia as meaning to violate somebody's dignity (see William Ian Miller, 1993). In other words, humiliation and humility parted company a few hundred years ago, with 'to humble' staying pro-social, while 'to humiliate' became anti-social. This linguistic transition is a marker for the point in time when the frame of equal dignity for all increasingly became mainstream.
Like humbling, also shaming can be prosocial, as Tony Webb and David Adair explained so well. Shaming and feeling shame can be a profoundly prosocial dynamic. Not without reason do human rights activists try to shame companies and states into due humility, into standing by their promises of ecological and social responsibility. Yet, the situation is somewhat different for humiliation. We no longer think that humiliating people into humility is appropriate. We believe this, even though being subjected to humiliation, as long as it does not break the victim or make the victim aggressive, may indeed create humility. As a stark illustration, no longer do we believe, in an increasing number of societies, as was the case in the past, that torture is a prosocial approach to creating humility. Torture heavily draws on tactics of humiliation and shaming to achieve the humility of subservience. In a context of equality in dignity, or equality in humility, creating subservient underlings is no longer regarded as a valid goal for society. Therefore, humiliating people became offensive, since it excludes the victim from humanity entirely, while the act of shaming preserves its potential to create humility, now no longer the humility of subservience, but shared humility in a setting of equality in dignity. Shame can be salutogenic, as teaches Tony Webb: we would not wish to live in a world of shameless people.
Shaming arrogant people to humble them may be an appropriate prosocial path in society, as long as this shaming does not turn into humiliation. In other words, shaming people might be prosocial, yet, humiliating people became antisocial. And this is the case, even though, admittedly, humiliating people might turn arrogant people into humble people, just like the terrible experience of war may remind us why we should not go to war. Earthquakes lower the suicide rate (as just happened in Christchurch, New Zealand), war reminds us of 'never again', humiliation can create humility, negative feelings are needed for learning... Despite of these 'successes', we might want to find other ways to achieve humility than humiliating people.
In my work, I choose to label a cultural context where 'respect for unequal worthiness and rights' is the norm, as an honour context, or, more precisely, a social context of ranked groups of 'ranked collectivistic honour' (see, e.g., apartheid). I choose to label a cultural context that 'respects equal worthiness and rights', as a dignity context, or, more precisely, a context of 'equal dignity for persons choosing community (rather than collectives dictating unequal dignity)'. The latter has also been labelled a context of non-domination, see Philip Pettit, it is a normative universe within which the abuse of rank can be labelled as rankism, see Robert W. Fuller. It could also be called a context where rigidly ranked status is being dismantled, but integrity and stature are celebrated.
I am an adherent of peace linguistics. I believe that we need to engage in more 'linguistic engineering', meaning that we create new terms, or 'occupy' old terms in new ways, thus exercising our right to 'slide' the signifier (Ferdinand de Saussure, Lacan) in ways that may stimulate new and more constructive futures. I wish to imagine more constructive futures and help realise them by naming them before they actually have emerged. Steve Jobs' iPad is an example (even though we, in our network, wait with using it until Apple's business practices coincide with our values of dignity). The video platform we used for our conference was another example for how we attempt to imagine new and more benign futures and how we use whatever means we have, such as new technology, to nudge people and societies to experiment with those visions of new futures.
To give an example, I use the term 'global citizenship' as a term to point at global responsibility, at our responsibility to care about all members of our human family. Clearly, I am aware that the term 'citizenship' is being used for citizens of states, and, since no global state or state-like entity exists today, global citizenship in that respect is impossible to realise just now.
Many people never venture further than a few kilometres from the place where they were born. This was the case in former times in the West, and is the case today in many parts of the non-West. From their perspective, a citizen of a Western country, who lives in a city and takes vacations in far-flung places, is rootless, has lost her place. For those modern citizens, in contrast, their mobility has nothing to do with being homeless, rootless, or having 'lost' their place, it is simply an enlargement of 'home'. In other words, we live in times, where the boundaries of the definition of 'home' are widening, and this occurs for an ever increasing number of people. I am simply ahead of this trend. The planet is my home. And this has nothing to do with me not having 'a place', or being rootless or placeless.
When I look for other cultural templates for my life, a life that treats our planet as one undivided locality, I can think of hunter-gatherers or pastoralist cultures. I resonate with what indigenous native American leader Sitting Bull (1831-1890) said: 'White men like to dig in the ground for their food. My people prefer to hunt the buffalo…White men like to stay in one place. My people want to move their tepees here and there to different hunting grounds. The life of white men is slavery. They are prisoners in their towns or farms. The life my people want is freedom'.
I felt very much 'at home', when I learned about the Rapuwai, the first inhabitants of the South Island of New Zealand, the 'old stock'. 'Nomadic people in the South Island, from what is today Timaru to Southland, to Natihuirapa, depending on the time of season, collected Titi (Tītī is the Māori name for the Muttonbird or Sooty Shearwater) in Timaru, and then moved down the coast where the muscles were the fattest, then they would do the Titi islands, the Titi birds, and they would harvest berries, and from their kumara gardens. They were nomads on the basis of seasons'. (Personal account from a Rapuwai on 7th September 2011 in Timaru). Clearly, my life design does not follow seasonal food supply, however, it follows my mission, titled by Kevin Clements as 'enlarging the boundaries of compassion'.
I also felt 'at home' in many of the narratives that Carmen Hetaraka shared with us about Maori culture. Many elements of this culture struck me as extremely useful for building a sustainable future for the entire human family.
As mentioned earlier, at the current point in history, when international business people, diplomats, or tourists travel ever further distances, ever more people become 'frequent travellers'. I think that this widening of the sense of 'home', which also includes a higher degree of mobility, is a trend that needs to be made more intentional. The reason is that it offers one path (among many) of 'enlarging the boundaries of compassion'. It offers this path when unity in diversity is created and celebrated. Unfortunately, this is not what happens at present. I am deeply saddened by the global uniformity that makes the appearances of cities and people all over the planet increasingly indistinguishable. In my day-to-day life, I anchor in local places, so as to 'own' the planet as my global place. My effort of embodying global unity so as to enable local diversity is opposed to any dislocation into a uniform global space without local anchorings. (Whoever might be worried that my life design is a burden on my health, be warmly thanked for your care. Please allow me to explain to you in a private conversation more about my very special health situation. Be assured, that my global life safeguards my health, rather than undermining it.)
My global life has opened perspectives to me that are usually closed to most people, even people who live international lives. Many diplomats and international business people, for example, stay in a 'bubble' of international hotels and Western structures. I offer these perspectives in my books, in the hope that they provide fresh lenses on the human condition and help map the path for the future for humankind as a whole.
One of the insights flowing from my global experience is that we, as a human family, ought to 'sit together' and find a way to make the future sustainable, so that our children will find a planet worth living on. This requires that we regard our planet as our shared heritage, our commons, of which we have to be good stewards. As soon as we regard our planet as our commons, we can't avoid asking whether our current sense of entitlement and ownership is warranted and helpful. Is it really constructive to use our energy on engaging in struggles over ownership, should we not use our time and energy on calling global action so that we can, together, tackle the tragedy of the commons?
Or, another insight gleaned from my global life is the insight that security can never flow from laws and contracts, but only from good relationships. This is true at the macro level as it is at the micro level. We learn from John Gottman's research on marriages: 'Successful conflict resolution isn’t what makes marriages succeed'.
My family is from Silesia. Silesia is their homeland. They lost it in 1945 and were displaced. And this after their forefathers lived there for many hundreds of years. My parents are profoundly traumatised, they yearn for their homeland everyday. Their hearts are broken. However, they do not wish to get their homeland back, since this would mean that the people who live their now, would be the next victims of displacements. They place primacy on people, and on their relationship with people, rather than on ownership.
The world is filled with many shades of this situation. Many Jews felt more German than Jewish and were very well integrated into German society when Adolf Hitler came to power (many Jews had fought on the German side in World War I, for example). Those among those German Jews who did not disengage fast enough from their love for Germany, from their identification with their entitlement to Germanness, those who did not flee, were killed in the Holocaust. Their sense of entitlement to Germanness met with a deadly denial of their sense of this entitlement. When Israel emerged as a home for Jews, again, entitlement is a battleground. Who is entitled to call this land 'home'? Is coming home after 2000 years easy? No.
Here in New Zealand, we met another shade of this struggle over entitlement. Who has a right to this land? I watched Maori professor Margaret Mutu explain that the Pakeha (Pākehā is a Māori language word for New Zealanders who are not of Māori blood lines), are 'honoured guests' in her Maori land: Many call for her removal from her position. When she spoke on television, I witnessed how her words triggered the hottest of discussion, bordering aggressive disdain among the Pakeha viewers (Like: 'As guests we would not even have the right to vote in our own country, won't we, shocking! She must be crazy!').
My advice, flowing from my global experience, is as follows: Let us sit together, as a human family, and find ways to harvest from all the cultures of our world those practices and traditions that help us manifest unity in diversity. What we need to focus our energy on is to create enough unity, globally, so that our local biological and cultural diversity can flourish. Maori culture, for example, is extremely rich in practices that are as useful for the future of humankind as the medicinal plants of the Amazon rainforest. We, as a human family, need this knowledge, it represents the richness from which we can build a sustainable future. Rather than cutting down the Amazon rainforest, rather than engaging in competition over entitlements, we, jointly, as a united human family, need to cherish, celebrate, and protect those traditions, and their bearers. They carry the knowledge we need for a sustainable future where all people can live dignified lives.
It is also therefore that I call for global interhuman communication to be added to the field of intercultural communication, in the spirit of Margaret Mead's reminder: 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has'.
I call for the 'global street' to follow the example of the 'Egyptian street' that went to Tahrir Square and changed the world. And this global street movement will and must most probably not start from the very power centres of our time, it will start from the periphery. From New Zealand, from the Maori culture, from the wisdom that indigenous cultures in general can provde.
What underpins my efforts are insights drawn from research done in many disciplines. Social psychological research on framing is important for me, for instance, as is the reflective equilibrium approach, or 'circular thinking', as it has been en vogue since the 1950s. Prior to that time, thinkers preferred to build their arguments from the ground up, placing each layer of logic firmly on the previous foundation. They were committed, to use the metaphor of a ship (see philosopher Otto Neurath), to building their ships on secure ground. They could not conceive of 'building their ships at sea' as do the modern practitioners of reflective equilibrium. Reflective equilibrium, therefore, can be described as a humble method of reasoning that avoids the hubris of trying to do the impossible or call for the impossible to be possible - an approach fitting for the humble dismantling of hierarchies of submission/domination that human rights stand for (this paragraph is adapted from Lindner, Emotion & Conflict, 2009, pp. 16-17).
Our network brings together, in the spirit of unity in diversity, people who are deeply committed to enriching their inner lives through getting in touch with the experiences that the mystics of all religions share, both in the past and in the present. We also have people who are brilliant system thinkers. Our conferences are also always a great illustration of the insights brought to the table by Ray and Anderson (2000). Sociologist Paul H. Ray's and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson’s findings, that we live in times in which two groups of people - those who turn their attention inward to gain new levels of consciousness, and those who turn it outward as activists - groups once separate and even hostile toward each other - are now merging into a single new large movement, that of the cultural creatives. Increasingly people understand that peace within is only the beginning: now it is time for more action. Part of that action will be to take those who resist the cultural creatives - Ray and Anderson call them the traditionals and the moderns - into the future (this paragraph is adapted from Lindner, Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security, 2010, p. xxix).
At the end of our conference, Tony Webb and David Adair astutely asked us, with which question we were left. My question was as follows: 'How can we bring resources and motivation together?' To me, joy of life is connected with manifesting, as much as possible, with taking the responsibility seriously which is entailed in having resources. I did not come to our conference to have a nice time. I was there because it gives me joy to serve, to show responsibility not just for me and my immediate surroundings, but for planet Earth and its inhabitants in general.
My contribution to our Public Event on 1st September was titled as my book, 'Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security'. I ended with saying that as soon as women and men share one single inside sphere, and there no longer is any outside, they are no longer forced to give primacy to gender differences. Classical and Structural Realism, in International Relations theory, explains that and why war is inevitable in the context of the security dilemma that characterises the world’s Hobbesian state of anarchy. In the context of the security dilemma in a fragmented world, the traditional sphere of women is whatever is being defined as 'inside' (the private sphere inside the house, or, inside the walls of the city, etc.). At the same time, men are sent to the borders to defend them against potential enemies approaching from 'outside'.
In a world that is lived as One World, women and men can be human beings and share their humanity, rather than be divided by gender. Guarding and nurturing, in the sense of stewardship for unity in diversity, is what women and men can share, rather then women nurturing the next generation and men preparing for war. 'If you want peace, prepare for war' was the motto of the past millennia, during which people were caught in a fragmented world and a strong security dilemma. As soon as a consciousness and reality of one single inside sphere, of one human family, one homeland (planet Earth), Gandhi's principle “there is no path to peace. Peace is the path” finds space to manifest.
To me, we, as a human family, currently fail to see and grasp the window of opportunity that is offered to us by the fact that the Cold War has ended, or the last massive expression of the security dilemma. As long as the security dilemma is strong, it is inescapable. The weakening of the security dilemma is a great opportunity. However, instead of grasping this opportunity and adapting to it, many of us seem to artificially maintain the cultural adaptations that developed in the context of the security dilemma. We do that, for example, by perverting the human rights message of freedom, by relying on a misguided definition of freedom and a misguided belief in exponential growth. What we achieve is not freedom, since old and new masters can be equally ruthless in arrogating superiority. And the present tenet of exponential growth maximises the traditional male role script of raiding. Present discourses of 'freedom', 'jobs', and 'growth' mask that this growth is exponential (and must be in a world where money is created through debt) and thus unsustainable, that freedom defined as 'might is right' creates the loss not only of 'jobs', but of livelihoods and lives. What is needed is a discourse of freedom defined as a 'freedom as level playing field for all' rather than 'freedom for might to be right'. This can only be achieved by installing 'traffic lights' (a metaphor for institutions that create an equal playing field), and protecting livelihoods (rather than 'jobs' and 'economic growth') in the context of sustainable cycles.
What can we do? This was the title of one of the last slides of my talk on 1st September. My reply is this: 'Let us become Mandelas! Let us join our 'global street' dignity refolution (Timothy Ash)! Let us capitalise on the fact that the security dilemma has lost its grip, let us work for a future of global unity in diversity, a future of global frames that safeguard local diversity (see research on the prisoner's dilemma), a future of partnership rather than domination (Riane Eisler), a future of communal sharing (Alan Page Fiske). Let us thus enable Being rather than Having (Erich Fromm), I-Thou relationships rather than I-It relationships (Martin Buber). Let us see the face of the other (Emmanuel Lévinas), globally and locally, with satyagraha (Gandhi), empathy (Frans de Waal), appreciation (Don Klein, Linda Hartling), aloha or aroha (Hawai’i, Maori) ubuntu (South Africa, Mandela, Tutu), so as to achieve globegalisation for dignism (Lindner).
Let us together manifest a hitherto unknown vision. Let us enlarge our boundaries of compassion and adopt the entire human family as our place. Not in the form of global uniformity and local disconnection but as global unity that enables local diversity. Let us have the courage to be responsible for all of our human family and use curiosity, awe and wonderment, patience, humility, and love! Let us build a consciousness and frame of global love and respect for the equal dignity of us all in a decent global village.
I ended my talk on the 1st of September by explaining why we had chosen to come to New Zealand and have our 17th Annual Conference here, even though it is very expensive to get here, and many of our members who would have wished to come had to cancel due to the cost. I travelled for three days, others for one day, from the other side of the globe, to be in Dunedin.
I wrote in one of the last powerpoint slides of my talk on 1st September: 'Power to the periphery! No running after Wallstreet! Let us harness technology to go from local to global inclusiveness!' What I meant was that vulnerable people around the world tend to be isolated. As I wrote earlier, technology is a way to connect by bypassing the gatekeepers of mainstream power structures and give a voice to the 'global street' in ways that were not possible only a few years ago. Technology combined with a sense of global responsibility can give us the leverage to bring about the deep paradigm shift that is the order of the day in the face of local and global challenges.
Being with Dan Baron from Brazil, and Michael Britton from New Jersey gave us a taste of what is possible in the future. It was an experience that brought many of us to tears, when Carmen Hetaraka performed a Haka to Dan Baron in Brazil, after having listened to Dan's extraordinary and deeply touching sharing.
As I noted above, indigenous knowledge entails so much deep truth, truth that has been covered and made invisible by layers upon layers of more recent historical dilemmas and cultural adaptations, and we were so grateful that we could taste and see this deep experience of truth, through the eyes of Michelle Brenner and Carmen Hetaraka. As Brigitte Volz said: we felt that we had come home, that both the past and the future were not important anymore. Here we were, having lived most of our lives elsewhere, feeling more at home here.
At the very end of my talk, I celebrated Valerie & Kevin Clements and Michelle Brenner & Carmen Hetaraka. My point was to make clear that these are people that the world needs to listen to, people at the highest level not only of knowledge and expertise, but also of moral integrity.
Music for a sustainable and vital Amazon, from Dan Baron on Monday, 22nd August, 2011:
Good morning from the Amazon! On this world day of action against the building of the hydro-electric plant, Belo Monte, on the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon (to be the third largest plant in the world), with unpredictable, irreversible sociocultural and environmental damage in the region which will impact on all of our lives, we present two songs...
- Alerta Amazonia (Zequinha de Cabelo Seco)
- Clamor popular (Zequinha de Cabelo Seco)
- See the booklet of songs from the Brazilian Amazon which includes the translation of Alerta Amazonia (from the Transformance Archive)
Both songs have emerged in Cabelo Seco, an afro-indigenous community on the periphery of Marabá, Pará, where we live and work. The riverside community is already suffering serious consequences of the large dams completed in the past two years. The songs have been developed by our friend, project collaborator and art-educator Zequinha de Cabelo Seco, inside our project Backyards of Cultural Solidarity. We hope they contribute to the broadening of the international quest for a living, sustainable Pan-Amazônia.
Even if you don't understand the poetic lyrics, we believe you'll understand their emotions. Please write to us if you would like a translation, and feel free to use the songs in your own projects and community. Here are some links if you'd like more information:
Many thanks. An amazonian hug!
Dan Baron e Mano Souza
Cabelo Seco, Marabá
Dan wrote on 23rd August 2011:
'The conference takes place during my final 5-day period of intensive writing (and type-setting of my new book 'Harvest in Times of Drought: a pedagogy of life for sustainable community', written with 50 rural, riverside and forest arts-educators), but I would like to make myself available for 90 minutes, if that works for you. Is there a definite open or closed space where I could share reflections on what we have learned from arts-based pedagogical work in response to the destruction of the Amazonian forests? I could speak very concretely on how a group of 50 teachers transformed a culture of collusion into an community-based ethics of co-responsibility, based on reflexive solidarity and cooperation. This could also connect to our response to the assassination of our student/grandmother/eco-pedagogue Maria Silva (on May 24). Alternatively, or within the same contribution, I could speak about our work with young people as cultural organizers and artists, transforming themselves, to transform their own afro-indigenous community, one of the poorest and allegedly most violent in Maraba, cradle of the 'industrialization of the Amazon''.
Message from Brian Ward to Kevin Clements (10th September 2011):
As one who has been working with HumanDHS, for some 5 or so years, does not have formal academic qualifications in this area and before Dunedin has not been to a conference or workshop may I make my reflections to you and those copied on my experiences and thoughts since the conference. I have had the absolute privilege of being able to discuss with Evelin in the same room over many days many aspects of the HumanDHS work and note below your email to Evelin in order to place some basis of reflection.
Some years ago when reading of Gary Davis’s world passport initiative I could sense the unease that many might have, in simple terms for me was how would it deal with immigration. I can see that for those directly influencing or advising on public policy that, being even marginally associated with such initiatives could affect the credibility of those who are in a position to make effective incremental headway on areas of public policy that improve peace and human dignity.
The word that comes to mind is aspirational. When I look at the Green Party’s gap in credibility with the public I see in many places many policies being too futuristic or idealistic and possibly unrealistic in our time. I see the global citizenship idea as aspirational for now but having peace, equal dignity, subsidiarity and unity in diversity at its foundation. Who knows what the model of governance will be in the future, I am not sure if anybody would have countenanced the European Union a 100 or 200 years ago.
In terms of Evelin’s continual travelling I find for me HumanDHS is so very lucky to have someone, particularly Evelin, in this role. I live locally and connect globally via HumanDHS with intrinsic dignity as the core ‘glue’. I could not attempt to enlarge my boundaries of compassion and understanding at my age knowing only one language and only having travelled to the east coast of Australia 3 times.
In terms of Evelin's health the only thing that I might observe that she maybe could swim a little more and maybe makes her stays a little longer. (Here is a non-doctor attempting advice!)
Academia and Non-Academia in humanitarian work
The HumanDHS conference in Dunedin was very valuable to me in a myriad of ways. Unlike engineering/science (for example my solar silicon work) for the most part it is dealing with stuff and not people so we can hide away in laboratories out of the way of people. However for humanitarian work it involves connecting with people using the appreciative enquiry framework. Academic and non academic should work alongside in an appreciative manner, knowing that we can go back to our corners after ‘waging good conflict’ and maybe experiencing ‘creative tension’.
Finding jewels on the periphery such as the input from Carmen and the Maori experience and others locally seem to be fundamental in the HumanDHS work and experience.
I attach this link http://peaceweek.info/feature/The-Hendricks-Institute as an example of what is happening with technology. I did make the comment to Evelin that HumanDHS ‘runs on the smell of an oily rag’ but deals with monetary matters in a guarded way so as to ensure undignified actions with money do not creep in. This is work in progress to find ways of appropriate funding in a dignified way.
I detect that some come to conferences to make others aware of their work as say a consultant where they earn their living from whilst making a difference. Others come to learn, have some form of peer review or all of this. In our engineering conferences we separated out those doing a sale spiel from others, and they were given a time slot if there was time, they were made aware of this at the start. Many sponsored the conference and made their presentation out of main conference time. It may be that there is a need to make these separations, probably this is for future discussion.
Whilst I understand Linda’s appreciative enquiry framing I have found it even more worthwhile to experience it at the conference. In larger conferences the round table methodology enables participants to experience this whilst others can observe.
Systems Thinking (Holistic Thinking)
After having practiced this approach in business and traffic engineering, and having seen it with others e.g. Michelle with Holistic Communication and Carmen with the holistic culture of Maori, I am even more convinced that this is the way of the future. It does challenge mainstream western cultural and organisational norms as Peter Senge (MIT) and John Seddon (Vanguard) will attest. It does challenge the silo paradigm in governments and other top-down institutions. I strongly recommend that systems thinking be taught even in high schools.
I trust my reflections may be of value.
All participants are warmly invited to send in papers.
Please notify us, if you wish to submit any of your papers also as a book chapter or as a journal article.
Please see earlier submitted papers here:
• List of All Publications
David Adair (2011)
Inequality and Humiliation
Abstract presented at the 17th Annual Conference of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies 'Enlarging the Boundaries of Compassion', in Dunedin, New Zealand, 29th August - 1st September 2011
See here the latest news of our HumanDHS network!
We would like to end this newsletter by thanking all conference participants for co-creating a deeply enriching experience. All our network members have been with us in spirit throughout the conference, and we are very grateful for their ongoing encouragement and support.
We warmly invite you all to our next conferences in New York in December 2011, in Oslo, Norway, in 2012, in New York in December 2012, and in South Africa in 2013.
Linda & Evelin, September 2011