Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
Laetus in Praesens

December 2012 | Draft

Considered Response to Proposals to Engage in New Initiatives


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See overview of other biographical documents

It is my sense that there is a need for a more radical perspective at this time. The reasons can be articulated in response to invitations to support and collaborate with others in a variety of initiatives -- whether peace-related, environment-related, human rights-related, or the like. The points made here follows from an earlier argument, more extensively articulated (Embodiment of Change: Comprehension, Traction and Impact? Discovering enabling questions for the future, 2011).

I read with interest the suggestions made in any proposed collaborative initiative. I may well have a personal concern with respect to the approach advocated. It is however only a personal concern and it does recognize the appropriateness of alternative understandings for those who formulate such intiatives. The following articulation of the personal concern can therefore readily be set aside as of no relevance to the proposal as advocated or intended by its proponents. I am interested in:

A scenario I often recall is of the army (of "us") besieging a citadel (of "them"). Many attacks have been made by the most creative generals and heroes (of "ours") to little avail. In fact the increasing strength of the citadel becomes only too evident. The question is whether and how we ask the question as to whether it is worth pursuing future attacks in the same manner, or whether there is a case for new thinking -- and how that might be engendered. Curiously this scenario has been played out over the past decade in Afghanistan -- with general after general claiming to have the skills "to clean up" there.

In this connection I am interested in a recent comment of George Monbiot (A Telling Silence, 21 January 2013), which starts as follows:

You can learn as much about a country from its silences as you can from its obsessions. The issues politicians do not discuss are as telling and decisive as those they do. While the government's cuts beggar the vulnerable and gut public services, it's time to talk about the turns not taken, the opportunities foregone: the taxes which could have spared us every turn of the screw.

In that sense I am interested in:

I continue to write about these themes -- which intrigue me in a period of ever increasing pain and chaos. Entropy increase runs rampant

My sense is that:

It is the self-referential, self-critical approach which I believe to be lacking among the progressives. But more interesting is why this dimension is avoided -- a form of denial matching that of which "we" accuse "them".

I am interested in the existential reality of any individual -- in this case me -- concerned that everything is getting worse (in the light of conventional evaluations), despite desperate hope-mongering. A far more radical cognitive approach appears to be called for, if only for oneself in order to engage meaningfully with a chaotic future.

I accept that the above framing is a poor response to the framing proposed by those inviting participation in a seemingly conventional response to continuing challenges. I hope that my comments are helpful in some way. I am sure I could have argued the case otherwise and in a more considerate manner -- but maybe there is merit in the above as it stands. My apologies for any offence are necessarily inadequate under the circumstances.

The fundamental issue in response to any argument at this point is: So what? Who cares? And how do I engage with the alternative case that others are making -- given my own understanding, which "they" may well frame as misguided? With what should I engage?

Afterthought: The above framing is not a consequence of lack of sensitivity to the multitude of issues which are variously painful to many constituencies. Nor is it for lack of awareness of the variety of strategies advocated in response. This sensitivity was developed through several decades of involvement with the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential. This involved the profiling of networks of thousands of "world problems" perceived by international constituencies of every kind -- on which a commentary is provided here. It also involved linking that network to another network of strategies advocated by those constituencies, or criticized by them -- on which a commentary is provided here.

It is the insights from that experience which are summarized in Embodiment of Change: Comprehension, Traction and Impact? Discovering enabling questions for the future (2011) and in Governing Civilization through Civilizing Governance: global challenge for a turbulent future (2008). Of relevance is reference to Collective Learning from Calls for Global Action (1981) and Evaluating Synthesis Initiatives and their Sustaining Dialogues: possible questions as a guide to criteria of evaluation of any synthesis initiative (2000).

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