Facing Human Wrongs:
Navigating paradoxes and complexities
of social and global change.
Facing Human Wrongs: Course Disclaimer
Facing Human Wrongs (FWH) is a course that requires commitment to a specific form of decolonial inquiry based on a “contract” that is gift-based and not transactional. The integrity and depth of the inquiry depend on the agreements of the group of people who embark on this process together. This text was written to offer transparency in relation to the aims, objectives, and risks of this inquiry and as a tool of recalibration to be used throughout the course. Please read this text any time you feel you have lost track of what the course is trying to do, or when a course facilitator asks you to “recalibrate.”
FHW uses depth education as a way to work through the colonisation of our unconscious. Depth education centres the following questions in the un/learning process:
- How do we prepare ourselves to tackle the wicked problems of our time, including unprecedented complex dilemmas and also disasters of our own making, that we will inevitably have to face together?
- How can we learn to do the kindest and most responsible thing to each other and to the land at all times, especially in times of crises and polarisation?
- How can we learn to choose sobriety, maturity, discernment and responsibility in a culture (of late modernity) that often promotes and rewards the opposite?
Why was this course created?
FHW emerges from a critique of common approaches to social and global change that are caught in a merry-go-round of simplistic solutions, paternalistic and tokenistic engagements with marginalised populations, and ethnocentric ideals of sustainability, justice, and change. This merry-go-round severely restricts our capacity to face our shadows and compost historical and systemic “shit”, to navigate the storms of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity), to address wicked challenges, to build relations grounded on trust, respect, reciprocity, consent and accountability, and to be in-service of the planet-metabolism, doing what is needed, rather than what is convenient.
Opening cans of worms and returning them to the land
In the first part of the course, for the first three unlearning bundles, the exercises will open up all kinds of cans of worms and leave you without the capacity to put them back. In this period, you may experience an increase in anxiety and discomfort as you expand your perception of your inner emotional, visceral and perhaps ancestral world, and as you learn to hold space (intellectually, affectively, and relationally) for dis-illusionment and dis-solution, and for sitting with the good, the bad, the broken, the ugly and the messed up within and around you. In the second part of the course, the final three unlearning bundles, the exercises are designed to support you to return the worms to the land so that these worms can assist with the ongoing (never-ending) practice of composting. In the second part of the course, you will be offered more tools to navigate difficult issues in ways that aim to support you in practising SMDR (sobriety, maturity, discernment, and responsibility) with vigilance, and that might support you to identify and perhaps avoid falling into common traps of EPIC-A (see below). We ask you to observe how common these traps are in the first part of the course and to what extent you are gradually learning to identify and to keep from easily falling into them as you proceed through the course.
Psychoanalytic inquiry against the grain
FHW issues an invitation to a very particular form of inquiry that goes against the grain of what is offered in most other courses. While most courses encourage the expansion of desires and entitlements, FHW encourages dis-investment from modern/colonial desires and perceived entitlements. While most courses encourage empowerment through self expression, FHW encourages the development of psycho-analytic distance: a healthy scepticism towards our own desires, narratives and self-images. While most courses offer validation, affirmation, and knowledge as an antidote to worthlessness, guilt, and shame, FHW supports participants to crack the modern/colonial coding/conditioning that creates the intrinsic sense of worthlessness, guilt and shame, as well as the binaries of idealisation/vilification, belonging/isolation, condoning/condemning, and voice/erasure.
Interrupting modern/colonial investments
Modern/colonial education and socialisation conditions us to be:
- attracted to certainty, control, familiarity, safety, and convenience
- afraid of uncertainty, humiliation, shame, guilt, worthlessness, and irrelevance
- uncomfortable with complicity, ambiguity, paradoxes, and contradictions
- attached to conditioned desires for moral authority, unaccountable autonomy, and the arbitration of justice and common sense
- poorly equipped to deal with VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) and to tolerate tensions, paradoxes and contradictions
In order to deactivate this conditioning, participants are encouraged to dis-invest from the modern/colonial investments mapped onto the acronym “EPIC-A” (see below), while activating capacities, dispositions, and stamina to grow up and show up differently to each other and to the planet.
E exceptionalism, exaltedness, expansion of entitlements, externalisation of culpability, escape from responsibility (most visible in political discourses)
P progress, prosperity, purity, (heroic) protagonism, projective hope (most visible in orientations to development, social innovation, and sustainability)
I idealizations, innocence, immunity, indifference, indulgence (most visible in cross-cultural engagements and artistic practices)
C certainty, control, compulsive consumption, competitiveness, comfort/convenience, complacency (most visible in approaches to learning and the design of education)
A (epistemic and moral) authority, (unrestricted and unaccountable) autonomy, (justice and common sense) arbitration, (guilt) absolution, the “avant-garde” (most visible in intellectual engagements and activism), and arrogance.
Expanding our collective capacity to face shadows, shit and storms
If you think this is what you need to do, FHW offers support for you to move towards a space where you can start to:
- hold space for uncomfortable and difficult things without feeling overwhelmed, immobilised, wanting quick fixes or demanding to be rescued from discomfort;
- develop shared vocabularies and practices to responsibly navigate VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), as well as tensions and paradoxes;
- surrender arrogance, idealizations, and projections to be able to deal with all aspects of reality: the good, the bad, the ugly and the messed up within and around us;
- learn to weave relations grounded on trust, respect, reciprocity, consent and accountability;
- be generative translators between different disciplines, generations, cultural contexts and multiple moving layers of reality;
- deepen your self-understanding and self-compassion to face our shadows, compost historical, systemic, collective and individual “shit”, and weather storms together;
- walk the tightrope between desperate hope and hopelessness with honesty, humility, humour and hyper-self-reflexivity;
- calibrate your vital compass towards decolonial forms of SMDR (sobriety, maturity, discernment and responsibility).
These capacities and dispositions will require the development of specific sensibilities and forms of reasoning, including analectic, diachronic, hyper-self-reflexive and situated reasoning (a re-arrangement of modern/colonial relationship with time, idea of “forward”, knowledge, and identity/collectivity), as well as diffractive, polysemic, metabolic and onto-sympathetic sensibilities (re-arrangement of modern-colonial relationship with reality, language, self, belonging, pain, death, relationality). You can read more about this here.
Safeguarding the integrity of the collective inquiry
Because depth education is counter-intuitive, we need an unusual agreement between those who are taking the course, and between those taking the course and those accompanying the process (i.e. the facilitators), which safeguards and enables us to recalibrate the integrity of the collective inquiry throughout the course. This is also why we take considerable time at the start of the course to ask you to make sure that this is the right course for you and it is the right time for you to take it. It is your choice whether to take the course, as well as your choice how deeply you want to engage with what it offers. At times, the course will seem repetitive: please remember that as you are learning a new practice, repetition is key. At times, you may feel like changing the course to make it fit your preferences: please remember that part of our agreement is to interrupt perceived entitlements and patterns of consumption. Please also remember that FHW facilitators have a responsibility to protect the integrity of the inquiry and of the collective space and to remind you of the invitation of the course so as to ensure that we are using our collective time in generative, accountable, and respectful ways.
A special request
It is common for participants to experience partial dis-illusionment and/or dis-enchantement with dreams, ideals, relationships and ideas during the course. When this happens, people usually want to make drastic changes in their lives as an immediate response to the discomforts of the unlearning process. Our special request is for you to refrain from making any drastic changes in your life (including leaving jobs, careers, relationships, etc.) that are a direct result of engagement with the course, during or right after this course. We encourage you to learn to sit with the difficulties of unlearning with patience, (self)compassion and generosity, and without looking for an escape from the discomfort.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.