I have for decades attempted to educate the general public about fear. The other side of my work is to educate their leaders. Specficially I want to share an example of how to educate politicians.
Politics and Political Sphere
First, let me state that I have my issues with the whole political system of institutionalized "politics"--that is one thing. Yet, I have made a distinction that "politics" as institutionalized is only 1/2 of what democratic practice is about. The other 1/2 where I hang out the most is what I call the "political sphere." The latter is what we all are involved in as citizens and no politics or politician who earns their livelihood from politics ought to ever dominate the political sphere. Nowadays, the later is often talked about, in part, as "cultural politics." But that's another topic.
How To Educate a Politician
I am not one to try to constantly put down people who become politicians. I could equally say, I am not one to put down people who become physicians, ministers, or school teachers, police officers, etc. They are people pursuing a career. I respect them as people first and foremost, even if I disagree vehemently with their practices and the system they belong to. I once, long ago, was a professional school teacher. I know that for many good teachers they will eventually become corrupted by the System of the State and Education as an institutions. Not all of the best professionals will leave the System. I did after two years.
This blog is not about that decision to stay in or leave the institutions, that has ethical implications of course. I would ask anyone who is a politician to do the best you can and be as ethical as possible in an imperfect system they work in. And, by imperfect, unfortunately, there is an edge which is crossed often in which the System is actually oppressive. Now, if the System will admit it is oppressive, then I have sympathy. If it is in denial, then I have little sympathy for its justifications and rationale and its continuance to practice oppression of one kind or another. That's when I will go after such institutions as an activist-educator.
I have learned how slow and hard it is to change a System that remains in denial. Sometimes one can have small positive inputs that someone inside the System listens to, but mostly they are defensive to hearing anything about their oppressive aspects as a System. 'They are bought and sold' into keeping the operation going, no matter what. That's a crude way of putting it. I also have seen and know that still 'good people' are inside those systems, even if sometimes in small numbers. Some do see the corruption and want to change it from the inside. I respect that.
So, to be short here, I'll share a recent experience of a simple way to make the fearlessness voice heard and how to challenge the System, and its leaders (e.g., politicians) to not fall prey to fear-based ways of perceiving, thinking, strategizing and doing their job. I know that's a high calling. There's no other option however, from the Fearlessness Paradigm perspective (which is arguably the only sane way to proceed). I listened with my partner to a live government debate in Alberta on coal-strip mining where the leader of the opposition party (Rachel Notley) made a first case for a private members bill to a committee. If the bill would pass that committee it could go to the larger legislature and have a hearing and vote there. The bill would stop all current exploration and new lease developments that have to do with coal strip mining in the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains in our province. I'm all for that. However, in the debates I noticed something and decided to write it up as a Letter to the Editor in the local newspaper and also sent to Rachel Notley office. Here's what I wrote for public media, as that's one way to get a much larger audience (if the newspaper publishes it of course):
ALBERTA EAST SLOPES TALK: POLITICIANS CARBONOPHOBIC
Congratulations to all who made private member bill (petitioned by Rachel Notley) of April 13 get through the first committee so that it can go to a full hearing and vote in the legislature. After watching the live performance of the debate on how best to protect the Alberta East Slopes from coal mining especially, I couldn't help but be saddened hearing the politicians reasons to slow and/or stop new coal mining permits. Even Notley and the NDP members who spoke to this bill were afraid to toalk about rationale in terms of transitioning out of a non-renewable economy, Global Warming, responsibility to worldwide Carbon Budgets and fulfilling a commitment to future sanity for our children's sake. No, what we heard was carbonophobic small-talk rational all about Albertans. I love the East Slopes too, but we have to face our fears folks; or we'll be tweaking our society and economic policies while the floor of the building crumbles. Global Warming is real. Notley should know better. -R. Michael Fisher, Calgary
[note: Apr. 15th this was published, albeit gutted and words changed in places without my permission: go to: https://calgaryherald.com/opinion/letters/your-letters-for-april-15-2]
So, in a very short missive like this, our job as fearworkers of the Fearlessness Movement is (at least) to carefully observe and point out (without shaming people and damning their character and careers) when fear is ruling in their work and practices and thinking. I found a way to do that in this instance. It is not that I think my example above is flawless either. I was writing specifically for a newspaper. I know Editors of said newspapers typically don't take articles unless they have some emotional juices and so I wrote more emotionally than I typically prefer to. It's a compromise to some extent.
I encourage you all on the FM ning to point out fear-based ways wherever you see them and let's help educate and support our leaders (especially politicians) to change and re-think about how they engage and (mis-)use fear in their jobs.