fearlessness (55)

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The "DIRECTION" to head in... is all important, if we want to liberate ourselves and truly re-build a healthy, sane and sustainable world (and Education System)... 

When you get to be my age (69), and having thought critically about "Education" as a field and as a "project" overall on this planet (for nearly 50 yrs), and in terms of how to analyze it and improve it, this is what happens at 6 am in the morning when I awoke and had the idea kernel "I DON'T WANT TO..." on my mind as the center piece of this map and then I began to sort territories ("Positive Description") on the Left and sort of a 'middle-ground' then "Negative Description") on the Right. As an educator, designer of curriculum and pedagogy, I tend to near completely side to the Negative philosophical orientation in terms of how to best approach "Education" and deconstruct it and then reconstruct it (moving more to the Positive philosophy eventually.

The direction of going to the Left and then the Right is precisely what I call an "Integral Turn" --and, in no way is that direction of flow only about "politics" (and parties, etc.). I am rather quite non-partisan in that sense, but what really comes through in the mapping is that I am "existentialist" in orientation and "conflict theorist" in orientation primarily, but I also don't see that one-side is all right (Good) and one side is all wrong (Bad)--mostly, I'm concerned as a critic that the left-side of the "Positive" (Virtues) side is a huge cover-up these days for some of the worst 'evil' going on--and, of course, those who are on that "Positive" side want to make us all thing they are virtuous, good, correct, and the only way to go. They tend to loathe the analysis and offerings of the 'other' side (the right-side). 

So, if you look within the map you'll also see LOVE, FEAR, and FEARLESSNESS ... as my own special area of interest in how that trialectic operates [1], although, that's a much more complex 'story' than this 'map' (theory) above can show in nuance. Oh, and the abbreviations that came out in orange circles, they are at the crux of my counter-education theorizing and curricular (r)evolutionizing:  CME - conflict management/education (my invention), TMT - terror management theory (not my own invention), and FME -fear management/education (my invention). Other abbrev. worth noting: COC - culture of conflict and COF - culture of fear. The red ink "Contemplation" is there because of my reading a colleague, an educator, on "meditative inquiry" in research/education and the foregrounding there of contemplation in education--or spirituality in education. And, this spurred me on to think about my view of that initiative and so I woke up in the morning due to this prompting to situate "contemplation" and problematized it as well.  

I am in color highlighter very intrigued with "Fear of Loss" (aka "Death") at the center along with my original idea-kernel of "I DON'T WANT TO..." and I am pretty certain now that strategically this is the focal pivotal point for any real educational transformation that will be emancipatory. If we educators miss this...well, the consequences of our current direction of global crisis/collapse will continue unabated. I have no doubt we are already in the Anthropocene era of collapse of all systems, and much destruction will be inevitable (aka death will be inevitable)--and it will continue for many years if not decades. The world will never be the same. However, in that collapse we have all the real potential of making these shifts that I have indicated in the mapping. I believe the whole process going on is best looked at as "sacred correction" (call it self-system regulation or healing, or whatever)--we can get through this as a collective of living organisms and putting all our intelligences together integrally--but IF humanism tries again to rule, using technologism and scientific arrogance alone--we'll likely do ourselves in and sufficiently destroy the carrying capacity for most Life on this planet for millenium. 

Just some bright and not so bright words from the unconscious to the conscious of the morning air and light... let's breath, create and grow in 'a good way' (a fearlessness way). 

Note

1. Fisher, R. M. (2017). Radical love—is it radical enough? International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 8(1), 261-81.

 

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IN a recent interview (Mar. 12, 2020)... I heard this 80+ year old man, scientist, environmental activist, say some really important things. As powerful as he has been in his career (e.g., The Nature of Things, and The David Suzuki Foundation)--helping bring science to education and political policy, etc., he told CBC interviewer Anna Marie Tremonti [1] that he's always been controlled during his career as a scientist and as host of the show and a dignitary of a foundation, etc... THAT "I've been constrained" by those who run those organizations and programs, as they would tell him "...'oh, you can't say that'...you have to couch everything, with 'oh, well, there's this hope...there's this opportunity' and people have never really confronted the reality...seriously enough...", he said. 

Now as an elder not under anyone's thumb and their fear that the consequences of him speaking the truth would have been not politically correct, or pissed off funders, etc., David is coming out full blast these days and saying what now fear has controlled in him and others. Some of his truths he spoke in this interview: 

- we have less than 10 years to 'turn around' total chaos (e.g., with global warming, climate change, migrations and economy collapsing etc.)

- we have to get beyond sugar-coating and hope-mongering strategies and get to the raw 'truth' and don't wait for politicians to act on it "it's going to be too late" when they actually do some really big things to help

- "We just have no idea what is coming" and current hope in "geo-engineering" and "science" solutions are going to really make things even worse 

- "This the great fear I have. We're at a point where we have a very limited amoutn of time, in which we can actually do something to prevent total chaos." 

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The whole point of my blogs on fear and politics of late, is to also speak as an elder (albeit, only age 69)--there is no use anymore to hold back and sugar-coat reality, and yes, the facts of science included--and, yes, there is FEAR controlling almost everything in this world and the ways we 'talk about problems and crises' on a global scale--and, politically, etc. This is going to really be our downfall, and rather soon... as Suzuki, like myself and many others are saying ... I have always promoted FEARLESSNESS over HOPE... because things are that serious. 

Note

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOnUW-3EQ2w

 

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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]

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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. 

 

 

 

 

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Outstanding (Left) American Journalist & Political Pundit (2021)

Chris Hedges

In a recent interview Chris Hedges declared with total confidence, based on all his years of following political revolutions around the world, that only a politics of fear is the solution to the current oppression by the governmental/corporate/military eltes... and, in particular he talks now a lot about the situation in America. 

His exact phrasing for this, and it is one I have heard before from Leftist revolutionaries and Rightists as well... boils down to their own political philosophies of change and reform. Hedges said in this interview that "POLITICS IS A GAME OF FEAR" -- and he implied overtly that anyone who doesn't think this is true is deluded. And, he would also more or less say, anyone who thinks they can over-turn the corruption of governments like in the USA, and thinks they can do that without 'weaponizing fear'... well, he would conclude they are naive and mistaken. Worse, he would argue, that such people who do not see or wish to play this "game of fear" --and using fear to bring down the elites in the Capitol... well, then they are people who add to the problem of the oppressed and are not liberators at all. By the way: near 40,000 people have listened to this interview with Hedges and I'm wondering if all of them are attracted to Hedges as fans because he promotes 'weaponizing fear' --another form of fearmongering(?) Now, that really has me concerned if that is the case. I think it will lead to dangerous consequences on many levels if it carries out into a Fear War. And, it quite likely can--as such a war is already well going on but it could inflate and become much worse and very soon as the crises of 'the people' grow in desperation with the pandemic and all the other economic problems (especially, in the USA right now). 

Of course, because I am a supporter, philosopher and political-educational activist myself, and one who is not in agreement with 'weaponizing fear' for any systematic or ideological reason, no matter how it is justified--there is a huge "clash" here between Hedges and myself. I could elaborate that more, if you folks on the FM ning want to explore it. I'd also be interested to hear your views here, so make Comments on this blog if this interests you. 

My challenge is to all those who think, write, philosophize about fear(ism) and fearlessness--trully, we have to come to clarify our political philosophies and positions--from the theoretical to the practice, to the critical praxis of being citizens in the world today. Is there any justification ethically, politically, etc. for 'weaponizing fear' and just playing the game of fear as Hedges says we must. He is declaring a revolution that scares the leadership of governments and their allies 'out of power'--and, the longer we wait, he would say, we are then only in commission with that corrupt power and we are aiding and abetting the suffering of the oppressed everywhere. It's quite the challenge and I applaud Hedges and always have for decades, for his courage to speak as he does 'truth to power.' The deeper issue however, cannot be dismissed, and that's the issue--many issues, about how do we theorize the nature and role of fear in this challenge of political revolution? 

As you may or may not know, I have taken up this American political scenario of cultural (r)evolution very seriously in the last two years with my research and writing a book on Marianne Williamson, who ran a failed campaign as a 'new' revolutionary leader of the Democratic Party--and, who if successful, could have been President of the U.S.A. right now. That was a very close --relatively close-- arising of a totally new spirit of fearlessness in politics like I have never seen in my life in North America. (see my FM blog on Marianne Williamson and my new book). She is definitely closely moving along the political spectrum like Chris Hedges, but they also have a "clash" and go quite different ways. We as citizens, would do well, to educate ourselves around such political leadership--and, these to political intelligentsia and pundits are very interesting in my opinion. 

 

 

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Fearism Philosopher-- B. Maria Kumar (India). 

It has been my pleasure over three years ago to meet Mr. Kumar, an FM ning member for several years. He has a fascinating background, as public servant (police officer) and author of a number of books, amongst other things. His dedication to life-long learning is admirable. Currently he and I are working on a book Resistances to Fearlessness: A Philosophy of Fearism Perspective. This will be my 3rd book working with him as a co-author [1] 

This FM blog is a very brief celebration of his thinking and contribution to the philosophy of fear(ism) and fearlessness. He recently sent me some free-writing thoughts he has about "Fearlessness as/is Beautiful" for one of the Parts of our new book. I am so impressed with his opening paragraph, containing 11 intriguing questions. I felt it important to share this with the FM community and encourage you to use these questions as prompts for your own thoughts; feel free to Comment below on this blog and dialogue with us all, and I'm sure Mr. Kumar will also join in depending on the interest around these 11 questions. 

"Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. That's why when Socrates commented on beauty, he implied it had 'a short lived reign.' While for Keats, on the other hand, accorded eternality to it, saying, 'a thing of beauty is a joy forever.' 

How can we say that fearlessness is beautiful? Nobody likely adores fear and so fear is considered ugly. However, if our thoughts are cleared of fear, our fearless mind naturally enjoys watching the sunrise without a feeling of mental block or doubt or predicament.

If mind is unrestricted, can we say whether it is beautiful? Or is it beautiful simply because it fascilitates unbridled freedom? Does it mean that fear is unwanted and freedom is most sought after? 

Will mind be beautiful if it is not restricted and at the same time not agitated? Does it also mean that absolute liberty, which is the manifestation of unrestricted freedoms of people in the society is also beautiful? Doesn't one's absolute liberty affect the other individual's rightful freedom adversely? In that case, does society or individual want fear to exist to a certain extent in order to keep the things in order or under control, so is not fear, up to some limit, also beautiful? 

Does it imply that total fearlessness without fear at all is also not beautiful? Does it mean that only some degree of fearlessness is beautiful and not extreme fearlessness to the inconvenience of others? 

Lastly, can we deduce that both fear and fearlessness are beautiful in proportions as beauty is also seen in terms of proportions and symmetries?" 

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I am quite sure from my research, no other thinker has so intimately questioned the relationship of fear/fearlessness and beauty in the historical literatures around the globe and through time. Kudos to Mr. Kumar. 

Notes: 

1. Kumar, B. M., Fisher, R. M. & Subba, D. (2019). India, a Nation of Fear & Prejudice. Xlibris; Fisher, R. M., Subba, D. & Kumar, B. M. (2018). Fear, Law and Criminology: Critical Issues in Applying the Philosophy of Fearism. Xlibris. 

 

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Four Arrows' New Book on Sitting Bull's Words

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The above images are from Four Arrows' 2021 book (cover, and p. 15), published by DiO.

I wanted to give you a sample. Four Arrows and I have known each other (mostly online) since 2007. He is a scholar in Indigenous leadership and education and a Lakota initiated member. What is most important in this new little book, I highly recommend, is the simplicity of his presenting a very complicated theory of fearlessness he has been developing for over 35 years. I won't say more, but to encourage you to check out his work from many other publications as well. I have written several FM nings on and around his work and his CAT-FAW/N model. So, you can search on the FM ning (upper right search box) to find those... 

 

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This is a screen shot of my Youtube teaching at one point in the 2nd video in a series on "Fear Education"

Based on several people (mostly men) sending me emails over the last year and prior, of their severe struggles with anxiety, depression and panic. Certainly, after a year of pandemic "lock down" and just where the world is going--it's a disturbing time for most anyone, IF we let ourselves really feel into reality. So, thought I could do a series of videos (maybe 1/wk) to give you specific coaching and teaching re: the path of fearlessness... and note, this is not a psychological approach so much as it is a philosophical approach... I talk a good deal about that distinction in the videos  -enjoy,  -M. 

p.s. the point also is that you may feel connected to something and someone during these rough times, and reach out and share your experiences, ask your questions, inquire with me and certain even better in co-inquire with the Fearlessness Movement ning community... check out the videos... you may Comment on my Youtube and/or here; I'll do my best to address and talk to everyone in some way... you also mail directly contact me via  r.michaelfisher [at] gmail.com

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This is my newest book! Fearlessness meets Fear!

It is ready to order now https://www.peterlang.com/view/title/73363 and will be released in the next week, if all goes well; also available from diverse book sellers (e.g., BrooklineAmazon). To introduce you to a bit of the inside of the book, here is one of the endorsements by Dr. Randall Auxier and the Table of Contents. I'll share bits more in the weeks ahead. THE BOOK is divided into three PARTS: (1) THE PHENOMENON, (2) THE CRITIQUE, and (3) THE LESSONS; a total of 358 pp.  [to talk with me: r.michaelfisher52 [at] gmail.com] also full brochure on book is MWPP Book Brochure.pdf

Also just created first video Intro on the book (focus on meaning behind the cover design): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4sYleZOf5g

BOOK REVIEWS

Marianne Williamson reached hundreds of thousands of people with her books, lectures, and workshops since her rise to prominence in the 1990s. Since declaring her bid for the Presidency of the US she has reached millions. Not all were eager listeners but many heard her enduring message. Dr. Fisher has made a case study of her "transformational" leadership, arguing (critically at times) that the key to her success was an ability to meet fear fearlessly. Why does her message resonate now in just the way it does? Why is there such tension between those who want to push her away, call her a flake, avoid the obvious and real spiritual implications of our present politics? 

And how can Williamson balance her other-worldly discipline with her transformational leadership? Dr. Fisher is probably the world's leading expert on the effects of fear and its antidotes, and here he takes an unflinching look at how fear has warped and twisted us, and how we can be transformed by such figures as Williamson. As he indicates, it is very important, at this moment, not only to understand what is happening, but to remember and document for the future what this moment was for those who lived it. Yet, there is more than memory in these pages. This is also about what kind of future we can hope for, in contrast to what we will get if we do not learn to face our fears, and face them down. 

Randall Auxier, Ph.D., author of Time, Will, and Purpose: Living Ideas from the Philosophy of Josiah Royce, Professor of Philosophy and Communication Studies, S. Illinois University Carbondale

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements

Foreword by Rob Asghar

Preface

Introduction

Transformer for President(?): A Shocking Possibility

Politician or Not?

Book Overview

PART I- THE PHENOMENON

Chapter One: The Donald Trump Phenomenon

Trump and Talking About Fear: Coronavirus Epidemic

The Donald Trump Phenomenon

The New Age of Trumpism

Chapter Two: The Marianne Williamson Phenomenon

Contexts of Sensemaking

Williamson and Talking About Fear: Coronavirus Epidemic

Corona-Time: Do We Need an Epidemic of Williamson-style Love?

Four Major Aspects of the Marianne Williamson Phenomenon

    A. Inner Life and Mysticism

    B. Leadership (Theory/Style)

    C. Philosophy (and Theology)

    D. Therapy (and Metaphysician)

Chapter Three: A Spiritual (R)Evolution Enters Politics

Spiritual (R)Evolution

Move On: Your History Needs You! 

More Than 'Spiritual But Not Religious': A Course in Miracles

New Age/New Thought Movement

Marianne Williamson and New Social Movements: 50+ Branches

PART II- THE CRITIQUE

Chapter Four: Donald Trump as Bad or as Evil? 

Entering Fragilization as Discovery

Mirroring: Introduction of the Arch-Rivals

"You're Letting Evil In..."

Williamson's Theological View on "Evil"

'You're Letting In the Donald Trump Phenomenon'

The Twin Phenomenon: Shadow Projections

Chapter Five: Systems Thinking Correction: Transformation of I and We

Introduction: From Political Sphere to Entering Politics

Self-Correcting Systems: Mind/Nation

Paradise is Nice But There's More Story to Tell

PART III- THE LESSONS

Chapter Six: She's Missing 'The Right' Six Words

Never Short on Words

'I Want To Be President Of The United States'

Reflections: The Primaries Election Discontent

Chapter Seven: Some Lessons

Lesson Six: 'Waking Up'

Lesson Five: Tweet Mindfully or Not At All

Lesson Four: Boomeritis Handicap

Lesson Three: Love vs. Fear Thing

Lesson Two: "Faux Spirituality"

Lesson One: Playing Psychiatrist 

 

Index

 

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There's a long story behind my finding this 4 pp. fold-out brochure in a medical library in New York City. It is the only evidence currently available on this group [1] that was apparently started under the guidance of the famous theosophists, Alice & Foster Bailey. Since 2006, when I found this brochure (which I made in color, aged, and adapted with a few excerpts here only using photoshop), I have been searching for answers to the mystery of where this group and The League 'disappeared' and why no traces. Currently, the fine folks at Lucis Trust, NY, are attempting to search into this. Curiously, no body in the current big American theosophical organizations has heard of this League but they do suspect the Bailey's were quite likely to have taken on initiating such a project. IF anyone has any leads to finding out more about this group, let me know: 

r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com

But besides that fascinating historical evidence, and a story yet told, I wanted to share the brochure today, it seems appropriate as just 5 days away from one of the most important elections ever in U.S. history. The level of tension, fear, dread, etc. is palpable. It's also in my dreams. And, so, I thought it would be good to share these words, ideas, and spirit of fearlessness from this group in 1931, of which North America was deep in the Depression and fear was rampant. If you haven't already picked-up the nuanced connection between The League's mission and my own via the In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989- ) and later, founding the In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute (1991- )--and, the uncanny sense of a paralleling historical soul-based work that is wanting to go on in this world, it is so obvious to me--and yet, struggles of resistances to manifest this Project effectively are so powerful as well. To say it bluntly, there is no such project that has such a systematic well-thought out "program" to improve fear management and remove fear on the planet as a barrier to the evolution of consciousness. This is powerful beyond words. I wished, in retrospect, I would have found this brochure in 1989--boy, that would have made a big difference! But, that's the way it is. 

End Note

1. Just recently, I have attained a few documents on this group, I am reviewing, and will keep you posted with updates, if you let me know you are interested. 

 

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I just listened to this good talk on fear and fearlessness, radical trust, the future, child-rearing and an Indigenous view on life in general. I recommend: 
 
 
"For life to continue on earth, every day must be Indigenous Peoples’ Day" 
 
Darcia Narvaez's Discussion with Four Arrows about Indigenous Approaches 
to Human Development and the "Evolved Developmental Niche" (October 9, 2020)
 
Watch on YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/_1CH1IvFpVM
 
Listen on SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/evolvednest/indigenous-peoples-day-2020-a-discussion-with-darcia-narvaez-and-four-arrows0?ui=2&ik=914a89f2fc&attid=0.1.1&permmsgid=msg-f:1680273384176918355&th=175187bd8d689f53&view=fimg&sz=s0-l75-ft&attbid=ANGjdJ_28um5nS5xw_4WbbeZM2qRcdIlqkPT9Qm91CviFxkNZ83pWf4rRi5baek0KjRm8WqDjpy-ydrkc2mvSE707Em1QlwFaf8b-YSgCn8-teP3y3fUWJuAT6UlyDM&disp=embKindred World is the parent nonprofit of The Evolved Nest. As an award-winning 501C3 nonprofit, Kindred's leadership in the Conscious Parenting Movement has provided a solid foundation for pioneers, scientists, authors, activists, parents and professionals to share their sustainable and peaceful visions for humanity since 1996.
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7927130280?profile=RESIZE_584xI think this is one of my best (sociopolitical and economic) applications of a design for how to re-form our societies, and I also bring in the concept of Fear (i.e., culture of fear) and Fearlessness into the UBI model which has radical implications to transform society not just tweak it (the latter, which is mostly what I see in the vision and thinking of those promoting UBI at the present time). Let's talk about this folks! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ-IhnblIRA

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Fear and a General Social Theory[1] 

-R. Michael Fisher [notes: June 16/20]

                    Introductory Issues of the Social & World

Recently, it occurred to me that no one will really ‘get’ my work adequately until they ‘get’ that my work is foundationally a social theory of fear (management/education). I am deeply a social thinker/theorist and philosopher and educator, who has, unfortunately, not helped the waves of mis-understandings of my work for 31 years because I have not systematically written out my general social theory as context for my work. I am beginning to take on this daunting project. This essay consists of beginning shreds of what is on my mind and is by no means a ‘finished’ work. It is noticeably somewhat nostalgic, at least for me, in that to recover the ‘social’ in my work, and in my life, I have had to return to the past of my first systematic studies of knowledge and disciplines when I was 20 years old to my 30s. If these references seem ‘old’ or ‘out of date’ to readers, I won’t apologize for how important and relevant they are in ‘messages’ for today—but, certainly, this general social theory I am attempting needs up-dating with newer thinkers for sure—yet, all in time. I want to keep things relatively simple to start with. I appreciate your patience with my somewhat nostalgic turn.  

As part of Social Sciences, social theory seems essential to my fearanalysis project [2] on the Fear Problem. It is an approach to all phenomenon (e.g., especially fear and its management/education) primarily through the lens of the social sphere of reality. Social theory today, in the Anthropocene era, also has to be part of Biological and especially Environmental Sciences, because global cascading crises are putting the survival and quality of life on this planet at-high-risk, moving existence regularly into emergencies. COVID-19 is the latest episode showing how vulnerable Homo sapiens is.  

The basic purpose overall of these Sciences seen through my own value-based lens, is that of “making man [sic] more aware of the consequences of his actions.”[3] Awareness has to do with learning, and that is why my profession is Education. I turn now to explicate my evolved, yet still evolving, social theory as a synthesis of many others’ critical thinking and research. It is not too embarrassing to say my social theory is quite unique in the history of thought.

                   Theorizing: Natural Sciences Are Social

 It is essential for humans as a whole, and for me to remember that the aim of the knowledge quest (i.e., learning and education) is to,

 ....establish the process of human development as the goal of the process of social evolution, both the process and the goal being understood to be open to further transformation as we advance in the practice and understanding of them.[4]

 And furthermore, there is a search still going on across large domains of societies functions, and within the inner searching and reflecting that humans do at times, to find a better “image” of our selves—of our nature, of our potential—and to do so, as crucial so that we don’t become crushed by harsh realities of the everyday human condition (i.e., of a good deal of suffering). Markley & Harman (1982) spoke to this in a way that made sense for me in my youthful scholarship days, and still resonates today:

 It seems evident that the characteristics we postulated for an adequate image [of the human] cannot be fulfilled unless such a new type of policy paradigm comes into existence—a paradigm that provides a far closer reconciliation of C. P. Snow’s ‘two cultures’ (the sciences and the humanities) than has heretofore seemed feasible [in modern times]. Central in this pursuit would be the reconciliation of the objective inquiry methods found suitable for learning to manipulate the external/physical environment and the inquiry methods which are emerging to similarly explore the subjective/internal/psychical environment of our living. Likely such an umbrella paradigm will not be possible without the emergence of other, somewhat more specialized but nevertheless holistic [-integral], paradigms to support it.[5]

 In Markley & Harman’s profound search for a “moral science,” “moral economics” and politics for a sustainable, healthy and sane future, they know that a “moral paradigm” lies below them all, which is something I have always been interested in but I am not a “moralist” or “virtues” prophet/teacher or thinker. That’s a topic that arrives much later in this essay and social theory. Suffice it to say at this point, my approach to ethics and morals and the ‘good’ and ‘true’ and ‘beautiful’ will be strongly tainted in this work with the social as environment—and, it is this environmental emphasis that is most conducive to pulling out and foreword why I think the social is so critical to any good fear studies (and fear management/education) today and in the future. To note, the marriage of objective and subjective that Markley & Harman recommend, not totally radical, is very important to my own holistic-integral approach to knowledge and living, of which Wilber (1995) has added another vector of polarities to build a more adequate and complete (and moral) epistemological quadrant analysis. He adds: individual and communal sphere. When I speak of the “social” so forthright and as forming everything in human affairs, I am not excluding the other quadrant inputs into the social sphere of reality but including them, even if they are lesser focused on.  

I more or less ‘hated’ public school. I was born and raised poor working class. The whole system seemed rigged, even though I am a white guy (Canadian), to benefit those who already were privileged by class. The more would get the more and doing well in education was seemingly their way of greasing their wheels of progress (success).  Post-secondary schooling nor societal success meant anything important to me until my 19th year of life (after graduation from high school in a technical curriculum stream for the ‘dummies’). One course in grades 10-12 really was a place for me to shine—Biology. I was a budding naturalist (thanks to my dad, my uncle, my older brother). Learning science was hard but I did it and learned things I cared about—that is, how Life works. By my 19th year I was dedicated to pursue secondary education and make a career in science (e.g., forestry or something). The rest is history. As I went through careers and more and more degrees, “Science” grew in scope and dimensions in ways I could have never predicted back in my late teens or early 20s. Today, I reluctantly, would call myself a “scientist” but at-heart I really am. I am a little more comfortable being called a “philosopher” at-heart, an “artist”—and yet, my graduate Ph.D. training ended with a doctorate in Education.

                  Fear is Social

A most basic premise of my life’s work is that fear is social, or more accurately, that the nature and role of fear for humans cannot be understood without a social perspective. At some level, thus, my hypothesis is that: social fear is the best descriptor for all fears and fear itself. Contentious perhaps. I’ll return to that topic later. Now, I wish to claim that science is always social—and, the corollary, all science is social science. Let me explain.

                  Scientists are Social

It is no surprise that from anthropology to ecology and evolutionary studies, many scientists have concluded that “Homo sapiens” is a social species. It sounds simple to conclude. It seems true. What it exactly means and the implications are much more profound, as I have found to be the case over the decades. I think most people don’t really think about this.

Despite the history of Science being diverse, with all its twists and turns and shifts in its role and the ways scientists themselves saw their efforts to build scientific knowledge, it is likely true that at the end of the 19th century most scientists were relatively “unconcerned as to where they ought to be going. They saw no point in formulating social goals for their professional work, because they regarded science as an end rather than a means.” And many then, as still now, do not want their scientific work determined by social (e.g., economic and political) agendas of interest groups or the public at-large, according to Dubos (1970, p. 229). More characteristically, the scientists overall have not seen their own profession as a social enterprise itself—that is, shaped overly by influences from the social sphere including by non-scientists.

It is hard for the vast majority of scientists (maybe less so today) to believe that what they do intellectually may be socially-determined—in whole or in part. Kuhn’s (1970) classical analysis of the paradigm shifts of the scientific enterprise validates just how social science communities are. Scientists likely find that thought of socially-determined, socially-responsible or “mission-oriented”[6] science rather loathsome, and beneath their self-integrity. They are very proud of their elite scientific training. I remember, the same feeling when I was fully in science education processes and working as a scientist of sorts. To get a masters or doctoral degree in some science adds to their privilege and sense of self-esteem. They see they are in a scientific establishment and career in order to best perform good (or even ‘pure’) science. No one should be telling them or even much influencing them who isn’t a scientist.[7] The very reason of bringing this issue of Science to the foreground to begin my general social theory explication tells you something about how important I think Science is today; And especially, it tells you that I agree with Dubos (50 years ago) that the best way to talk about the current (at least Western) society is under the umbrella term “scientific civilization.”[8]

                  Civilization Types: Evolving Fear(s)

As civilizations, many humans have thus evolved from tribal, to agricultural, to industrial—all because of an advance in Science (and technologies). Since late-modernity, that’s been recognized as a mixed blessing for those of us in the latter forms of civilization. Myself included, we have begun to realize the paradox of progress via Science that is now creating some of the worst nightmares of which are capable of extinguishing all civilization (e.g., nuclear weapons, anthropogenic accelerated global warming, clear-cutting forests, mining, etc.). It is arguable, that there have been new fears created and overcome at each level of civilization type listed above. However, it is also arguable, the current chronic level of fear(s) in the highly scientific civilization type is accumulative (post-traumatic) and worse than other civilizations. If so, it is another hypothesis of my social theory that with increasing progress, comings increasing social fear (of the most destructive kinds). But let’s return to my thinking on Science before focusing on other aspects of my social theory (of fear).

                  Need for a Social Theory of Science

It has been a great gain to knowledge generally to develop the history of science and open-up the world of Science to historians and the public. It may well be, as Dubos suggested, that it is more important for citizens in a true democracy to be critical in their literacy of how Science functions than needing to know all the facts of science and its applications.[9] It is great to have a grasp of both, but at least it is important to learn about science as a social activity that ought to serve social purposes, as well as intellectual purposes. For example, to learn about science is to learn as a layperson that “scientific knowledge is never absolute or final, yet it remains valid when considered in the social and intellectual framework within which it was developed.”[10] Another example, “scientists hardly ever disagree on the validity of the facts themselves, but only [mostly] on the interpretation and use of the these facts.”[11]

The argument I am making, as did Dubos 50 years ago, is that all science operates with shifting “fashions”[12]—that is, it is socially contextualized ‘not an island to itself’ and visa versa “all social decisions now have scientific determinants,”[13] whether we recognize them or not. Snow’s (1959) lecture on The Two Cultures—of facts (science) vs. values (social morals and/or religion)—raised critical questions of the long modern separation of these realms; and, suggested how they ought not be fully disengaged from each other. Integral philosopher, Ken Wilber, notes that Snow called both facts and values inherently “cultures” and thus serve as social phenomena. He argued knowledge is best for cultures/societies when they are not totally battling, competing, and thus end up dissociated and divorced; but rather, today we have to work to repair their ancient marriage[14] so that a higher holistic-integration of knowledge can once again yield wisdom and guidance for the modern, late-modern and post-modern times. There’s a need for a new thinking today—and, more so than ever it will have to be around the notion of fear. I am calling my version of this, as core to my methodological concerns, integral social thinking.

               Methodology of Integral Social Thinking (IST)

As I attempt to introduce this emergent sense that my social theory itself has to be based on integral social thinking—troubling questions of knowing arise. Philosophers call this ontological and epistemological issues. I’ll start with the “integral” part of thinking—which, comes from a long venerable tradition of integral philosophies and theories in history,[15] of which, for example, Wilber (1995) is one of the most prescient of these thinkers, and has influenced my ways of thinking since the early 1980s.

Yet, there is a further problem not so overtly dealt with as an epistemological problem in integral thinking and style, which I must mention. In the study of fear itself (meaning, the human-fear-self-social relationship dynamic) there is a problem of attempting to know something (perhaps, a prior conceptions that are faded or invisible) that is escaping its very knowability. You open a black sealed box to study something locked away inside for generations, but in assuming the light you shine on it will reveal its essence, you more or less destroy the operation and object/subject you are analyzing because it is not the proper ‘method’ to disclose the essence of that which lives in a ‘black box.’

Using this ‘black box’ as metaphor or analogy, this is what I learned in my youth when I (and others) first encountered the nascent field of “ecology.”[16] I cannot help but be an ecological thinker, but that gets massively more complex than approaching an ecological problem of studying Nature when one brings the light of investigation to Culture—in this case, my pursuit of a social theory and a fear theory simultaneously—things get very tricky, to say the least. I’ve hinted at this problem (part of the larger Fear Problem) in my earliest works in the late 1980’s into the early 1990s and why I demarcated my subject of study of fear as ‘fear’ with (‘) marks[17] to signify something I really didn’t know even what it was I was studying or what methods would be best for doing so). The progressive futurists Markley & Harman (1982) touched somewhat on the enigmatic attitude and sensibility in which a researcher has to imbue when after a topic, with humility, with the arational and rational modes, as they articulated one way to capture the same troubling question I am now explicating:

How does one study a priori conceptions which, by definition, are fundamental to and lie beyond the [standard] rules of inquiry of any particular discipline [of knowledge, and knowing, and understanding]? (p. xxi)

I chose to assume “fear” (and ‘fear’) as already embedded in a black box of a prior phenomenon/conceptions and no one discipline or even a couple disciplines could unravel the hidden subtle nature of fear (‘fear’). To be playful, I enlisted a neologism of “fearology” to act as a transdisciplinary approach to the topic. However, there was more I had to deal with in Markley & Harman (1982) and what they called “bricolage thinking” – and my attempt to:

....discern fundamental and usually unrecognized influences on our societal problems, on our social policies, and on our hopes [aspirations] for the future....our aim is to break out of set patterns of thinking (and hence recognize useful new ways of thinking and imaging” (p. xxi)

More specifically, my nascent methodological rationale was built upon both a defence against, and an offense for, a better knowledge about fear (‘fear’) that was already socially embedded in culture—which I soon would discover other scholars talking about how near everything today is embedded in a “culture of fear” (which by 2000, I talked about as a ‘Fear’ Matrix and/or a decade before that, I talked about a largely invisible ubiquitous form of oppression called “fearism”). I felt intuitively, and theorized from my reading, research and phenomenological experiences, that fear was already ‘hooked’ into living inside a black box that for many good reasons could not be opened or if it was it might yield more than the investigator could handle anyways (e.g., you may note the analogy here with the myths of Pandora’s Box, Icarus, Prometheus from ancient Greek as ‘warnings’ to human hubris—likewise, in psychoanalytical theory and practice there is the cautionary of any inquiry into the unconscious).

The invocation from the start of my study of fear to be in search of “fearlessness” was not by chance, albeit, I knew little of what complexity and black box I would bump into as well on this latter subject. In a nutshell, I assumed (sometimes concluded) that the deep territory of fear was an a prior social taboo (and ‘fear’ was even more elusive, denied, repressed and dangerous territory). All fear is a priori social—social fear (i.e., we humans are sociophobic,[18] in other words, and I do not just mean this term like contemporary clinical psychiatrists would use it—as “fear of the social”—although, in part that is applicable too). Thus, I had stumbled in my early years in and around this troubling situation of the social sphere and how much or how little to let it into my investigations of fear. It seems that transdisciplinary study pushes one into creative synthesis of methodologies and multiple ways of knowing, and asks us to be not overly disciplined in trying too hard to control your subject and tools of inquiry....

[to be continued....]

References

Dubos, R. (1970). Reason awake: Science for man. Columbia University Press.

Fisher, R. M. (1995a/12). An introduction to defining ‘fear’: A spectrum approach. Technical Paper No. 1. In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

Fisher, R. M. (1995b/12). An  introduction to an epistemology of ‘fear’: A fearlessness paradigm. Technical Paper No. 2. In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

Kuhn, T. (1962/96). The structure of scientific revolutions. [3rd. ed.] The University of Chicago Press.

Markley, O. W., & Harman, W. W. (1982). Changing images of man. Pergamon Press.

McIntosh, S. (2007). Integral consciousness and the future of evolution: How the integral worldview is transforming politics, culture and spirituality. Paragon House.

Odum, E. P. (1972). Fundamentals of ecology [3rd ed.]. W. B. Saunders.

Scruton, D. L. (Ed.) (1986). Sociophobics:  The anthropology of fear. Westview Press.

Wilber, K. (1998). The marriage of sense and soul: Integrating science and religion. Random House.

Wilber, K. (1995). Sex, ecology and spirituality: The spirit in evolution [Vol. 1]. Shambhala.

 

END NOTES

[1] Cf. to Skoll (2010) “Social theory of fear: Terror, torture, and death in a post-capitalist world.”

[2] Overtly, I co-founded the In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989-) for this work, more implicitly this is a fearanalysis I am doing on the entire phenomenon of humans and fear and life. I have several short publications on "fearanalysis" but the book on this is still to be finalized and published (with the first draft of "An Introduction to Fearanalysis" still sitting on my shelf from 2016). 

[3] Dubos (1970), p. 229.

[4] Quote from Dunn (1971), cited in Markley & Harman (1982), p. 156.

[5] Ibid., p. 157.

[6] Ibid., p. 219.

[7] “[M]any scientists are more interested in the advancement of [scientific] knowledge, than in its possession [by non-scientists]” (Dubos, 1970, p. 209).

[8] Ibid., Chapter 5.

[9] Ibid., p. 215.

[10] Ibid., pp. 217-18, 219.

[11] Ibid. p. 220.

[12] “Rapid and profound shifts of emphasis [on what and how things are studied scientifically] have repeatedly occurred in the scientific community, in part because fashions change in science even more than in other types of endeavors, also because social [and economic] concerns inevitably affect intellectual preoccupation” (Dubos, 1970, p. 217); see also Kuhn (1970).

[13] Ibid., p. 207.

[14] Wilber (1998).

[15] One could make a massive long list of ‘integral’ thinkers going back to ancient times; they are the ‘renaissance’ types that integrated vast domains of different spheres of knowledge, arts, sciences, religion etc. More recently, in philosophy, one can identify several thinkers and lines within philosophy itself that have the qualities of the holistic-integral thinker (and/or “integral consciousness” and/or “integral worldview,” according to McIntosh (2007) some recognizable leaders of this integral movement are Georg Hegel, Henri Bergson, James Mark Baldwin, Teilhard de Chardin, Alfred North Whitehead, Jean Gebser, Jürgen Habermas, Ken Wilber (pp. 151-54).

[16] Odum (1971) refers to this (after G. E. Hutchinson’s notion) ‘black box’ conception as hololgical (p. 22) and which refers to complex systems that one can only study by realizing the “internal workings...are but vaguely known” (and may not be known) (p. 105).

[17] Fisher (1995a, 1995b).

[18] It is not by chance the first major initiative (I know of) in academic work to bring “fear” study out from under the umbrella of the hegemonic dominating grips of the biomedical and psychological fields (i.e., Natural sphere), into the Cultural (social) sphere—via anthropology/sociology/social psychology was called sociophobics (Scruton, 1986). The Spiritual (religious, theological) sphere, including much of philosophy also had taken on “fear” study but that is beyond the scope of the discussion here.

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Quantitative Data:

The basic summary of data of FM ning sign-ups (memberships) intrigues me, and shows, that after an initial 'burst' in 2015 when we started the FM ning and invited lots of people, then a drop, and finally a slow organic process of slight increase each year (with no membership drives being done) to a maximum (n =21) in 2018 for some reason? Then a slight decrease but holding to the levels of the initial year of opening the ning AND, most noticeable is that 2020 (especially in May, with effects of Covid-19 mounting, increasing fear in the world population collectively), indicating that the membership level (predictably) will reach well beyond 21 by the end of the year. Note: four new members signed-up in six days (May 16-22, 2020)--then two more signed-up by end of the month, this rate has never been even close to happening over the 5.5 yrs, except the week we started the FM ning... something is happening(?) that is unique... Now, I added another graph to show May sign-ups, and clearly, statistically, it is significant the correlation of "lockdown" (and pandemic) with the interest to sign-up to the FM ning. We ought not take this correlation lightly, and ask how we can work with this growing interest productively. 

Qualitative Data: 

I have not done any statistics on more subtle qualitative aspects of the growth and development of the FM ning. I would say that, I am very looking forward to a vast growth in the numbers and exchanges and actions taken by FM ning members in collaborations to improve the aims of which the FM ning was started in the beginning... please join in, and please invite others to join us too. May we learn great lessons from the Covid-19 global experience and advance fearlessness into the world like a 'fear' vaccine. 

 

 

 

 

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First Principle: Not Reducing Fear

Thank you Piergiacomo severini for an initial response to my question re: the philosophical discussion of Hobbes, and the nature and role of fear, and other things, that has been going on the FM ning of late. There are several things we could discuss from Piergiacomo's Comment. I offer a group of us take this on to respond to him. 

I will start this thread by saying Piergiacomo offers something like a first principle on the contemporary philosophy of fear, and it is a cautionary: to avoid in most cases to reduce fear by definition, by meaning, by application to phenomenon.

This principle would overcome the problems of reductionism that methodologically (e.g., epistemologically) have a history. Reductionism is indeed, in my view one of the great forces (patterns), and habits, of a particular mindset, worldview, values sytem, beliefs, whereby a complex phenomenon is reduced (overly) to a simple phenomenon. And, my research shows that "fear" is particularly susceptible to this reductionism in our past as a species and currently this still predominates. However, there are some good signs that things are changing a bit in the direction of giving fear its due conceptual, theoretical and philosophical regard so as to avoid reductionism and critique reductionism of fear when it occurs. I would like FM ning members to give this all a good consideration and offer your views and knowledge about this topic. Who are good thinkers we could follow in this regard, be they philosophical sources, or otherwise. 

The very positing of a first principle of non-reductionism of fear is at the basis of my own research on fear and fearlessness. I have gone so far as to suggest that ultimately we have to be more interdisciplinary in our discussions about fear and beyond even that, we ought to be more transdisciplinary (e.g., you can read my work on justifying this principle and direction via my writing on the 'Fear' Project, 'Fear' Studies, on fearology (and fearism), fearanalysis, and fearlessness, for starters. My use of the term 'fear' (with the ' marks) is one of a rare exploration on the topic of fear, and I believe offers a sign of resistance to the hegemony of reductionism of fear, amongst other things. My view is thus constructed on an emancipatory knowledge and methodological basis, not merely a functionalist-pragmatic one. 

I look forward to hearing more on this topic, and I do not expect that it has to be a discussion all about my initiatives. 

I also think there are many things in Piergiacomo's Comment(s), and others here, that could be explored and questioned. 

 

 

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Excerpt p. 245, from Fisher, R. M. (2010). The World's Fearlessness Teachings: A Critical Integral Approach to Fear Management/Education for the 21st Century. Lanham, MD.: University Press of America/Rowman & Littlefield. 

The above last chapter of that book, now 10 years old, is still my foremost vision and purpose in everything I do. 

 

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Based on a subversive graphic novel, this sci-fi futuristic film noir (2006 (c) Warner Bros.); screen play by The Wachowski Bros. (of The Matrix film trilogy 1999-2003) is well worth a watch in the next days ahead. Barbara and I took it out the other night, and the analogies and metaphors and 'story' are so connected to what happens to a nation and culture that has come to be ruled (and infected) by a fear virus-- in our case now, novel Coronavirus and the 'spin' of fear contagion that is shutting down rapidly all parts of societies everywhere. The implications of the "shut down" or "lock down" security regime have to be investigated (and resisted)--because this is political as much as it is a biological phenomenon. Watch this movie V for Vendetta... and start talking it up. There are so many excellent quotes on fear (and fear mangement) in this film, including a wonderful section on "transformation" of Evey, the female protagonist--as she comes to fearlessness out of a life of unhealed wounds and fear-based living in a 'Fear' Matrix. There's also a sub-narrative of an "experiment" re: a virus... okay, I won't spoil this further.  -enjoy, -M. 

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