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fearlessness (28)

 Introduction

 In the short essay “Can I Be Fearless?” by the internationally eminent organizational consultant, leadership trainer and teacher, Margaret Wheatley, available on the Internet at several locations, is everything I’m glad about what is happening with intention regarding the improvement of fear management/education (FME)[1] today—and, unfortunately, everything that is ‘wrong’ (distortive) with how we still think and talk and teach about fear. My position has been that we haven’t had an appropriate 21st century upgrade [2]in our “program” of how we conceive FME for a long time and its more than overdue. Fisher and Subba (2016) concluded,

            There is something profoundly new to be said about fear and its impacts in the

            21st century. The sooner it is said the better otherwise the evidence shows we will

            continue losing ground to fear—realizing one day, fear has us in its ominous

            grip—and, our healthy fearuality development (analogous to sexuality) is compromised. (p. xxi)

If we cannot arrive at an upgraded and disciplined multiperspectival view of fear itself within the near future as an intervention, then the Fear Problem will continue to rule and destroy life on this planet to the point of mass extinctions (Fisher, 2016).

 

Margaret Wheatley

Before I begin my critique of how Wheatley teaches about fear and FME in this essay, that I think her teaching is almost a “standard” for most teachers who talk about fear. That said, she is also one of the ‘cream of the crop’ organizational consultants and human leadership teachers on the planet today. She brings a welcomed Buddhist perspective to much of her work and to the functioning of a healthy workplace in the Western world. I have published off and on of her positive contributions and her critical and useful challenge for all of us to think better about the 21st century in terms of how we relate to fear, personally and collectively. In particular, two of her publications are worth noting, of which I have honored for their direction we need to go, and which I ended my book (Fisher, 2010) with: (a) “Eight Fearless Questions” in 2006[3] and, (b) “Fearlessness: The Last Organizational Change Strategy” in 2007.[4]

When I recently found and read her essay “Can I Be Fearless?” (Wheatley, 2008), I decided to carefully analyze it to see what if any thing might be new in her synthesis and teaching of FME. It struck me as a good teaching case study.

            Problem of Use of Terms

The first problematic in this short essay is her unsystematic classification system (i.e., no system) for terms that are crucially important in any FME curriculum. There is no adequate attention given to discussion of fear per se or with a philosophy and/or theory of fear to accompany and support it. Where is her starting point for a discussion of fearless, if one has no robust idea of what she defines or means by fear?

I don’t necessarily expect something complex and scholarly in such an explicit defining, as her piece is obviously written as a quick and practical overview for the practitioner. However, this is an omission too often found in 95% of the writing I read on FME. Thus, she, like the rest, assume the reader already knows what fear is (i.e., an emotion, is the assumed default “truth”). I have challenged this type of omission in a recent article (Fisher, 2016a) by criticizing it functions as a political and epistemic hegemonic (dominating) discourse—and, thus a tragic distortion of the four major ways/discourses of knowing fear on the planet (i.e., beyond, fear is an emotion discourse). In fairness to Wheatley, she does draw on two opening quotes referring to “fear” by rather famous spiritual teachers, Hafiz and Parker Palmer,[5] who say a few things about fear but do not define it either, other than indirectly. They do at least acknowledge, as does Wheatley herself, the importance of fear in shaping the human condition—of which, my own work with Desh Subba supports (e.g., Fisher and Subba, 2016). 

Secondly, she repeatedly exchanges “fearless” with “fearlessness,” of which I have argued is a very common tendency, which has no theoretical or philosophical grounds to do so—and thus, falls into a common populist discourse usage with the same looseness (Fisher, 2016b). It also contravenes (seemingly by ignoring), the decades of scholarly work others and I have done on the topic. Albeit, I can forgive her somewhat for this loose use of these terms because I never articulated the integral theory of fear management systems until Fisher (2010), making the explicit distinction based on a good deal of historical and cross-cultural research. I have argued, however, since the early 1990s that “Fearless” is a very high level (or stage[6]) of evolutionary and personal development of consciousness that includes but transcends “fearlessness.” They are best used not interchangeably.

Her focus, despite the title of the essay (on “fearless”), is on “fearlessness”  and there is some worthy material there. Again, without having defined “fear” earlier, it leaves me with continually questioning how useful really is her discussion on fearlessness. I also question the reliance on any tradition (e.g., Buddhism, which highly values “fearlessness”) by Wheatley or other authors, touting the great virtue of fearlessness when one could argue the person pursuing fearlessness is not able to identify “fear” (or ‘fear’ as I add to the complexity of knowledge required). She does ask, “... what is fearlessness? It’s not being free of fear, for fear is part of our human journey” (Wheatley, 2008, p. 1). Here you can see the necessary dependency of fear and fearlessness as a dialectical relationship, yet, without fear being defined per se, and assume to be meaningful and true as “part of our human journey” (i.e., natural), she glosses over a huge epistemic problem in discussions about FME. She does not make clear what is natural fear or normal fear or pathological fear, etc. A number of authors do this in their discourse, but they all confuse and conflate to make natural and normal one and the same thing. This is highly problematic and distortive because of the evidence that is shown from many disciplines that there is a constructed fear born in the cradle of a “culture of fear” context,[7] and thus, to assume fear is simply natural or normal is to exclude the context of our lived reality. I have referred to this problem of reductionism (once again) to a hegemonic psychologization of fear (or FME). Writers, like Wheatley, disavow and/or ignore the historical, cultural, social and political complexity of fear and how humans are impacted by it and are participant co-creators of constructed fear (i.e., cultural modified fear, as analogous to genetically modified organisms). 

Colonial Western (Dominant) Worldview Bias

Although there are other things I could critique,[8] including how Wheatley later uses “true fearlessness” without mentioning its dialectical partner “false fearlessness” and why there would be such a distinction required in the first place. I’ll end with one last point of great disturbance—and, that is her highly Western modernist (colonialist) perspective on the topic, even if she refers to authority figures in spiritual teachings from the Eastern world (e.g., Hafiz, Zen). It comes across that she has not at all integrated Indigenous traditions around the world (especially, from her own country of origin, America) to offer wisdom on FME—an Indigenous-based critique made recently of the “Dominant worldview” in relation to fear, courage and fearlessness (Four Arrows, 2016; see chapter two).

This flaw shines brightly in the first paragraph of her essay when she talks of “our own families, perhaps going back several generations” as guides and inspiration because they “have been fearless.” She mentions, “They may have been immigrants who bravely left the safety of home, veterans who courageously fought in wars, families who endured economic hardships, war, persecution, slavery, oppression, dislocation. We all carry within us this lineage of fearlessness” (Wheatley, 2008, p. 1). I do not here a direct acknowledgement of the people who have lived relatively sustainably with Nature for 99% of human history and what they went through, and how they are the more reliable source (than the Dominant worldview) to understand fearlessness—and pass it on.

Bottomline, one finds no nuanced understanding of fear and fearlessness in Wheatley’s essay and teachings and worse it has no multiperspectival approach to understanding these notions. She makes no effort to question the “reality” and definitions she vaguely offers. The lack of such critical awareness is not what one would expect from a person who is into Buddhism. So, the message to me is that if someone as top-notch as Wheatley is so flawed in her presentation on this topic, what are we getting fed as a public by the rest of the FME teachers out there in the world?

Time to develop our own critical awareness of everyone who teaches some form of FME, even if they don’t believe they are doing so. Fact is, we most all are teaching by modeling, if not more directly through instruction. FME is a socialization phenomena, and a critical one to do well. We have a lot of work to raise the consciousness about the Fear Problem, of which part of it is how we talk, write, and teach about fear itself.

REFERENCES

Fisher, R. M. (2006). Invoking ‘Fear’ Studies. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 22(4), 39-71.

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.

Fisher, R. M. (2016). Invoking fearanalysis: A new methodology applied to wicked problems and paradigm shifts in the Anthropocene. A CSIIE Yellow Paper, DIFS-15. Carbondale, IL: Center for Spiritual Inquiry & Integral Education.

Fisher, R. M. (2016a). 80% of fear discourse focuses on 25% of fear reality. Retrieved from http://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/80-of-fear-discourse-focuses-on-25-of-fear-reality

Fisher, R. M. (2016b). Problem of branding “fearlessness” in education and leadership. Technical Paper No. 59. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris.

Four Arrows (2016). Point of departure: Returning to a more authentic worldview for education and survival. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

 Kleiner, A. (with Wheatley, M. J.) (2007). Fearlessness: The last organizational change strategy. Retrieved from http://www.strategy-business.com/li/leadingideas/li00044?pg=1

 Wheatley, M. (2008). Can I be fearless? Retrieved from margaretwheatley.com/wp-content/.../Wheatley-CanIBeFearless.pdf‎

END NOTES

[1] The importance of this term cannot be overemphasized. It is based on the premise that the only reason any human being wants to know about fear is because they want to manage it more effectively. That has a lot more theoretical basis, which is beyond the scope of this article (see Fisher, 2010). Suffice it to say, I am the only writer using this term. Note, many writers do not explicitly admit their writing is about fear management, never mind fear education and thus, should be critiqued as such.

[2] I basically mean a postmodern, postcolonial, and post-postmodern (integral) upgrade of perspective (see Fisher, 2010).

[3] Excerpt from “A Call to Fearlessness for Gentle Leaders,” from her address at the Shambhala Institute Core Program in June 2006. Published in Fieldnotes, September/October 2006 by The Shambhala Institute for Authentic Leadership, http://www.shambhalainstitute.org/contat/html.

[4] See Kleiner interview with Wheatley (Kleiner, 2007).

[5] I have also been critical over the years of Parker Palmer’s writing on FME, and in the quote he goes from talking about fear (itself) generically as “so fundamental to the human condition that all the great spiritual traditions originate in an effort to overcome its effects on our lives” (cited in Wheatley, 2008, p. 1), but then he goes on to talk about fears (p. 2)—a contagious problem in FME discourses that reduce the nature and role of fear to fears as if this is no categorical problem at all. Again, it is not the purpose of this article to go into the technical details of this reductionism other than to mention it as one other form of an epistemic flaw in the discourse of Palmer, Wheatley and 95% of writers on FME.

[6] Following the principles of integral developmental theory (a la Ken Wilber), one would have to make distinctions about what is a state experience of fearless (and/or fearlessness) and what is a stage of attained development of fearless. The former being an ephemeral experience, the latter being a relatively stable identity and experiential reality (also called nondual stage). I won’t go into the technicalities of this and one is best to turn to study of integral developmental theory to better understand the basis for Wilber being clear about making this distinction which fits reality best (or, at least, I find it a very good theory of explanation).

[7] This is a large topic, I recommend Fisher (2006) for an overview of the culture of fear context/problem.

[8] Similarly, in how she approaches “fear” without defining it adequately, or pointing out the problems in defining it from multiple perspectives and contexts, she makes clumsy errors equally with defining bravery, courage and bravado—as she contrasts these (rightfully) with fearlessness. Again, see Fisher (2010) for an integral theory of fear management systems, whereby, I identify an evolutionary and developmental deep structural model that distinguishes six core systems that counteract “fear” (and ‘fear’): (1) no fear, (2) bravery (and bravado), (3) courage(ousness), (4) fear-less, (5) fearlessness, and (6) fearless.

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I have just co-authored and published "Education, Theology and Fear: Two Priests and a Fearologist in Dialogue" (Technical Paper No. 61)... I highly recommend you check this out at Department of Integral and 'Fear' Studies (scroll down for a free pdf). 

HINT(S) FOR THE WISE

You may be wondering what is Michael up to now with this "theology" kick? 

I have been asking this question really sincerely for the past six months, since I have met both Emmett Coyne and Terry Biddington, the two priests (American, British) who have taken up my work on fear and fearlessness like no others in my career so far. And, yes, more or less, the three of us are discussing what a "theology of fear" (healthy-side, and unhealthy-side) might look like in the 21st century. 

Today, while journaling, I came into a long series of rather spontaneous connections, going way back to my interest in "theodicy" (of Good vs. Evil)... now, and since the 1989 founding of the In Search of Fearlessness Project, Love vs. Fear has been one of the core foundations of me working through what a "metaphysics of fear" could look like. 

That's enough hints... for why you may want to read this dialogue in tech. paper no. 61 ... There will be a lot more coming on this, because it seems "pressing" (or "calling") upon my soul to articulate this better-- much better-- than I have to this point. And, to finally, wet your appetite, the ongoing study of fear ('fear') now 27 years in progress is by any other name a code-word for evil ('evil') -- and, this is big stuff ... it has eluded me, and then revealed itself, and then eluded me -- my forensic fearanalysis is getting better at seeing through what it is I am on about here on this planet... ha ha! 

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As an educator, and as a critic of when certain ideas are promoted as propaganda, and distorted, I have to be concerned. Truly, I'd rather put my attention on more positive productions of my own work on fearlessness, for example. But when it comes to "fear" and our knowledge about it, I am on the path of the sacred warrior real fast. A defender of the dharma, as Ken Wilber has been called. I too am not about to leave knowledge about fear and its management alone--if, I see it is creating more problems than good. Now, the latter is not so easy to prove, and indeed, that's not my task. Other's with funding dollars and research support teams can go out there and prove the harmful effect levels of anything. I don't have that research team nor the resources to do it. I can be a good philosopher however, and that means offering a good critique--of everything. That said, I don't want to waste my time on everything-- I "waste" my time where I think I couldn't live with myself if I didn't say something. That topic of compelling interest is fear (by any other name). 

One major critical philosophical tradition has been to critique ideologies. I am talking about fear-based, fear-mongering distortions of knowledge. Now, there is not a premise in such critiques that persons, or organizations, etc. are consciously trying to reproduce toxic ideologies, nor do they want to do fear-mongering. But everything anyone publishes is potentially doing that if we are not consciously reflecting on what is being taught in discourses (e.g., how do we talk about fear). Well, there is an awful lot of talk about fear and an even greater volume these days of writing about it. I follow books on Amazon.com to watch how quickly a new book comes out on fear--like it seems every few months. All the authors have an agenda, and they want to help us be less afraid, and/or be only afraid of the right things, not the wrong things. That alone, on the surface is admirable and even ethical. But as critical philosophers, since at least Aristotle, have known, you can be right about something but be motivated by the wrong source and create unethical results. Carl Jung is somewhat famous, as a psychotherapist and theorist of the human psyche for his elaboration of the enantiodromia syndrome he found quite universal in most of modern human history and in people he observed. That syndrome boils down to a kind of 'law' of human behavior that goes like this (paraphrasing Jung): Those that try hard to do good end up (usually) doing bad. That is, the opposite results. 

So, if I as a researcher are looking for such syndromes, and I do, there is no greater source of cases of such as in the literature on fear management/education. I won't go into all the reason for why--but a good deal of my arguments can be found in my books and articles over the decades. One of the first steps to such critical analysis (i.e., fearanalysis) is to see how contradictions show up in common sense ("wisdom") of a society, a group, a writer/teacher, etc. So, here's one example that just popped-out at me today while researching new books on fear (the following are from the self-help genre): 

The example is Christian authors (but believe me, if you will, my research could find a similar case in secular writers). So, one author in a new book on fear (Jeanetta Dunlop, Unmasking Fear) writes: "As divine beings we are entitled to live a fear-fear life." 

The next Christian author (David Jeremiah, Slaying the Giants in Your Life), unknowingly, in distinct contradiction to the above author, writes, "The Bible, as a matter of fact, doesn't paint a picture of the fear-free life." 

Okay, I have to ask if I am selecting very specific quotes out of context and juxtaposing them to make my case of a contradiction in Christian teachings (at least by these two authors)? It is a slight possibility I am biasing this because I haven't read their books. I don't know them. I am speculating, but logically so, via a reading of one line of text, which is a "teaching"-- which has implications for readers. I ask, but what is a reader of such texts supposed to believe now? Which author is telling the best truth? I could go on an on as an educator and as part of a critical analysis... asking these questions. My reason for confidence in just how contradictory these authors are (as selected from many possibilities) is because I have read many such books by all kinds of people across as many diverse backgrounds as possible, over 27 years. If that makes me a bit of an expert on predicting where an author is likely going (in most cases, not all)--I can predict pretty well, and I have seen the pattern pretty well. In the self-help books, it seems people skew knowledge the most readily. Hey, we all skew somewhat anything we are passionate about to want to write a book about so we can help others by how we think we have been helped. I appreciate that desire. 

The ideological part of my criticism, however, is less forgiving, because these typical books on fear and its management/education, never critique themselves reflectively. The authors who write about fear don't seem to have that basic philosophical and ethical imperative in their work. I just do not see it (the rare exception is out there). 

I look at how there is so much contradiction about "fearless" these days-- is it good, is it bad? The volumes of teachings on fear and fearlessness is growing rapidly because of the era we are in--people are looking hard, and are quite 'desperate' for answers. Oh, yeah, and rarely do they read other authors and cite them in their own particular book or on their own particular promotional videos. Oh, no, they like to present their knowledge about fear as if it is their own great discovery, and if it worked for them then it will work for you. They are quick to flaunt their own philosophies. 

I think I've made my general point, of how this mess... of contradictions... and insufficiently good knowledge, often unethical knowledge... is splattering all over our children and parents, and so on... all over our societies... at least in the West. The East doesn't seem so obsessed with this. And my colleague in the philosophy of fearism (Desh Subba) tells me it is because the W. is much more fearful than the East. Now, there's an interesting thesis to test... as years go by. 

No, I'm not offering any advice on my critique here. You can ask if you want to know more. I'd rather, like you to think about it, and do your own research well, whenever someone says something about fear and its management as if they know what they are talking about. 

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The obvious electric condition of affect flowing in the USA and a lot of Europe (at least) these days comes from the recent "terrorist attacks" in France and recently California... linked to ISIL Organization and the movement for a radicalization of the Islamic State conception (not all that different, but more publicized, than the Zionist State conception of the official Israeli government). And one could find another 20 or so "rogue state" types of organizations or "nations" in the world that are one way or another fighting for their right to exist, to critique the hegemony and status quo and defend themselves against the oppressive larger states and their enemies. 

I open with this rather cold-hearted political analysis of what is going on. I am not going to continue such a sociopolitical, geographical or historical analysis of the problem of "terrorism" (some call "freedom fighting") as many would call it in the mainstream, certainly in the USA. Rather, you may see that I am viewing the current (and ongoing) crisis as political and psychological, philosophical and theological, sociological and historical... all at once. There is criminal activity going on and "justice" (usually as revenge killing) going on. I find the whole mess of conceptions, perspectives and barbaric actions on 'both sides' an indicator of how sick our world has become in handling conflict, in handling views totally different, and views that are suppressed by the dominant. Don't forget to listen to the recent state address Pres. Obama gave in response to these recent rising attacks on European and American soil. Obama is, like 99.9999% of Americans dedicated to "wipe out" any such organization (e.g., ISIL is the latest target) that is against the USA policies, values, capitalist and military expansionism and its claim to exceptionalism via its claim to moral superiority, and a free democracy. 

Let me turn, and say, from a fearanalysis, from a perspective of fearlessness... any system that cuts off another part of its own system (i.e., a world system) and claims that it is to be "wiped out" by any means (be clear, there is not need in times like this for the USA military might to follow any kind of legal or just framework or attention to human rights or international codes of ethical war conduct... not for a second is that mentioned in Obama's speech... he actually is out to punish and kill people without a trial (a justification beneath all capital punishment regimes)... listen to the calm voice and rhetoric, it is very clear, as it was similarly when former Pres. Bush Jr. called for an equal revenge and the pres. of France recently did like wise--oh, you are able to do that once you declare "war" on some organization, some state, etc. This my friends, is the way we in the West do leadership even from so-called liberal or democratic governments. This is sadly how far we've come in what we have learned went so wrong with the American response to 9/11. 

Let me turn again, to focus down to the question I raise for the Fearlessness Movement (a global phenomenon: see

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Fear_educator/sandbox)... What role has fearlessness and fearless leadership to play in the current rise of actions and reactions to terror(ism)? Obviously, it has a huge role. First, any fear-based means of trying to control ("manage") or destroy ("wipe out") terror(ists) and terror(ism) and organizations that use fear to terrorize... all will fail. That is what the philosophy of fearism (and fearlessness) argues... at great length... in most all of my publications for 26 years and in the recent book by Desh Subba and myself coming out soon.

Yet, that may still sound abstract to many, unfortunately, who have not chosen to study my work or Subba's and who have ignored the experience of the ineffectiveness of fighting terror with fear-based means (e.g., punishment and terrorizing, revenge killing, wars, acts of injustice that are rationally and cooly justified, e.g., Pres. Obama's latest speech to the American public). Again, in this one blog I only introduce this topic for the FM ning. I am not propounding out a philosophy or theory that itself cannot be challenged. I wish it would be. I'd love to argue, dialogue, conflict, and grow with others sincerely engaged in such a discourse, seriously engaged in asking ourselves if we want to learn something "new" about the way terror(ism) moves in societies, and in the world systems of today. I know there are hundreds if not thousands of arguments, journal articles, research studies, philosophical and political critiques... but to this day (although I have not read them all), I see nothing "new" or anything I'd call a fearlessness approach. I'll stop, and await to see who else may want to join this discussion (oh, and feel free to set up a FORUM on this site for this very topic).

Journaling on this all this morning, and lamenting on the repetitive failed-strategies to solve a "Wicked Problem" (see two blogs prior)... wouldn't it have been so nice to hear Pres. Obama truly say somethings different--truly re-frame the problem differently--at a higher (mature) integral level guided by fearlessness? Oh, he says bluntly, he is not attacking ISIL out of fear, for that is what the terrorists would want. Cooly, bravely, as only American males are so good at on camera, he says, we will do what needs to be done to "keep Americans safe." Which will not of course happen, as we saw in the past 14 yrs... terror only moves and morphs, going further below the surface... and the violence that goes with it... and the more you try to wipe it out... the more it duplicates and spreads in more difficult ways to detect and to stop. Okay, wouldn't it have been nice to hear the president say, "All of the recent tragedies, and crimes, have left the world, and certainly many Western nations with a great dilemma.... a great problem we have not yet figured out how to solve but solve we must. It is the Fear Problem. If we don't stop the Fear Problem we will not stop the Terror Problem. Fearism (as toxic-fear made ideological weaponry) is after all, that which operates under terrorism. Let's all take moments to reflect critically on our own part in "THE TERROR THAT COMES TO VISIT US" that is, where, why, how... and less ought we focus on only the criminals of these acts of mass murders... even though, a part of us wants to hate their hate towards us."

And after my fantasy Pres. Obama speech, I am thinking and asking myself: So, Michael, are you saying, as it appears above, that whatever organization of thoughts, values and actions that exists, has a right to exist, because it exists? Yes, I guess I am saying that. It seems the only ethical coherent fearlessness philosophy that will bring sanity back. Notice, at no point, have I condoned in that right to exist (the opposite of "wiping them out") that such acts are free from social challenge and free from scrutinized, informed judgments by those whom we entrust (e.g., court systems--even if imperfect). Such discernment, sometimes judgements on ethical and legal grounds are necessary for sociality of systems--yet, they ought to be non-fear-based as we decide to to label things "criminal" or "not"... now, that all get's more complicated, for sure and a good theory of fear and fearlessness is essential to guide that process. But declaring war on everything that is totally different than your set of ideas, values, etc. is no way to end the cycle of Domination-Conflict-Fear-Violence that is really 'killing' us all... 

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"Wicked Problem(s)" is a term that Watkins & Wilber (2015) use in juxtaposition to the term "Wise" (for wisdom applied) (1). Wicked is potentially 'evil' (live, spelled backwards) because of the immense destructivity it carries individually and collectively. So, the other meaning is extremely difficult--challenging, to solve. For reasons, less-restimulating around "wicked" (in our W. historical past) and thus, not feeding into the growing excesses of mounting of fear people are already downloading and storing everyday, I'll take the useful 'call out' from W & W (2015) in their welcomed new book and just call these W-problems. W-problems can stand for a whole lot of things--like, world's problems--that is, problems seen from a worldcentric stance (worldview) (2). The subtitle of W & W's book is "How to Solve the World's Toughest Problems." Unfortunately, as I wish to report how their model of the Integral matrix is key in my work as well, they have (like most everyone) left out the toughest of the toughest of problems to solve in the world today (4)--you guessed it--the Fear Problem. Btw, check my latest book coming out in a few weeks on this problem (3). 

A couple things about their book which I admit I have not read it, but I read the last couple pages, which is typically of me--last is first--then, I know what I am getting into that will affect my decision to read the whole book or not. But before I go into the Integral matrix discussion they enter around "climate change" (a big W-problem), I want to say it is a delight to see Wilber is still going strong in writing (5) (as he has been "off" publishing for near a decade more or less) and has in 2014 "co-founded Source Integral and began developing the Integral Society initiative, which in collaboration with recognized global experts, will demonstrate how to develop human societies in the most comprehensive manner possible" (p. 296. This is the first book Wilber has written so extensively with another author on "solving" problems (applied). I think he has come to see that all his theory books and philosophy writings have now come to be ready to be more applied than ever as the W-problems are heating up. Good for him and his crew. And, I think the dedication of the book is worth quoting, not only to represent Wilber's worldcentric stance (or "Integral stance", see p. 293) but to show where W & W (and the Integral Movement) is coming from (at least, by noble intention): 

"We would like to dedicate this book to all those men and women around the world who look beyond their own needs and what they might want in life and serve a greater purpose than themselves. The people who can see that all of the issues we face, even problems within their own family, are our problems not 'yours' or 'mine.' Such a[n] [Integral, systems] stance reveals a deep understanding of the fact that we are not separate from each other and solving the world's toughest problems will need all of us." 

Well, such a dedication is clarifying at the general level, and it is not unfamiliar to me, as many authors have said such things. I would like to clarify the language with a little critique (I'll be brief). First, W & W have not, unfortunately, tuned-up to a language of the postmodern re: gender as they are using a very old binary of "men and women" and they say "look beyond their own needs" which is really, more accurately, for some of us working at worldcentric (Integral stance) like myself never seemingly possible as I live at the poverty-line, as I know other such individuals do. W & W obviously do not either know what that is like to live on the 'edge' or they are oblivious that it is an important factor for some of us at worldcentric operations in our work. So, "beyond" really ought to be clarified more accurately as "include their own needs" but do so within the context that "their own" also means the "world's needs" simultaneously. Lastly, they ought not to have used "not 'yours' or 'mine'" because, again, as I made my point above, the problems are both/and-- very much mine and very much the world's problems. I think a more integral-language could have been used for the otherwise lovely Dedication. 

The main point of this post is to move to the last pages of the W & W book (i.e., Appendix 6: Environmental Dimensions of Climate Change). Note, even if "climate change" is the signified W-problem, I believe both W & W would be in agreement to say that most all of the generalizations (theory) applied in Appendix 6 could be applied to any W-problem in the book and beyond what's in the book. I make that assumption. The most important reason I make that assumption is because of my interest in applying the "Integral matrix" (p. 292) more or less in my critical integral fearology work. I have been doing this for some 20+ years. I have also not been able to convince Wilber that my work is important, meaning, that my/our/world work on the Fear Problem is qualifying of dignity as a W-problem. Again, it is ignored in this latest book, and Wilber well knows that I have introduced him to my work on this problem since the early 1990s (we corresponded). Be that as it may, let me proceed to make the linkages so you may see (perhaps) how powerful the Integral matrix and vision-logic (apersperspectival-integral consciousness) and worldcentric worldview is when applied to "fear" (i.e., the World's Fear Problem). Fearology, as I have crafted it over the decades, is as "wicked" of a methodology (a W-methodology) as is the W-problems--in particular, Fear Problem (see Fisher, 2010 (6)).

I agree with W & W that the book Integral Ecology is "brilliant" (p. 292). Esbjorn-Hargens & Zimmerman (2009) produced an outstanding Integral assessment of the ecological and environmental problem(s) and the many diverse (often conflicting) individuals and groups trying to solve it. The assumption behind their book, following Wilber's basic Integral matrix conceptualization, is that (citing Esbjorn-Hargens) "No single method (e.g., level) can by itself 'see' or reveal climate change in its entirety." W & W reiterate (via Wilber's words) "You can't [realistically] honor various methods and fields, without showing how they fit together. That is how to make a genuine world philosophy." (p. 296). Integral matrix framework provides (arguably) the only and best truly Integral approach that values all the perspectives, fields, methods, and organizes them into a wise and compassionate model (a "theory of everything"; see, e.g., Wilber, 1996 (7)). Shift to the analogy (homology) of E & Z from "ecology" to "fearology"--and, at that point, everything you think you know about "fear" is about to change into multi-dimensional wickedness (dare, I say). And, I agree with E & Z and W & W that: "... our point in all of this is that wicked problems are wicked primarily because they are not approached from an equally wicked, complex, encompassing [i.e., aperspectival] multi-dimensional Integral stance" (p. 293).

I would add to this claim, which the "Integrals" never themselves seem to fully appreciate or write about, that anything less than such an Integral stance is one that is more fear-based than not, epistemologically. I make a long arduous case for that in my new book (see e.n. 3) and in all my publications on fearology. So, to again, play-off the work of W & W in Appendix 6, I am arguing that the human Fear Problem has never been solved, and fear ('fear') and fearism continue to plague us and distort our motivations (among other things). Continually, W & W call for this "subjective side" in our analysis and solutions to W-problems. E & Z did so as well, and they found in the literature, that over 200+ "ecologies" (i.e., "schools of ecology") can be identified (p. 292)--and, until we identify and embrace them, give them space on the table of legitimate partial truths in understanding the Big Ecology Problem-- there will be little and only fragmented progress solving the environmental (i.e., ecological) aspects of any problem, especially "climate change." Same with the Big Fearology Problem--and, I have not yet had the resources to classify the 200+ fearologies that exist, that is "schools" of thought in how they frame meaning of and identify the problem with "fear" (as a start). Each, more or less, with their own worldviews, own values, beliefs, facts, and so on. So, to conclude, if I get the support, I will lead this Integral matrix and stance further to study the Fear Problem--which is the motivational--I mean meta-motivational dynamic behind all the other problems (more or less) that W & W raise in their book. And yes, I too (theoretically) believe "Only by using an Integral Framework can we get a complete handle on the full extent of the challenge that climate change [fear problem] presents" (p. 293). 

So my friends, I trust this will give you a better understanding of the Fearlessness Movement and its work ahead. I end with Wilber (2015) from the Preface of W & W, which says in general what my whole blogpost here is about (except I would add "fearlessness" to the list of "more"): 

"The hope of both Alan and myself is that by using a more expanded, more inclusive 'Integral Coherence' model, a great range of new areas, dimensions, methods, fields, and approaches will be made available to you for a more comprehensive approach to whatever problems you might be facing--from the simplest to the most complex and wicked" (p. xvi)

End Notes

1. Watkins, A., and Wilber, K. (2015). Wicked and wise: How to solve the world's toughest problems. Chatham, Kent: Urbane Public. Ltd. 

2. Worldcentric, for simple identification, is a term Wilber particularly likes to use as operating when a personal or system/organization is focusing its attention, values, needs, actions, toward not just the body, self, ethnic/social grouping or institution, but the world (i.e., a global internationalist perspective, but also an ecological whole systems perspective that is evolutionary at its core). This level is developmentally called post-conventional in terms of (at least) cognition, affect, and moral capacities. Often it is called "integral" for short. See Wilber, the integral philosopher and theorist, in most any of his books, for more detail analysis of the different levels/stages of development. 

3. Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (2015). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris. 

4. The other thing I do before I even read the last pages of a book is to glance through the Index. I look for words like affect, anxiety, fear, terror(ism) and not a one of those terms shows up in the Index. That's not a good sign, in terms of a book on so-called W-problems. I think my point of this quickie fearanalysis will come through in the text above especially in terms of how the authors continually state how important "motivation" is in order to analyze and solve W-problems. 

5. This latest short bio on KW says, "... with 25 books translated into some 30 foreign languages... [he] is in the process of writing and publishing half a dozen new books" (p. 295)--now, that's impressive with someone struggling with all the physical limitations (and aging) he has to work with daily. You can look up Wilber's disease and such on the Internet (e.g., Ken Wilber, on Wikipedia as a start). 

6. I summarized my work (albeit, only a partial Integral matrix approach with focus on stages/levels) in a critical integral theory applied to fear and its management (via fearlessness) in 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.

7. Wilber, K. (1996). Brief history of everything. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

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Whether you're a professional, semi-pro, or natural caregiver and helper (consultant, coach, friend, lover, etc.), there are some interesting things to be aware of if you want to develop a mature ("fearless") practice. This is a complex topic when it comes to the relationship of fear and fearlessness to ethics, and a book or two needs to be written some day on that. However, in the mean time, of practical matters, I did find a starting thread of wisdom from a pretty interesting practitioner/writer by the name of Cedar Barstow, in a very readable book Right Use of Power: The Heart of Ethics (A Resource for the Helping Professional) (2008, Many Realms Publishing, Boulder, CO). I was particularly pleased in finding this book on a shelf at a house I am currently staying in Courtenay, BC, where the author Barstow uses Ken Wilber's (integral theory) substantially for her model of ethical development. Very cool.

I picked one page from the book to share here (in extract adaptations) around the issue of "counter-transference" issues in helping relationships. The theory and research done on how clients react to helpers and how helpers then react to client's reactions is one of an important piece of understanding to gain and mastery to utilize effectively. I'll not elaborate on all that here unless you ask (also feel free to elaborate for all of us on the FMning if you wish in your own Comments). To say the least, there is an enormous interchange of visible and invisible affect between people in helping relationships and most of us in these has a lot to learn about that.

The issue of counter-transference (as driver and dynamic of perceptions, thoughts, and actions), I will add, is a topic I have researched for a long time going back to my dissertation years when I gave a paper at a conference on the topic and how researchers (of all kinds) also need to be aware of their counter-transference with certain topics under the research lens (of course, I was taking the example of researching "fear itself" as a subject). Again, I won't go into that here. 

So, Barstow (2008, p. 131; citing J. M. Watkin's work) interestingly outlines 6 major issues/problems/challenges in counter-transference processes, which she calls "patterns" (and I easily could call them all technically 'fear' patterns; Counselor's Fears, is another way of saying it simplistically) [bold added for emphasis other than the beginning of the sentences]: 

"(1) Being overprotective of client. A client can trigger the counselor's fears. The counselor steers the client away from areas that trigger the counselor's painful material [unhealed painful memories = 'fear' patterns]... [I used to call this the core of all co-dependency patterns that are unhealthy in relationships, that is, the agreed obvious or the yet discovered agreement made between two people (or more) that goes something like this: "I promise not to bring up your fears if you don't bring up mine." ]

(2) Treating clients in benign ways. The counselor has fears of the client's anger. To guard against this anger, the counselor creates superficiality ... [reduces to] friendly conversation"... [this is more or less, "fear of destructivity" - pain, loss, deconstruction, etc.]

(3) Rejection of clients. The counselor, seeing the client as needy and dependent, moves away, remains cools and aloof, and does notlet the client get too close" [this is more or less "fear of intimacy" as problem for the counselor; that is, not trusting themselves in the depths of the world of intimacy with anyone]

(4) Need for reinforcement and approval. The counselor needs to be reassured of their effectiveness. If the client is not getting better, the counselor has fears and self doubts." [this is more or less "fear of failure"]

(5) Seeing self in the client. The counselor [over-]identifies with the client to the point of losing objectivity. They may see in the client traits that the counselor dislikes in themself. A 'difficult' client [is labeled]..." [and often rejected or abandoned by the counselor, more or less subtlely] [this is more or less "fear of one's shadow" and/or another's shadow]

(6) Development of sexual or romantic feelings. The counselor can exploit the vulnerable position of the client, consciously or unconsciously." [this is more or less "fear of losing control" and becoming subordinated to the power of the client]

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For as useful as this awareness is, there is still a much larger context we need to bring into an integrally aware caregiving/helping practice-- it is not just about "me" and "them" (or "you" or "we") it is also about the "world" (all the contexts, systems, of which I and we operate) (especially, if one is a "cultural therapist" as I claim for myself)-- that's what Wilber calls the "It" of the triad with "I" and "We" perspectives. Okay, may this awareness bring forward more dialogue on the role of fear (and of course, dialectically, fearlessness) in helping practices. This is core foundational work in my experience, and those that avoid it (the above) are more or less caught in "fear of ethics" -- and that's a higher level problem isn't it?

I did note in scanning this entire book by Barstow that she uses "fear" sparingly throughout and does not use "fearlessness" at all. I always thought that any integral theory and developmental map/design of ethical development has to be based on fearlessness (i.e., more or less non-fear-based)--and likewise any helping/caring that is healthy in the long run. Of course, the practical world is one filled with people "helping" and "caring" and "loving" by means that are less than fearlessness. That is a serious problem to overcome, without condemning anyone for 'where they are at', in my view. 

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I recently came across an abstract from a fellow presenting at the 2014 Jean Gebser conference. I was intrigued with its focus on the role of fear in cultural evolution (and consciousness itself). Although the abstract only gives a cursory view of the presumably Gebserian perspective presented on fear, it lays out some strong claims that I think we all ought to examine critically. Gebser, in short, is highly regarded as an important philosopher-theorist by many integral thinkers of today, especially Ken Wilber has honored and cited his work. So, here is the abstract which may bring up dialogue among us, notably, there is no discussion of fearlessness with fear in a dialectical sense. 

Excerpted from http://www.gebser.org/conference/

THE UNKNOWN, FEAR, AND THE UNCANNY

Rick Muller, PhD (2014)

Fear initiates human action. Humans at their core attempt to avoid fear by creating a world of comfort, safety and familiarity. That is why responses to fear, the unexpected and the unknown, are so overwhelming. Research suggests the residual effect of fear lasts longer than that of pleasure among humans. Is this a fundamental biologically encoded reaction? If so it initiates modern humans to move experiences and objects from the mental category of the unknown/feared into the mental category of the known. Doing so creates familiarity, safety, protection and the illusion of control. The historical artifacts of this process include rituals, taboos, social and familial structures, belief, dogmas, religion, law and science. All are reactions; all are protections from the ever-present inherent sense of fear, the unknown, the invisible and the ineffable.

To understand modernity or what [Jean] Gebser refers to as the mental rational requires one to have a greater sense of how the archaic/magic contributes to humanity’s response to fear. This paper suggests that fear is an initiating factor and an underlying foundation for human choice; one that affects the structuring of community, society, religion, values and ethics. One modern effort to covertly undermine the residual certainty of Gebser’s mental rational, of the Enlightenment, of Romanticism, of the Industrial and Scientific revolutions comes from within the mental rational itself. The uncanny, while predominantly mental and psychological in nature, continues to bore out of the core of modernity creating a space for the archaic, magic and mythic attributes to flourish within a fading western mental rational construction of the human world.

The ongoing disintegration of certainty frees the inherent fears from their protective structures to irrupt into individual human consciousness and everyday life. Fear, the unknown, the fear of the unknown and in modernity the fear of the perceived known continues to rattle the foundations of belief, creation, personal and collective behavior. Western anxiety is born of the social and cultural byproducts that were meant to protect humanity from fear. But do these protections and structures actually protect; if so, from what? What occurs when the protective membrane disintegrates, dissipates, becomes transparent? Death?

Rick Muller, Ph.D., is affiliate professor at Regis University’s (Denver, CO) Rueckert-Hartman College of Health Professions where he teaches accounting, finance and economics for the master’s degree in nursing program. His most recent publications include using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and Ignatian Pedagogy Model for Improved Learning in Jesuit Higher Education, May 2014]; Hitting the Financial Knowledge Target in Nursing Management, October 2013 and he provided editorial assistance for an article about the current issues confronting Venezuela (April 2014) in Winds and Waves, the magazine for the Institute of Cultural Affairs International.

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"Fear initiates human action. Humans at their core attempt to avoid fear by creating a world of comfort, safety and familiarity."

The prior blog I posted echoes these kind of claims, as the above quote, (typical of Desh Subba's philosophy of fearism; see my prior blogs), and sets the stage for human culture's use/management of "fear" to continue to motivate us--but in what way does it motivate us? When is it healthy? When is it pathological? How would we know the difference? The latter, is the more important question.

I am not saying fear does not motivate us. I have been writing about the down-side to this, particularly because we tend to (primarily) focus on fear and not fearlessness in history, development and cultural evolutions. If "fear is an initiating factor" and foundation for human choice, as Muller suggests (and Gebser must likely imply), we still have the problem unaddressed in this abstract as to what are we talking about when we use "fear" and is it as complete and integral enough of an understanding (and does it have a deconstruction-reconstruction critique built-in) to be useful to the 21st century and where cultural evolution seems to be going (or where it is perhaps enmeshed in a pathology that will take us all out)... just a few quick thoughts... Someone really needs to study Gebser's work and see what he directly has said about the role of fear and how that supports or doesn't a Subbaian philosophy of fearism. 

 

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For decades I have been arguing that our society (I mean in the W. world, at least) has a very confused sense of definitions and meanings about both "fear" and "fearlessness." It has been disturbing to see W. scientists of a variety of kinds attempting to construct a research construct whereby "fearlessness" (or "fearless") is pathological. The accusations, in this particular biased framing, has led to linking fearlessness in individuals with highly aggressive/violent behavior, and most recently I came across a couple recent journal articles that link "fearlessness" to higher rates of suicide (see references below). 

IF there is one 'enemy' of the Fearlessness Movement, it is this confusion. For sure, you'll also find Westerners also liking the concept of fearlessness and giving it a positive value attribution, but then you can find just as many folks giving it a negative one, and no more is the latter evident than in the W. sciences and fields like criminology, for e.g. This latest set of studies linking fearlessness to suicide is in my view very twisted with a biased conception that mis-uses the term "fearlessness" and doesn't define it in terms of all the literature on fearlessness E. and W. from many cultures, including spiritual traditions (e.g., Sacred Warriorship). I won't go on and on, but to point out this problem as a reminder of what we are up against in promoting the Fearlessness Movement (and it is not that I want us to not critique fearlessness notions, but I do want us to do so by being informed of a much larger data base than what is presented by W. scientists). 

References: 

Bryan, C. J., and Cukrowicz, K. C. (2011). Associations between types of combat violence and the acquired capacity for suicide. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 4(2), 126-36. 

Witte, T. K., Correia, C. J., and Angarano, D. (2013). Experience with euthanasia is associated with fearlessness about death in veterinary students. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 43(2), 125-38.

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