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safety and security (5)

For a book video trailer (click here)

To purchase the book online: Fear, Law and Criminology

We are (as co-authors), excited to see that our new book is available (by Xlibris publishing, Australia). This is the first book in a series of books that are going to be published over several years, as each one takes on a topic or critical issue in the world and applies the philosophy of fearism (a la Subba) to it. The original dialogues behind the making of this new book are all posted here on the FM ning and have been slightly modified in this new book, along with a lot of new material as well. We thought we'd include here the summary text from the back cover of the book and our brief bios: 

Fear, Law and Criminology -With the growing awareness of many critics of "risk society," the "culture of fear" and the dangerous rising levels of unhealthy fear around individual, group, and public insecurities, three keen observers of the human condition have joined experiences, theories, and ideas to create a fresh vision for how best to look at the Fear Problem and how Law and Criminology may benefit from a new lens or perspective.

The authors, with their backgrounds in the study of the philosophy of fearism (a la Subba), bring a new lens to Law and Criminology, to social policies, politics, and policing and how best to improve enforcement of safety, security, and moral order. The fearist perspective of a philosophy of fearism creates an exciting, challenging, and sometimes radical position, whereby the authors argue that fear itself requires a concerted focus for analysis and solutions--that is, if Law and Criminology are to fully meet the highest standards of serving justice for all in a globalizing complicated world. 

Going beyond the simple fear of crime or fear of policing issues commonly dealt with in discourses about law, the philosophy of fearism offers other concepts with a rich vocabulary introduced in this book, one of which is the introduction of a new subdiscipline called fearcriminalysis. Readers will find, in addition to the main text as collective writing of the three coauthors, several fresh dialogues of the three authors in conversation, which bring their individual personalities, philosophies, and approaches into a weaving of differenes and similarities. Overall, they each agree that fear has been underestimated and often misinterpreted in Law and Criminology, and this has resulted, at times, in exacerbating insecurity, crime, and injustice in the world. 

 

R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D., Adjunct Faculty, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, AB, is a Canadian philosopher, educator and fearologist, having studied fear from a transdisciplinary perspective for three decades. He is founder of The Fearology Institute, a professional training program, and author of hundreds of articles and several books, including The World's Fearlessness Teachings.

Desh Subba, livess in Hong Kong. He is a Nepali philosopher, poet, writer and founder of the philosophy of fearism and Fearism Study Center in Nepal. Author of several books and articles, his pivotal award-winning textbook is Philosophy of Fearism. 

B. Maria Kumar, living in India, is a long-term career police officer, recently retired as Director General of Police in Bhopal. He has published many books, such as Policing By Common Sense, and To Be or Not to Be Happy.

 

 

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I want to share a short excerpt from a new fearism book in progress, hopefully it will come out this late autumn. The book is entitled: Fear, Law and Criminology: Critical Issues in Applying the Philosophy of Fearism co-authored by R. Michael Fisher, Desh Subba and B. Maria Kumar. This book started with the project I initiated earlier this year on creating a series of dialogues with Desh and Maria on a new sub-discipline I coined as fearcriminalysis... now to the excerpt from the Introduction chapter of the new book: 

 "Overall, on first glance upon the earth, too many people and other species are not protected enough from suffering. Humanity is still striving to bring safety and security to such victims; yet, equally it seems humanity is unwinding the sacred freedoms, rights and securities faster and faster each day. Oppression and violence growing rapidly is a symptom of such desecration of basic needs of so many. Nuclear (arms) development, global killer diseases, starvation, mass human displacements, global warming, extreme weather crises, and mass species extinctions with ecological deterioration are bringing new fears and insecurities to humanity. The future is more precarious by the day. Youth are particularly ‘hit’ by this reality, as we see stresses upon them overwhelming and youth suicide rates in many countries are skyrocketing.[i] Excess fear and insecurities grows—a “climate of fear” or a “culture of fear”[ii] have been pronounced by many critics as the no. 1 problem humanity has to resolve. Generally, people don’t feel trusting or safe! It is this very condition of growing insecurities globally that no doubt has motivated us as co-authors to apply fearism to law and criminology. Maybe we can begin to bring some new insights and solutions to these ominous problems.   

Safety and security as basic needs is like mother’s milk or apple pie. How could it not be a valuable thing (like love itself) to warrant being protected with the ethical fibre of our existence? The likeability and instinctual response to value safety and security is not what is in question here. Law, in principle, is primarily oriented to such protection, just as are government sponsored “vaccine” programs. Recent raging debates and a general loss of public trust in vaccines, that is, an increase in “fear of vaccines,” is a huge international topic and has analogous lessons for the debates and general loss of public trust in governance and policing as “fear of crime” and “fear of police” increases. Yet, as critical thinkers and co-authors we also have to question the ‘sacred cow’ so to speak. No “need” ought to be given such sacred status/privilege or priority that it becomes unquestionable in its reign, where no voice of critique can be raised. It is that moment when we are facing silencing. In that moment we are likely confronted not by argumentation of common sense or logical propositions for survival and wellbeing but something more like ideology. Philosophers typically sense ideology and challenge it before others. We sense “safety and security” today is being usurped from its good side, to becoming another football for dominant ideologies to compete—to win."[iii]

 

[i] Yip (2010).

[ii] See a summary of these concepts and reference literature on Wikipedia, for example, and/or see Fisher & Subba (2016), pp. ii, xxiv-xxv, xxvii, xxviii, 22, 55-57, 66, 67, 93, 104, 112.

[iii] It is beyond the purpose of this discussion in the Introduction to go into it, but many astute critics have argued that the major colonizing and globalizing ideology of neoliberalism is today greatly shaping economics, politics, education and culture (e.g., see Giroux, 2014). 

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There's a good series of blogposts by academic/psychologist Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D., on "primal wounding" and its relationship to fear, addictions and many of the problems we face as societies, especially in the West today. I have copied an excerpt on how she speaks about fear in relation to primal wounding (trauma): [for the full article go to: http://kindredmedia.org/2018/01/tales-primally-wounded/ ; and you'll find links to the 6 part series]

"A primally-wounded society is filled with fear-promoting stories.

Stories, tales or narratives guide all societies. “We people” stories are passed down from generation to generation. Shared stories are part of what a culture entails (along with shared practices and shared beliefs). In the past, wise elders and designated storytellers held the society together with stories that humanized animals and promoted social cooperation, contributing to group survival.

Note that these stories decreased fear and focused attention on group goals for flourishing.

Fantasyland: A Nation of Primally-Wounded People, Part Four in the Series

We live in a different era now, one in which elders have been displaced by bureaucratic systems of control, systems that tell tales to increase fear—fear of stepping out of their bounds.

When storytelling is taken over by high-powered and moneyed interests, fear promotion becomes dominant. These stories seem true because they have been repeated so often. We are shamed if we question them and eventually we self-censor our higher aspirations, succumbing to the heart-numbing tales, keeping the system alive through our action or inaction.

We primally wounded people are especially susceptible to fear-promoting narratives. We are trying to escape primal pain and alleviate distrust with some certainty somewhere. Fearmongering tales give us certainty."

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Ecology of Fear: Invoking the Primal Foundations

Prairie Falcon - predator - ecology of fear 

Some of you may know that I am a "birder" (naturalist) and have been seriously (off and on) for 50 years. My deep connection to the land and ecological relationships of all things, more or less, began when I was a small child barely able to walk. I loved being outdoors in Nature, and my most important character-shaping years from 2-8 years old were at an old house we lived in on the escarpment of the Bow River valley. I literally walked 30 meters from my back door into the "wilderness" of the escarpment community of plants and animals--that is, the "prairie" biome, as it is called by ecologists. The escarpment is an 'extreme landscape' so steep and erodes and can landslide easily, so cities cannot build on these places, and they thus tend to become "natural areas" carrying the diversity of plants and animals that are not possible in the rest of the urban landscape/city today. This area and my interactions with the environment of the "prairie" shape my life--I have an 'escarpment personality.' Btw, Just two days ago, I was "slow birding" on a hill and spotted a "Prairie Falcon" which I studied for several hours up close as it was hunting ground squirrels along a major highway going through the city (of Calgary). I'll return later in this blogpost to why I practice "birding," still to this day, in order to become a better fearologist. I recommend "birding" (i.e., "naturalizing")[1] to everyone, but especially to budding fearologists.

Me With Spotting Scope - Campbell Hill, N.E. Calgary                -photo by Barbara Bickel 2017

If you have followed my research on "fear" (and 'fear') at all, you'll have picked-up my ongoing interest in developing a very important primal foundation for the basis of fearological work. Fearology itself as an inter-/trans-disciplinary study has to be able to engage all sorts of discourses and disciplines and traditions that have something to say about fear management/education. Fearologists of the future have to have some regard and competencies (as much as possible) to 'speak' to researchers, practitioners and others who come at the topic of fear from many directions and perspectives, for e.g., the physiologist-biologist, the evolutionary behaviorist, the psychologist, sociologist, philosopher, artist, architect, political scientist, cultural studies scholar and so on. Having an extensive vocabulary and basic knowledge of these fields of study and their approach to fear takes a lot of years to develop. For e.g., as well as there being new scholarship available recently on "ecology of fear," one can find similarly on the "sociology of fear," "geography of fear" and on and on... My goal has been to be able to have some confidence to speak to them all and at least show them I respect their views from their particular biases, and yet, as an integral-based fearologist it is my aim to not be overly-dominated by any of these views and their inevitable biases--and, that is because they are not holistic-integral perspectives in and of themselves. Rare is it to find someone who has a holistic-integral perspective. Now, to the question and focus of this blog:

What has the ecology of fear discourse to offer to the field of fear management/education, at least from the point of view of the integral fearologist (i.e., my point of view)? 

FYI, my first love of learning in high school was in grade 10 when I became very curious with biology, the living science, as it helped to explain so many things I had experienced in my body and in Nature for many years prior. I pursued two post-secondary degrees thereafter, one in Biological Sciences (Ecology Option) and one in Environmental Biology (specialized in zoology and ecology) between 1972-1978. So, it is quite natural in the later years of my life, after several other career tracks, to return to this bio-ecological science background I have because it is my most profound ongoing experiential base of real-life empirical "practices" and "knowing" that I will argue is most primal (natural). To understand "fear" well, in all its holistic dynamics, the fearologist has to be in-touch (in some ways) with the primal-instinctual and Natural domain of reality, and to do so without that domain being totally submerged and conflated with the Cultural and Spiritual domains of reality. I became fascinated with psychology, culture and spirituality much later in life.

The integral fearologist keeps a 'balance' (integration) of the three domains of knowing and reality (NCS), and does not privilege any one of them over the others but rather respects their differences and similarities in an evolutionary sense-- whereby (arguably) the Natural is the oldest and wisest in terms of how to "survive" well and sustainably on this planet that depends on ecological healthy relations/systems. The Cultural is next oldest (and not very old at all) and Spiritual follows as the youngest and advancement and corrective on the problems that the Cultural realm creates--that's a more complex evolutionary theory I utilize and will not go into here.

A lot of the contextual influence regarding my interest recently in an ecology of fear has come from tracking experts (i.e., bird language study by the teacher Jon Young [2]) and "Indigenous" philosophy/worldview and "primal awareness" practices through my 10-year study of the 71 year old teacher Four Arrows' and his scholarship and practices (as I am currently writing an intellectual biography on his life and work) [3]. Oh, and for those of you wishing to see other things I have published on this topic of ecology of fear see the resources in Notes [4]. There are many topics one could cover, and I'll have to focus on only one here--the ecology of fear and/or the "ecology of predator-prey relations." 

So, there is a long evolutionary discourse (both W. science and Indigenous prior) that have articulated the importance value of pre-human species and their ecological relationships--because they are in a sense our "ancestors" and some of them have lived for many tens if not hundreds of millions of years. The principle point of this research and knowing is to say that any wise human ought to listen well, and learn well, from its "ancestors" and what they learned about fear and its management on this planet since the beginning of life--and thus, in some way, arguably, the beginning of fear. Life in fact makes that "life" vulnerable to extinction (i.e., death). So, the complex, evolutionary, and ecological relationship of fear to survival (i.e., our instincts and motivations to live)--are primal foundational curriculum material for any fearologist. 

The particular study (dubbed in the last 30 years) "ecology of fear" (or "ecology of predator-prey relations") is one I find particularly useful to study. It has many implications for the human world as well. Ecologists are starting to address just how important the ecological systems (i.e., living and non-living things and processes) are impacted greatly by predator-prey relations (i.e., in simple language, the "fact" that all living things are susceptible to being eaten and thus at the same time are putting other creatures at risk because they also eat to live). The entire dynamic of Life on this planet is turning out to be that everything is eating everything, and thus, everything can be prey and/or predator at the same time. And behind that empirical truth, then there is the sound foundational evolutionary principle that: "nothing really wants to be eaten" (i.e., die) (i.e., fear of death). So, thus begins this complex ecology of "fear of dying" (including injury) in one form or another, which become more complex the higher up the evolutionary chain and with advanced consciousness capacities--right up to "self-reflective" species (brains). A whole other dialectical principle is that the "spirit of fearlessness" is right there helping the organism both survive, but also thrive and heal if injured.  

I won't go on and on, in order to keep this blog short. The thing I find interesting to remember is that the human being is a "top predator" ecologically. And, we best not forget that empirical truth, within the frame of evolutionary theory at least. Being a top predator means, more or less, we are making all other species "afraid" more or less. That's where "birding" comes in. It teaches me the lessons of evolution and Nature every time I go out there and walk with my binoculars and spotting scope. When you learn bird (animal) language, you realize they are continually giving alarm signals (more or less intense) as you walk into their territories, be it in the city or in natural areas. You are a threat. Now, apply that to all predators (which is, all living creatures)--and, the outcome logically is that everything is making everything, more or less, afraid of it (because, everything is eating and/or preying upon everything else). Of course, you could come up with arguments that cooperation is also going on and that not all creatures are "preying" upon others actively, e.g., some are scavengers of already dead organisms. My generalization is really intended to act as a baseline reference for human beings--that is, "top predator" in the food chain. Because, that is whom the fearologist is addressing in their work. Human beings and how they make themselves and everything living around them afraid, more or less. It is really hard for the "humanist" ideology to take this reality in--and, that's why I offer this counter narrative of an ecology of fear to the more humanist sentiments that see humans as more benign (certainly, not as a predator). 

The predator-prey behavior and evolutionary strategies that are ancient, are critical to understand in our theorizing about risk, threat, security today.The ecology of fear plays a critical role in all these areas that are getting a lot of attention--especially, in a so-called society that is driven/motivated by what many critics are calling the "culture of fear" dynamic --which is, another form of the more primal predator-prey ecology and/or ecology of fear. I would recommend studying this connection between risk, safety, threat and violence and fear in the work of Gavin De Becker, a well-known respected security expert today [5]. I have followed De Becker's work and corresponded with him for near 20 years. Much of what he writes about (like Jon Young) is all about the ecology of fear, as far as I am concerned, though neither of them use that language or research and discourse (including, Four Arrows). So, fearologist can improve this whole field of risk management/education, and fear management/education and safety and security domains by a primal study of the foundations of fear in the Natural world. That's my basic point. As Four Arrows (and the Indigenous worldview) suggested, that in order for us to become "connoisseurs of Fear" we ought to start asking where is it best to "know Fear"?--and, his response: 

"To survive and thrive, wild animals must be experts in Fear. Humans who wish to express their positive potentiality must also be connoisseurs of this great motivator." [6] Basically, Four Arrows, like myself, suggest strongly that if you want to "know Fear" then study Nature, be in/with the Natural domain as you observe, experiment, inquire, record and study the topic Fear--and, that means, study it as part of an "ecology of fear" (of predator-prey relations). Btw. researchers using this term "ecology of fear" are also including plants as "teachers" of how this all works. And, sure, we always have to be cautious not to try to directly apply everything from these ecological studies to "humans" (and Cultural and Spiritual) and the complexity of our lives, but some of it does apply, and will give us creative and fresh views into the nature and role of Fear on this planet. 

Oh, and why do I go "birding"? To continue to develop my primal brain! I am always learning to trust it's instincts and intuitions--and, you never know when you may need them handy to help out. And the basic corrective, healing principle I am particularly developing in the birding world is "slow birding" (I've coined the name)--to enact a counter to a world where everyone (even birders) are spinning out there way too fast, too many pictures, too many this and that... so, I return to the Indigenous-based wisdom in regard to Nature (the Natural domain), and cite Four Arrows (relating the lessons from Mexican shamans), who  wrote, "Nature cautions us to go slowly." [6] 

Notes: 

1. One could just as easily use the term "Indigenizing" here, as my colleague Four Arrows (aka Dr. Don Trent Jacobs) would do so. 

2. Young, J. (2013). What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World. Boston, MA: Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

2. The book is to come out in 2018 with Peter Lang publishers, entitled at this moment: Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows: The True Story of an Indigenous-based Social Transformer. 

3.. FM Blogs: see "Rhetorical Ecology of Fear: Scholarship" (Oct. 7/16); "Bird Watching/Listening: Teachers of the Ecology of Fear" (Oct. 14/16); and Technical Papers see "Further Steps to an Ecology of Fear" (Technical Paper No. 52, 2015) and "Steps to an Ecology of Fear: Advanced Curriculum of Fearlessness" (Technical Paper No. 38, 2012). 

4. De Becker has published several books now, but his classic text is "Gift of Fear" (1997). See a good talk De Becker with Sam Harris on the "wild brain" as De Becker calls it and "true fear" (intuition) that predicts violence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uh9OpbJXOHA ; and just to be clear, I do not necessarily embrace all of what these guys are saying in the video--rather, I'm quite critical.

5. Jacobs, D. T. (1998) [aka Four Arrows]. A True Story of Survival, Transformation, and Awakening with the Raramuri Shamans of Mexico. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

6. Ibid., p. 226.

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The latest "white powder" in the mail hoax threats against Muslim Organizations this week and now the closing down of the entire LA School System in Calif by Education Officials... you really have to look at the twisting of discourse that is going on... which was well studied by myself (as a fearologist) after 9/11 and others like Gavin de Becker (a security expert in the US) and others... It comes down to the way knowledge is used in these "credible" (or more like incredible) "threats" to public safety... and how Officials in those domains of society make decisions. Without a doubt, LA Education officials are showing us all just how much they didn't learn their lessons after 9/11 as the entire W. world (especially in USA but also Canada) "panics" again, more or less. 

A long blog post could be written about this moral (safety) panic phenomenon, which is the "culture of fear" by any other name showing just how un-intelligent it is in the face of fear, terror, and then in contrast with what is merely a threat of fear and terror initiated by someone (as a criminal act). The "terrorists" today gotta be laughin' all the way to the bar, or wherever else they are celebrating the power of an email threat on a few school districts in the USA ... btw, New York Mayor and Officials (not in Education) decided there is no way they would close down schools broad brush like they did in LA. And, there is no facts or close to facts that show any real difference in these two localities, except that in the context of LA, it is the power of Education Officials to shut down or open schools, which is not apparently the same as in NY where the Mayor only has that power. I mention this because Education is the field I work in as a professional and to which I have been attempting to educate them on the role of fear and its irrationality for 14 + years. 

I keep thinking of the "costs" of the LA School-based Authorities today, acting on an email threat. You want to read a few of their "reasons" which always come down to the same thing... (when under pressure of the fear of being sued if they don't keep kids safe at schools--or the "but if something bad does happen?" -- all of which are xtreme applications of the "precautionary principle"--but that is another argument for another time)... I keep thinking what do the children and youth and families of entire city as big as LA take home from staying home... because of an email? Talk about terrorizing one's own people in the name of "safety first"... that's always the reason the Officials gave after 9/11, including going to War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq and the mess of costs that has produced (likely Islamic State bred upon that error of the US illegal invasions into sovereign nations). 

Tell me, Education Officials, now what... there was no attack today... but what about tomorrow... and the next day? and next... now what are you going to do? what money (for one) are you going to spend to try to keep every child and youth safe in your school systems... and then, are you going to try to keep them safe when the walk home from school or go somewhere else after school and what then, are you going to do ... any time, any place... you see, it is a slippery slope of irrationality that is winning the day... not intelligence, not intelligent Defense, or Security... it is madness caused by moral and safety panic (assumptions)... of course, the Officials can always throw it back at me or anyone who critiques them as "What would you do if you were in our place?" ... that's of course a distractive argument that goes no where because it doesn't exist and because they don't really care what I would do ... because they would never let me get into power in that place where they sit and make these kinds of decisions and cover them with "reasons" based on patterns (i.e., fear-patterned) Discourses. That's what I want to end with... 

To end this initial blog, I want to put this distinction about Discourses... that came to me while reading only one news blog on this LA action (and NY reverse action)... it is that we citizens, leaders of all kinds, have to be honest about what is going on in a culture of fear--denial is deadly. The so-called "reasons" are that people have to be making "rational" and "reasonable" and "responsible" choices to protect the absolute safety of all their children and youth who are students under their care during a school day... but let us not be fooled (not anymore after what we learned in post-9/11)... that "Safety-Discourse" (or argument they make) is a "Fear-Discourse" in disguise, and their "Rational-Responsibility-Discourse" is a masked nightmare which is really "Irrational-Irresponsible-Discourse." 

They use language that is false and highly destructive. Anyone in high fear (panic) will do this to justify what they have done. In my view, and many others in the security business, and who study fear and social moral panics in a culture of fear... all of them will tell you how fear-based and irrational it is to do what the LA Education Officials did today... and one can only imagine how long they will keep doing it and/or other school districts will do likewise... I don't buy it for a minute that "safety first" is the only "first" value on the block... on the table... no, my friends, and fellow educators, what is first is Intelligence ... a good assessment of risks and costs... that actually comes before trying to secure safety... that's what all security experts will tell you... but when people are in fear of being sued because something horrible happens (and US society is really good at that-- finding someone to blame and sue)... then you have Fear running the entire program... and Educators of all, are people who should be well-educated about risk, fear, danger and their interrelationships. I have been trying to get Education Officials everywhere to listen to what good education exists out there... and how to operate from fearlessness not fear... in making any decision about anything... I always believed (ha ha) that Education was about fostering Intelligence... you can see what I am a big believer that Fear-Discourse rules Education (and has for a very long time)... 

Give me a shout... if you all want to know more... if you want to challenge me... go for it... respond on this blog, or email me rmfisher.88[at]frontier.com

Oh, and Pres. Obama, you may want to look at my book I sent you near a yr. ago, offering to "educate" yourself and your governments on fear and fearlessness... that is, Intelligence as "first" and Safety as "second" (or third, or fourth)... that's another debate... a long one... for another time... 

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