Do Persons and Systems ‘Drift’ into Failure?

The identity of personhood as defined by fallibility ( ) should be foundational to any ethic of risk. The vulnerability and mortality of being human ought to determine what one defines as success or failure. Any language of perfectionism should be rejected by an ethic of risk as being framed for dehumanizing, anti-learning and brutalism. There are no infallible systems or persons. So, in what sense do persons and systems ‘fail’ or ‘drift into that state?

imageThe very notion of risk, of not knowing, of uncertainty is foundational to fallibility. Risk exists because learning is foundational to personhood. ‘Trial and error’ are foundation to how we learn, for learning is the joy of fallibility. This should be the starting point for any ethic of risk.

Human being is immersed in fallibility, risk and learning. Any idea that humans or human systems attain some level of success can only ever be perceived by how one defines success and failure. Human persons are always in failure, they don’t ‘drift’ into it.

I find the language and Discourse of ‘drifting into failure’ unhelpful in the face of understanding: human fallibility, building resilience and learning. The use of this language and Discourse leaves me with many questions.

  • If there is ‘drift into failure’, what has been drifted from?
  • From what state has one ‘drifted’?
  • In the face of human fallibility and vulnerable personhood, what does this language convey about perceptions of failure?
  • What ‘drives’ drift? And if uncontrollable, unseeable and incremental, how does one envision risk? What does one look for?
  • If persons and systems ‘drift’ into failure, how has one defined ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ that explains this ‘drift’?
  • What assumptions of personhood are embedded in the language of ‘drift’?
  • What does the semantics of ‘drift’ conjure up as a metaphor that defines failure?
  • What does the language of ‘drift’ imply about causality? Wicked Problems’? Messiness?
  • What is the ‘force’ that drives drift?
  • If human drift holds a sense of being ‘lost’ in what sense can we be ‘found’?
  • What does drift imply about our capability to control being and living?
  • What are the implications of the language of ‘drift’ for understanding suffering?
  • What definition of morality and ethics are implied in the language of ‘drift’?
  • How does the metaphor of ‘drift’ help persons understand an ethic of risk?
  • By accepting the framing language of ‘drift’ and incrementalism, how does this shape subjectivity towards risk?
  • How does the construct of drift and incrementalism help in the daily challenges of tackling risk?
  • What can be envisioned if ‘drifting’ is unseeable?
  • How does such language influence what one looks for in understanding risk? And events?
  • How does such language shape how one assesses the absence of harm and mistakes?
  • So, if we haven’t drifted into failure, what is our status?
  • Does the perception that things not going wrong mean that things are going right?
  • How is this right and wrong defined?
  • How do these assumptions about persons and systems embedded in the language of ‘drift into failure’ help in tackling risk?
  • How does ‘drift’ ­­­influence the way we interpret non-events?
  • How is failure defined? By what? Injuries? Numerics? Measurement of what?
  • What of ‘failure’ in relationship, in social contract? How does the language of ‘drift’ help here?
  • How does the language of ‘drift’ match the drift assumptions of the Bradley Curve?
  • Does the language of ‘drift into failure’ inadvertently assist the semiotics of the Bradley Curve and the possibility of zero as a starting state?

The language of ‘drift’ shapes one’s perceptions of how one perceives the world, it holds a moral and ethical assumption in itself.

All language and Discourse has implications for how we understand an ethic of risk, political discourse and how one defines ‘safety’. The language of ‘drift’ is not neutral but chosen to reflect an assumption about persons, ethics and systems in risk. It is language I would prefer not to use.

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