What Can Be Controlled and Not Controlled

What Can Be Controlled and Not Controlled

imageTragedy is always a reminder of what we cannot control and, the shock of such powerlessness is confronting. And recently in Australia we have been confronted with tragedy that has been most confronting and sad.

The confrontation of mortality and fallibility must come as a shock to an industry consumed with the language of zero. The trouble is, when your language is all about ‘controls’ and ‘zero’, one can’t imagine things that cannot be controlled. The crazy thing is this: the more you meditate on what you can control the less you develop the kind of imagination needed to visualize the risk of things that cannot be controlled.

Of course, the language of ‘control’ fuels delusion, suppresses imagination and weakens resilience. Nothing is worse for safety than filling out a checklist thinking everything is controlled. Nothing is more destructive to risk imagination than a completed checklist. A completed checklist not only gives a psychological sense of completion (usually designed by an engineer) but instills overconfidence in the process of ‘sign off’.

The key to risk and safety is not the ‘sign off’ but the capability to imagine and entertain doubt!

You certainly don’t read much about the imagination and doubt in the pages of zero safety. If you want zero vision (imagination) then just keep talking about zero and you’ll get there quickly, all the more to make you fragile and ripe for the shock of the awaiting tragedy.

There are some neat semiotics that help visualize what fallible people can and cannot control, an example is here:


However, such visuals are still limited, there is much more we can’t control than the things we think we can. All of this is part of what Becker discusses in his book The Denial of Death (https://humanposthuman.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/ernest_becker_the_denial_of_deathbookfi-org.pdf ).

Talking and thinking about death is not a topic Safety wants to consider much. And when Death visits all Zero wants to do is find and apportion blame? This is what the language of zero and controls does, It quashes resilience and capability for empathy. So, when Tragedy strikes, the last archetype to help is Safety! Even in Tragedy it maintains its delusion of control.

When we begin to think archetypically of forces beyond our control (eg. Nature, the Elements etc.) we use language like the ‘force of Nature’ to give an Archetype personhood. We do this all the time when we talk about The Market, The Economy and, when we speak metaphorically (and in metonymy) about archetypes. I live in a city that is used all the time as an Archetype eg. ‘Canberra decides this’, ‘Canberra isn’t listening’ and ‘Canberra was rocked by’ etc. In the USA I hear the word ‘Washington’ used the same way or in Europe we personify governance using the word ‘Brussels’. We often use the word ‘Government’ as an archetype too. It’s amazing how powerful and awesome this person Government is.

So, when I use the word Safety archetypically I make no reference to people but to a force that has its own power and personality. I have written about this before: https://safetyrisk.net/understanding-safety-as-an-archetype/

This kind of thinking is foundational to Jungian Psychology/ Social Psychology where forces are personified because it is as if they have a character and personhood in decision-making power unto themselves. Eg. Nature dictates, Nature has decided etc. This is why a study of personhood and power is foundational to understanding Ethics. (of course, a discussion found nowhere in Safety)

I usually distinguish archetypical language by capitalization. In doing so, an Archetype takes on a personality/personhood of its own as distinct from people in it. For example, I live in Canberra and have no identity with the way journalists speak of my city as deciding the fate of Australians.

So, with this in Mind, you can read how Tragedy is archetypically personified in literature here: https://phdessay.com/tragedy-archetype-the-stranger/

One of the first things one is confronted by in a study of English, Language, Semantics and Literature is the importance of Tragedy (https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/162641553.pdf ). Consciousness of Tragedy is foundational to tackling the challenges of fallible living (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/ ).

The partner of Tragedy is Suffering, the foundation for questions posed by Theodicy, Ethics and Morality. The moment one tackles the challenges and uncertainties of Theodicy one ends up with less answers than when one starts and more challenge for helping and caregiving. You won’t find any discussion of Theodicy, Tragedy, Helping and Care Ethics anywhere in the world of Safety. When your god is Zero, there is no room for uncertainty. When your religion is Zero your Archetypes are Justice, Innocence and Safety. When Tragedy visits Safety, the question to Mind is why not who?

For those interested in studying Theodicy, Archetypes and Tragedy look no further than the Book of Job (https://academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3579&context=gc_etds ) that wonderful poetic that confronts any with delusions of control. Kierkegaard calls Job ‘the teacher of humankind’ (https://www.academia.edu/17639342/Kierkegaards_Job_Discourse ), a school master (St Paul) to bring us to confront Fallibility and engage in Wisdom/Resilience.

There is no discourse in risk and safety about a balancing of control and non-control, the toxic language of ‘zero’ serves to blind any such sense of balance. This is how Zero deals with Suffering: it waves the magic wand of Zero and heals the sick, zaps Tragedy, restores severed limbs, cures fatigue, eliminates poverty, zaps Suffering, washes away harm and transforms age degeneration (https://safetyrisk.net/the-spirit-of-zero/ ). Makes as much sense as Santa.

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