On the 19th of May from 3.30pm-5h30pm (doors at 3:15) we will have our second Blind Spots conversation entitled Returning to mystery, Saving Ourselves. The event will take place at St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconcilliation, 78 Bishopsgate, London, UK, EC2N 4AG.
Blind Spots is our new series of conversations exploring the collective blind spots of our society.
What is holding us back from creating a powerful vision for our future? What’s behind the rise in populism? What’s stopping us addressing climate change effectively?
Literally a blind spot is a part of our visual field we can’t see – and which we don’t realise we can’t see!
More generally, imagine you are in your car parking at the supermarket, you look around, check, then back up and CRASH! You’ve driven into a pole. When you get home, your partner says “Didn’t you look and check your mirrors?!” You say “Of course I did! But it was in my blind spot!”
Our blind spots are not only what we can’t see but what we can’t see that we can’t see. What we don’t know and that we don’t know that we don’t know.
In this series we are interested in our collective blind spots: those things that are collectively invisible to us, but which are holding us back. For example, why can’t we envision anything better than slight upgrades from capitalism 2.0 to 2.1? Why is it that the words such as “utopia”, “community”, “spirituality” or “big vision” are met automatically with skepticism or fear?
We think that key things hidden in our collective blindspots are in the way of creating a powerful vision for the future – and keeping us dissatisfied.
We want to create powerful vision for our future. But we can’t have a conversation about the future until we have completed the past. And what is holding us back are our collective blind spots. Without discovering our blindspots, what is hidden in there holds us back (and we don’t even realise it is holding us back).
It is crucial to complete our past before we can create a new future – otherwise all we do is repeat the past. At the moment, our conversation for our political and social future is just a slight variation of the past – whether it’s a slight upgrade in capitalism or an improved dictatorship. The rise in populism reflects a reaction to this lack of vision.
There is a longing for community and belongingness yet there is a huge fear of commitment (individually and collectively)
Why is it we can’t talk about politics and religion in a civilised way?
Disbelief in Politics & Distrust of the State
What is our incapacity to act on climate change other than the symptom of a blind spot? How come there is such disbelief in political answers and institutions? A disbelief which leads to a chronic scepticism in our society about organised group action. Today, instead of politics and the state we are entrusting our collective future to individual initiative, NGOs and private corporations. What is the source of this distrust in the state, in organized collective action, of disbelief politics? And where is it holding us back?
The Rise of Populism
Trump, Brexit, Bolsonaro … For many, these results were unexpected, even unimaginable – symptomatic of a collective blind spot. Conventional party politics is being disrupted, dictatorship is on the rise, and 30 years after the fall of the Berlin wall we are a far cry from Fukayama’s end of history. What were we missing not to see this coming? How could we have been so blind-sided? And what does the future hold?
The Knowledge Economy
In the last few years the techno-optimism surrounding the digital revolution has given way to dystopia. Rather than a force for economic and social democracy, digital now seems to mean monopoly and manipulation. What have we been missing for this to happen?
Belief in Individualism
We tend to believe that we are individuals, who act the way we do because of something called a personality which is unique to us. In reality, we are very social. We often like things or laugh simply because other people do, and can’t avoid receiving emotions from other people. Community is necessary for satisfaction, and act collectively, so how can a society of individuals accomplish its dreams?
The Equality Complex
We might be equally human or valuable, but the equality complex is the belief that we are all basically the same. Of course, people vary in culture and experience as well as talents, and the genders have some differences as well. How can we be aware of these differences while maintaining respect for all people? What are we afraid of giving up or of getting, if we acknowledge that equality is dogma?
Faith in rationality and progress
We are supposedly leaving the notion of progress behind in the postmodernism era, but it is still here with us. Do we have too much faith in our technology because its dazzling past? Do we overrate what computers can do for us? Is it still something of a religion to believe in science and in technology as solutions to our problems? How do we let go of this, if it blinds us? Does it create a spirituality vacuum?
As part of our work on Blind Spots we are organizing a series of conversations.
Contact Liam Kavanagh, Director of the AET Institute.