What makes sense LO6542

Terri Deems (tdeems@unlgrad1.unl.edu)
Tue, 9 Apr 1996 13:22:31 -0500 (CDT)

Replying to LO6512 --

Concerning the discussion/remarks on why "the vast majority of people
do not attack injustice"

My guess is the reasons for this are complex, involving such things as
fear, the tendency to build walls and protect ourselves at all costs,
to "not get involved," to how we come to define and understand "what
is my problem" vs "what is your problem," etc. Lots of things. Two
primary concerns, though come to mind that also relate directly to our
work within the workplace.

I think perhaps one reason we, as a collective, fail to attack
injustices rests with how we understand what is just, and what is
unjust. King's "attack on injustice," and the thousands who assisted
in this attack, perceived racial barriers as unjust (a simplification,
I know); however,
thousands others continue to not understand what it is about racial
barriers that is unjust. How reality is interpreted varies, from
person to person. However, "reality," or justice/unjustice, is not
simply a subjective experience, but is also based on the objective
conditions in which we find ourselves. Our meanings, our way of making
sense of our world, is both personally and socially constructed.

So part of this issue involves how we interpret (make meaning) of what
is just, and what is unjust. I'd guess that many people who fail to
participate in attacks on injustice simply don't make sense of a
situation as being unjust.

Another explanation may rest with how fragmented we have become as a
society, the boundaries we create within our institutions that serve to
reinforce a sense of separateness rather than connectedness with others.
We see this within our school systems, our workplaces, our communities.
Even within humanist traditions of learning and work, there is a tendency
to focus on the instrumental, goal-oriented work of the ego, on
individualism, on doing and appearing, and where meaning is attached to
our ability to consume. There is very little valuing of our deeper
connectedness, of seeing dualities as one, little systems concerns with
our way of being, and of the quality of our experiences e.g. at work.
This fragmented consciousness, I think, serves to keep many people
inactive, uninvolved, unaware, and uninterested in issues such as social
injustice, care of the earth, etc. We too readily fall into a status quo
mentality, maintaining the comfort of believing that "this is simply the
way things are" rather than confronting the possibilities.

Without falling into a definition-debate over what constitutes injustice,
I understand injustice as being any condition which prohibits us from
being fully human, fully alive, and fully engaged with our world (however
we choose to define that). We can bring this whole discussion closer to
home by looking at it from the perspective of work: why do so few people
confront the injustices present everyday within the majority of our
workplaces? 1) because many of us simply don't see "injustice" present,
and 2) we believe it's not our job to deal with it, even if we do see it
present, or 3) we simply don't know how to effect change that is more
just. Yet if we examine how we organize, structure, and conduct
work--even within "learning organizations"--we cannot fail to see many
ways in which we stifle our own and others' capacity to be fully human
(the essence of which, I believe, is meaning and development).

I've a passion for such discussions, but see I've already taken up a great
deal of space here; apologies to those of you who prefer the short
messages! Just some food for thought.

Terri Deems
Deems Associates Inc


tdeems@unlgrad1.unl.edu (Terri Deems)

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