The lyrics of Skyhooks state (watch video below):
If I did not have an ego, I would not be here tonight
If I did not have an ego, I might not think that I was right
If you did not have an ego, you might not care the way you dressed
If you did not have an ego, you’d just be like the rest
The word ‘ego’ simply implies ‘the self’ however, from Freud (1894) ego is understood as being conceited, full of one’s self. It is where we get the term ‘egotistical’ and ‘self-centred’.
It was Freud who first proposed the psychic self in three forms: the ego, id and super-ego. It is in the ego that we construct defense mechanisms against the desires of the id and super-ego. These mechanisms are constructed forms of false consciousness (https://safetyrisk.net/false-consciousness-and-perception-in-risk-and-safety/) against the perfection of the super-ego and the base drives of the id.
As in many things, there should be a balance.
The opposite of egocentrism is ‘allocentrism’. Allocentrism is when the energy and focus is on the collective, Socialitie and the common good. Egocentrism is focused on the individual, the private, behaviourism and the personal, eg. ‘make safety personal’ (https://safetyrisk.net/make-safety-personal-another-meaningless-safety-slogan/).
The philosophy of SPoR is focused on allocentrism. The focus in SPoR is on Socialitie, methodology and methods focused on persons and mutuality together tackling risk. It is why so much of SPoR is given away for free. It is why the activity of SPoR is focused on SPoR not the individual.
I think in the marketing of safety we need to be much more careful about methods of presentation and marketing. After all, the medium is the message (https://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/mcluhan.mediummessage.pdf).
Ideas and promotions of an ‘Indiana Jones of Safety’, ‘rising star of safety’, ‘safety heroes’ or ‘safety thought leaders’ anchors to the individual not the vision or idea, neither to allocentrism. Such marketing detracts from safety and pushes the focus on egos.
Is this perhaps because there isn’t actually any vision in what is being marketed?
For example, presenting on zero, injury rates, behaviourism or any sub-set of behaviourism is anti-visionary, so the only option for Safety is to promote the ego.
One of the concerns I have with the promotion of ‘safety thought leaders’ is that the ideas promoted are neither innovative, different or visionary, but more of the same. Calling something ‘different’ by what it is not is the safety code (https://safetyrisk.net/deciphering-safety-code/). Have a look at any promotion in the safety space using the spin of ‘thought leaders’ and tell me where the vision is?
The other factor in many safety promotions is that the individual is promoted much more than the idea. Most of this is about marketing anchored to ego NOT to envisioning risk (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/envisioning-risk-seeing-vision-and-meaning-in-risk/).
Egocentrism doesn’t help the message of safety. If safety is about the care and wellbeing of persons, why such promotion of individuals and faces on screens? Surely, there should be a balance and a focus on envisioning risk, on ideas that work? (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/it-works-a-new-approach-to-risk-and-safety/).
In order to be professional, the focus needs to be on allocentrism, the common good and well-being for all. This is how an ethic of risk or an ethic of personhood assists safety.
Safety doesn’t start with me, safety starts with us (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-starts-with-us/ ).