Innocence and Justice in Safety
Jung rightly names Safety as the archetype of innocence . Innocence is linked to the quest for justice and purity, zero harm. The ideology of zero harm endorses the archetype of the innocence-safety discourse, a sign of immaturity. The quest for perfection believes in the ultimate justice that perfection is attainable and innocence will be restored through justice.
Unfortunately, all the forces of randomness, fallibility, human limitation, learning, discovery and real living, deny zero harm. What is more, the language of zero harm and its fundamental contradiction with reality is demotivating and anti-learning. The naïve idea ‘that there can be no other target than zero’ endorses a naïve binary philosophy of innocence over reality. Zero ideology is the denial of reality (https://safetyrisk.net/the-ideology-of-zero-harm/, https://safetyrisk.net/the-tension-of-opposites-and-binaries-in-risk/ ). In zero there is no chance, no dice throw, no luck, no probability, no circumstance, no fallibility and no providence. If these exist then it is nonsense to talk in language and targets of zero. Therefore the innocent stay safe and the wicked suffer the outcome of justice.
Indeed, the language of targets, measures and numerics (https://safetyrisk.net/semiotics-and-safety/ ) insulates the binary ideology of zero from thinking about anything to do with the quality of life and/or anything that is important in life. Anything that is important to us (love, family, relationships etc), we simply do not and cannot measure. Higher order values and goals cannot be measured. Safety doesn’t measure is of value, it values what it can measure which is lower order targets and goals that have no meaning or connection to real living (https://safetyrisk.net/understanding-safety-goals/, https://safetyrisk.net/binary-opposites-and-safety-goal-strategy/).
As we approach Christmas we no doubt will be reminded of the Christmas story, the Nativity story. This is the story of an innocent child destined for a crucifixion. This is a story about someone getting the deal of death they don’t deserve. It is an outrageous story for Safety because Safety wants the innocent to experience justice and that way all of life could be fair. What the Christmas story teaches us is that life isn’t fair and that binary dreams and targets don’t wash in the reality of randomness and higher purpose and meaning.
Learning is a higher order target than an TRIFR rate, relationships matter much more than an LTI. Humans mean much more than numbers, targets are for beginners and the immature who think that a number actually represents something. Numerics in safety are the best example I know to illustrate Fundamental Attribution Error (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_attribution_error) and the nonsense of decision making based on hindsight bias (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindsight_bias ). What is most important to realize is that the language of targets cannot apply to higher order goals.
How would I rate the Christmas story? 7. What is the target score for sacrifice in the name of love? 7. What is the value of my relationships with a friend? 7. How valuable is trust in our organization? 7. How well do we work as a team to communicate and consult about risk? 7. How much do you love your children? 7. What a nonsense way of thinking about higher order goals.
The Christmas story reminds us that the one who embodied zero/infinity didn’t get what the innocent deserve, such a belief is a delusion, a construct of the archetype of innocence. The Christmas story is actually a lesson for safety and the delusion of innocence.