No Hope for Safety
One of the fascinating things about culture in safety is an extraordinary satisfaction with a lack of definition and a phenomenal acceptance of assumptions about critical issues. For example, you won’t find discussion anywhere in safety about the nature of Hope, nor the nature of Faith for that matter. This is despite the fact that Faith and Hope are at the very core of understanding risk. What is even more surprising, no one in the zero enclave discuss these at all, despite the fact that the global congress ‘belief’ in zero can only be established on the basis of Faith and Hope (https://safetyrisk.net/no-evidence-for-the-religion-of-zero/ ). This is evidence of how much the narrow STEM-only approach leads the safety industry. There is nothing in the SIA BoK that discusses such cultural factors as hope, faith, semiotics and religion as essentials in understanding culture. Culture is far from the sum of systems and behaviours. Just systems and just behaviours are not ‘just culture’.
As much as Safety might like to assume that it knows the ‘right thing to do’, there is no well articulated definition of ‘justice’ or ‘culture’ in its assertion that it knows about ‘just culture’. There is simply no discussion anywhere about an ‘Ethic of Safety’. How can Safety talk about ‘just culture’ without a significant discussion about an ‘Ethic of Safety’? Apparently, all that has to be done is shove the adjective ‘safety’ in front of something and the deed is done. All critical thinking ceases. I’ve used the word ‘safety’ and used the word ‘ethic’ bingo, there is an ethic of safety!
Interestingly, Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, John Dewey, Gabriel Marcel, Erich Fromm and Jurgen Moltmann all reject the notion that hope is about ‘desire plus expectation to obtain an object’. Hope is about much more than some expectant optimistic wish. Dewey argued that hope must include ‘belief in the realizability of good’. For Dewey hope must include an ethic about what is good otherwise it is not hope. Mere desire is not hope. Meanwhile, the zero discourse and safety narrative marches down the fundamentalist faith road to zero with no discussion about the nature of Hope.
Fromm posits his definition of Hope on what Hope is not. Fromm describes three kinds of non-hope, Hope is not: mere desire and wishing, passive or inactive waiting nor, forcing what cannot be forced.
Hope requires expectation and Faith, what Fromm calls ‘paradoxical uncertainty’. Hope is active not passive and only some things can serve as objects of desire. A desire for something unethical is therefore not an expression of Hope. The expression of Faith need not be apologised for, Faith is not the exclusive domain of religion. Faith is not some weakness in knowledge but rather a form of knowledge which steps outside of the narrow STEM-only paradigm of what defines knowing. Faith and Hope can be held in harmony with Reason and do not force the impossible. Only Zero seeks to force the impossible.
Faith and Hope are both forms of ‘knowledge’ and ‘envisioning’. Both Hope and Faith can be personified and made Archetypes in order to fill out a better understanding of their dynamics. Similarly, Zero is a deficit archetype prefaced on the naïve binary denial of fallibility. It is important too to not confuse Hope and Faith with naïve dreaming or wishing. This is what Zero does, naively wishing for what is impossible in denial of all that is paradoxically essential to human fallibility. See the free download Rob’s latest book: Fallibility and Risk, Living with Uncertainty here: https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/
Hope is not about waiting. Anyone wishing for zero, will be waiting a long time. Hope must also consider content. If Hope requires expectation (paradoxical certainty and Faith) then there must be some remote possibility of actually achieving the object of Hope. Any denial of fallibility cannot understand Hope. Objects of Hope must be humanly achievable and attainable. Hope cannot be held in denial of life itself.
Hope is always connected to the love of life, humans and community. The opposite of Hope is Despair. Despair hates Life and turns all of life into objects. Despair dehumanises and despises Hope. Hope comes into the darkness of Despair of human suffering to offer light and envision different possibilities. One cannot Imagine what is possible through suffering if one’s paradigm of life is constrained by STEM-only materialist discourse. There are no possibilities or imagination in Zero, only Hope offers possibilities and life.
Hope must be active and humanising in a state of freedom. Hope and Faith are essentials in the dialectic of fallibility, of living in uncertainty and paradox. This is where the Ethic of Safety must start. The binary denial of fallibility offers no Hope for humans. The naïve binary narrative of Safety is not a narrative of Hope.