Well Being is a Social Challenge
These days I have quite a number of friends who live alone and for a number of reasons like it that way. However, the challenges of old age, retirement and loneliness are real regardless of Internet activity. Within the Health sector and community services the challenges of aloneness has been called ‘an epidemic’ (https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/letter/articles/vh-letter-47-loneliness ; https://hbr.org/2017/09/work-and-the-loneliness-epidemic ). Loneliness is not just about being physically alone, one can easily be lonely at work surrounded by heaps of people. One can easily have family around or friends but feel misunderstood or not belonging. Loneliness is not just a psychological issue but a social psychological issue. One thing is for sure, you can’t tackle social psychological issues with behaviourist-individualist strategies. They simply don’t work.
So much of what gets paraded as a well-being strategy or a resilience strategy in risk and safety is infused with individualistic behaviourist discourse. Then when a problem associated with well-being surfaces the solutions often seem to be focused on the person as an object and solutions as either requiring therapy or ‘pull yourself up’ type strategies. None of these strategies work. Any definition of personhood that excludes social identity as a foundation will envision the person in front of them as an object to be ‘fixed’, not a person to be met. Social being is the foundation for any effective well-being strategy.
In the risk and safety industry there is no greater silence than that of defining personhood and power, the foundational essence of an ethic of risk. The AIHS BoK Chapter of ethics discussed neither of these vital foundations of ethics (https://safetyrisk.net/the-aihs-bok-and-ethics-check-your-gut/ ). A deontological ethic enables the projection of persons as objects in a system. When traditional safety speaks about resilience and ethics, it’s about the resilience of a system, not resilience of persons. One thing is for sure there is no such thing as ‘resilience engineering’.
We also know that neo-liberal ideology fosters an individualist-behaviourist focus on being. If you want to learn how this works read the book Freedom to harm by McGarity (https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bhht ). Neoliberalism, behaviourism and individualism are a scourge in fostering well-being, often masked as policies of care but always lead a pathway of harm and blame. Even the self-help industry fosters much of this fake approach to well-being. The self-help industry along with the entrepreneur circus fosters a definition of the self that is disconnected from persons as social beings. Often you will read the association of war and battle metaphors with this approach. Often you will read nonsense about how resilience is about ‘re-wiring’ the brain. More brain centric nonsense to avoid the reality that humans are defined as i-thou (Buber) beings.
The well-being challenge is a deep ideological issue, of getting the ethic of personhood, power and the politics right.
If you want to study the Essence of Ethics in Risk, this is where you should start. The free course on offer still has some places if you want to get serious about ethics in risk (https://safetyrisk.net/free-online-study-the-essence-of-ethics-in-risk/)