I Chose to Look The Other Way – When Only More Guilt Will Do
The idea that I am my brother’s keeper (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-as-a-patriarchal-activity/) is a psychological attachment infused in the theology of safety. How interesting that safety is apparently a ‘choice I make’ yet the theology of safety makes me responsible for your choices??? This is the message of the classic poem ‘I Chose To Look The Other Way’ . The trouble is, you can’t have it both ways.
If safety a choice a person makes then the safety saviour has no power to override choice to ‘save lives’. If others can ride over the power of choice then, ‘safety is not a choice you make’ but rather a choice the safety saviour makes? This is the message of the classic poem ‘I Chose To Look The Other Way’.
The truth of the fact is that I am not my brother’s keeper, neither do I ‘save lives’.
Indeed, the philosophy of free choice – free will plagues the safety industry resulting in a collection of confused and paradoxical messages. This is because Safety doesn’t embrace the notion of an ‘ethic of safety’ including, an understanding of the ideologies that anchor safety self understanding.
The reality is that the nature of choice and social influence is a wicked problem (http://www.peterwagner.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Safety-A-Wicked-Problem2.pdf ), it is not just a simplistic binary matter of choice or non-choice. This is why safety is understood as a process of ‘advising’ not ‘controlling’.
The much loved poem ‘I Chose To Look The Other Way’ is a classic play on a collection of safety myths.
The first myth is about the nature of free will. If another person has free will then whatever I do or don’t do can only possibly amount to some sense of influence on another’s choice. Whatever, it remains their choice regardless of what I do. If I indeed have power over your choice even by indifference, then there is no free will.
The second myth is about the much loved delusion in safety with ‘common sense’. If there is such a thing as common sense, then I am also not responsible for the choices you make because the belief in common sense assumes that all people know what to do. So therefore, any injury that comes your way becomes a choice to be unsafe because it assumes that one has rejected ‘common sense’.
The third myth is about the problem of tolerance. The poem ‘I Chose To Look The Other Way’ assumes that inaction is action. The idea that I am responsible for what you do, assumes a great deal about power and independence. This is the value of patriarchy, assuming that it is ethical to over ride the will of another, justified by my view of what safety is about.
The fourth myth associated with this poem ‘I Chose To Look The Other Way’ is that a lack of care is defined by inaction therefore, if I don’t command what you do, then I am somehow responsible for your choice???
What we need much less of in safety is all this religious-like guilt and binary language. Let’s get back to the fundamentals of ‘helping’ and advising’ and much less of this nonsense mythology of being saviours of others.
Surely it time that this rubbish poem ‘I Chose To Look The Other Way’ was put in the archives of irrelevance and we looked forward to becoming professional in language and thought.