Your Aspiration is Your Commitment and Discourse
It’s amazing how the zero fence sitters think that stating a goal as ‘aspirational’ is some kind of let off from the toxicity embedded in discourse. One cannot separate the language of what is stated from the Discourse within it. One can’t separate the language of something as if declaring it an ‘aspiration’ is somehow a non-commitment to it. The medium is in the message and the message is in the medium (https://safetyrisk.net/the-medium-is-the-message/ ).
The language of zero whether one frames it as ‘aspirational’ doesn’t subtract from the fact that the metaphor of the language supposes that humans can be perfect and infallible. The language of zero cannot be separated from the fact that a number-ideology as a lower order goal, is set as an aspiration. One cannot separate the absence of higher order goals like trust, respect, learning, humanizing persons, tolerance, understanding that are rejected by such a goal. Zero can have none of these things. Any declaration that one cares about learning is a rejection of zero. There is no learning without risk and no risk without learning. There is only learning in movement and all movement proposes risk. Risk Makes Sense.
No language is neutral. The language of goal setting is neither objective nor neutral. All language is situated and interpreted by context. Hidden in that context are a host of things that give off assumptions about power, politics, ethics and trajectories. If you aspire for zero the what follows must dehumanize fallible people.
Once on the subject of language we need to engage in the study of Discourse. discourse can be understood as language-in-use (lower case ‘d’) and Discourse captures the nature of what is embedded in language (represented by an upper case ‘D’). The use of the word discourse denotes everyday usage, conversation and language exchange. Discourse has a focus on the power, ethics and politics embedded in language.
What’s embedded in the ideology and language of zero is a fundamental assumption and denial of fallibility regardless of whether one packages it as an aspiration or not. So, if we aspire for people to be perfect what does that say about the mentalitie of such an aspiration? If we aspire for people to make no mistakes what does that suppose for the systems we develop and the nature of relationships? If our aspiration is perfection what does that say about us? Does that mean each day we disappoint ourselves for every mistake, every slip, every vulnerability, and every frailty? What does that say about how we define illness, health, harm, loss, suffering and pain? None of these things can be separated from the language of zero. Therefore any harm in living is a disappointment to such an aspiration.
My immediate response to people who argue that zero is only an aspiration is: ‘why would you aspire for that?’ ‘What does your aspiration now exclude?’ If I stated that I aspire to be Superman you’d send me to a shrink, why is it then that we think that an aspiration to perfection is not a sign of a mental health condition?