Center for Spiritual Inquiry and Integral Education

R. Michael Fisher
Creating a Culture of Fearlessness: Critical Praxis
by R. Michael Fisher - Thursday, February 28, 2013, 07:24 AM

If there's one topic that obsesses me, and has for 25 yrs or more, is how to create an organization, community, movement, of activists, scholars, and educators, all working together on the same (more or less) goal(s). If I had my choice to inform that vision of such collaboration, of which CSIIE is a potential model, it would be to assert that we are committed to undermining the "culture of fear" that so many critics across disciplines and traditions are talking about today, especially since 9/11.

The goal, overall, then would be to develop the theory and practices, that is a critical praxis, which shifts the culture of fear in all its gross and subtle forms, into a culture of fearlessness. Of course, it is an impossible possibility, as Jacques Derrida might call it, but that nonetheless is a faithful prophetic path worth pursuing. More than that, it is empirically and logically sensible and recordable, and interpretive and poetic. It is (r)evolutionary. I have said this many times on this site and in other ventures, such as the In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. But when I look back on the history of that Institute, the community around it, and see why it failed (1989-98), it is pretty obvious to me that you have human and cultural factors contributing to the dissolution of a high bar, an ideal that is impossible. That's the idea of fearlessness, and even further, the idea of fearless.

But in practical terms, without the scholarship, the theory will be weak, without the practices, the theory will be inaccurate, and without both, you have activists, educators, and scholars likely who are going to get a little "off the tracks" of their mission, and the organizational mission of liberation at all costs. The path of fearlessness is the way to staying on that track of the possible, and reading and studying and interpreting the traces of those that have travel this spiritual venture before. We also need to be inventing, risking, and creating beyond those traditions and disciplines. It is the wonderful rainbow mix of all that that can make a fear-based culture or organization begin to unravel. We have to start somewhere, and starting with our own individual self is okay, but is very limited if you don't also work on the cultural and organizational levels of change and transformation in which the individual is constructed and embedded. Sorry, folks, there is no complete transcendence from the cultural context, no matter how you look at it if you are looking through an integral lens, and not just a psychospiritual or magical one that is reductionistic.

Thus, the point of putting up this phrase before our own organization of CSIIE and all the work we do out there. How do we best change a culture of fear to a culture of fearlessness? I say we don't know, and yes, we know a lot too. It is an impossible possible mission.