Photo by Francisco Arnela on Unsplash
Attentional violence. This is what we do to the “uncool” people. To the foreigners. Or to all those who we took for part of the furniture when we moved in. To the rare birds who make us squirm in our grey-feathered sameness. To the too dark or the too light. Hearted. To the too bright, too different, too “other”, thereby breaking the cookie-cut order and sweetness, shaped by the fear of not fitting in. To the marked or the damned or to our own daemon when she wakes us up at 3am in the morning with a seemingly good idea. This is what we do when we turn our back on friends because we don’t know how to help or we can’t deal with our own discomfort. This is what we do when we ignore our babies reaching out, or to our children when they no longer try, and focus instead on the continuous stream of chatter on our phones, the pings and pongs calling for our attention. Or what we do when we leave someone out in the cold, or out of our family tree or bibliography, because we think they don’t count or because they matter too much. This is what we do to Mother Earth when we turn a blind eye to what we’re doing and keep doing what we have always done. Attentional violence. This is what we do to ourselves. To our inner child. Who calls and calls and is never heard.
This post was inspired by Otto Scharmer who writes about three types of violence: direct violence, structural violence and attentional violence in his recent article on Turning Toward Our Blind Spot: Seeing the Shadow as a Source for Transformation.
Attentional violence enables and seeds the other two forms of violence, says Scharmer: ” This form of violence is less discussed, but equally important. Not being seen for who you are and who you could be — your highest future possibility — is a form of violence that diminishes your ability to act from that capacity. Perpetual attentional violence is collectively enacted — against others, but also against ourselves — every single day. The poor-quality public education available to most young men and women of color is just one example.”
Scharmer invites us to explore what we are not seeing, not feeling or not taking action on. (Frozen mind, frozen heart or frozen will.)
I like what he and Thomas Huebl are exploring together regarding collective healing through presencing in large groups.