A note about our theoretical framework
The overall aim of this intervention Moving Beyond Violence is to explore ways to step out of denial of our shared humanity and into an Ethical Mindset. Moving Beyond Violence explores the process two former mortal enemies undergo when they step out of denial of one another's humanity. Denial of our shared humanity at the best renders the other invisible, and at the worst creates a dehumanised other, often accompanied by cruel inhumane behaviour.
The Beyond Violence team come from many backgrounds and orientations – including physics, philosophy, creative art, psychotherapy, politics, education, feminism and activism. Our theoretical framework is informed by relational, attachment, facilitating environment, intersubjective, trauma, inter-cultural, feminist, narrative, psycho-social, political and existential theory; our protagonists demonstrate the power of narrative. Our project and overall theoretical concept lies in McNiff and Whitehead’s Action Research, a process which equally involves those exploring the situation and those living it in questions of what and how we know something, how do we share that in such a way that we “contribute to a good social order…” The Moving Beyond Violence team differences in social and political understandings and actions in our personal, professional and political lives have greatly enriched this project.
Dr. Jessica Benjamin, and Dr Martin Land:
Jessica Benjamin is a relational psychoanalyst who specialises in dialogue and conflict; Martin Land is a physicist. Jessica Benjamin accompanies our protagonists on their compelling journeys with her psycho-political commentary. She introduces us to the concept of 'transgression' against unethical collective narratives. Social Ethics is a major concern of Moving Beyond Violence. Extracts of her and Dr Martin Land’s radical psycho-political conversation can be found in Teaching Resources.
In Moving Beyond Violence we aim to learn from our protagonists about the process they underwent while withdrawing denial of their dehumanising collective narratives and behaviours. The workshops that accompany each scene have two objectives: the first is to suggest ways for workshop facilitators to explore this process, and the second to facilitate participants in adapting that process to their own work, social or political settings. The Moving Beyond Violence team conceptualised The Ethical Mindset which underlies the mutual wellbeing of shared humanity, where relationships are based on ethical belief and behaviours.
A word about John Bowlby’s Attachment theory which informed much British post WWII Welfare State policy. Attachment theory spans biology, ethology, psychoanalytic and relational ideas; Bowlby considered attachment behaviour is hard-wired to ensure survival. ‘Secure attachment’ is associated with recognition and empathy which in turn is associated with peace seeking. International research has shown sequalae of secure attachment associated with empathy, recognition, trust, self-worth, confidence to explore and play, comfort of others’ pain, all attributes of the Ethical Mindset. But it would be reductionist to suggest that our psychology operates in a vacuum of family relationships. Aware of the impact of socio-economic and political structure on the individual, family and group we explore the role of collective narratives on inclusion exclusion, trauma, warrior and victim identities, and the perception of sacrifice of self and other as a heroic act. In addition to relational pathways to an Ethical Mindset, ethical behaviours of mutual care may be due to religious or political ideologies, a duty supervening empathy or recognition of the other. We are therefore interested in all early and later interpersonal, social and political experiences that facilitate empathy, recognition and mutual care.
In our Time Line we have drawn on Palestinian and Israeli narratives in over a century of global and local historio-politics as a back-ground to the issues raised by our protagonists’ stories.
In the Moving Beyond Violence Video parts 1 -10 listed below, our protagonists’ stories highlight their processes of stepping out of denial and violence. We have extrapolated themes from their stories, that we believe will help us better understand the process they underwent.
The themes are:
PART.1 It is Good to Die, and to Kill, for Your Country : Development of a warrior and victim identity; the impact of collective narratives
PART.2 No More Killing No More Dying: Stepping out of denial of unethical collective narratives; rehumanising the ‘enemy’
PART.3 Empathy and Recognition: how and where do we acquire it? How important is it for peace-making?
PART.4 Pain and Empathy: the role of pain, and comforting pain, in peace making.
PART.5 Not Seeing the Other: withdrawing dehumanising projections
PART.6 Death of a Child, Abir Aramin: refusal to revenge and sacrifice children
PART.7 Sacrifice and Children: the role ancient and modern sacrifice
PART.8 Loss of an Ideology - Secrets and Lies: betrayal, stepping out of denial, a new identity
PART.9 The Role of Peace Groups: what do they do? transgression, witnessing, a secure base, a new identity, the world as failed witness (Jessica Benjamin)
PART.10 Epilogue: “My sister died - because we didn’t do enough…” ..to bring about peace. Elik Peled Elhanan, brother of Smadar killed by a suicide bomb, says it is forbidden to mourn on Memorial Day - we have to rage against our governments. Elik is a member of the Palestinian and Israeli Bereaved Family Forum, and Combatants for Peace.
We invite participants to join us on the Moving Beyond Violence website Discussions. Please share your experiences of events, processes and theoretical perspectives for overcoming denial in the hope of enabling non-violent Ethical Mindsets.
BOOKS YOU MIGHT LIKE TO READ: SEE GLOSSARY
- 1: It’s Good to Die (and Kill) for your Country
- 2: No More Killing or Dying
- 3: Recognition and Empathy
- 4: Pain and Empathy
- 5: Not Seeing the Other
- 6: Death of a Child
- 7: Children and Sacrifice
- 8: Loss of an Ideology, Secrets and Lies
- 9: Peace Movements; what do they do?
- 10: Epilogue: “My sister died – because we didn’t do enough”