So, who remembers this image? I can't remember not knowing it and its "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil," axiom.
On reflection, my life might had been a lot easier if I'd have applied it a little more often: however that's another article!
Ad Hominem Rules-Not Okay!
Across all media platforms it seems that it increasingly okay to attack the person instead of engaging in discussion about their idea(s) and that this is a legitimate way of dealing with dissent and difference. It isn't and it's dangerous.
It's dangerous because on a large political scale the personal attack becomes an integral part of a crazed pantomime. One in which an opposing narrative is a mere vehicle to deliver its author to a mocking tirade of cheap insults and lies to entertain one side whilst destroying the credibility of the other. "Say it long enough and loud enough and they'll believe anything!"
On a personal level, in our relationships and in the workplace, there are those who would rather keep silent about their best ideas than subject themselves to
Please note, the above "Infamous Five", is neither exhaustive nor prescriptive, feel free to expand! My point is that is you seek to take away someone's voice you have effectively broken them, so don't expect too much from them.
So, what would he know?
Logician and philosopher Bertrand Russell had a few ideas about thinking, I guess it goes with the job. His view of our progress (sic) was informed by the movements between the forces of tyranny and anarchy and the importance of questioning assumptions and beliefs.
In 1951, he set out the following "Ten Commandments". At that point in our history the world was in the emergent grip of opposing forces; powerful Eastern and Western blocs, each increasingly capable of inflicting terrible damage on the other. We have made little if any progress.
Here they are.
Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your spouse or your children, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusionary.
Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
They seem to sit comfortably across our work based, social and personal relationships and in so doing they carry risk. We maybe too often accept transient, comfortable capitulation by choosing to shy away from challenge because however good our intentions might be, our perceived will be frowned upon.
Much of our work is about creating thinking, discussion and dialogue: it takes place with work-place teams and individuals at a variety of positions within the organisation. I'm very tempted to produce Russell's Ten Commandments at one of our events with the question "So, how are we doing with these?"