I believe that self- knowledge is a source of truth that is prior to all other truth: it allows us to see our 'positioning'
from an outside perspective. In other words, we need subjectivity in order to enable objectivity. This is part
of the tradition of academic inquiry on subjective issues, where people clarify where they are coming from, and from
what assumptions they build their reasoning from.
A recognition of the primacy of self knowledge is to recognise that our underlying values inform our political opinions
and priorities. For example, if I value freedom above harmony, I am likely to deprioritise, or shake up harmony if I feel
that freedom is threatened.
Unless a group respects each person's values and their right to be on a journey of truth discovery, it will restrict the fulfilment
of potential. A group must encourage the development of individual expression, and accept that difference in this is part
of our biological makeup and should not automatically lead to conflict.
Personally, I value freedom over many other things, which means that I often deliberately detach myself from situations and
people when I feel trapped, or in any way manipulated, even when this means sacrificing Belonging. I wrote this today
(July 19 04):
Few people are more coercive than those who do not know themselves.
Sometimes it feels like to belong anywhere, you must participate in a social relationship of coercion. This is because
most people do not critically analyse, or hold their beliefs/ priorities consciously. They just assume that everyone agrees
When challenged by someone with a different perspective, many people with little self-knowledge enforce their own hegemony
by excluding the person or trivialising their idea. Such a situation would not occur if they had genuine solidarity with each
other in acknowledging their brokenness and their collective diverse potentials.
Some people spend their entire lives as vanguards. As radicals, doing the hard, controversial, often anger-motivated work
of waking people up to a problem and polarising people to a point where they have to either continue to be complicit or act
on the situation.
If you imagine a flock of birds or a team of cyclists, travelling in a v shape. The person in front slices through the wind,
taking much of the force of the air. This person or bird is like the vanguard. It does not lead by being the decision maker,
but rather, it forges a path for others to follow.
In a healthy flock or pack of cyclists, this role is rotated, so that this person does not become exhausted. The only way
this kind of structure remains static is if it is not alive, rather, if it is metal, such as an aeroplane nose or the front
of a car. In the same way, if a human remains as a vanguard, he or she becomes rigid out of sheer necessity, and acts out
of habit rather than passion.
It is true that such people perform an important function in the overall transformation of society. However, it is not healthy
for a person to remain in this position, if they become rigid in their ways and resentful and judgemental towards other people.
Some of the process of changing the world is making Today a utopia, as much like our ideal future as possible. Unless our
social relations are liberatory now, we cannot build trust among each other in order to support each other through the long
Useful Link: Healing Activist Trauma