National Risk Assessment 2017: Response 1: Values & history

The Irish Government's National Risk Assessment 2017 can be found here: <>. I believe shared, inclusive cultural values, a clear philosophical position, and an understanding of the past are essential societal 'tools' in countering future shocks.   I found no reference to societal values in the 'National Risk Assessment 2017'. The context of the shambles of the Brexit referendum, the American campaign presidential campaign, the election of Trump, the threat of hard right forces elsewhere, the denigration of experts and the promotion of post-truth etc., have all made me consider how important the teaching of (a) inclusive values, (b) civics & philosophy, and (c) the teaching of an balanced people-centred history in our schools and promoting same more generally to the inclusivity, stability and sustainability of our societies.  The Brexiteers for instance had no sense of England's place in the world and its long complex relationship and with the surrounding nations (within and without the UK). The politicians were able to promote a lazy, narrow-minded and incorrect nationalism and sadly to reduce the conversation about Europe to finance only, largely because of the decline in teaching and exploring the three items listed above. The same appears to be happening in America. In Ireland we have a good sense of history as a small vulnerable nation, but we share some of these weaknesses too. One of the Irish people's greatest weaknesses is our lack of a philosophical position on so much of life. Who am I? What are our values? What are the fundamental we need to keep hold of? etc. The German people appear exactly the opposite in this way: they love Irish people's freeness and spirit: I love their consistent philosophically grounded position in relation to personal life, education, culture, research and industry: it should be no surprise their State shows great resilience in dealing with crises. Without doubt Ireland and Europe are going to be hit by crisis after crisis in the years ahead. Survival of humans is ensured but survival of civic values, democracy, the position of women in society, education and trade etc are all going to be tested. We are foolish if we think we are ready for this or have sufficient resilience: look at how the relatively small financial and refugee crises have weakened European cooperation already. In many ways we need to teach and explore and honestly celebrate (a) inclusive values, (b) civics & philosophy, and (c) the teaching of history MORE than we need technical innovations to reduce risks.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

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