When was the last time you “said the wrong thing”? What may have come up for you: Defensiveness? Embarrassment? Confusion? It seems we all have moments like this, and yet there is an iron curtain around talking about them.
In their latest blog piece “Undoing punitive mindsets in the workplace and beyond”, our Community Manager & Senior Facilitator Asher Firestone digs into how these behaviours show up in our workplaces and why. They outline how many societies have been indoctrinated into a “carceral mindset,” or a reliance on punishment as the only solution to adverse behavior.
Why are we so quick to villainise each other’s mistakes? Because we live in a world that emphasises the atrocity of individual transgressions outside of the context of oppressive systems that create the conditions for these behaviors. While it may be easier to label people as a whole as “bad” or “malicious”, this dismisses the ways that we all engage in harm and need resources, rather than isolated punishment, to learn and grow. In We Will Not Cancel Us, adrienne maree brown writes, “If I can see the ways I am perpetuating systemic oppressions, if I can see where I learned the behavior and how hard it is to unlearn it, I start to have more humility as I see the messiness of the communities I am a part of, the world I live in.”
[Image description: A teal background with white and pink text says “"How does your desire for generosity and accountability when you or your loved ones cause harm conflict with the expectation to have others imprisoned? This is useful personal data if we are to truly invest in systems that undo our culture of punishment.]
While we are aiming to move away from a culture of punishment, this does not mean a free ticket for people to get away with prejudicial language and behavior, but rather that we must put our time and energy into developing accountability processes that ensure any harm caused will be acknowledged and changed. And if we can expect to receive this generosity when we inevitably cause harm to someone, how can this second chance be extended to the people whose lives depend on it most? Specifically, can moving away from the carceral mindset that we wish for ourselves shed light on the archaic desire for revenge against current and formerly incarcerated citizens? Read the full blog piece to learn more.