I see a few interesting tensions emerging in the coding so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these materialise in the SSNA.
One is about
encountering difference. Community members, on the one hand, find escaping the bubbles they grew up in (this often manifests in the concrete experience of deciding to
leave one's home country and go somewhere else) leads to
personal growth and change. The bubble-worlds of their home countries, while sometimes feeling safe, feel limiting.
But there’s an interesting thing that happens after that – often, they seek another kind of bubble in another place-- this time, around shared beliefs and
values rather than shared
There’s an interesting tension that emerges here, though. Many community members say that it was in encountering difference (people from different places, with different worldviews) that they developed as a person, grew and developed their own values.
However, there is another kind of difference that community members avoid – they cite a
values mismatch between them and other people (sometimes these are people from their home country, who haven’t changed their ways of thinking, or people in the new country whose politics and ways of life seem alien and wrong).
My first research question proceeding from this, then, is: what kind of encounters with human difference are enriching, pushing you outside of your comfort zone to grow as a person, and which kinds of difference do you avoid because you see it as damaging? How do you know this beforehand?
I find it fascinating that encounters with difference have the capacity to both grow us and negatively affect us, and am interested to dig deeper into the kinds of pushing outside of one’s bubble that are productive, and which are not. As a follow-up question, I’d like us to interrogate the bubbles more: When is a bubble a way of hiding from other views that might lead to the kind of expansion of worldview that many community members cite as central to their growth and development as humans, and when are bubbles a way of building safe communities away from threat? How can we tell the difference, when encountering difference (getting outside of bubbles) is often what pushes us to grow and change, too?
I’m also interested in interrogating the relationship between one’s origin country and one’s adopted country – there’s an emotional element to the writings on this by communities so far that have been interesting. Some find a deep
emotional connection to the politics in their origin countries, even after having been away for years, that they cannot develop in new countries (often because they never feel totally a part of the culture in the new country, often hanging out only in bubbles with other transplants). Others try to immerse themselves in the new country and
disconnect emotionally with the old. But it seems, by and large, that those old ties remain strong emotionally.
This leads me to ask about people’s decisions to stay or go, and then after that to stay connected or detach: community members have talked about this in terms of a kind of
fight-or-flight response. So I’m interested in the question of how we decide whether to fight developments we see as negative, particularly in our countries of origin, and how we decide to detach and focus our limited energies elsewhere? This is related to the bubbles question – do you stay and work to better your old communities that were yours by birth and upbringing, or do you turn away from trying to change other people and instead build your own communities, of like-minded people? I want to be clear that there isn’t a right or wrong answer here, but I’m seeing different strategies emerge, both which have significant emotional impacts on people. Leaving is hard (physically leaving and emotionally detaching from politics): but so is staying.
There is another question worth exploring, which is: how do we design events that will be impactful in addressing and acting on actual issues that people face? I expect to see links in the SSNA between
event planning, non-transformative, defining purpose, solidarity networks and building collaborations. This is, of course, a question near and dear to us at Edgeryders. Community members have attended a lot of non-transformative events, in which panels of ‘experts’ talk at them, with little visible connections to actual issues they face or little commitment to concretely producing social change. How do we invent better blueprints for transformative, impactful events? How do we move away from the same rote, flat scripts and formats? Can we fork, instead of fighting, or is fighting necessary to enact change in powerful spaces that refuse to change (e.g. spaces we all have to inhabit in which white dudes with power talking at everyone) – related to the above questions on bubbles and where to engage/spend your time and who to spend your time with.
Beyond these questions, I see topics that I expected to see: a dislike of
patriotism, which many feel leads to
exclusion of groups based on identity markers (race, ethnicity, class); overreach of institutions like the Church that perpetuate
traditional (harmful) values (though some see the Church as a potentially positive entity in political and social transformation), and how to tackle
indifference (though some think that cultivating indifference can be healthy, when it comes to things you can’t change (follow-up question: how do you decide when people or situations can’t be changed?).
I expect to see a lot more tensions and questions emerge as we go on, and would love to hear more voices and stories on the English platform to work on!