Project Description

Dana Caspersen – WE ARE NOT DOOMED: an act of de-polarization for whatever comes next

One of ten scores created especially for the  presidential election in the USA on November, the 3rd 2020.

Definition of terms:
Polarization: to perceive ourselves as separate and to think and act in ways that fortify or increase that sense of separateness.

What you will need:

  • 2 chairs (or other objects)
  • A strip of paper
  • A sheet of paper
  • A pen or pencil

Prologue:
Please think of a person or group from whom you feel polarized in a negative way.
This may be a person / group that you know personally, or one that you do not. Keep them in mind for the next section.

Warm up:
Place your hands (or imagining placing your hands) on your chest and your belly.
Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
Connect to the ground where you are.

Take another deep breath and exhale slowly.
Rest in your own body for a moment.
Notice the dynamics, tensions, and points of ease without trying to fix anything.

Take another deep breath and exhale slowly.
Shake out your body to prepare for action.

THE ACTION:
1:
Place the 2 chairs facing each other, at least 5 steps apart.
Choose one chair as your spot.
The other chair will stand in for the person / group from whom you feel polarized.

2:
Sit in your chair and turn your attention to the chair opposite you.
Imagine that the person or group from whom you feel polarized is present.
Notice how space between you and them feels.

3:
Keeping your attention on the person / group from whom you feel polarized, notice where you place the mental border delineating your space from their space.
Locate that line physically on the floor between you.
Mark the line with the slip of paper.

4:
Return to your chair and focus your attention on that borderline and how affects you.

Ask yourself: What is that border intended to prevent or enable?
Sketch your thoughts in words or images.

5:
Physically approach the border, without crossing it, and notice how that proximity affects you. What happens in your body?

When you are ready, return to your spot and shake out your body to prepare for the next action.

6:
Sitting in your chair, direct your attention back to the borderline.

While maintaining a sense of appropriate safety, try mentally moving that border both in the direction of yourself and in the direction of the other person / group.
Notice what happens in you.

Possibly (but not necessarily) move the border past you or them, creating a space that contains you both. This is not a goal, but an investigative action.

Note any resistance in yourself to moving the borderline.
Ask yourself: What is that resistance trying to prevent or enable?
Sketch your thoughts in words or images.

(Note: The point of this action is not to agree, submit, ignore appropriate boundaries, or excuse behavior that you see as destructive. Rather, this is a method for examining the dynamics of a situation and the ways in which we remain inevitably interconnected, even when we are in profound disagreement.)

7:
Move away from your chair and look at the chair configuration from the outside, seeing the dynamic between you and the other person / group from this angle.

Try wishing the other person / group well, especially when your first impulse is not to wish them well.
Try wishing yourself well.

When you are ready, return to your spot.

8:
Repeat action 6 a second time, mentally moving the border in the direction of both the other person / group and in the direction of yourself.
Notice what happens in you.

Ask yourself:
a. Are there ways in which I am strengthening this polarization by ignoring gray areas or areas of complexity in the situation?
b. Beyond our polarized positions, what is most important to me in this situation? Do I know what is most important to the other person / group?
Sketch your thoughts.

9:
Come back to yourself, take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
Entertain the idea that every conflict is proposing constructive change.

10:
Consider how you would like to approach this polarized relationship in the future.

Ask yourself: What is one do-able action that I can take to support myself (and others) in moving toward constructive change?

The action may be internal or external, on your own or in cooperation with others. It may address individual or systemic aspects of the polarization. Keep it simple and do-able.

Write down your planned action and share your thoughts with another person.

11: (to be done in the future):
Carry out your planned action.

Dana Caspersen
Vermont, USA
3 November 2020
www.danacaspersen.com

With thanks to the MichaelDouglas Kollektiv, Millie Caspersen,
Wendy Foxmyn, and Michael Schumacher for beta-testing this score.

Commissioned by PACT Zollverein
and 1000 Scores