Post-truth heartbreak and no hope!

I wanted to take this opportunity to send my good wishes to you all and thank you  for your on-going commitment and engagement to this blog and pursuit of contemplative pedagogy.

This is a picture from the blog’s stats page showing how the number of visitors (in dark blue) and views (mid blue) have increased year on year with just over 2000 visitors and just over 4000 views in 2017.

Cntemplative pedagogy stats sml

I have really enjoyed seeing these numbers increase with each year, and whilst on the one hand we shouldn’t get too dependent on statistics to provide a sense of purpose, it does fill me with excitement about the future.

And lets face it  – that’s not an easy feeling to invoke after what many of us have experienced as a particularly bruising year. At no other time have I felt as shaken by world affairs as I do now. The challenge in my eyes is not to sit, powerless, paralysed by horrified anxiety, or shut ourselves away, but be willing to look, feel and respond.

At this time of the year with the huge emphasis placed on being ‘happy’ and ‘merry’ I doubt many blogs will mention heartbreak but it seems relevant to me. To engage with the challenges we face, in fact to fully engage with life, heartbreak is unavoidable. Palmer (2009) usefully draws out the difference between ‘a heart broken into a thousand shards…that sometimes become shrapnel aimed at the source of our pain…’ and a ‘heart ‘broken open’ to the largeness of life, into a greater capacity to hold one’s own and the world’s pain and joy’.

So whilst this year has been difficult, as result of it I feel a deepening sense of urgency. It seems my ability to turn away from what ails us is diminishing.  I know that I am not alone in this sense. 2018 needs to see the development of discussion about how contemplative pedagogy can help prepare us and those we teach for the inevitable heartbreak of being human and how collectively we support each other through that. It also needs to directly engage with the challenges of a post-truth, post-expert world in which views are aggressively expressed and offence easily taken. In particular I am interested in how contemplative pedagogy can become more critical and, slightly ironically, become more aware of itself, the way it both questions and reinforces the status quo. Is there a danger in teaching the importance of becoming quiet and still when what we really need is noise and action?

Anyway all of that aside, like many of you, I am tired. I am looking forward to sometime away from my computer and hope that you all find some time for things that restore you in readiness for the new year.

I’ll leave you with this poem excerpt:

‘Let’s stop making deals for a safe passage:
There isn’t one anyway, and the cost is too high.
We are not children anymore.
The true human adult gives everything for what cannot be lost.
Let’s dance the wild dance of no hope!’

(An excerpt from the Darkini Speaks by Jennifer Welwood)

Warm wishes


2 thoughts on “Post-truth heartbreak and no hope!

  1. Thank you for this post Caroline, which for me echoed the words of Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed while protesting against a far-right rally in Virginia “Charlottesville activist Heather Heyer’s mother: ‘Am I supposed to sit at home and cry?” (

    In the article, Susan Bro “compares racism in the US to the wound she received from cancer surgery seven years ago.” She says “To get that to heal, you have to keep it open and cleaned out because the infection will fester if you don’t. And I think that’s what has happened in our country. We didn’t take into account how deeply the infection ran. Now we have to keep the wound open enough to heal it.”

    She also speaks of her decision to grieve in private in order to be strong in public; the need for a “game face”. Perhaps that is what contemplative practice can help with – helping to heal us from within for our own benefit and that of others and making us resilient enough to continue to face the bullies.


  2. Thank you Caroline for succinctly articulating what I have found very difficult to. This year has indeed been bruising, like no other I have ever experienced; and like you I too am struggling with feelings, ethics and principles arising from the state of world affairs, in fact I think ‘despair’ is the most accurate reflection of what I am feeling. That said, 2017 has provided the environment for meeting some inspiring people, reconnect with those who had drifted, produce great ideas and get a handle on what truly motivates me along with a sense of fearlessness when it comes to expressing myself through painting, thinking, writing and teaching.
    I remember telling you a few weeks ago that I felt the sensation of standing on a precipice; that change was coming, that something big is going to happen.
    Well, it has in terms of my own being. I have chosen my path, and my compass is true – the ‘curriculum of I’ (Ergas 2016) available at:, explains things a little better.

    After all, what is a critic? what is an expert? it’s time to transcend boundaried hierarchical and socially normative thinking when there is so much at stake. It’s time to wake up and have the courage of our convictions.

    Here’s to friendship, creativity, fearlessness and transcending the stagnant in 2018.



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