Externalization of Responsibility – A Critical Comment

This text has been written with the best intentions, however, it contains passages which may not be suited for all types of audience…

Many aspects of countering extremism are problematic as to personal or external roles and functions. He or she who is imbalanced, concerning his or her basic personality, growth and wisdom, and stage of life, or unprofessional, risks committing mistakes in his or her counter-extremism work, be it members of civil society or of official bodies who, undoubtedly, are both involved in most valuable work to stabilize society.

When we externalize responsibility, we tend to minimize conscience of mistakes, or indulge in escapism – be it as workaholics, as hedonists, in self-isolation, or other means of coping. At times with consequences influencing our stance as valuable and accountable subjects of society, or touching upon good health, as is the case in other sectors of the economy or in organizations providing similar services to the public, in a range of relevant functions.

Some commit more mistakes in sectors of their/our lives, some fewer. However, when such mistakes manifest as excess or omission, especially under negative stress, and are generalized from the personal to the non-private, this may in some cases aggravate given preconceptions, leading up to discrimination of persons we ought, a contrario, care for in our jobs, as well as to cases of inequity.

As always, it is necessary to remain objective and to show distanced compassion, also known as empathy, depending on close contact with people. Emotional intelligence counts as much as abiding by formal rules.

Hence, educating continuously for our jobs is essential for self-realization and to prevent or correct mistakes – as practitioners or academics -, since work can, through the years, be difficult, leading to unwarranted reactions towards persons we should treat professionally and with an amount of respect.

Not everyone is apt at fulfilling counter- extremist functions. Hence, due selection of so-called human resources, i.e. recruitment. In many cases, aptitude manifests itself after a given period of fulfilling our jobs only, at which stage it is necessary for supervisors to take appropriate measures. One of them could be the provision of fitting educational formats, another could be personal counseling. We also need to keep curricula and standard learning material up to date, in order to ensure the promulgation of misjudgment and missteps.

On a note of caution, the extent of the latter is not quantifiable, not least for reasons of data protection. But this comment may be relevant for many, to different degrees, and hopefully will not apply to the majority of practitioners and academics involved in the, necessary, counter-extremist lines of work. Let us do our best to ensure this remains so or come about, chiefly through ethical decisions and self-control.

Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
21 December 2021

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