Navigating the territory of culture and worldview, racism and colonisation, inequity and privilege and power, cannot be done using the intellect alone. Learning about these things, being able to discuss and analyse them knowledgeably and logically, can only take us so far.
There are other capacities we need if we are to get beyond a performative engagement with tangata whenua, and into a genuinely relational space. And these are often neglected in our dominant western knowledge systems—overlooked as secondary, or irrelevant, or not really part of serious inquiry.
Yet, Western science has started to catch up with what indigenous cultures have always known—that our physical, emotional, spiritual, and social realms are as important to integrating new knowledge into our lives as the mental processes of abstract reasoning. We need to process ideas with others, in connection with our bodies, and in communion with the complex dynamic world around us.
To move outside habitual colonial patterns of thinking, we need to disrupt our binary operating system. We practise moving from either/or to both/and.
We are the traffic.
We are not separate from our systems, we are part of them. We are always critiquing from the inside—there is no objective observer position.
Stay with the trouble.
If we learn to stay in the discomfort, rather than avoiding or suppressing it, we can find ways through it that can lead to new insights and integration.
The body keeps the score.
Understanding how our nervous systems work is key to cultural transformation. The way we learn, and our patterns of behaviour are conditioned by so much more than conscious thought. This understanding is especially important in the trauma fields of colonisation, racism, and oppression.
The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.
If we want to truly unpick white supremacy, we need to develop a new skillset for doing so. Supremacy will not be overcome by more supremacy. The logic of whiteness shores up whiteness further.
Decolonisation as a creative act.
To move away from the harms of colonisation, we need to be able to imagine and create new ways of being and doing. Critique is not enough. Creativity is essential.
Ask better questions.
Asking more beautiful questions will yield more beautiful answers. We practise going deep, going wide, getting underneath, and living the questions.
Connection is key.
We need to re-connect to ourselves, each other, and the more-than-human world.
Learning to let go of the need to control and fix outcomes, and being able to work with the complexity, dynamism and entanglement of living systems is an essential capacity for meeting uncertainty.