By Dwight Panozzo, PhD
What is a Culpability Circle (CC)? It’s a place where folx can gather together to increase their understanding of concepts at issue in our culture where a diversity of opinion exists. The CC functions to create an orderly space where all voices—including dissenting ones— can be heard, uncertainties and validated facts shared, and a workable understanding supported. The goal is to create a space of both learning and growing beyond earlier challenges. Once the members of the Circle have come to an understanding of an issue, they also take on the commitment to live out that understanding to the very best of their ability beyond the Circle.
The concept was developed by our member Dwight Panozzo, PhD, LCSW who recognizes that engagement for change in our world is best driven through a process of increasing self-awareness. This process includes a willingness to examine our values and understandings together and to engage in change processes when the evidence we are able to compassionately and carefully share with each other indicates that conclusions we have come to and operate from are not as supported as our behavior in the world indicates.
Topics to be explored are without limit but would be expected to include racism, sexism, theism, Internet-fueled propaganda, totalitarian regimes, and our culpability in the creation and ongoing support of those challenges. For our first Culpability Circle on June 12 at 2 pm on Zoom, we will explore the concept of the Circle and begin to weigh in on our potential issues of culpability for ourselves and others around the crisis of the war in Ukraine launched by Vladimir Putin and the variety of steps we can consider to both support those who are suffering and to raise consciousness around steps we and others can take to disempower autocrats, such as Vladimir Putin. We will also meet on June 26 at 2 pm and then use the summer to evaluate our process before returning in the fall. (The Zoom links for each meeting will be in the Weekly Announcements email and may be obtained by emailing [email protected]).
Growth and healing for humanity
Based on the concepts of both the Scientific Method and Beloved Community, the CC seeks to create a place of truth and compassion that leads to growth and healing for humanity and protection of the Earth.
Future Circles will include attendee-generated suggested readings to deepen our awareness of the topics to be discussed, but for this first Circle, we will depend on our lived experience as our primary source material for discussion. The Circle is free for all members of our Society, and members of the public are welcome to attend. The Circle is also free for those who actively support a group such as a church, mosque, synagogue, or other community-based organization through their time or treasure. Others are encouraged to make a donation of $10 to our society for each circle that they attend.
Looking unflinchingly at us and our world
Unlike other Zoom-based meetings, the CC is a “cameras on” experience in order to enhance the intimacy and engagement of the experience. Please be prepared to join us in that way.
The CC functions to create a focused experience to look unflinchingly at those spaces and places where we and our world need to grow for the well-being of humanity and the survival of the human species. It is a space to kindle within ourselves the light of understanding, the warmth of compassion, and the fire of commitment.
Dwight Panozzo, PhD, LCSW, is a member of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.