A manifesto and manual for readers looking to expand their capacities for kindness and mindfulness while also minimizing harm in the world at large.
In this third volume of her psychosociological work, Riddle builds on the structure established in Principles of Abundance for the Cosmic Citizen (2010) and Positive Harmlessness in Practice (2010). In these works, she offers an overall prescription for a world in which people are aware of their biases and actively work to combat the physical and metaphorical violence they produce. She argues against a binary, A-or-B view of the world, contending that this leads to depersonalization and objectification of people or groups considered “other.” Instead, her book offers guidance on embracing a growth mindset, becoming aware of implicit biases, and developing a collaborative social structure that acknowledges the dignity of all participants. Appendices provide further information on the use of gendered language, the science of “nonhuman persons” (such as animals and plants), and the American Anthropological Association’s definition of race. A thorough notes section will help guide readers through the book’s source material. Those same readers, though, are likely to be divided on Riddle’s approach, finding it either inspiring or abstruse depending on their reactions to language such as, “We commit micro-instances of ‘purposeful backgrounding’ when we actively avoid another person,” and concepts such as animals’ right to be paid for their labor and “ecocide” (“the extensive damage to, destruction of, or loss of ecosystem(s)”) as part of the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction. But whether readers agree or disagree with her arguments, there’s no dispute over the book’s strengths as a work of scholarship. It’s fully grounded in both theory and observation, drawing on a wide range of published research, and its fully developed, coherent arguments are likely to find even skeptics in agreement with some elements. Overall, readers will acknowledge that this is a timely contribution to the national discussion of privilege, prejudice, and making the world a better place.
A thoroughly researched argument for a nonbinary approach to understanding the world that’s likely to find both fervent adherents and strong critics.