Reflection on the EAGT conference – September 2019, Budapest, Hungary
I am deeply concerned about what is going on these days in Hungary – we live in a country led by a populist, autocratic leader, in a social field where dialogue is missing, civil rights are demonized and basic human rights of women, the poor, minorities and migrants are not valued. I am aware it is not just us in the world and it makes the phenomena even more severe.
The EAGT conference took place in my hometown, Budapest, in September 2019. We welcomed hundreds of gestaltists from all over the world, and we also gathered and met as Hungarian gestaltists – something we don’t do very often or at all.
In the larger, big group, setting hardly any word addressed what is going on outside of the conference center. We did not reflect, or raise awareness, or have dialogue in any structured or organized way. I did have very meaningful conversations though about social and political themes in smaller intimate groups or face to face, but as a whole we avoided the obvious, myself included.
I gained a lot by being in this cozy bubble; for a while I could forget about the storm outside and the stone in my stomach. I felt uplifted, energized, and inspired by many of the workshops I attended. It was great to chat with colleagues from the nearer and further countries, as well as to see the local faces.
But then I started to feel uneasy, hence was drawn to topics focusing more on the social field, like how the larger field impacts the therapeutical dialogue, or human rights, diversity and privilege. It became apparent how the conference setting was ‘mimicking’ the Hungarian reality by avoiding a controversial subject.
Only by the end I realized it’s been a missed opportunity to crack a taboo together with fellow gestalt professionals, and to actively stand up for certain values. I was part of the silence, which I regret. I missed an experience of not being alone.
Writing this reflection is stepping out of my routine and comfort zone. I know how to blur in and remain invisible – it’s in my veins as a third generation holocaust survivor and as someone having spent her childhood in the communist era.
I want to continue differently, and hereby I’m raising my voice and raising awareness. I have the hope that I’m not alone and that together we can start a dialogue about how we as an international gestalt community – therapists, coaches, OD professionals – think about our responsibility, the part we play and our commitment to human rights. Are you guys out there?!
So, I see how Salomo Friedlander’s Zero Point is teaching me to handle the Fertile Void in this situation.
Written by Judit Bence | please comment below or email her directly: email@example.com
Header photo by Alfred Kenneally on Unsplash
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Author: Judit Bence
Judit is a gestalt therapist and OD practitioner, teacher and co-founder of the recently born Budapest Gestalt Institute.
Thanks a lot for writing your reaction!
I would be interested to know more about your social intervention experiments – could you please share more?
Hi Seán, it’s great to hear from you!
I’m not sure about the indifference, it doesn’t sound right for me. I didn’t feel ‘indifferent’ at the gathering, I felt rather alone, didn’t know how many of us missing the context and at the same time I felt less at risk, more safe.
So, maybe, yes – but what would that ‘institute level focus’ look like?
I have often experienced a similar feeling after gatherings- “so we meet again… and…..?”. I have difficulty accepting the lack of transcendence of the meeting of so many talented, caring individuals. I find myself more drawn to the gestalt+activism and social intervention experiments.
I appreciate your speaking up.
Unfortunately Judit, in the choice between fertile void and noncreative indifference we, as a community of practice have chosen simple indifference. At an individual level, many of us do what you have done and attempt to raise awareness within our immediate field of influence. Maybe we can focus our energy at institute level?