How about we get on the side of life, which means not being on the side of death?
The side of life: taking ourselves seriously, which means taking seriously all of these and more: aliveness, vibrancy, intimacy, vulnerability, openness, courage, integrity, play, joy, anger, sadness, dignity, compassion, wisdom, uncertainty, fear and freedom.
The side of death: turning away, suppressing, denying, avoiding, constraining, limiting or controlling anything on the side of life.
The side of death is alluring, comforting even. Deadening ourselves means we won’t have to feel what we don’t want to feel, or experience what we don’t want to experience. And perhaps if we can deaden others, they won’t bring us any of that either.
If we’re unlucky, we can live a whole life on the side of death, perhaps only waking up to life when it’s too late (see Tolstoy’s short novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich for a stunning account of just this).
Whole organisations – their structures, processes, practices – can be dedicated to the side of death too (the difficulty here is that the side of death looks so respectable, so reasonable).
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Life is never out of our reach, even in trying circumstances.
And the good news is that there are many people, and many organisations, whose commitment to life shines strongly, and who are just dying to share with us what they know.