“Being present with intelligence, knowledge, skills, and strength, but anchored in heart”


If you can spare an hour to listen to a remarkably far-ranging and compassionate mind at work, please click to this December 2016 lecture by Dr. Michael Britton at the annual workshop of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network in New York City. The occasion is the workshop’s Don Klein Memorial Lecture, which provides the speaker with an opportunity to paint — in strokes both broad and hard — a connective, contextual, historical picture about our society and how we move forward in the quest for human dignity. Here’s Michael’s bio, and here’s how the lecture is described on its YouTube page:

Michael Britton gives the Don Klein Memorial Lecture on the morning of December 8, 2015, Day Two of the 13th Workshop on Transforming Humiliation and Violent Conflict, which took place at Columbia University in New York City, December 8 – 9, 2016. Michael Britton is concerned with integrative thinking across neuroscience, in-depth psychotherapies and historical/cultural living, Michael’s work looks at how participation in the historical life of our times and interior life are deeply intertwined.

At the outset of his talk, Michael acknowledges the “struggle between how you keep faith, love, and joy strong in the midst of . . . also feeling fear and angst about some of the things going on in our country and our world.” He goes on to recognize the challenges of “being present with intelligence, knowledge, skills, and strength, but anchored in heart.”

Michael has a unique ability to integrate individual change and social change, making connections between topics such as childhood neglect and abuse, politics and policy, the environment, and human rights. He is not a hell fire and brimstone speaker, so if you’re looking for someone shakes the rafters, you may want to look elsewhere. Rather, he is a calm, intelligent, impassioned voice who gives us reason for hope without ignoring the challenges we face.

Dear readers, in this age of short attention spans and Twitter, suggesting that you invest some 60 minutes in an old-fashioned lecture is asking a lot, I know. My suggestion? Give this lecture 15 minutes and decide whether it’s worth your time to watch the rest. I hope you’ll agree that it’s worth watching the rest.


Group photo of our workshop

4 responses

  1. Thank you so much for sharing Michael Britton’s talk, David. It feels affirming and despite the challenges we face in creating a new healthy order/system, hopeful. For me, I’ve been on somewhat of an angry/sad rollercoaster since the election feeling shaken to the core of my being. Where elements of trust and mistrust wage an old battle! A place where relationship formation, faith, and love are woven in with judgment, suspicion, and fear. It feels important to me to acknowledge what we’re up against while staying focused on the work of positive change.

    One of my personal struggles is frustrations I have is with people who can’t or won’t speak up against bullying of any sort. A judgmental stance I know and struggle with.

    I loved his slide of the beautiful path in the forest w/ light beaming in with the smaller picture of a turbulent ocean embedded in it. It was accompanying his story about the band playing happy music and spreading love through an oppressed and miserable village and how the band moved on and the village couldn’t sustain the joy and his message, as I understand it, to the millions of positive change agents is that we have to stay! In my mind, this means that not only do we do the work of helping awaken hearts and come from a ‘heart-anchored’ place, but also that we acknowledge the turbulence and ask ourselves and each other about what we can to calm it, prevent it, let it calm itself, validate the suffering, build boats and rafts to minimize more suffering.

    We have to be clear about what we are for as well as what we are against. I think that Robert Fuller makes that point in his work to promote dignity and take a stand against rankism. When we can. If we can.

    Anyways, thank you for your work against bullying and for dignity! Happy NY too. My work in applied improv holds both too and I’m definitely staying! 🙂

    • Beth, I’m glad you liked Michael’s talk. I got a lot of out it watching it again for the purposes of writing my blog post. I particularly appreciate his ability to sound some hopeful messages without ignoring the despair and alarm that some of us are feeling, especially in the aftermath of the election.

      Best of luck with your work in 2017, and may the year be a good one for you.

  2. This is a wonderful lecture, very rich, that I will be listening to again. I found the introduction immediately calming as he explained basically we are going through growing pains which we know are always painful. He also pointed out the importance of information; which follows that our society is experiencing frustration to find real news, real facts that facilitate a person being able to stand in a place of strength. Towards the end, I began to listen to the lecture in terms of workplace bullying. Victims do have something dead inside of themselves. We do need to be validated, to have a voice, and an action needs to be taken if we are to reclaim our dead parts. We do need to feel part of the whole not left on the fringes. Many things to reflect on. Thanks, David.

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