Event: 20th May 2021, Brussels
Dr Kass was invited to address the EC and its associated EU institutions at a lunch-time talk organized by the European School of Administration (EuSA) on the subject of lessons learned.
Kass was personally invited by the head of the EuSA, Ana Yturriaga Saldanha, who was familiar with Kass’s experience in this domain when he was previously invited by her to carry out a training session on the general subject of Lessons Learned at the EC in 2015.
The talk started with the question “What are Lessons Learned” to foster and understanding of its real meaning. It then progressed to discuss the current Covid pandemic and lessons that should have been learned, success stories and failures. Important lesson was to give cause to reflect why we failed to listen to warnings and past experiences from others, while some did learn, but having had bitter experience of their own.
This led to the general theme of failure to learn as being symptomatic of our age and bringing understanding of the underlying reasons that condemn us to continue failing to learn lessons from experience. Various key elements of failure were considered, such as societal failure with regard to responsibility and obligations, distrust in institutions such as mainstream media and public institutions, failure in investigative and independent journalism, propaganda and skewed or biased reporting, all contributing towards such failure. Within this failure is the rising lack of truth in so-called independent investigations, where inconvenient truths are suppressed, dismissed, or simply suffer from deafening silence. With this deluge of falsehood mixed with half-truths on the parts of both our public institutions and those who are supposed to hold them in check, it is not surprising that there is little basis for learning any useful lessons.
The audience was exhorted to grasp the silver lining of the failures suffered in this pandemic and learn to ask the right questions and demand the right answers and to think critically and take responsibility in discerning truth from falsehood – without which there can be no useful learning.
A glimpse was cast into current challenges facing us, such as Cancel Culture, banning of books and people, suppressing of inconvenient Truths, whose handling will determine how future generations will look back at us, and judge our success or failure in learning the right lessons.
The reaction of the audience was quite positive, with the only complaint being that there was not enough time to adequately discuss all the challenging issues raised. The organizers invited Kass to return and discuss in more detail the issues raised, perhaps in a few additional talks.
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