"Thresholds, Changing Trends, and Chris Pringer, June 2016
Learning from Extremism"
From an Eastern perspective, particularly that of Taoism, it is said that we need the extremes to recognize the center, a corollary being that without one extreme, there could not be the other. One might ask, at which point in the movement from one extreme toward the other, or from the center to an extreme, or the other direction hopefully, does one reach the threshold at which one's perception about something changes to a substantial or permanent degree. Well, we could also ask whether we're talking about conscious or unconscious change, conscious or unconscious perception, or how effected the change or perception is by unconscious beliefs. But let's see how simple we can keep this, to begin with anyway. I have used brackets below where I attempt to make more sense to the non-mathematics inclined mind [which generally includes my own, with some areas of exception].
Simply put, thresholds are all about the marking or measuring of change, and so also helps us understand something about extremes. It seems (to this author) that we are in a time of intense change. I can't help but think that trends watchers are competing rampantly to assess what exactly is happening, let alone predict what will come from all this. Looking at who all we have running for president in 2016 alone, indicates some very radical changes have come about in the US. How can we not all learn something from this collision of extremes!? I would add, "when it's all said and done," But I am pretty sure it is safe to say that those changes have had, do have, and will have, critical effect on the rest of the world for some time to come - whether for good or for ill. What I do not know is how much the question of "How crazy is all this?" is so consciously present in people's minds - or even if it should be.
The above provides sufficient context, to understand what is meant here by "extreme," if it was ever needed in these times. Given that, we can take a few paragraphs to change the "tense" back to the terminology on the ground floor of this essay, so to speak...
The term "Threshold" might require a tad more discussion. According to Wikipedia, there are two significant definitions, different only by context and application, perhaps (or at least to a concept junky such as this writer). Those would be:
a) the "threshold effect" - "a sudden and radical change in a phenomenon which often occurs after surpassing a quantitative limit [a number or quantity of something, some things, events, etc] called the threshold."
b) the "behavioral threshold" (per "threshold model" that serves to indicate or measure change, particularly significant change(s), ie: in a process or process of events), whereby "In mathematical or statistical modelling a threshold model is any model where a threshold value [ie: a number, amount, or proportion of something], or set of threshold values, is used to distinguish ranges of values where the behavior predicted by the model varies in some important way."
c) There are a few more types of thresholds that are more defining and limiting, if you will. One is called the "difference threshold" - "the smallest amount of change needed in a stimulus before we notice the change." In neuroscience the threshold is "the strength or greatness of a stimulant which will generate its detection half of the time." Also in neuroscience there is the "absolute threshold": "the smallest detectable level of a stimulus." [Underlining denotes a link to the sources of the quote.]
The first two noted are intended to be sufficient for the purpose here (the third set possibly providing more context for better understanding). Both of are, IMHO, critical aspects in the consideration of change - in behavior, on either and/or both the personal and social, local and global, etc. The difference may be further born out in these comparisons of context:
"Threshold Effect" was popularized mostly by what was called "the 100th Monkey" phenomenon among psychologists and sociologists, and popularized especially among those interested in "Human Potential" as related to the evolution of humanity, planetary healing. These are terms which I understand may sound kitsch to some readers - who have a very different idea about what *conscious change* within a human actually implies. And conscious change is what this writing is about.
Whereas, to quote from the Wiki reference: "Mark Granovetter ...proposed the threshold model (Granovetter & Soong, 1983, 1986, 1988), which assumes that individuals’ behavior depends on the number of other individuals already engaging in that behavior ...He used the threshold model to explain the riot, residential segregation, and the spiral of silence. In the spirit of Granovetter’s threshold model, the “threshold” is “the number or proportion of others who must make one decision before a given actor does so”. It is necessary to emphasize the determinants of threshold. A threshold is different for individuals, and it may be influenced by many factors: social economic status, education, age, personality, etc. Further, Granovetter relates “threshold” with utility one gets from participating collective behavior or not, using the utility function, each individual will calculate his cost and benefit from undertaking an action. And situation may change the cost and benefit of the behavior, so threshold is situation-specific. The distribution of the thresholds determines the outcome of the aggregate behavior (for example, public opinion).
|"The distribution of the thresholds determines the outcome of the aggregate behavior (for example, public opinion)." ~ Mark Granovetter
Before I go on with the scholastics, background research, and implications for practical application, I would like to say something about "Scope-In, Scope-Out" and understanding one's place in the context of one's immediate surroundings, but also of one's global surroundings, perhaps even the universal surroundings. And the nature and feeling of "connectedness." If you have been meditating for very long, I probably don't need to say much more about acquiring that understanding about one's place in the world. IE: perceiving from the micro-view to the macro-view, or from one perspective or detail to a broader perspectives, and/or other perspectives relative to that first detailed perspective, perhaps some useful cause and effect relationships. If you have not been meditating much, I would like to suggest that you consider it for the sake of improving that capacity within yourself. Short of that, there are these references:
"A Message from the Masters" - Ref 1: a select collection of ancient wisdom in colloquial voice - for balancing the adrenalised brain with the spiritual heart. That's what I'm calling it, as it is *Spot-On* for reminding one of how to "Scope-In, Scope-Out" in any tough circumstance - it can be the perfect message for holiday seasons, especially when mixed with warnings of international terrorism, etc. Reverend James Kubal-Komoto of Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church (Des Moines, WA) put together and gave this talk, and can be heard here - select Dec.6, "All Will Be Well", as well as via text transcript. Enjoy! [Note that the prefacing poem by Adam Zagajewski (published in 2002) may seem a bit paradoxical to those with sensitive emotional bodies (so to speak), but again, Rev. James' message (eternal) will put all in context. Thank you, cp, 12/9/15]
Ref 2: Books, "A Gradual Awakening" by Stephen Levine (basics in meditation), and "No Boundary" by Ken Wilber (more advanced concepts in cosmology)]
I bring all that up because a) it's just a very useful thing in any case for heart and mind, and b) it seems to me that this year (2016) would be the most ideal year yet to get clues about why the world appears insane. And if you do not believe that it "appears" insane in many, many ways, or if you have not noticed more insane actions in the world in recent years than in previous years, I'll just say that you might not be the best trend watcher abouts. In any case, extreme actions and events occur as a result of inner turmoil, as a result of pressures simply adding up - in this case, in greater quantity than ever before. And just as in the human body, such are the signs that need to be heeded. That doesn't necessarily mean "call out the Immune System Marine Corps." And it very likely does mean that it is time to build and/or appreciate your "emotional immune system." Related Reference:
"The Immune System, Aging, and an Attitudinal Approach that May Improve It"
And it may be time to take stock in other accounts of ones personal development, and refuse to buy into any emotional roller coasters that are being offered. If that roller coaster does appeal, one might consider checking out:
Notes on Addiction.
To keep this from getting complicated, I'll just refer you to the first mentioned reference above ("All Will Be Well"), and also say that asking what one's own spiritual avatar or ascended master teacher (etc) would do under a testy circumstance is not a bad idea. But also do try to listen for more than just a brief period for the answer(s).
Back to the scholastics, background research, and implications for practical application:
Classic threshold models were developed by Schelling, Axelrod, and Granovetter to model collective behavior. Schelling attempted to model the dynamics of segregation motivated by individual interactions in America (Schelling, 1971) by constructing two simulation models. Schelling demonstrated that “there is no simple correspondence of individual incentive to collective results,” and that the dynamics of movement influenced patterns of segregation. In doing so Schelling highlighted the significance of “a general theory of ‘tipping’”.
So, there are hi-thresholders, low-thresholders, and those somewhere in between. We are all somewhere along that scale. The lower the threshold, the more subject to influence by the energy of a group, empathy w/o consciousness, if you will. What I call "raw empathy" as associated with the third chakra (or energy center), the Solar Plexus Chakra," as compared to that of the 4th chakra, or "Heart Chakra." [That particular context (different types of empathy per different chakras) is discussed at the page, "The Lower Chakras & Synthesis of Body & Soul", more sociologically related at the Evolution Trends page.]
This article (that you are now reading) was inspired by Malcolm Gladwell's "The Big Man Can’t Shoot" as aired on Ira Glass's "This American Life" 6/25/16. At Gladwell's site, it is billed as Episode 03, 06/30/2016. It's about Rick Barry and Wilt Chamberlain and the psychology underlying "the amount of pride a player — someone already competing at the game’s highest level — would have to swallow to perform the “granny shot,” - which form would insure a game-changing greater percentage of points were it used - and which is the underlying focal point of the article, "Shooting for perfection" (Kevin Fixler, December 13, 2012 ).
*Underlying psychology* is the operative focal point here.
Gladwell explains Granovetter's Threshold model in most graphic context in his article, "Thresholds Of Violence", including that "Granovetter was most taken by the situations in which people did things for social reasons that went against everything they believed as individuals," and citing research by sociologists Ralph Larkin and Nathalie E. Paton, introducing their findings with the question, "But what if the way to explain the school-shooting epidemic is to go back and use the Granovetterian model—to think of it as a slow-motion, ever-evolving riot, in which each new participant’s action makes sense in reaction to and in combination with those who came before?" "...Now imagine that the riot takes a big step further along the progression—to someone with an even higher threshold, for whom the group identification and immersion in the culture of school shooting are even more dominant considerations." Gladwell's conclusion is disturbing, certainly if we accept only his conclusion.
I believe there are other factors at hand, but some conscious involvement on the part of society needs to take advantage of those factors. And it's not like our conscience's haven't been trying to push us in those directions. Men such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King and President Jimmy Carter and women such as Rosa Parkes, Mary Wollenscraft Shelley, Susan B. Anthony, Winnie Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi have tried to show us how to access and engage these parts of our conscience. Please also note the resources in the column at right. In any case, there is more food for thought, or meditation, or contemplation - take your pick for what brings clarity, peace, faith in, and/or more resources and hope for, justice.
And please be aware: there are ways to abuse the knowledge of threshold behavior theory - per the last sentence of the below book description for "The Tipping Point" - "...is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas." Hence, our need to be alert and aware in this regard. It is also time to further understand ourselves *as individuals* - more the priority right now than trying to understand our society, especially for one new at this. That is, to understand what makes us tick - what motivates us - in the worst as well as best directions. Because there are those who know how to speak to those parts. That is, to *any* of those parts that they are sufficiently influenced by profit to do so. And some of them will / already have been doing just that - to potential effect, as may lend to opportunities for extremism, for being conned into extremism. Or so apparently conned, that would-be thus-targeted individuals worry to the extent that they react in extreme ways - which might serve some con-artists' plans (for their personal desired future and trends).
More importantly, certainly more pro-actively as regards OUR current and unfolding trends and thresholds here: please know that self-knowledge increases and assists in facilitating the capacity to heal the conditions and circumstances, within and without. And as I say at the PolyPsyArts Home Page, "Who wants to see that "Hundredth Monkey" effect where enough of us push the rest of us through that threshold [for healing our World Community]?"
In Malcolm Gladwell's book, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" is “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” The book is about "that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas." [Gladwell's RevisionistHistory.Com => Itunes book review of "The Tipping Point"] For myself, I like the metaphor of a glass slowly filling, drip by drip, until it overflows and you hear that trickle sound of water going down the drain - it's just not noticed much before then, when you have to get up and make darned sure "this time" you turn the water all the way off.
In critical feedback, 'Essay Writing Expert' offers much for consideration in "The Power of Context by Malcolm Gladwell essay" March 31, 2015. It concludes with something I like: "... However, the main positive idea to be derived from Gladwell’s ratiocinations is that all the above mentioned factors are not just actively exploited in a destructive cult, but may also be used to enhance the control in the society and prevent the spread of negative trends, when the power of little things in a well-built situation will force a man to quickly make a specific right decision which will be further treated as one’s own internal choice, it will become the tipping point to a total change of personality."
Related Reference: "The Tipping Point" at Wikipedia
Ok, so where does that take us, or leave us, conceptually or pragmatically, in the discussion of change, of society(s) or of humanity? Or the hoped for learning from the apparent rapid rise of extremisms and outgrowths from that?
That is, I implied that there would be notes on "pragmatic application," right? Here's where for some readers I may need to clarify that, a) I understand that there are those who have difficulty seeing the connection between self-knowledge and building a coalition of individuals for activism, or building a center for housing the homeless, or stopping violence in the neighborhood, let alone changing the world. b) I agree, there's nothing like getting one's hands into the work (after all, notice my own profession for 30 years...). And c) I request consideration about what about the connection is between *clarity of mind,* a certain amount of humility regarding ones own "stuff" that one has learned to spot and nip in the bud before it gets in the way of getting things done, AND (the resulting) finding or working out of solutions? EG: between getting the interfering (ie: self-destructive or teamwork sabotaging) feelings or behavior out from in front of the task, and getting the more productive ones there.
For example, consider a brilliant person I knew (who I will refer to from this point on as "Brill") who is so "brilliant," (Brill truly is) that Brill so effectively out-maneuvered Brill's therapists that they never came close to convincing Brill that psychotherapy had anything to offer -- other than years(!) of entertaining chess play and challenging(?) debate. Hence, Brill never healed the grief and anger, certainly not enough to keep Brill from poisoning more of Brill's would-be partnerships. Well, of course, per that old joke - about how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb - the key responsibility for Brill's healing was Brill's, not Brill's therapists'. The point of all this being, when it comes to ideas about "pragmatism," the main difference between Brill and the successful corporation owners - with their "needs" for profit even if it totally sabotages planetary sustainability - is that Brill consciously believes that we all need to work towards planetary sustainability, and various other things per Brill's other more politically liberal perspectives.
And you may ask what's personal relations got to do with accomplishing change in the world? I would answer: a) refer to the paragraphs before the previous one and after this one and then to consider the long-term implications of the points therein, and then b) note that for the shorter-term as well as long-term, you need only consider the relationship between politicians' personal lives and their political effectiveness after being blackmailed. c) Most any social scientist or psychologist knows that rehabilitation of criminals is by far more cost-effective than imprisonment - and that's only the beginning of the advantage points. d) They will also tell you that the first three years of a child's life, including time in the womb, are the most important for psychological as well as physical development. And that time has implications in every aspect of life, particularly those determining the cost of governing society. The point being that the provision of healthy parenting as well as resources *works* for all concerned. And of course that healthy parenting requires healthy parents. That point is elucidated at "Providing the INFRASTRUCTURE for Cooperation."
Also, if the psychotherapy sabotage story sounds like I'm implying we have contradictions between our conscious and unconscious beliefs about what works for what, or what should actually work at all for accomplishing certain, various, or most all things - you are absolutely right. That is what being human is - before that other human capability kicks in - self-healing - which must be preceded by some self-knowledge, which is preceded by some self-honesty, which (of course?) requires some humility. It also helps a lot to know the agenda of ones ego and recognize it's tricks (especially in the use of addictions). That point is made with socio-political elaboration and multi-level ramifications in the illustrated essay, "The Process of Achieving World Change... and 'Choices for World Change' Or 'World of Addiction'" at the "Poly-Psy Citizen Healing Page (Jan'12, March'13). [Related "Co-Existence Set" of Thumb links in right column.]
EG: So much for beliefs about what is pragmatic, but in any case, I offer for your consideration these notes on accomplishing some "Threshold Effect" towards that planetary sustainability - psycho-socially, as well as politically, as well as environmentally (because they are likely NOT going to happen separately):
It ALL happens by increments and thresholds attained over time. "All" here includes increasingly clearer understandings of individual parts. Besides, William Tiller, Ph.D., one of my main guys for backup for the "yes, we can" part of it, is the editor of 2 scientific journals, publisher of more than 250 scientific papers and three technical books, and has five patents issued. And he is only one of a number of well established scientists who are telling us that such practice will make a difference - if we individually apply the science. John Hagelin, Ph.D., also of 'Bleep,' researches and teaches more about "educational programs that develop human consciousness, and [that] through policies and programs that effectively harness the laws of nature, it is possible to solve acute social problems and enhance governmental effectiveness." There's more about 'Bleep science' in a section of it's own below ("ON SCIENCE & CONSCIOUSNESS"). [excerpt from the World Healing Prayers page - but that same section is mirrored below on this page as well.]
The relationship between polarity and magnetism in energy fields, AND with the attributes of individuality and diversity... Considering that each being, were his/her potential to be fully developed, would be both *uniquely talented* with [an] essential part to play and (thereby necessarily) *respectful of diversity* of others and each their part to play in the "gestalt" of Life. The design of humanity (IMO) provides for the potential to so fully develop via our genetic code - which is even now not so deranged that it cannot be repaired/"healed" before the trends in global crisis reach a threshold of no return. That is, we can shift if enough of humanity were to evolve to honor the diversity of humanity - in all the ways that implies. [This paragraph was previously posted [by this author] at Institute of HeartMath's Facebook page, re: "Each Individual Impacts the Field Environment" 11/19/09, 4:44 AM. Related: Below section, "ON SCIENCE, CONSCIOUSNESS, & WORLD CHANGE"]
From the description for the Evolution Trends page (© Chris Pringer, Fall 1995):
"... We will have the unique opportunity to learn first-hand from the most hi-tech, research data-backed, psychological ...Awareness on/of the various levels & interrelationships between these areas... intuition may find an unprecedented role ...its popular integration with the more logical approaches ...various systems of 'Integrated Diagnostics' will be developed..." and much, much more ..."
I later added (in December 2011), in the paragraph before that, that we "...are now just past what I referred to as 'the next decade' (in the original paper), wherein so much was/continues to be determined about how - and how soon - we begin this next age - or if we do - before the planet (otherwise) overhauls itself. But if we do get through all that, "...then we could accomplish [per the above paragraph, and that] "I believe in the '100th Monkey' threshold effect, where, in this case, what we might now call 'Miracles' would be (events) described simply by enough of us beginning and/or continuing to do what we know in conscience that we need to do - until that threshold effect makes it relevant to us that we have brought the rest of humanity on board the Earth Steward Ship."
Change Within Individuals And Society Over Time
The following are the final two paragraphs of "Seven Phases of Evolution", a section added (Fall 2009) at End of the "Evolution Trends" essay (© Chris Pringer, Fall 1995). ["Seven Phases" is about belief systems as well as the phases of growth processes that Humanity passes through (in groups as well as individuals) in it's evolution in consciousness. It is based on the development of the seven major energy centers, often called "chakras" that also relate to the human endocrine glands (again, all from a Taoist perspective)]:
As a person experiences life in a given day, in different circumstances, with different moods, with different people, etc, that person may resonate more with any one of the seven energy centers than with any other center, changing perhaps with each experience. Some persons may resonate more with "higher" energy centers through more of the experiences than someone else. And they may "Live there" on a daily basis, ever evolving. But who is to say actually, since how they actually appear to behave might vary depending on many factors - not the least of which may be the objectivity of the one observing and judging the appearance.
The very fact that such things are difficult to judge... says a) we should be careful not to judge unless bound by law perhaps to do so, and b) consideration of such dynamics should lead to increased humility about and compassion for those people and situations we cannot be objective about. That is, to consider such dynamics may give rise to a kind of perspective on life that is liberating for some people, lending to more understanding of and toleration for others that live or believe differently. And it may lead some people to shed or revise their believe systems that would otherwise lend to hypocrisy in relationship with others. One can only hope, at least.
... and eventually ...
God & Goddess join by proxy ... Goddess emanates role of Madonna, and births the Dove of Peace - within the hearts of mankind, due to a (heart-chakra LOVE) threshold having been reached ... [ Excerpt from "A Kind of Summary For Pragmatic Balance & Related Resource Links" ]
'...as a Divine Energy Vortex through the Vessel of Humanity, Unity through the process of Duality, Even in each atom, cell, and organ Our form and ego provide a Cauldron For the Transformation Flame...' [ excerpt from prose "Chalice Bridging" & "Synthesis" over "PiChal-onSepia" ... ]
"How many of us would it take for such a momentum created by that TO bring about a ("One-Hundredth Monkey" type of) THRESHOLD EFFECT So as to MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE in this world ??? ..." [ excerpt from the end of the prose, "Heart's Desire, Ideals, & Accomplishment" at The Goal Chart page]
"Violet Rainbow Lightning Chalice CellRing - Out o' the 'Myst'", © Chris Pringer, Oct 2014
"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate." ~ Carl Jung
"BUDDHA was not a Buddhist. JESUS was not a Christian. MUHAMMAD was not a Muslim. They were TEACHERS who taught LOVE. LOVE was their RELIGION." - by unknown author
"Multi-Chalice Cells Wild in Crossed Vortex 9-2 Atomic Chalice Sphere, Flower Of Life on Black" © Chris Pringer Apr 2013
"Bright Chalice Ancient Symbol Tapestry 2" © Chris Pringer June 2014 - If you like this artwork, it is available in a variety of sizes and frames, or cell phone covers (or on most anything else you can think of!) at my Artist Websites .Com
Noam Chomsky On Power Abuse
"Four Understandings" by Chris Pringer, Jan'14; Full Size at World Healing Prayers on Sacred Geometry Page
“The foundation of all mental illness is the unwillingness to experience legitimate suffering.”
– Carl Jung
“Conscience is the root of all true courage;
if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience.”
– James Freeman Clarke
Excerpts From Wikipedia on
Edward O Wilson has developed the idea of consilience to encourage coherence of global moral and scientific knowledge supporting the premise that "only unified learning, universally shared, makes accurate foresight and wise choice possible". Thus, world conscience is a concept that overlaps with the Gaia hypothesis in advocating a balance of moral, legal, scientific and economic solutions to modern transnational problems such as global poverty and climate change, through strategies such as environmental ethics, climate ethics, natural conservation, ecology, cosmopolitanism, sustainability and sustainable development, biosequestration and legal protection of the biosphere and biodiversity. The NGO 350.org, for example, seeks to attract world conscience to the problems associated with elevation in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
At the awards ceremony for the 200 metres at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City John Carlos, Tommie Smith and Peter Norman ignored death threats and official warnings to take part in an anti-racism protest that destroyed their respective careers. W. Mark Felt an agent of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation who retired in 1973 as the Bureau's Associate Director, acted on conscience to provide reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein with information that resulted in the Watergate scandal. Conscience was a major factor in US Public Health Service officer Peter Buxtun revealing the Tuskegee syphilis experiment to the public. The 2008 attack by the Israeli military on civilian areas of Palestinian Gaza was described as a "stain on the world's conscience". Conscience was a major factor in the refusal of Aung San Suu Kyi to leave Burma despite house arrest and persecution by the military dictatorship in that country. Conscience was a factor in Peter Galbraith's criticism of fraud in the 2009 Afghanistan election despite it costing him his United Nations job. Conscience motivated Bunnatine Greenhouse to expose irregularities in the contracting of the Halliburton company for work in Iraq. Naji al-Ali a popular cartoon artist in the Arab world, loved for his defense of the ordinary people, and for his criticism of repression and despotism by both the Israeli military and Yasser Arafat's PLO, was murdered for refusing to compromise with his conscience. The journalist Anna Politkovskaya provided (prior to her murder) an example of conscience in her opposition to the Second Chechen War and then-Russian President Vladimir Putin. Conscience motivated the Russian human-rights activist Natalia Estemirova, who was abducted and murdered in Grozny, Chechnya in 2009. The Death of Neda Agha-Soltan arose from conscience-driven protests against the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Female Muslim lawyer Shirin Ebadi (winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize) has been described as the 'conscience of the Islamic Republic' for her work in protecting the human rights of women and children in Iran. The human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, often referred to as the 'conscience of China' and who had previously been arrested and allegedly tortured by the Chinese regime for defending members of the Falun Gong, was abducted by Chinese security agents on 4 February 2009 and has not been seen since. 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo in his final statement before being sentenced by a closed Chinese court to over a decade in jail as a political prisoner of conscience stated: "For hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit." Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer in Russia, was arrested, held without trial for almost a year and died in custody, as a result of exposing corruption. On 6 October 2001 Laura Whittle was a naval gunner on HMAS Adelaide (FFG 01) under orders to implement a new border protection policy when they encountered the SIEV-4 (Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel-4) refugee boat in choppy seas. After being ordered to fire warning shots from her 50 calibre machinegun to make the boat turn back she saw it beginning to break up and sink with a father on board holding out his young daughter that she might be saved (see Children Overboard Affair). Whittle jumped without a life vest 12 metres into the sea to help save the refugees from drowning thinking "this isn't right; this isn't how things should be." In February 2012 journalist Marie Colvin was deliberately targeted and killed by the Syrian Army in Homs during the 2011–2012 Syrian uprising and Siege of Homs, after she decided to stay at the "epicentre of the storm" in order to "expose what is happening." In October 2012 the Taliban organised the attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai a teenage girl who had been campaigning, despite their threats, for female education in Pakistan. In December 2012 the 2012 Delhi gang rape case was said to have stirred the collective conscience of India to civil disobedience and public protest at the lack of legal action against rapists in that country (see Rape in India) In June 2013 Edward Snowden revealed details of a US National Security Agency internet and electronic communication PRISM (surveillance program) because of a conscience-felt obligation to the freedom of humanity greater than obedience to the laws that bound his employment.
The Ambassador of Conscience Award, Amnesty International's most prestigious human rights award, takes its inspiration from a poem written by Irish Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney called "The Republic of Conscience." Winners of the award have included: Malala Yousafzai, singer and social justice activist Harry Belafonte, musician Peter Gabriel (2008), Nelson Mandela (2006), the Irish rock band U2 (2005), Mary Robinson and Hilda Morales Trujillo (a Guatemalan women's rights activist) (2004) and the author and public intellectual Václav Havel (2003).