CRITIQUE AND CHALLENGE IN A CLIMATE OF DISRUPTION AND INCIVILITY
From the very beginning, Advances in Nursing Science (ANS) has maintained a commitment to publishing ideas that are cutting-edge, challenging, and out of the mainstream. We also maintain the expectation of excellence in scholarship. This means that all ideas, no matter how different, have a solid empirical and philosophic foundation and are presented in ways that lead the reader to an understanding of the author's perspective, regardless of whether or not the reader agrees with the content. In 2015, the ANS advisory board affirmed our commitment to diversity and ideas that challenge the prevailing mainstream traditions. The following statement of purpose that appears in the journal “Information for Authors” reflects this commitment:
The primary purposes of Advances in Nursing Science (ANS) are to advance the development of nursing knowledge and to promote the integration of nursing philosophies, theories, and research with practice. While the journal provides scholarly articles that have relevance for all health-related disciplines, we are particularly committed to claiming nursing's rightful place in the development of health knowledge. We expect high scholarly merit and encourage innovative, cutting-edge ideas that challenge prior assumptions and that present new, intellectually challenging perspectives. We seek works that speak to global sustainability and that take an intersectional approach, recognizing class, color, sexual and gender identity, and other dimensions of human experience related to health.
There have always been voices of dissent related to ideas that differ from the mainstream or views of representing cultures and beliefs that are not in the mainstream. But now, in the year 2017 in the United States and many other countries worldwide, dissent has grown to a point of stark polarization, leaving a very small, perhaps nonexistent, mainstream “middle ground.” This means that dissent is often cast as a battle between very different world views, with a perception of very little shared or common ground.
The rise of incivility, bullying, and disregard for human dignity in the face of disagreement and difference is particularly alarming. If your experience is like mine, you see it everywhere: the principal of my grandchildren's school noted yesterday an alarming rise in bullying over the past year; my blogs have received unprecedented harmful, name-calling comments that disregard the content of posted material; nurses I work with in graduate-level classes report escalating problems with incivility in their work settings; a brief scan of the Table of Contents of most nursing journals reveals content acknowledging violence and incivility. What is missing, so far, is evidence that even those of us who recognize the problem remain at a loss to know how to respond, how to turn the situation around, how to heal the hurt, and how to prevent harmful words and actions, transforming disagreement into opportunities for growth.
Those of us living in this time are not capable of fully comprehending the significance of this climate, but we do understand that we face serious challenges, among them finding ways to constructively address views that are polarized from our own. I believe that what we are experiencing is a surfacing of feelings and thoughts that have been simmering and hidden for far too long. It is a societal disease that has been dormant. The appearance of these symptoms provides an opportunity for change and healing, for nurses to step up and respond. I am calling on nurses to bring to this challenge the best we have to offer—to gather in small groups to explore constructive ways to bring healing to our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, classrooms, and communities. We can act to heal our communities. We can direct our scholarship into opportunities to contribute to healing and transformation.
This issue of ANS continues our strong tradition of challenging the status quo in several arenas, offering insight into social justice, healing, and health. I hope that the content of this and other issues of ANS will call forth critical insights and prompt action toward health and healing. Please follow the journal blog at https://ansjournalblog.com/, where we publish messages from the authors of ANS articles, sharing background about their work and their ideas. We welcome all readers to join us in discussing the ideas—even bringing opposing and differing ideas to the discussion and, in so doing, demonstrating the capacity to challenge, discuss, and consider differing points of view in ways that lead to greater understanding and growth.
—Peggy L. Chinn, PhD, RN, FAAN