THE CENTER FOR THIRD AGE NEWSLETTER – MARCH 2013
1. FATHER WILLIAM’S MUSINGS
2. “FACTIVIST” BONO: PROGRESS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY
3. WOLF WHISPERER IN THE VATICAN
4. HOW MOVEMENTS RECOVER
5. THE REPUBLICAN AUTOPSY REPORT
6. EMPATHY REPRESSES ANALYTIC THOUGHT & VICE-VERSA
7. COMPLEMENTARY WHOLENESS MEANS “BOTH/AND”
8. THIS MONTH’S LINKS
QUOTE OF THE MONTH – BONO AT TED
“Extreme poverty has been cut in half in the last 20 years, and the facts show that we can get it to virtually zero within a generation — but only if we act.
‘Let’s think about that,’ he says. ‘Have you read anything, anywhere in the last week that is as remotely as important as that number? It’s great news, and it drives me nuts most people don’t know this.’”
1. FATHER WILLIAM’S MUSINGS
March Greetings, Dear Friends…
And FW is ready for a “good news” newsletter this month which I suggest you start by listening to “FACTIVIST” BONO’S TED TALK (#2).
After these inspiring 14 minutes you can go on to WOLF WHISPERER IN THE VATICAN (#3) where, skeptical as this ex-Catholic is of his excessively patriarchal church, there is also some good news. One gift I still cherish is my confirmation name – Francis. I chose it because that man with the birds on his arms was the only saint I could begin to related to at 12. And because his was my name, too, I’ve been interested in him and his history. A particularly powerful accounting of Francis’ way of being was Nikos Kazazkis’ ”St. Francis.” If the new Pope Francis has one tenth of the saint’s qualities, there is hope of new leadership from the Vatican that could be accurately called spiritual.
The next two pieces of good news – HOW MOVEMENTS RECOVER and THE REPUBLICAN AUTOPSY REPORT (#4 & #5) offer hope for democracies that seem so easily corruptible these days, no matter which continent you choose to look at. Letting not-very-intelligent populaces (both rationally and emotionally speaking) decide who holds power definitely has dramatic limitations.
Even so, elitist alternatives, whether Plato’s “philosopher kings” or Ayn Rand’s Roarks, Taggarts and Galts, have at best very short term successes before reverting to tyranny. Articles #4 and #5 put together the good news that functioning democracy tends to be self-correcting of its own excesses by ensuring multiple perspectives do wrestle, often fiercely, with one another.
Yes, this is often a very messy process, but, like Churchill, FW believes that:
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
EMPATHY REPRESSES ANALYTIC THOUGHT & VICE-VERSA brings good news from recent science, namely that while we can be both rationally and emotionally intelligent, we rarely are able meld these together in the same moment. And, for those of us who tend to spend most of our lives in one world or the other, we may not develop much ability or comfort in the other.
Why should this be good news?
Because science is saying in one more way that we really do need to depend on one another to succeed both rationally and emotionally – which really means to succeed with any consistency. This is, of course, why the Navy’s “Captain & Executive Officer” staffing has intuitively drawn on this wisdom for so long. If the Captain is a rational bully, she’d better get herself an exec who can clean up her human relationship messes; if she’s a caring humanist, she’d better balance with an ass-kicker exec.
And it’s good news because “Science” is the nearest thing we have to an agreed-on authoritative source these days (I say “nearest thing” because it still can’t sell evolution to a lot of folks). So when “Science” legitimizes our need for inter-dependence, we analytical types, especially those with large masculine egos, feel freer to collaborate with others who complement us.
Feeling good about seeking help is no small thing for those raised in competitive cultures. In today’s multi-dimensional world, it’s obvious “No ONE of us is as smart as ALL of us.” And still our cultural imprinting drives us relentlessly toward becoming self-sufficient super-beings. How destructive this myth has become!
Where we are headed – if we want to survive – is toward accepting COMPLEMENTARY WHOLENESS MEANS “BOTH/AND” (#7) that is, we achieve wholeness, not by being “The One,” but by adding our talents to a larger mix. This is extremely difficult for the Western ego, but Science’s legitimizing true collaboration as “smart” makes it okay for even “Real Men” to ask for help – and what a relief that is!
PS: This extension (#7) of FW’s Musings was written 36 years ago; I am surprised at how right I got some things when I was still a babe…
Much love, FW
2. “FACTIVIST” BONO: PROGRESS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY
On February 26th, Bono spoke at TED to show the progress in the fight against extreme poverty…and what we need to do next. Bono shares the new facts about fighting global poverty: “Forget the rock opera, forget the bombast, my usual tricks. The only thing singing today will be the facts.”
By becoming a “factivist,” we can learn what needs to be done to end extreme poverty within the next generation. And the facts are beyond promising. Since 2000:
– Eight million AIDS patients have been receiving retroviral drugs
– Malaria deaths have been cut in some countries by 75%
– Child mortality rate of kids under 5 is down by 2.65 million deaths a year
– Extreme poverty declined from 43% in 1990 to 33% in 2000 to 21% by 2010.
Extreme poverty has been cut in half in the last 20 years, and the facts show that we can get it to virtually zero within a generation — but only if we act.
“Let’s think about that,” he says. “Have you read anything, anywhere in the last week that is as remotely as important as that number? It’s great news, and it drives me nuts most people don’t know this.”
“If you live on less than $1.25 a day, this is not just data. This is everything. If you’re a parent who wants the best for your kids, and I am, this rapid transition is a route out of despair and into hope.”
3. WOLF WHISPERER IN THE VATICAN
BY TIMOTHY EGAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 14, 2013
The world is full of Roman Catholics who long ago stopped following the dogma, doctrine and medieval sexual dictates of the church. But they never lost faith in Francesco, the merchant’s son who spoke to wolves, slept on dirt floors and dined with lepers.
That the new pope would take the name of Francis, in honor of the saint from the Umbrian town of Assisi, is the most radical first move by a pontiff in some time. The 12th century mystic is the nature saint, patron of the environment, the poor, the dispossessed. He did not believe in owning money or property, let alone shoes. And for all of that, he was never a self-righteous grump; he “was fun, a quality not always found in saints,” as Joan Acocella wrote in The New Yorker earlier this year.
Secularists from San Francisco (yes, it’s named for him) to Paris may shun everything that the church teaches but keep statues of Francis in the garden, preaching to birds. In a popular culture dominated by showy vulgarians like Donald Trump, granting a global stage to someone named for a half-starved ascetic could be transformative.
And therein lies the conflict, and the potential for much positive power. Nearly half the world lives on less than $2 a day, and a billion people are without safe drinking water. By the philosophy of St. Francis, the church of Rome would not spend its days lecturing people about condoms and condemning homosexuals. There would be no secretive obsession with protecting the organized crime network built around pedophile priests. Humility would be a guidepost.
The stories of the new Pope cleaning the feet of AIDS patients in his native Argentina and disparaging fellow clerics for refusing to baptize the children of unmarried mothers show just how much the energies of the Vatican bully pulpit could be redirected.
In Francis’s day, the poor lived shunned lives in the malarial shadows below the sun-washed hill towns of Italy, while bishops and cardinals resided in gaudy splendor. At the same time, the church launched one of its violent purges of heretics in Europe. In a single day, 20,000 people were slaughtered. What would Jesus think?
Francis knew violence, and he knew wealth. He had gone to war with nearby Perugia as a young man, a party animal with family money. Captured, he spent a year in a rat-infested cell. After release, he was a changed person, stripping himself of his clothes at the feet of his father. He was duty-bound, he said, to follow the gospel of helping the least among them.
And he had that feel for nature, a view of the interconnectedness of all living things, similar to the spiritual world of many Native American tribes. Fire was a brother, as was the moon, the stars and physical pain. The many biographies tell of bird-preaching episodes and charming a wolf. On Wednesday this week, as birds alighted on the chimney of the Sistine Chapel just minutes before the white smoke appeared, many a Catholic sensed a Franciscan moment.
Francis also reached out to the Muslim world, traveling deep into North Africa on a mission that should have gotten him killed and, in this day, would be condemned by conservatives of his own faith.
Though Francis of Assisi is the most popular saint in a long history of tortured bodies and souls, the fact that no pope until Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio would take his name says a lot about the timeless shadow from the 12th century to the 21st. The legacy of the first Francis is almost too much to bear.
Today, on the spine of Assisi, where pilgrims jostle with peddlers of all things Francis, you see the extraordinary Giotto frescoes inside the basilica, a narrative of the saint’s life. That such a magnificent structure was built over the bones (interred beneath the floor of the lower church) of a man who often slept without a roof over his head is a testament to how a powerful movement can be co-opted.
But another legacy, far removed from marbled ostentation, can be found in the Franciscan priests who try to follow the example of their founder. When my young nephew was murdered by gunfire a few years ago, it was soothing that a man in the brown robes, sandals and roped belt of the Franciscan order conducted the most humane of funeral masses.
Pope Francis is a Jesuit, an order known for its rigorous intellectual tradition. They were disbanded in 1773 by a pope who didn’t like their politics and were restored by popular demand in 1814. The Jesuit influence is another reason to hope that reform is in the early spring air of Rome.
It may be too much to expect that this new Francis will be devoutly inspired by the old Francis. He follows the repressive dogma on sex and gays, and there remain questions about his role during Argentina’s Dirty War, a time of unholy alliances between the church and state-run terrorism.
Joseph Stalin famously wondered how many divisions the pope had. None, of course. The real power of the papacy is its moral force. For good reason, the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Pope John Paul II was instrumental in bringing an end to the cold war.
With a visit to a slum in Rio de Janeiro, a hospital in the South Bronx or a stroll up an Umbrian peak, Pope Francis can claim a mantle from a pauper who still changes lives, eight centuries after his death.
4. HOW MOVEMENTS RECOVER
BY DAVID BROOKS, THE NEW YORK TIMES, MARCH 14, 2013
The Catholic Church in North Africa was in crisis at the beginning of the fourth century. The Roman emperor Diocletian had persecuted the Christians, and many bishops and priests had collaborated with the regime. Priests had turned over Christian believers to the pagan magistrates. Bishops had surrendered Holy Scriptures to be burned in the public square. An air of corruption and lewdness hung over the church.
Two rival reform movements arose to restore the integrity of Catholicism. Those in the first movement, the Donatists, believed the church needed to purify itself and return to its core identity.
The mission of the church, in the Donatist view, was to provide a holy alternative to a unclean world. The Donatists wanted to purge the traitors from the priesthood.
After they pruned their membership, the Donatists wanted to close ranks to create a community of committed believers. They would separate themselves from impurity, re-establish their core principles and defend them against the hostile forces
The Donatists believed that, in those hard times, the first job was to defend Christian law so it wouldn’t be diluted by compromise. With this defensive posture, the Donatists would at least build a sturdy ark for all those who wanted to be Christian.
This Donatist tendency — to close ranks and return defensively to first principles — can be seen today whenever a movement faces a crisis. Modern-day Donatists emerge after every Republican defeat: conservatives who think the main task is to purge and purify. There are modern-day Donatists in humanities departments, who pull in as they lose relevance on campus.
You can see them in the waning union movement: people who double down on history and their self-conscious traditions. You can see them in the current Roman Catholic Church, which feels besieged in a hostile world. You can identify the modern-day Donatists because they feel history is flowing away from them, and when they gossip it’s always about intra-community rivalries that nobody outside their world could possibly care about.
In the fourth century, another revival movement arose, embraced by Augustine, who was Bishop of Hippo. The problem with the Donatists, Augustine argued, is that they are too static. They try to seal off an ark to ride out the storm, but they end up sealing themselves in. They cut themselves off from new circumstances and growth.
Augustine, as his magisterial biographer Peter Brown puts it, “was deeply preoccupied by the idea of the basic unity of the human race.” He reacted against any effort to divide people between those within the church and those permanently outside.
He wanted the church to go on offense and swallow the world. This would involve swallowing impurities as well as purities. It would mean putting to use those who are imperfect. This was the price to be paid if you wanted an active church coexisting with sinners, disciplining and rebuking them
In this view, the church would be attractive because it was hungering and thirsting for fulfillment. Far from being a stable ark, the church would be a dynamic, ever-changing network, propelled onto the streets by its own tensions. Augustine had this deep, volatile personality. His ideal church was firmly rooted in doctrine, but yearning for discovery.
This second tendency is also found in movements that are in crisis, but it is rare because it requires a lack of defensiveness, and a confidence that your identity is secure even amid crisis.
Like most of the world, I don’t know much about Pope Francis, but it’s hard not to be impressed by someone who says he prefers a church that suffers “accidents on the streets” to a church that is sick because it self-referentially closes in on itself.
It’s hard not to be impressed by someone who stands by traditional Catholic teaching, but then goes out and visits Jeronimo Podesta, a former bishop who had married in defiance of the church and who was dying poor and forgotten. It’s hard not to be impressed by someone who ferociously rebukes those priests who refuse to baptize the children of single mothers.
It’s hard not to be impressed by someone who seems to feel a compulsive need to be riding the buses, who refuses to live in the official residences, who sends his priests out to the frontiers and who once said he would die if locked away in the Vatican.
I’ll leave it to Catholics to decide if Francis is good for the church. The subject here is how do you revive a movement in crisis. The natural instinct is to turn Donatist, to build an ark and defend what’s precious. The counterintuitive but more successful strategy is to follow Augustine, to exploit a moment of weakness by making yourself even more vulnerable, by striking outward into complexity, swallowing the pure and impure, counterattacking crisis with an evangelical assault.
5. THE REPUBLICAN AUTOPSY REPORT
BY THOMAS B. EDSALL, THE NEW YORK TIMES, MARCH 20, 2013
On Monday a Republican task force released a remarkably hard-headed diagnosis of the party’s many liabilities: its ideological rigidity, its preference for the rich over workers, its alienation of minorities, its reactionary social policies and its institutionalized repression of dissent and innovation.
The 97-page Growth and Opportunity Project report was commissioned in the wake of the 2012 election debacle by Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. The G.O.P. report is an extraordinary public acknowledgment of internal discord and vulnerability, which has intensified the battle between the deeply committed conservative wing and the more pragmatic, pro-business wing for control of the Republican Party. With just a few exceptions, it does not mince words.
At the federal level, it says, the party is “marginalizing itself,” and, in the absence of major change, “it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win a presidential election in the near future.” Young voters are “rolling their eyes at what the party represents.” Voters’ belief that “the G.O.P. does not care about them is doing great harm.” Formerly loyal voters gathered in focus groups describe Republicans as “ ‘scary,’ ‘narrow-minded’ and ‘out of touch’ and that we were a party of ‘stuffy old men.’ ”
In a rare intervention in policy making for a political committee, the R.N.C. report calls for abandonment of the party’s anti-immigration stance, flatly declaring that “we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.” In an equally radical challenge to Republican orthodoxy, the Priebus report states:
We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when C.E.O.s receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.
The report also warns that Republicans need to mute, if not silence, anti-gay rhetoric if they are to have any chance of regaining support among voters under the age of 30.
For the G.O.P. to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view. Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be. If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out. The Party should be proud of its conservative principles, but just because someone disagrees with us on 20 percent of the issues, that does not mean we cannot come together on the rest of the issues where we do agree.
This suggests that the issue of same-sex marriage is on course to become a source of significant division within the Republican Party, as social conservatives view the commitment to marriage as a sacrament between a man and woman. Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and former executive director of the Christian Coalition, contended in a phone interview that the Republican Party risked alienating a large block of loyal voters if it moved to the left on same-sex marriage. Reed argues that opposing same-sex marriage is not a liability and contends that voters are evenly split on the issue, according to exit polls. In fact, in the 2012 exit polls, and in Washington Post polling, a plurality of voters, 49-46, responded affirmatively to the question “Should same-sex marriages be legal in your state?” The issue has shown steady growth in public support.
Priebus and the five authors of the report – Henry Barbour (nephew of former R.N.C. chairman Haley Barbour) of Mississippi, Zori Fonalledas of Puerto Rico, and Glenn McCall of South Carolina, all members of the R.N.C., along with Sally Bradshaw, an adviser to Jeb Bush, and Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to George W. Bush – were far more blunt in their analysis than many expected.
There is at least one crucial problem that the authors, all members of the establishment wing of the party, address only peripherally and with kid gloves: the extreme conservatism of the party’s primary and caucus voters — the people who actually pick nominees. For over three decades, these voters have episodically shown an inclination to go off the deep end and nominate general election losers in House and Senate races — or, in the case of very conservative states and districts, general election winners who push the party in the House and Senate to become an instrument of obstruction.
The highly visible presence of the candidates these voters prefer – recall the party’s Senate nominees in Missouri and Indiana, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, and their bizarre views on rape and abortion — suggests that the Republican Party has a severe, if not toxic, problem: a septic electorate that, in the words of the Mayo Clinic, “can trigger a cascade of changes that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail.”
If that is the case, then the task of the Priebus commission should not have been to diagnose the party’s problems, but to conduct an autopsy.
Leaving that question aside for a moment, let’s turn to a part of the report that is tough in its implications, but less forcefully put than other sections of the document: the difficulties created by “super PACs” and other independent expenditure “third party” groups that have become a major presence in House and Senate elections. Without naming any super PACs, the five authors take a hard line against the role of these independent expenditure groups active in Republican primaries: “No one has a monopoly on knowing who is the best candidate; the electorate ultimately makes the decision…”
You can read the entire article at:
6. EMPATHY REPRESSES ANALYTIC THOUGHT & VICE-VERSA
CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, SCIENCE DAILY, OCTOBER 30, 2012
New research shows a simple reason why even the most intelligent, complex brains can be taken by a swindler’s story — one that upon a second look offers clues it was false.
When the brain fires up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the network used for analysis, a pivotal study led by a Case Western Reserve University researcher shows.
How could a CEO be so blind to the public relations fiasco his cost-cutting decision has made?
When the analytic network is engaged, our ability to appreciate the human cost of our action is repressed.
At rest, our brains cycle between the social and analytical networks. But when presented with a task, healthy adults engage the appropriate neural pathway, the researchers found.
The study shows for the first time that we have a built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and analytic at the same time…
The new study shows that adults presented with social or analytical problems — all external stimuli — consistently engaged the appropriate neural pathway to solve the problem, while repressing the other pathway. The see-sawing brain activity was recorded using functional magnetic resonance imaging…
Jack worked with former Case Western Reserve undergraduates Abigail Dawson, now a graduate student at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand; Katelyn Begany, now a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley; and Kevin P. Barry, now a graduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Other co-authors are, from Case Western Reserve: former research assistant, Regina L. Leckie and Angela H. Ciccia, an assistant professor of psychological sciences; and Abraham Z. Snyder, MD, a professor of radiology at Washington University in St. Louis.
Jack said that a philosophical question inspired the study design: “The most persistent question in the philosophy of mind is the problem of consciousness. Why can we describe the workings of a brain, but that doesn’t tell us what it’s like to be that person?”
“The disconnect between experiential understanding and scientific understanding is known as the explanatory gap,” Jack said. “In 2006, the philosopher Philip Robbins and I got together and we came up with a pretty crazy, bold hypothesis: that the explanatory gap is driven by our neural structure. I was genuinely surprised to see how powerfully these findings fit that theory.” Philip Robbins is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri.
These findings suggest the same neural phenomenon drives the explanatory gap as occurs when we look at a visual illusion such as the duck-rabbit, he continued. The drawing of the head of the animal can be seen as a duck facing one direction or a rabbit facing the other, but you can’t see both at once.
“That is called perceptual rivalry, and it occurs because of neural inhibition between the two representations,” Jack said. “What we see in this study is similar, but much more wide-scale. We see neural inhibition between the entire brain network we use to socially, emotionally and morally engage with others, and the entire network we use for scientific, mathematical and logical reasoning.
“This shows scientific accounts really do leave something out — the human touch. A major challenge for the science of the mind is how we can better translate between the cold and distant mechanical descriptions that neuroscience produces, and the emotionally engaged intuitive understanding which allows us to relate to one another as people.”
The researchers recruited 45 healthy college students, and asked each to take five 10-minute turns inside a magnetic resonance imager. Meanwhile, the researchers randomly presented them with 20 written and 20 video problems that required them to think about how others might feel and with 20 written and 20 video problems that required physics to solve.
After reading the text or viewing the video, the students had to provide an answer to a yes-no question within seven seconds. Each student’s session in the MRI included twenty 27-second rest periods, as well as variable delays between trials lasting 1, 3 or 5 seconds. Students were told to look at a red cross on the screen in front of them and relax during the rests.
The MRI images showed that social problems deactivated brain regions associated with analysis, and activated the social network. This finding held true whether the questions came via video or print. Meanwhile, the physics questions deactivated the brain regions associated with empathizing and activated the analytical network.
“When subjects are lying in a scanner with nothing to do, which we call the resting state, they naturally cycle between the two networks,” Jack said. “This tells us that it’s the structure of the adult brain that is driving this, that it’s a physiological constraint on cognition.”
The finding has bearings on a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, from anxiety, depression and ADHD to schizophrenia — all of which are characterized by social dysfunction of some sort, Jack said. “Treatment needs to target a balance between these two networks. At present most rehabilitation, and more broadly most educational efforts of any sort, focus on tuning up the analytic network. Yet, we found more cortex dedicated to the social network.”
Perhaps most clearly, the theory makes sense in regards to developmental disabilities such as autism and Williams syndrome. Autism is often characterized by a strong ability to solve visuospatial problems, such as mentally manipulating two and three-dimensional figures, but poor social skills. People with Williams syndrome are very warm and friendly, but perform poorly on visuospatial tests.
But, even healthy adults can rely too much on one network, Jack said. A look at newspaper business pages offers some examples.
“You want the CEO of a company to be highly analytical in order to run a company efficiently, otherwise it will go out of business,” he said. “But, you can lose your moral compass if you get stuck in an analytic way of thinking.”
“You’ll never get by without both networks,” Jack continued. “You don’t want to favor one, but cycle efficiently between them, and employ the right network at the right time”…
You can read the entire article at:
7. COMPLEMENTARY WHOLENESS MEANS “BOTH/AND”
BY FATHER WILLIAM, PRICKLY MOUNTAIN VT, 1977
Complementary Wholeness means valuing each aspect of the whole for what it has to offer. Thus, we value BOTH sun AND rain, sun for its warmth and energy, and rain for its moisture and nurturance. Similarly, we could value BOTH work AND play, work for its results and satisfaction, and play for its relaxation and joy. We Westerners find this particularly hard to do because of our EITHER/OR way of thinking. EITHER/OR thinking means I value EITHER this OR that, but certainly not both. This is true despite the fact that Complementary Wholeness and BOTH/AND are deeply embedded in our Western culture. For example, recall Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
This is what Complementary Wholeness means: To value each in its own time. But when Pete Seger and The Byrds used this section of Ecclesiastes for the lyrics of the hit song “Turn, Turn, Turn,” they actually perverted its meaning. If you listen carefully to the song, you’ll find they changed the last line to “A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.” In other words, Seger and The Byrds took a BOTH/AND message and changed it to EITHER/OR (peace is good, war is bad). While I personally abhor violence, it does not follow that war is wrong; sometimes (as in the case of Hitler) it may be the best choice.
“EITHER/OR” KEEPS ME FROM WORKING WITH YOU
It’s impossible to overexaggerate the power of our EITHER/OR world view. Just as it led The Byrds to distort Ecclesiastes, it leads us into the error of consistently polarizing our personal experience. We may not consciously intend to divide the world up in two piles, but it is what we do—and doing so wreaks havoc with human relationships. Notice how constantly we insist we have “the right way,” and you’ll also notice that means we are “good” and those who differ with us are “bad.” Whether I do this when I judge your dress (“Who would wear a shirt like that!”) or management style (“He’s such a pushover!”) doesn’t matter; it’s my righteousness that cripples my ability to appreciate and work with you.
HEALTHY SYSTEMS REQUIRE FOUR VERY DIFFERENT STYLES
If we are to create organizations that truly honor Purpose, People, Productivity and Profit, commitment alone is not enough. I can very much want to achieve a goal and still fail if I lack the necessary abilities. Achievement is the combination of willingness and ability. To build healthy human systems, managers must BOTH want such systems AND know how to build them. To transform our organizations four very different sets of abilities, values and styles are required—and they rarely work together well.
EVALUATORS SHOW US THE REALITIES
First, there is the existing, imperfect situation. It is The Evaluators who audit and analyze, forcing us to confront realities we wish to avoid. They insist our systems produce results — and that we recognize where we are less than excellent. These are the hard-nosed, “show me” types who demand system maximization and settle only for logical, documented proof of performance.
IMAGERS GIVE US A VISION OF PURPOSE
Second, there is the vision, the image of what we want to create. This is our long-term target, our global goal. Its role is to capture our hearts, to inspire us to persevere through all the muck of Murphy’s Laws. Where will such a vision come from? From The Imagers, from those who can see what has not yet been and help the rest of us to see it, too. These are the idealists, the dreamers who reach for the stars and want to bring heaven to earth.
DEVELOPERS CREATE THE SYSTEMS THAT EMPOWER
Third, there is humaneness, the love of people with all their flaws, that moderates vision and system so they serve, rather than subjugate humanity. It is The Developers, full of compassion and compromise, who humanize the often rigid demands of Imagers and Evaluators. These are the communicators, the feeling folks who live in the non-linear world of human emotions — and it is they who lead us in the design of truly human systems.
IMPLEMENTERS PRODUCE THE TANGIBLE RESULTS
Fourth, there is actualization, the organizing and operation of the vision-inspired and humanist-softened system. This is the province of The Implementers who, with an earthy humor and a little baling wire, make the whole thing work day in and day out. These are the sleeves-rolled-up, “let’s get moving” people who — come hell or high water — get the job done.
WE NEED ALL FOUR – AND RARELY GET THEM TOGETHER
All four personality types are required to create the organizations we need — and we do not know how to get them to work together. The results are visions without impact, systems that suffocate life, compassion that cripples and activity for its own sake. We can do better — much better — if we will outgrow our childish paranoia of human differences. The immature (of all ages) in their frightened confusion have always sought “evil ones” to blame for their own inability to improve their situations. And this scapegoating goes back and forth between doer and thinker, between idealist and realist, between vision and system.
WHY DO WE QUARREL WHEN WE NEED EACH OTHER
It is our EITHER/OR way of thinking about our world — our infantile good/bad, right/wrong, black/white polarization of reality — that undermines our personal and organizational sanity. Choose any institution you like — business, government, military, religious — and watch the visionaries (like DeLorean, Kennedy, Billy Mitchell and Joan of Arc) and the systems (like General Motors, the CIA, the Army and the Catholic Church) depreciate and ostracize each other to the detriment of all our interests. Why do these natural partners quarrel so viciously when they have so much in common — and need each other so desperately? And what can we do about it?
ARTISTS VS. MERCHANTS, PROPHETS VS. CLERICS, ETC.
Recall how for centuries our artists and merchants have scorned each other as “parasitic dreamers” or “philistine materialists.” Yet whose life has not been powerfully enriched by an artist’s vision? And how would we have been exposed to those visions without the far-reaching distribution systems created by our merchants? And hear our prophets and clerics calling one another “Pharisee” or “heretic” in their ridiculous attempts to corner the market on God. What would be the use of our religions if they were not built on visions generated by prophets like Buddha, Christ, Moses and Mohammed? And what help would those visions be without effective churches to help people incorporate the wisdom into their lives?
WE MUST SEE WHOLENESS – AND INTEGRATE ITS ELEMENTS
There is another way of seeing reality; it is the way our scientists have learned to see. Instead of EITHER/OR we can see and think in terms of BOTH/AND. This way of thinking is more common, more comfortable in Eastern cultures. It is based on the concepts of Yin and Yang. I like to call it Complementary Wholeness. It means that, instead of fragmenting reality into EITHER/OR partialness, we look for the wholeness that is always composed of complementary parts. Our Western physicists are now saying quite clearly that the Complementary Wholeness model is a more accurate representation of the universe than is EITHER/OR. For examples, consider the protons and electrons of atomic structure, the north and south poles of the magnetic field, the mother and father of the newborn infant. (If you’d like to pursue this, read “The Turning Point” by Capra or “Order Out of Chaos” by Prigogine and Stengers.)
SUCH INTEGRATION WILL NOT BE EASY – NOR IMPOSSIBLE
The essence of this Eastern thinking is that we create wholeness by combining its complementary parts, by synthesizing the best of both vision and system. This synthesis will be easy for neither East nor West. Nations like China and India lack the action tradition that effectively builds and runs systems. Countries like Germany and the United States are so action-oriented they often build systems the world could better do without. But the integration is certainly not impossible, and it is inevitable. Look at how many Western systems (Quality Circles, among others) Japan has successfully incorporated—and in only two hundred years!
COMPLEMENTARY WHOLENESS IN ACTION
Basic to this success is the appreciation and application of Complementary Wholeness. “The Art of Japanese Management” by Athos and Pascale provides a fascinating example of a manager practicing this art:
“A Japanese executive invites a key subordinate into his office and, after pleasantries, proceeds to tell the younger man that he needs his help. The executive is to go to New York to meet with a key U.S. customer; he will make a presentation on a number of important changes in the design of next year’s products. He anticipates that the customer will not be pleased with one or two of the changes, and wants the presentation to diminish as much as possible any negative response. He tells his subordinate that he is still uncertain while speaking English, and perhaps as a result tends to get flustered and lose track of where he is during a talk. Once this happens, usually after a surprising interruption that may raise a matter requiring him to think on his feet, he expects that his normal difficulty with such a situation in Japan will be much worse in another language. Therefore, he asks the subordinate to design a presentation that will take his limitations into account. He offers only as an illustration the possibility of a lights-out slide show, which is less likely to be interrupted, followed by a small panel to respond to the Americans, which he could chair. In such an instance, he says, he would be pleased if his subordinate were to accompany him to New York to help in any appropriate capacity.” (p. 117)
Notice how this Japanese manager acknowledges his vulnerability, his incompleteness, his humanness. Contrast this simple honesty and assumption of interdependence with another manager’s approach to a similar problem:
“An American executive stops one of his promising new subordinates after a weekly meeting and tells him he has an important assignment for him. He wants him to put together a presentation that is to be made to the corporate financial staff a month hence. (He does not mention that he is very nervous about the presentation because the last time one of the corporate staff attacked his figures and made him look bad in front of his own vice-president. He knows he has only a limited grasp of the financial side of things and is determined not to look ignorant and flustered again.) He tells the young man he wants a presentation that is well thought out, double checked with the controller of the division, and organized to conform to the general pattern of such presentations — that is, a lights-out, slide-based, tough-minded analysis, no jazz or frills. He adds he wants the complete presentation one week before it is to be made so he can make any changes necessary. (He also intends to practice giving it at home, and to double check it with both the controller and a neighbor for financial sophistication.) He ends by telling the junior executive laughingly that “all those courses at Wharton should help you do a terrific job, and you can count on my remembering it in June” (the next regular time for salary increases). When he returns to his office, he begins to think of a way to ensure that the controller will be at the meeting so that he can refer any really difficult questions to him after the slide show.” (p. 117-118)
This manager’s behavior is not unusual; we all feel the pressure to “look good,” to be “in control,” to have “the right stuff.” To manage using Complementary Wholeness requires acceptance of our own incompleteness — and that we do with great difficulty.
BEWARE OF “THE RIGHT STUFF”
Much of our personal and organizational floundering results from our confusion about the meaning of inter-dependence. When we think in EITHER/OR terms, then it follows we are EITHER independent and complete OR we are dependent and incomplete. Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff” is a penetrating look at our phobia of being incomplete. In this documentary of the astronaut’s selection and training, Wolfe captures the heart of what it is to be male in America: To be OK you must have THE RIGHT STUFF. And there is one way (and only one way) to tell whether or not you have IT — you never falter, you never fail, and, God forbid, you never need help or support.
FOUR STAGES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL GROWTH
As we grow in years, hopefully we grow in maturity. Four stages of psychological growth — Dependency, Counter-Dependency, Independence and Inter-Dependence — can be thought of as concurrent with four stages of life:
1. AS A CHILD my vulnerability makes me dependent on my parents, teachers and other adults. DEPENDENCE is immature over-reliance on the authority of others. It is not adult behavior.
2. AS AN ADOLESCENT my need to grow creates a counter-dependence toward those I must now break away from. This is the opposite of dependence; it is also immature behavior. COUNTER-DEPENDENCE means resisting all authority no matter how appropriate or helpful the authority might be.
3. AS A YOUNG ADULT my accumulated power creates an independence of thought and action. INDEPENDENCE is the capacity for mature and healthy self-direction, and developing this ability is part of everyone’s struggle out of adolescence.
4. AS A MATURE ADULT my wisdom tempers my power and thereby allows an inter-dependence to emerge that, at its best, can move the mountains of the world. INTER-DEPENDENCE combines self-direction with cooperation, and results in the ability to work mutually with others to achieve common goals. It is the psychological foundation for Complementary Wholeness.
In EITHER/OR realities there is no room for incompleteness, for need, for inter-dependency. We are EITHER independent (with all the “right stuff” self-sufficiency and perfection implied) OR we are dependent (with all the whining subservience implied). Psychologically, we know this is a misperception.
LET US BEGIN TO USE OUR COMPLEMENTARY WHOLENESS
To many of us, incompleteness equates with the frightening dependence of childhood, and so of course we hide our incompleteness from each other—and even from ourselves. And since we cannot admit we are incomplete, we cannot work with each other unless we have no need to do so. (If I truly need your help, I don’t have “the right stuff.”) This is why we cannot yet build the healthy, productive organizations we need; they require us to acknowledge and use our interdependence, and this we have been terrified to do. But it is here we must begin, and Corinthians offers an age-old vision to guide us on the way…
For the body is not one member but many.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not of the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath the Spirit set the members every one of them in the body.
And if they were all one member, where were the body?
But now they are many members, yet but one body.
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary;
And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
For our comely parts have no need: but the Spirit hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care for one another.
And when one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
Now ye are the body of the spirit, and members in particular.
So, let’s work together and create organizations that embody the Complementary Wholeness that is life; then we will joyously and proudly commit our energies to their causes!
8. THIS MONTH’S LINKS
THIS 94 YEAR-OLD WILL DANCE YOU INTO NEW POSSIBILITIES!
SHERYL SANDBERG OF “LEAN IN” ON TED…
ST. PATRICK: NO SNAKES. NO SHAMROCKS. JUST THE FACTS.
A BEAUTIFUL ANIMATED EXPLANATION OF DNA
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