Chasten or punish -- all, many, one, none LO24593

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 05/10/00

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to you all trying to learn self.

My dictionary says the following:
        Punish is distinctly retributive in sense, but
        chasten is wholly corrective and merciful
        in intent and result

As a teacher many years ago (1971) I soon had the following problem on my
hands. Some pupil(s) did something bad and as a teacher I had to correct
the situation. But I did not know and could not find out who did it (lack
of sureness) in order to correct the situation beginning with the guilty
ones (fruitfulness).

Fortunately for me and sadly for those pupils, I did the wrong thing -- I
punished the whole class. Thus, within a day I destroyed the spirit of
constructive creativity in that class so that the next day every pupil in
that class and I found ourselves in a state of war -- the spirit of
destructive creativity. (In those days I was only tacitly aware of the
contructive-destructive duality of creativity. It took me immense effort
to finally articulate what I knew tacitly.)

I ran to my mental tutor (Oom Flip) and asked him what I should do. I
admitted that I have tried what I can to rescue the situation, that my
efforts were futile and that I have come to the realisation that I am
completely ignorant on this issue. (He predicted some 8 months earlier
that a situation will arise, caused through my own ignorance and in which
I will find myself completely incapacitated to deal with. His prediction
did not go so far as to identify the content, i.e. punishment ) He smiled
at me with compassion and said:
        "Now the time has arrived for you to learn what is not
         said in the books."

Well, I soon learned how destructive the shotgun strategy is -- to punish
all so as to get to those who "had" to be punished. Next I learned through
his remarkable midwifery how destructive punishment can be even when using
a rifle and hitting the guilty ones dead centre. Next he taught me how
important it is to distinguish between punish ("straf" in my mother
tongue) and chasten ("betig"). Afterwards he taught me how important
distinction is in chasten. I took me some four months to see the light
self. Without him I may easily have never seen the light.

He sometimes exclaimed in frustration that although he has to
teach me things which are not said in the books, his greatest
difficulty was to tell self in words what he wanted me to learn.
It is then when we usually comforted each other with these words:
        "Toemaar, eendag sal ons die woorde vind."
(Never mind, one day we will find the words.) Sometimes we
listened to Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, finding in it what we
could not describe in words.

Never did we even had the slightest notion that before that "eendag" (one
day) I will have to connect to the learning of Michael Polanyi, find out
for sure what any emergence is about and discover what make(s) creativity
decidedly contructive. Oom Flip has passed away long ago. But he lived
long enough to become overflowed with joy and awe just as I when I
discovered a most curious pattern in learning. Neither he nor I ever had
imagined, suspected or expected this pattern, although we knew in which
direction we were searching.

Dear fellow learners, do you know how to make use of the difference
between "distinguish", "judge", "chasten" and "punish" so as to create
constructively and thus overcome the spirit of destructive creativity?

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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