Reflections on September 11 LO27277

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 09/25/01

Replying to LO27235 --

Dear Organlearners,

Richard Karash <> writes:

>I was leading a workshop in Prague when the news
>began to reach us. At first, we were unbelieving.
>I have no idea why I was unbelieving. I remember
>my first reaction... Tower down... That would be
>10,000 people! Couldn't be true.

Greetings dear Rick,

Thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts with us. It is good for the
healing of the spirit to reflect on a traumatic event and then to commit
these reflections into a caring dialogue. It is good to have friends
unlike the three friends of Job who could only judge, but not learn
anything self.

Before going any further, I am fully aware that it may seem that I am
trying to capitalise on the terrible catastrophe of 11 September. It is
actually the opposite. For many years I have been pushing myself to the
limit to help fellow learners on our LO-dialogue into complexity thinking.
After a couple of hours after the full impact of the catastrophe became
clear to me, an incredible calm took hold f me. "There is little which you
could have done more," was my one main thought. My other main thought was
"You will now have to help fellow learners to let these profound
experience emerge into authentic knowledge."

I was at a butchery when the news came through on a radio there. I rushed
home to see whether the TV had anything on it. It was already showing a
replay of the first collision. The second one had not yet happened.

The following may surprise you. Chemistry is so much part of my mental
make up that first thing which I did was to make a "quick and dirty"
mental calculation while gazing at the screen. I have avoided several
chemical catastrophes by doing such mental calculations. Trying to teach
students to do it just elicits sneers -- "Why should we do it when we have
books with the data in it and calculators to do the computations?" But in
a crisis neither books nor calculators are available, only the prepared

Every -CH2 unit in a hydrocarbon paraffin adds another 30 kJ/mol
(kilojoule per mole) to its enthalpy (heat) value and 14g (gram) to its
molar mass. For kerosene (jet fuel) with some 130g per mole giving some 8
mol per kilogram (or litre) of fuel it would be some 270 kJ/mole. Thus the
enthalpy of jet fuel would be some 2 MJ/kg (mega joule per kilogram).
Assuming an air liner to carry some 100 000 kg of fuel would mean 200 GJ
(giga joule or billion joule) of energy, about a fiftieth of the nuclear
bomb dropped on Hiroshima. When most of this heat is confined to two
levels of the WTC tower it would raise the temperature of each level above
1000 C (degrees centigrade)!

I have worked for experience two months in a cement factory almost forty
years ago. I learned what concrete could take and not take. At 1000 C
concrete explodes by flake upon flake from its heated surface into dust.
At 1000 C all glass becomes melted. At 1000C iron burns as easily as wood.
All organic material, including flesh, just vaporises in a burning flash.
Within less than a minute I imagined the consequence of this inferno. The
two levels will collapse within half an hour into dust, molten glass and
iron. Another dozen levels above it will gain enough kinetic energy when
falling through two levels to hammer at least two dozen of levels lower
down into pieces. Sewage, blood, water from the fire hoses and dust will
become a most offensive mud. I shuddered and began to pray that people
would evacuate the tower as fast as possible.

Later on I was completely surprised to learn that hundreds of fire
fighters were caught by the collapsing tower. Did nobody taught them what
to expect of a catastrophe of this magnitude?

However, my greatest surprise was when the collision of the second jet
liner in the second tower was shown. I knew from many experiences here in
South Africa that when terrorists set off a bomb, people must get away as
far and as fast as possible from the scene because the second bomb will be
set off soon, causing even more destruction. I have imprinted it many
times in the minds of my family -- be wise and flee rather than be curious
and stay. When that second air liner hit the second tower I said to myself
-- "What a perfect proof of how terrorism operates". I really did not
expect such a "handbook operation" even on this large scale.

And then I began to cry because of the vast ignorance of the American
people to what they are up to. It was completely new to their history. If
they could only have lived in the horrible times of South Africa. Rick,
that is why I am deeply moved by your next sentence:

>I saw the events from another place,
>from within another culture.
>Many countries have much more direct
>exposure to terrorist attacks than we in
>the US. Spain... Ireland... Machine guns
>were routine in German airports 20 years
>ago. South Africa. Many of these were
>terrible enough...

You then contemplate further:

>Beyond any threshold for concern and
>response. Why has the civil world not
>come together in response to address
>terrorist activities more forcefully? Or
>maybe we have, and it didn't work. I
>don't know. The Sept 11 attacks are not
>the first to be way beyond any reasonable

In my opinion the lack of effective measures against terrorism is the
failure of so many humans to understand when they should apply LEM (Law of
Excluded Middle) and when not. Making a distinction in a whole between A
and B as its parts invites application of LEM -- either A or B but not
both A and B. In most of the cases where they eagerly applied LEM, they
should not have done it. In the few cases where they refused to apply LEM,
they should have done it.

The terrorists use LEM excessively. Any person of the other side can be
exterminated without second thoughts -- infinite revenge. The target
nations use LEM excessively. Any person not allying with us is against us
-- infinite justice. Any third party who try to understand how the
situation developed as well as how to resolve it is bundled with the
"other side".

No nation can fight terrorism among its friends and also support terrorism
against its enemies. It seems as if I now apply LEM too. Partly yes, but I
will explain it in the next paragraph. Partly no, because of the outcome.
Sooner or later the terrorists which it had supported will turn their
anger upon this nation too.

Today I am pretty sure of only one case when I will apply LEM. I will go
for constructive creativity, but not for destructive creativity nor for
any mixture of both. In constructive creativity an increase in each of the
7Es (seven essentialities of creativity) is imperative. In destructive
creativity merely one of the 7Es has to be impaired deliberately, even
merely on a tacit level of knowing, to have a disastrous outcome.

Terrorists employ destructive creativity in their operations. That is why
I cannot support terrorism. Target nations which declare war on terrorists
and their supporters also employ destructive creativity in their
retaliations. That is why I cannot support war against terrorism. However,
this does not mean that I am a "fence spectator", choosing no sides and
doing nothing.

Today I am also pretty sure where I will never apply LEM. (I write "I am
pretty sure" with the full understanding that I may have used, even
subconsciously, LEM itself to come to these conclusions. I have tried to
avoid it.) I will never apply LEM to any person who, even fanatically,
applies LEM self. I can explain it with what I once heard during a sermon
-- "God loves all sinners, even the greatest among them, but God hates all
sins, even the least among them."

I am completely opposed to terrorism as well as suppressing terrorism with
force since both employ destructive creativity. I know how immensely
difficult it is to convince both sides to act constructively. When both
sides begin to create constructively, they will have to enter the world of
complexity and thus leave the world of simplicity. They each will have to
behave authentically and respect the authenticity of the other side. This
where the 5 ESCs (Elementary Sustainers of reativity) become crucially
important, especially the dialogue ("thoughts-exchanging").

After having discovered the 7Es and their importance in the mid eighties,
I became deeply under the impression how I have been "brain washed" to
read any text (including the holy Bible) and give meaning to it. I was
"brain washed" because I did what everybody else were doing -- the perfect
example of rote (machine) learning. What I mean with this "brain washing"
is that I assumed that any text was written with the same impairing of the
7Es as my own impairing in them. In other words, if I was immature in
wholeness, I assumed the text to have a similar immaturity. What a fool I
have been!

It is the same with the dialogue (and the four other ESCs) between two
opposing parties A and B. Party A cannot give meaning to what party B
tells in terms of how party A gives meaning to what it tells self. This
would involve party's A own tacit understanding of the 7Es which is
different to party's B tacit understanding of the 7Es. There has to be a
firm undertaking from both parties to think itself in the shoes of the
other party. This is exactly where the dialogue may fail because each
party may still cling to LEM.

Terrorism, like a "suicidal cult", is a "religion of death". Any "religion
of death" has one striking feature. It identifies the complete denial of
at least one of the 7Es as fundamental to its doctrine. In my honest
opinion any person anywhere in the world who forms a pact with any
organisation which has as strategy the drastic impairing of one of the 7Es
is assisting a potential "religion of death". That person may not be aware
of the devastating outcome in a chain of events of such a pact. This and
the fact that knowing the 7Es formally is indeed a formidable task as I
myself have experienced, fires in me a deep compassion for this person.
But simultaneously a deep commitment fired in me to bring such a person to
the understanding of the deadly nature of such a pact.

War, on the other hand, is not so much a "religion of death" as it is a
"science of death". The strategy in war (although tacitly thought up to
now) is to impair all the 7Es as much as possible among the enemy while
preserving them as much as possible among own forces. WWII has shown how
devastating war can be when nations form pacts against each other. Let us
never forget the lessons from the history of wars. The devastations caused
by wars is far greater than the devastation caused by terrorism. It is
much easier to get into a war than to get out of it. The winning side of a
war is the side who lost less than the losing side. The wrongs of one war
become the causes for the next war.

The greatest danger of invoking LEM, not as a terrorist or as an army, but
as an ordinary citizen self, is what it does to the tacit knowing of the
7Es. LEM cuts into each of the 7Es, often severely. In other words, the
more we invoke LEM, the easier it becomes to behave destructively and
hence the more difficult it becomes to create constructively. That is why
your sentence "Beyond any threshold for concern and response" strikes me
so deeply.

>In Prague, one becomes aware of Czech history.
>The country, the society, and the city of Prague
>are healthy and vigorous. But, it must come from
>a different source than we seek in the US. The US
>mentality is to be stronger and tougher than anyone
>else. Strength is our deterrent... "Don't dare harm us,
>or you'll suffer for it!" In other words, the American
>style is to be the biggest, toughest guy on the block.
>Well, it's different in Prague... Except a tiny slice
>of history, they have been continuously under the
>control of someone bigger for many centuries.
>The Sweedes and Danes... Then the Hapsburgs and
>the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Then the Germans,
>then Russians. How are they healthy and vigorous
>after all this? What have they learned about dealing
>with adversity? What should we know?

Dear Rick, I think that its is not so much what they have learned, but how
they have learned. They have learned through sensations giving rise to
experiences. Experience upon experience gave rise to tacit knowing. Tacit
knowledge upon tacit knowledge gave rise to formal knowledge and thus
creating that information which others ought to know. Hence they are
vigorous because of their knowledge which have emerged from within.

Authentic learning and rote learning on the same topic lead to vastly
different understanding of that same topic. The authentic learner will
perceive great gaps in the understanding while the rote learner will be
oblivious to these gaps.

The USA, on the other hand, because of being the richest and strongest of
all nations, has the capacity to define its own sensations, experiences,
tacit knowing, information and thus wisdom. But it does not live up to
this capacity since it allows experts to define everything for the nation.
I avoid working with definitions -- they often ensnare one in one's own

May I give USA citizens some questions to consider. Are you not being
deluged by the advice of your experts? Do your experts have any broader
comprehension of life that their expertise? Why was not a single
recommendation followed of the report of your national commission (with
Paul Bremer as chairman) on terrorism? Why do your elected leaders want to
curb terrorism with war? Is it not possible that your country has been
mesmerised by a spiral of violence which Hollywood reflects so aptly? How
many of the terrorist organisations since WWII have received initially
support from the CIA?

Rick, forgive me if I am wrong or too hard on your nation. I think your
nation has a long path of authentic learning to follow. Even though the
Americans are the world's richest and most powerful nation, the little
which it knows authentically of other nations is shocking. It relies on
its information mongers to supply it with information which these mongers
cannot do because of lacking self in knowledge. People in other countries
having had to cope with terrorism compare what your news media is feeding
your nation on terrorism to what they know self of terrorism. They are
deeply concerned about your safety because you do not realise how grave
the situation is. You will have to look at your nation and reflect on it
from the eyes of other nations. There are two possible ways to do this.

Leave the USA for at least one year. Go and work in a country as different
from the USA as possible. Go to the countries in which many people hate
the USA. Be open to them from step one. Tell them that you want to learn
and to serve. Tell them that you want to go beyond your USA experiences.
Tell them that you are learners who realise that there are all over the
globe masters to learn from. Tell them that you love humankind
unconditionally as God Creator does.

However, if it is impossible for you to actually leave the USA for any
length of time, then select a country as if it would be your destination.
Learn as much of that country as possible. Imagine yourself daily as a
person walking in the shoes (moccasins) of the people of that country.
Associate yourself not with the rich and powerful, but with the poor and
weak. Ask yourself: How will I get hold of food, clothes and housing in
that country? What job will I be able to do in that country. How will I
ensure the education of its children? How will I contribute to health
services. How will I increase the standard of living in that country. How
will I protect and promote the creativity of its people?

>The responsible world is about to band together
>to eliminate terrorism and states that support it.
>That will mean a step-up in the standard against
>which WE are judged... We will have to walk our
>talk better than in the past. How will we be able to
>be clean enough to uphold the moral standard?

Dear Rick, the responsible world will also have to learn just how much it
is part of the problem as its solution. It will have to learn that the
actual solution and the awareness to the problem and its authentic
solution are separated by a paradigm shift. Both Albert Einstein and Max
Planck were deeply involved with the greatest scientific revolution ever.
Among an era of incredible scientific arrogance they insisted that the
advancement of science is not in proclaiming the traditional doctrines of
science and jumping from latest to latest application of that doctrine.
Science advances when speculations (theory) become united with experiences
(facts) while trying to improve upon the historical development of

Let us think of the advancement of civilization. The fact that the two
towers of the WTC had been demolished by two air liners cannot be disputed
by any sane person. I think that this very fact stunned many a USA
citizen, including the USA president and his war mongers. Add to this also
the fact that the USA self through ignorance and incompetency provided for
more than 99.9% of the operation. The doctrine is that only the terrorists
are responsible for terrorism. Using this doctrine to solve the problem by
declaring war on those less than 0.1% who engineered the terrible attack
will not solve the problem. It will not advance civilisation. Those less
than 0.1% exploited merely some of the weaknesses in the USA culture which
your nation by large is oblivious to. There are many more weaknesses
because of a lack of authentic learning. It will also be exploited by some
future terrorists.

>One more thought... The leaders and the press
>appear focused relentlessly on one point... one person...
>Bin Laden. His name appears in every other sentence!
>We are focused on the person, not on the system. I'm
>not going one-bit soft on any of the people involved,
>but there are huge system issues here!

We here in South Africa had also been "brain washed" by the war mongers
that the source of our terrorism is Nelson Mandela. But the source of our
problems was actually our incapacity to learn. Mandela was merely the
scapegoat to avoid looking closely at ourselves. I think that it is much
the same with many of the USA citizens. Osama bin Laden is merely the
scapegoat. What should USA citizens have learned?

I can produce a list as long as my arm. But I want to mention only three
things so as to stress their importance:
(1) Honour the authenticity of people in other countries.
(2) Learn from people of other countries in a gentle manner.
(3) Become aware of the spiralling (looped) nature of creativity.

>Are we serious about any of this? How will
>be become serious enough? How will we get
>better at the systems thinking that's needed?

I think that we will have to focus in systems thinking on creativity in
its deepest sense. Humankind has moved since WWII into its adulthood of
the creativity after some 2500 years in its teenhood. Humankind has
created a world for which it now will have to take responsibility. It has
opened up the secrets of nature to such a level that some fanatics or
waring factions can now exterminate humankind. Humankind must now open up
the secrets of wisdom.

When humankind shifted from its childhood to its teenhood of creativity,
the search for wisdom reached its zenith in most continents. Philosophers
like Socrates and sages like Confucius emerged who are famous even today.
Similar philosophers and sages are needed for the world now shifting into
its adulthood of creativity.

>I am sure of one thing: that community and
>network are important...
>Throughout all this, they have been important
>to me. I think they hold the key for a better
>world. This is a lot better than bowling alone.

This brings us to the seemingly simple concept of commutation. Commutation
happens when at least one more complex system interacts at least once with
at least one less complex system. Complexity without commutation is
impossible. We are the less complex system. We need to commute with fellow
learners so as to learn self. We need to commute with our environment to
live. We need to commute with God to love.

Than you for hosting this dialogue where we can indeed commute with fellow

>Although away from home, I was very fortunate
>to have my family with me. I don't know how I
>could have stood it if separated.

Bravo! Family life is vital. Let us also bear in mind the billions of poor
people whose family lives have been destroyed since WWII. Let us not point
fingers to those who did it, but let us find out what actions caused it.
Let us restore family life among all humankind. Planes sweeping over
innocent people dropping bombs will not do it. Carrying raw material away
to add self value to it will not do it. Expecting the poor to do it self
will not do it. Those who know better will have to help.

Rick, I became aware just how great the need is for Learning Organisations
during the past two weeks. While reading in papers and seeing on TV "in
depth reports" on the tragic events in the USA, I try among other things
to determine how much, even merely tacitly, the 5 disciplines of a LO
figure in these reports. I am afraid that these reports reflect little of
the American nation and its organisations acting as Learning

People here in South Africa know very little formally of Learning
Organisations. However, they articulate their tacit knowledge with a
phrase which I heard many dozens of times the last two weeks. "The
Americans cannot to learn." Please forgive me for saying it, but I have
heard it so many times that me inner ears still ring of it.

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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