Reflections on September 11 LO27356

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 10/07/01

Replying to LO27350 --

Hello Bill, dear beLOngers,

the paradoxes of belonging are: identity, involvement, individuality and
boundaries (is there an English word for boundaries starting with an i?
Except for I, that is ;-)).

"The paradox of identity conceives of the individual as deriving meaning from
membership of the group while, at the same time, the group derives meaning
from its individual members. Separating individual and group identity is an
"To develop the level of detachment necessary for self-reflection requires a
kind of involvement that makes detachment appear impossible".
"Hence, individuals come to a group looking for what they can get. Yet the
overwhelming message is often: "you can't get anything from here until you
"The irony is that someone who is "in" begins to fear the possibility of being
"out" and the group has to develop a way to contain (!) the emotions
associated with outsiderness, an emotion it has created by its actions to
include. But it must do this in a way that includes;".

Forget this:

These four paradoxes are at work. When i hear people talk on the issues
associated with the terrorist attack, i hear these notions. Most people,
from whatever religious background or state, can be heared saying things
like "to be or not to be". Intuitively, the paradox is sensed. But then,
most people make up their mind, choose a side. They stress their belonging
to a group by involving their person, their individuality with a group:
burning or swaying with flags, threathening "the other". Because most
people, following their leaders, use the principle of the excluded middle
(you're either against of for <whatever>), being for the one is always
against the other. Perhaps we should try to drop the notion of the
excluded middle.

Sometimes i assume we're inside some kind of (cruel?, moral? human?)
experiment that is learning us to handle the paradoxes, like those of
belonging. We can often travel via the "path of not", but may be unable to
travel back via the same "path of not". For instance: if i'm happy, it is
possible to negate happiness and become unhappy. If i'm unhappy, i cannot
however become happy by negating unhappiness: i can only become not
unhappy. If i'm alone, i can join a group (like this list!, i become a
LOner, this list will have me as a member!); however, by leaving a group i
do not become alone again (sure, i can unlist, become unLOner, i can
check-out any time, but i can never leave!).

Leaving this list is easy. But now what about groups that were designed to
contain negative emotions? All the things we would love to reject from
our-self - or rather: project on others. Can we leave such a group? And
when this group is closely associated with our families, our parents, that
have invested so heavily in our future? Can we leave that group? More
questions than is good for one evening; forget it,

kind regards,

Jan Lelie

Now, imagine yourself to be a Leader, having to carry the weight of all
these emotions, these notions, know notions: what options do you have?

Bill Harris wrote:

> Thank you for your heartfelt thoughts.

> snip

> Skipping much of importance in your comments, I'll comment on your
> suggestion that we live outside the USA for at least a year. I've done
> that, albeit still in a Western country, and I learned much about me and
> about the USA as well as about that country and its peoples from the
> experience.


With kind regards - met vriendelijke groeten,

Jan Lelie

Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM (Jan) LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development mind@work est. 1998 - Group Resolution Process Support Tel.: (+ 31) (0)70 3243475 or car: (+ 31)(0)65 4685114 and/or taoSystems: + 31 (0)30 6377973 -

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.