Work with Unity in Diversity LO30840

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 12/11/03

Replying to LO30835 --

Dear Organlearners,

Lilly Evans < > wrote:

>You ask a very interesting question. It is one I spent quite
>some time pondering before writing a chapter on Diversity
>for a book on 21st Century Leadership (it was published
>in South Africa but minus my piece)! I used the phrase
>"Being Different Together" as the title. And, it was borrowed
>from Harlan Cleveland's series of lectures to UN University
>in 1997 (when he was 79 years old!).

Greetings dear Lilly,

I wonder what happened to your piece? The phrase "Being Different
Together" does have meaning to me. But i am forever aware of the
difference between "being" and "becoming"!

It made me think of a small holding (about 5 acres) which i have. I
use only a small part of the holdings for plant houses. Many years ago
we counted the different species of grass on it. There were 12
species. I did not let the grass be grazed or be burnt regularly.
After about 5 years i began to notice how the grass became less with
one species dominating. We counted the species again and there were
only 4 left over. That winter i burnt the grass and two years
afterwards there were again 8 species. After another burning there
were 11 species again!

So what about the phrase "Becoming Different Together"? Does the above
story not tell something of it?

>This is what he had to say on your questions:
> Cultural diversity is, however, on collision course with two
>other values on which the 21st Century will have to be built.
> One is the outward "push" of modern information science
>and information technology, which makes it possible to think
>of the world as one - as a global market for things and services
>and information and money, ..... (snip)

Perhaps this collision has already happened many times in the past. I
am thinking here of one language becoming the "lingua franca" in a
region where several languages are spoken. Sometimes it begins to
displace the other languages so that their numbers of speakers dwindle
away. The reasons are usually based on economy, comfort and
superiority. However, like the grass species on my small holdings,
when the speakers of the lingua franca get caught up in a predicament
of their own, the numbers of speakers of the other languages increase

> The other collision that may write much of the history
>of the 21st Century is between the group-oriented
>philosophies of ambitious cultural, racial, and religious
>communities, and the contrasting idea of human rights,
>individual and inalianable - the view that a person has
>rights not because he or she is part of a nation, .....(snip)

The above made me think of the 20th century history of South Africa.
The Apartheid government thought "citizin reponsibilities" to be more
important than individual human rights. These "citizin
reponsibilities" were designed to upheld western civilisation. In the
New South Africa the individual human rights are now supreme. But i
fear that they will become severely tested when Africanism takes over
here too. For example, our government handles Zimbabwe north of our
border with gloves ("silent diplomacy" it is called) despite its gross
abuses of individual human rights because of its struggle against
colonialism (which is rather a case of "Europeanism").

It seems to me that when some or other "***-ism" is enforced, both
individual human rights and different cultural groups suffer.

> So, while celebrating cultural human diversity and the
>political change it's bringing about on five continents and
>countless islands, we need to think hard about reconciling
>it with both individual human rights and global human

I agree. The trouble is that the "global human opportunities" are
often the reason why the "individual human rights" suffer because some
sector of society can explore these "global human opportunities"
better than other sectors.

> What's unique cannot be universal. What's universal threatens,
>and is threatened, by what's unique. "It's puzzlement," as the King
>says in the musical comedy The King and I.

I wonder about your "What's unique cannot be universal". Among all the
laws of physics the Law of Entroppy Production (LEP) is most unique
since it has to be formulated with a ">" rather than a "=" sign. But
it is a universal law also. Being both unique and universal makes LEP
the most puzzling of all laws.

>But it's no more puzzling, surely, than some of our favorite
>paradoxical slogans. "Unity in Diversity," "Think Globally,
>Act Locally," and "e pluribus unum" (out of many, one) all
>require us to hold two or more contradictory propositions
>in our minds at the same time. The capacity to do that,
>I seem to recall, was Sigmund Freud's definition of maturity.

Lilly, thanks for helping me to see a pattern here. When only two
entities are considered, they are often thought to be contradictory.
But when those two entities belong to two of more that two categories,
they are usually thought to be independent.

However, the 7Es (seven essentialities of creativity) taught me a
great lesson. I originally thought them to be independent because of
my training as a scientist. But eventually i had to learn that they
are in fact extremely dependent on each other!

The 7Es are
liveness ("becoming-being"
sureness ("identity-context")
wholeness ("unity-associativity")
fruitfulness ("connect-beget")
spareness ("quantity-limit"
otherness ("quality-variety"
openness ("paradigm-transform")

Now take, for example, the slogan "Think Globally, Act Locally,"
above. Its two parts seem to be contradictory. However, for me the
part "Think Globally" refers to wholeness while the part "Act Locally"
refers to fruitfulness. Thus they cannot be contradictory!

>I look forward to a lively conversation

I have enjoyed your input very much.

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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