Personal Mastery... Selfish? LO17111

Mnr AM de Lange (
Fri, 20 Feb 1998 18:59:09 GMT+2

Replying to LO17076 --

Dear Organlearners,

Ben Compton <> writes:

> Subject: Personal Mastery... Selfish? LO17076

Ben, the subject should have been
Neither individualism nor collectivism
You will soon see why.

But, let me first thank you deep from my heart for such a very strong
standpoint. It helps me to make my point.

Actually it is a line, a string of points. Stop reading any further
if you are not interested in figuring out this long fractal line.

> The first chapter in the Fifth Discipline Fieldbook is "I see you." When I
> first read this chapter I thought in weird. I wrote those words in the
> column of the first paragraph. It reads:
> "Among the tribes of nothern Natal in South Africa, the most common
> greeting, equivalent to "hello" in English, is the expression Sawu bona.
> It literally means, "I see you." If you are a member of the tribe, you
> might reply by saying Sikhona, "I am here." The order of the exchange is
> important: until you see me, I do not exist. It's as if, when you see me,
> you bring me into existence."

You are correct. They (the Zulus) usually reply with "I hear you".

What happens with "I see you - I hear you" is very important WITHIN
the culture of UBUNTU. The "I see you - I hear you" is a powerful
protocol by which ubuntu is declared. It signifies two things. 1 We
accept a ranking of seniority 2. The organs of both of us for human
communication are working. Ububtu now follows, i.e living in a
loving harmony with God, fellow humans and nature. (See my
contribution on ubuntu about 8 months ago.)

It is the prerogative of the senior in rank to say "I see you". If,
especially if you do not belong there, you are not sure about the
rank, assume you are of lower rank and keep quite. Eventually the
other person will say "I see you". Afterwards, during the
communication, you both will come to the knowledge what the real
ranking is. Next time both of you will know who has to say first
"sawu bona".

If you are a complete stranger (say, from a different race), the
senior, especially if it is the chief, will not greet you. You then
have to find and make use of a UMLOMO (mouthpiece). It is a person
of lower rank appointed by that senior person. He will then address
you through this umlomo.

Unfortunately, if you do not know the complexity of ubuntu, you will
run into serious trouble. For example, most of you (except Ray
Harrel) would have had the mental model that "fellow humans" include
all living humans. No, "fellow humans" refer in the first place to
the spirits of the forefathers. Almost by definition it restrict the
"fellow humans" to the tribe. If the forefathers of the tribe had
been in conflict with the forefathers of your tribe, tribalism will
ensue. The key to avoid conflict is to go back in the lineage until
some common forefathers had been established. It can take
hours, especially of you have to go back to Adam, but it is time
well spent.

Another example. Most of you would have assumed that God refers to
that a spiritual being who has created the universe. No. In a
community which does not have a richnes in ranking, ubuntu can lead
you into deep trouble. If one (monarchy) or a few (olicharchy) rule
as if gods, while the rest have zero rank, the community can easily
end up with a feudalism or communism.

Zulus? Who are they. Allow me to tell something about them by also
telling something of myself and a forefather of mine. I am Adriaan
Michiel de Lange. I am a Boer (a white Afrikaans speaking person). I
am from the seventh generation of Hans Dons de Lange. He was the
"Davy Crocket" of the Boer people when they entered in 1936 what is
now known as Natal. The Boer people and the Zulu people did not
understand each other. Hans Dons was probably the only person who
understood the cultures of both the Boers and the Zulus. He warned
both sides (Boer leader Piet Retief and Zulu leader Dingaan) that
they did not understand each other, but they prefered to use umlomos
who spoke their mental models - things which were pleasing to hear.

Eventually it lead to the most bloodiest battle in South Africa's
history - the battle of Bloedrivier (Blood River). 16 Decemeber
1838. The river got its Afrikaans name from what happened that
day it became thick with blood. For once in their entire history the
Boere acted as a whole. You have to appreciate it because if there
ever was a bunch of individualists, it was these Boere. "Boere kan
nie saam staan nie". The many Zulu speaking tribes were formed by
the great Chaka into the Zulu nation. But for once in their lives
they did not act as collectivists. They outnumbered the Boere by ten
to one. Yet on that day the Zulus did not attack in one swift massive
strike as the great Chaka Zulu had learnt them - they sent in impi
after impi. From that day arise the Day of the Covenant. But soon
opportunists even pirated this day for their own selfish interests.

What happened to Hans Dons? He was respected by both the Boers and
Zulus, but few ever understood him. As a very old man, he was
accused of murdering a young strong Zulu man with his bare hands.
The Brittains, who had annexed Natal, despite the proven lies, found
him guilty and prepared to hang him. Panda, the then Zulu king,
rounded up his Zulu army to save Hans Dons and to drive the Brittains
into the sea. When their many impis came over the last hills, the
Brittains were already hanging Hans Dons for the second time. The
first hanging failed because the rope broke - the neck of Hans Dons,
even in old age, was too strong. As he was dying on the second
hanging, a white (albino) crow flew from the gallows to the Zulu
army. In their culture it is a grave sign from their forefathers to
stop immediately with what they are doing. They turned back and so
another bloody battle was averted, one which the Briattains never
could won. Since that day they began to call Hans Dons the White

> Outside of the fact that this paragraph is illogical, I'm abhored by it's
> implications that my existence is dependent on other peoples existence.
> Here is where I diverge from the traditional concept of a LO.

Ben, what about a baby? Are you abhored by the fact that the baby's
existence is dependent on the existence of caring parents? What about
aged grandparents. Are you abhored by the fact that their existence
is dependent on the existence of their children?

> An organization exists when one or more people interact in such a way that
> they are able to take productive action. The individual comes before the
> organization. A community exists because individuals decided it was to
> their benefit to come together. Again the individual existed before the
> community.

Individualism holds that the individual is more important than a
collection of indivuduals. Collectivism holds that the collection of
individuals are more important than the individuals. It is
logically clear that indivudualism and collectivism are mutually
exclusive - either individualism or collectivism, but not both.

However. if we rely on our logic, we are heading for deep trouble. It
is because creativity is the foundation of our human existence, not
logic! Creativity is even the foundation of logic. (Do you readers
want me to write one something about it? I have already written anout
entropy production as the foundation of creativity, but that seems to
have scared the wits out of readers <grin>.)

Let us assume that creativity is the foundation of logic. I have
mentioned in previous posts that I have discovered the seven
essentialities of creativity. If one or more of them are impaired, we
cannot have constructive creativity - destructive creativity will
become the default. Two of these essentialities enter the discussion
here, namely:
"identity-associativity" (sureness)
":associativity-monadicity" (wholeness).

What happens in individualism is that the essentiality
":associativity-monadicity" (wholeness) is deliberately impaired with
respect to the essentiality "identity-associativity" (sureness).
Thus, for example, it is very difficult for individualists to
understand holism. But what happens in "collectivism" is the
opposite. The essentiality "identity-associativity" (sureness) is
deliberately impaired with respect to the essentiality
"associativity-monadicity" (wholeness). Thus, for example, it is very
difficult for collectivists to understand positivism.

In the "either individualism or collectivism" mindset there is little
scope for constructive creativity for all followers of both "..isms".
This was the reason for the cold war between the "profit curtain" and
the "iron curtain". (Note that I call the West the "profit curtain".)
And they made Africa its playing fields, including and especially
South Africa with its white minority (of whom most are
individualists) and its black majority (of whom most are
collectivists). Apartheid was very much a "cold war" contained within
our acountry. When the "iron curtain" fell, pres F W de Klerk had no
other wize option than to disabandon apartheid. For this he got the
Nobel Peace prize.

> And so when you start saying that a person doesn't exist until they're
> recognized by others you reverse the order of existence. The result is
> that man becomes a weak and helpless creature without other people.

That is a main reason why the whites in the first place began with
apartheid (long before it even begame a political instrument). Whites
developed apartheid through 300 years to prevent them from becoming
weaker. The blacks did not want to recognise the whites as part of
their ubuntu since they did not have the same forfarthers. Even
today, many blacks cry "Africa for the blacks" - their own type
of "aparheid" through which they try to stay strong.

This is also the reason for the conflict between former pres PW Botha
and the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commision). Botha is an
individualist and Tutu is a collectivist.

> So what does all of this have to do with personal mastery and selfishness?
> The major motivating factor for organizing is to help us achieve our own
> desires. When we take a job the primary motivation is what we can get,
> while the secondary motivation is wh at we can give others. I would never
> take a job where I could benefit others and not myself. That wouldn't make
> any sense.

Personal mastery is to connect the patterns within you with the
patterns outside you.

Try to see exactly the same pattern in the following. The TRC wants
Botha to denounce individualism by embracing collectivism while he
calls them a circus for wanting him to do it.

> It just so happens that as I work hard to grow and develop myself, the
> organization benefits from that effort. My motivation is not to
> necessarily benefit the organization. It is to benefit myself. But in the
> end the organization does benefit.

Try to see exactly the same pattern in the following. Botha says that
the blacks have benefitted from apartheid (observe what is going
on north of South Africa's borders) while the TRC calls him a fool
for not repenting what he neglected to do for the blacks.

> The more people strive to achieve the results they most want for
> themselves the more the organization benefits as long as a) the pursuit of
> one's own ends are congruent with the purpose of the organization, b) the
> each person is ethical.

Well, this is just where the pumpkin hit the fan for South Africa.

Your a)
The whites had one purpose for South Africa (to pursue their own
ends) and the blacks had another purpose for South Africa (to pursue
their own ends). During apartheid the white minority managed to
realise their purpose and the blacks were the losers. Now, after
apartheid, the black majority are beginning to realise their purpose
and the whites are becoming the losers.

Your b)
What is ethical? During the apartheid years the white minority
thought that they were operating ethical and now after apartheid the
black majority believe they are behaving ethically. In the mean time,
crime ahs become profitable - it is the sector grwoing fastest,
already having surpassed many other sectors.

> That is why I think it is absolutely critical that an organization have
> clearly defined values. Without them it is impossible for a person to know
> if they should or should not work there. It also makes it difficult to
> measure performance, encourage higher levels of performance, and make day
> to day decisions.

How much of value are individualism and collectivism? Collectivism
proved itself eventually to be destructive behind the "iron curtain".
"We have told them so, but they did not want to believe us". Can we
believe that individualism will prove itself to be constructive
behind the "profit curtain". Can we believe that we can impair
":associativity-monadicity" (wholeness) to favour
"identity-associativity" (sureness) because the converse did not

The key is to see that not a single essentiality is of higher value.
For example, the "greenies" (green peace) complicates the picture by
saying that "quality-variety" (varyness) is most important. We have
to see that all seven essentialities are equally important, otherwise
we cannot have constructive creativity.

> Ethical behavior emerges out of the values of the individual and the
> organization. The interplay between the two will determine if the
> organization as a whole is ethical. A person is ethical as long as they
> seek their own benefit without impeding others to seek their; an
> organization is ethical as long as it rewards people for their work. To
> reward a person for being a gifted politician is unethical because the
> process by which advancement is made within the organization is no longer
> dependent on the personal growth of each employee. It is rather based on
> brutality and ruthlessness.

No. Ethical values are that which promotes the creativity of all
creatures. Unfortunately, there is great difference between "that
which promotes creativity" and "our understanding of those things
which promote creativity". The "our understanding of creativity" is
something which emerges creatively. If we make make "our
understanding of creativity" the prerequisite for promoting our
creativity, we usually end up with immergences rather than
emergences. But to avoid this, we can make use of an UMLOMO.

The apostle John once wrote that Jesus Christ is the Umlomo (Logos).
But more and more men of the church began to argue among them who of
them are the umlomos needed to speak for this Ulomo. Eventually the
church lost its credibility. Then the scientists came with their
umlomo. But more and more of these scientists began to argue among
them who of them are the umlomos needed to speak for their ulomo.
Now, eventually, also science is beginning to lose its credibility.

For more than a year that I am burning to tell you more about the
"umlomo" (mouthpiece). But I cannot get to it. For those of you who
wish to try and figure it out yourself, it has very much to do with
the essentiality "associativity-monadicity" (wholeness).

> So what's my point? We should be motivated by our own self-interest inside
> an organization. That is the best way to create the type of interaction
> that will create productive action. People exist for their own purposes
> first, and for their communities second. That is a significant issue for
> me.

So, what is my point? First of all, I am not an umlomo. I merely try
to follow the truthful umlomos. I do not wait for anybody to say to
me "sawu bona" and neither do I say it to anybody. I wish my
greeting to be a smile and helping hands, but my frown gets in the
way. I do speak of many things. I often say: never forget to use your
truthful umlomo to question what I am writing. If it is heretic,
delete (burn) it. If it is not, question it again and again. I know
that my Umlomo wants me to question Him from instant to instant.

Secondly, among other things in all Creation, people exist to image
their Creator, as individuals and belonging to collections. Their
Creator do care for them, individually and collectively, but also for
the rest of Creation. The Creator has been revealed as "I am what I
become". If we do not witness to this, the rocks will do it. This is
a significant issue for me. It happens by means of entropy
production, the primordial becoming which leads to beings..)

Best wishes


At de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa email:

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