It hurts! Embassy Bombings LO18906

Mnr AM de Lange (
Thu, 20 Aug 1998 16:18:06 GMT+2

Replying to LO18881 --

Dear Organlearners,

Ben Compton <> writes:

> Your message, and those that have followed, have made it clear that I was
> indifferent to the atrocity.

Hi Ben,

Maybe it is the case, maybe not.

In irreversible thermodyamics a careful distiction is made with
respect to the boundary of a system. A system can be isolated, closed
or open. The two extreme or limiting cases are isolated and open.
Closed means "partially open" which is the same as "partically
isolated". All living organisms are CLOSED systems, neither isolated
systems, nor open systems. Thus they have orifices to control
creafully what goes in and what goes out. System thinkers often say
that living organisms are open systems. If this were the case, how
come all the blood stays in your body? Why do you have a mouth and an

Here in South Africa many people have stopped looking TV or reading
newspapers because of the violence (quantitatively and qualitatively)
reported in it, especially They also can give a clear reason for
doing so. They shut off these destructions (negativities) in order to
maintain their spiritual health. They are not desensitized, but the
choose willfully not to "eat" the stuff anymore until they
regurtitate from it. i.e becoming violent themselves. Are they wrong?
No, they carefully control what comes in and what goes out. Ben, is
it not the same in your case?

> I think of life in organizations, and how people respond to pretty
> significant events without even batting an eye. And then we sit and wonder
> why our organizations die so young?

Ben, thank you for your most interesting examples to illustrate the

To control its valves (gates) between subsystems or between the
system and its boundary, the system has to have sensors. Our mental
system also have subsystems with gates between them. Each such a gate
can only function when it has a sensor. In my opnion the collective
action of all these sensors is what I experience as consciousness.

By letting new subsystems with their gates and sensors emerge in my
mind, my consciousness is transormed step by step. Things for which I
did not bat an eye twenty years ago, now become the centre of my

But I want to rush to your next comments which I quote:

> As I've come to see my mistakes as a parent, I have become the family
> questioner not the family teacher. I'm full of questions. "Why did you do
> that?" which the children hate, because I'm asking them to think about
> their actions. "How do you think that made the other person feel?" Or
> "How would you like it if someone treated you that way?" And when they
> come and ask for my advice my first question is "What do you think you
> should do?" Once they answer I ask, "Why do you think that is the right
> thing for you to do?"
> This simply change has transformed the emotional and intellectual
> atmosphere at home. At first the children were pouty; they preferred to
> have me use "hurt" to control them because it justified them in doing the
> same with their friends. But when I stopped doing that and began asking
> questions, they became accountable for their actions, while at the same
> time becoming more conscious of what they were trying to achieve and why
> the attainment of what they wanted was important. They'd literally stand
> in front of me and cry, "Daddy, tell us what to do!" And I'd smile and say
> "I can't. I'm not you. You have to decide for yourself. And you have to
> take the consequences of your choices. All I can do is help you think
> through the problem by asking questions. The final decision is yours."
> Now they rarely ask me for directions, and more often then not they make
> excellent decisions. Their ability to distinguish right from wrong is also
> increased, and I have noticed a tremendous amount of growth in their
> sociality.

Me and my wife did very much the same with our kids as you. But what
happened here is that the culture of hurt stiffled my kids more and
more as they became older.

My eldest son was in the following way a terrible victim of it. He is
very musical, sang in choirs and played the french horn. But he is
also physically a giant (6'6"), strong as an ox and became a national
champion in wrestling in his last school year. He has a very gentle
nature since his baby days. But from his first days at school almost
everybody boy tried to use him, the big sissy who makes music, as the
object of their violence to establish themselves as leader of the
pack. They directed all their hurt at him - he became the token to
be lasted. He avoided countless of fights, enduring whatever they
could deliver. The few times when he snapped, he nearly killed each
contender in a matter of seconds, they ending in hospital. (Last
December, I got the fright of my life when observing how strong he
really is. He help me to replace the break pads on my truck. He
loosend the wheel nuts with his bare fingers. I have seen only one
other man in my whole life who could do that.)

In the history of the West in the US, gunslingers always wanted to
measure themselves against the fastest gunslinger. Again it is the
same pattern as that which my son was involved in. People wanting to
issue a message in terms of hurting - do not try to hurt us because
see how we have hurt the strongest.

How much hurt can a person endure? In the case of my eldest son, his
intellectual questioning also caused him hurt. So he began to shut
himself off intellectually to avoid additional hurt. It is only the
past three years that he is opening himself again intellectually,
questioning life, learning as he had been doing as young kid.

Ben, are you sure your own kids will not get hurt by such a pattern?
Are you sure that they will sustain their questioning and learning in
a culture of hurt? Maybe that culture is not so intense and extensive
where your kids live. But are you sure that it will not become worse?

To keep up with questioning and learning in a culture of hurting
rquires a very strong person, not physically strong as my son, but
spiritually strong. Neither questioning nor learning are that
spiritual strength, but the outcome of these actions. Thus immature
learners cannot sustain themselves in a culture of hurting. This is
the lesson which we are now learning in South Africa. Please take
care not to learn this lesson first hand yourself.

> The only hurt we really learn from is the hurt we cause ourselves. Those
> moments where our actions and the consequences come together -- and we're
> conscious of the fact that they've come together -- are powerful learning
> moments. The lesson learned may be joyous or it may be painful but it will
> always promote personal growth.

Wonderful words Ben.

Best wishes


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

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