Changing Another Person LO20009

AM de Lange (
Thu, 26 Nov 1998 14:46:31 +0200

Replying to LO19965 --

Dear Organlearners,

Bill Hobler <> writes:

>May I posit that all progress of civilization is effected through
>changing people. Whether the community of a family engages
>in potty training a two year old or the community of nations is
>attempting to convince dictators that ethnic cleansing is not
>allowed, the community is engaged in changing people. I think
>that At would agree that Apartied would not have ended
>without people changing.

Greetings Bill,

It is a little more complex than that. Apartheid had to end because the
world at large wanted it to end. Thus, even if the white people would have
resisted it end, it would have ended because they were strategically not
in a position to defend it indefinitely. Yes, The white people did change.
Should they not change, they would have turned South Africa in such a
bloodbath that it would have completely overshadowed the horrendous events
in, for example, Rwanda.

This apartheid was really a crazy invention. One of the main aims with
apartheid was to minimize the change which black people could have on
white people AND vice versa. White people favoured an Eurocentric culture
while black people favoured an Afrocentric culture. Such two different
cultures influence each other immensely, usually far more destructively
than constructively, as the history of South Africa witness. Consequently
the strategy was to reduce the contact between the two cultures to a
minimum while promoting Eurocentric culture among whites and Afrocentric
culture among balcks.

However, the strategy failed because of a number of reasons. One important
reason is people's perceptions. White people perceived that they were
hurting black people very little while black people perceived that white
people were hurting them extremely. The truth lies somewhere in between.
For example, black people had a far higher standard of living (made
possible by white people) than anywhere else in Southern Africa. On the
other hand, white people became ignorant of the hurt which they infliceted
even upon themselves.

The second important reason is that no ideology cannot fully curtail the
creativity of the human mind, a creativity that manifests itself in that
which we call culture. Black people began to employ some of the values of
the Eurocentric culture in their own culture. The same happened to the
white people. Thus the difference in the two cultures became less, making
the main reason for separating them less acceptable.

Bill, you also write:

>The questions of ethics and morality are questions that
>are answered from the culture of the community. When
>you or I join a community, be it a family, a business or a
>country we become subject to and responsible for the
>culture of that community. Should we disagree with the
>ends or means saught and employed by that community
>we are obligated to either advocate for change or to seek
>another more compatable community.

This is wise words. But in it we must see only the beginning of our
wisdom, not its end. It is true that the specific culture provides the
answers to our ethical questions. But when we begin to question these
answers themselves, then the specific culture cannot provide answers on
these deeper questions, otherwise we will fall into the vicious circel of
self-referance. The answers lay in the greater whole. Thus we have to
study different cultures (because of diffirences in space as well as time)
to see how they will answer to the same ethical quations. In other words,
we must become sensitive to the cultural perceptions of all humans all
over the world through all the ages.

This brings me to my definition of complexity which is unique and quite
different from other definitions. Complexity is all the perceptions of all
humans all over the world through all the ages. In other words, complexity
is the web of the minds of humankind. There are certainly many things
which have not yet been perceived by even one single human being. But
these things are not part of complexity. They, together with complexity,
is what I consider as reality. My point now is that we will have to seek
our answers in complexity and stop dodging complexity once and for all.

>In all of this we ae going to be required to change. Even
>should we be successful in changing people in the
>community we too will be changed. Again the questions of
>ethics and morality apply to the means and ends involved.

Yes. But since you have mention change and ethics in the same
paragraph, is there any rule which connects ethics directly with
change? I will give you my own rule.
I will seek the change within myself rather than trying
to force a change upon the rest of humankind and the
environment. I will do my utmost to help other humans
to make a similar change.
This rule can be summarised by the phrase "irreversible
self-organisation". By setting out to understand "how" (descriptive)
irreversible self-organisation happens, we will be in a better to
answer the "why" (normative).

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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