Changing Another Person LO20012

AM de Lange (
Fri, 27 Nov 1998 11:35:03 +0200

Replying to LO19976 --

Dear Organlearners

Doc Holloway <> writes:

>as a self-confessed agent of change, I would like to know
>where this obligation to change others comes from? Is it
>a personality trait (a species-evolved trait among a relatively
>small number of people)? Does the fact that I "feel" an
>obligation tell more about myself than it does about the
>people I want to change?

Greetings Doc,

As usual, your two questions are very piercing. You have formulated them
in such a way that they may suggest the following Freudian answer. We
humans have evolved into a species which has the greatest ego among all
living species -- humans want to change other humans because of their

But then you also warn us that we should not fall into this line of
negative reasoning by writing:

>It's possible that this need to make change simply reflects
>that we are part of this world...a system where change is a
>characteristic of life. Perhaps it reflects our god-state, or
>our divine spark (or our need to "monkey around").

Doc, you provide a very important key by writing: "change is a
characteristic of life". I assume that you refer to "living systems" and
not also "unliving (inanimate) systems". Yes, I do not know of one single
living organism of which "change" is not essential. Furthermore, death is
unavoidable for all living systems. When a living organism dies, it loses
its ability to change, i.e to live. When death sets in, the dead organism
still changes, but now in a deconstructive manner until nothing more can
be decomposed. In other words, the essence of life is constructive

Unliving systems can also change, sometimes fast like a hurricane or a
volcano, and sometimes slow like a deep ocean bed or a rocky outcrop in
the desert. But changes are not essential to unliving systems like
diamonds or the gas helium. The change from something with the potential
to change to something which has no potential to change any more, is very
important. For example, in the sun deuterium ("heavy hydrogen" having a
proton and a neutron) is changed into helium, the most stable of all
elements. Without this kind of change, life on earth as we know it is

"Entropy production" is essential to all changes, living or unliving.
Without "entropy production" no change can happen. Thus, should we wish to
stop any change, we must stop any entropy production. For example, in the
case of an unliving system like a fire blasing through a building, we use
water to lower the temperature and cut of the oxygen supply. A horrible
way to illustrate this truth for a living system is to strangle another
person, cutting of the supply of oxygen and hence stopping the oxidative
processes in the body.

If "entropy production" is essential to all changes, living or unliving,
why are living systems different from unliving systems? Living systems
can "control the sustaining" of their "entropy production" for long
periods. In other words, living systems can "control their change" for
long periods. Does it mean that unliving systems cannot control their
change? No, they can also do it, but for much smaller periods like a
tornado (few minutes) or hurricanes (few days). This is what makes them so

But what about an artifical unliving system like a nuclear reactor?
Surely, it can "control the sustaining" of its "entropy production" for
many years. Is it then a living system? No, because it cannot "control the
sustaining" of its "entropy production" for "constructive purposes". It
cannot control its change constructively. But since a nuclear bomb is the
epitome of destruction and not the nuclear reactor, is there not something
constructive in the nuclear reactor after all? Yes, it functions as a
source of electrical free_energy which can be used for constructive
purposes. But this constructivity has emerged from an underlying
destructivity which we call "wear and tare". Both the destructivity and
constructivity are the result of "entropy production". But the nuclear
reactor cannot rejuvenate itself, neither in pieces by replacements nor as
a whole by reprodution. In other words, the nuclear reactor cannot
rejuvenate itself by self-organisation (autopoiesis or self-making).

I have said a lot in the last five paragraphs. It can be summarised by
one sentence.
All living systems control their change constructively
by self-organisation.
This is the ONE reason we "monkey around" in the "change business".

The other reason is the unique position of humankind among all living
species. If we look carefully at all living species, we will find a
progression in their ability to control their change constructively by
self-organisation. The order of the animal kingdom is greater than that of
the plant kindom. In the animal kindom the order of the mammals is greater
than that of, for example, the reptiles. And among the mammals, the order
of Homo sapiens is far greater than even that of the other three primates.

The ability of humankind to change has become so profound that it is now
far greater than the ability of all other living species taken together.
Two thousand years ago the majority of humans still believed in gods other
than humans. Today many humans believe that the only gods are among humans
themselves. They emphatically deny the existance of any supernatural God
Creator. Since God has also revealed Himself as Love, by denying God they
also deny Love and thus any emergence of unconditional love within
themselves. By denying unconditional love, they change themselves and
their possesions more and more into a confrontation with the Creator and
the rest of Creation. Their power to change is horrifying. They can wreck
in a couple of weeks the economy of a nation or the ecology of a biome.
They can cripple in a couple of years cultures to such an extent that it
will take tens of generations to recover from it.

It is in this armagedonic context that we have to give an account of
"Changing another Person". Are we going to partcipate in the armagedon to
fight with whatever side which will be partcipating, or are we going to
follow a different course? I myself know that I want to and have to follow
a different course. My course is a loving harmony between God, fellow
humans and the rest of creation. It is my responsibility to tell people
about this path, how to get onto this path and how to become powerful on
this path. In this sense I will and must contribute to the change of other
persons. But it is their responsibility and not mine to follow this path
in terms of their own power. In this sense I will and must contribute as
little as possble to their change. I have to respect the fact of life --
they have to control their change constructively by self-organisation.

Doc, you have spoken for me by writing:

>I don't care to just go around making others into myself or
>recreating the world into the model I've adopted or devised
>(which is too often the role of change-agents).

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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