Learning and enlightenment LO22424

AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Mon, 9 Aug 1999 14:36:50 +0200

Replying to LO22413 --

Dear Organlearners,

Our host Rick writes the following comment to
Aleksandar Raich <araic@EUnet.yu> 's contribution:

>To: Readers -- Aleksandar wrote to us early in the period of
>bombing. He recently sent another note which was a bit too
>partisan to distribute. Frankly, if I had been bombed, I don't
>know how I could have written a note without being partisan.
>One of my grand questions is how we can ever lift the clouds
>of secrecy, disinformation, and partisanship so that we might
>learn something from a war experience.

Greetings Rick,

Yes, things like "secrecy, disinformation, and partisanship" work against
learning. Why? Secrecy is contrary to openness, disinfomation is contrary
to sureness and partisanship is contrary to otherness. Openness, sureness
and otherness are three of the seven essentialities of creativity. All
these seven essentialities are necessary to let any creative behaviour
emerge constructively into a learning experience. They are also necessary
to emerge in learning from one level of knowledge to other: experential,
tacit, formal and sapient.

Making war is a grand excercise in destructive creativity. The strategy in
any war is to destroy the creativity of the other side most effectively.
The loser of the war is the side which lost so much that it cannot sustain
constructive creativity among its own side any more.

But to make war in the first place, both sides have to decide to create
destructively to resolve the issues on which the war has been declared.
Furthermore, these issues themselves have developed because of
insufficient constructive creativity. In other words, the events leading
to a war and the war itself is a case study in destructive creativity.

If we want to learn from any war, even a war in which we ourselves may be
involved, we will have to "invert" much of the war experiences. It is like
making a bitmap picture of the war and then click on the button which
inverts the colors of the picture. The picture of the war is the "colour
negative" and its inversion is the "colour positive".

This metaphor of "bitmap colour inversion" also gives us an idea of what
is a war like if we ourselves have not experienced a war. Make a
"picture" of your peaceful way of living. This picture is a "colour
positive". Then click the button to "invert" the colors. The resulting
"colour negative" will give you an idea what war is like. It is easy to do
this on your computer with Paintbrush.

The colour inversion of a bitmap picture is a simple arithmatic operation
on the three RGB (Red Green Blue) values of every bit of the picture.
Although simple arithmatic, it gives us an idea of how "secrecy,
disinformation, and partisanship" can be transformed into "openness,
sureness, and otherness" or vice versa. It means that when we think of the
seven essentialities, we have to think of a "seven colour picture".

A war is not as simple as two "outward sides" fighting for supremacy,
although this is what is told to the ordinary people engaged in the war. A
war is a complex, destructive monster. Both "outward sides" lose heavily.
But each of the two "outward sides" has two "inward sides" -- those (the
sufferers) who will have to bear the costs of the war and those (the
yielders) who will gain by the war whether that overall "outward side"
wins or loses.

The yielders will never tell the sufferers the truth. But while the
sufferers cryingly attend the grave of whoever or whatever they loved, the
yielders smile behind stern faces all the way to the bank. In fact, the
yielders on both sides use all the destructive creativity allowed to them
by martial law and public ignorance to hide the actual truth from the

Since truth itself is an emergent phenomenum (constructive emergence), the
sufferers never become wise to the subversive deeds of the yielders. Why
should they become wise since wisdom (sapient knowledge) itself is an
emergent phenomenon? To emerge from formal knowledge into sapient
knowledge again requires the seven essentialities.

We here in South Africa were also involved in war with other countries in
Southern Africa especially the last twenty years (1970-1990) of apartheid.
These countries helped the victims of apartheid to wager a war against the
rulers of South Africa. War, which involves martial law, was never openly
declared because the yielders on both sides could not afford it.
Nevertheless, great were the losses of the sufferers. Yes, things like
"secrecy, disinformation, and partisanship" were part of our daily lives.
Unfortunately, a new era of "secrecy, disinformation, and partisanship" is
lifting is head because some of the old sufferers could not resist the
temptation to become yielders in the new era. And there are always
newcomers who do not mind how the make a living.

Before being employed at the university, I worked at the College of
Education for Further Training. One of the most sought after
qualifications was the Diploma in Youth Preparedness (Afrikaans: "Diploma
in Jeugweerbaarheid"). (To give you an indication -- 100 such diplomas
were issued for every five in zoology, every four in botany, every two in
chemistry and every one in physics or mathematics.) The part "weer" in the
name is most instructive. It comes from the proto Germanic word for strife
from which the English word "war" is also derived. The composite part
"weerbaar" means "physically and spiritually capable of bearing arms".
Thus the "weerbaarheid" means literally "defenseness". Did this diploma
help teachers to prepare themselves and their pupils for constructive
creativity or did it brainwash them to think in terms of a "colour
negative"? Take a quess!

As a teacher trying to guide learners how to learn emergently and then
digestively, I observed how the "spirit of war" (destructive creativity)
prevented the learners (pupils and students) to base their learning on
constructive creativity. This "spirit of war" is the "colour negative" way
in which people try to understand things from all walks of life. Year
after year I observed, perhaps subjectively, how learners increasingly
failed to understand the "web of life". My heart ached for them.

As my own efforts failed increasingly, I became increasingly aware of the
importance of an environment conducive to learning based on constructive
creativity. While others began increasingly to seek peace rather than war,
I also became perceptive of "something collective which has to carry the
peace". An individual can carry peace in his/her heart, but it takes more
than one person to live peacefully. So when the book "The Fifth
Discipline" appeared, I was mentally prepared to recognise the need for
Learning Organisations to carry the message of peace.

One of the most important, if not the most important, tasks of every
member of any LO is to invert the "colour negative" of our view on
reality into a "colour positive". It is not a once in a lifetime click on
the button "invert colours", but a daily activity employing many clicks
every day.

To transform a bitmap of a picture on a computer from a "colour negative"
into a "colour positive", we simply command the computer to do the
necessary calculations on the RGB values of every bit according to a
program. But to transform our destructive viewpoint on life into a
constructive viewpoint is different.

First of all, whereas we can command the computer (something else) to do
the job, we cannot command other people to "invert" destructive
creativity into constructive creativity. We can beg them, plead with them
and beseach them, but the free energy and control to do it has to come
from themselves. This requires a paradigm shift from "control by external
force" to "self-organisation by internal means" -- to change oneself
rather that to change others.

Secondly, real life is not altogether a "colour negative". Some parts of
the picture are already in a "colour positive". It is most important to
deal with this realistic picture of life having both "colour negative" and
the "colour positive" parts. This realistic picture is the now -- the
present, not the past (history) nor the future. So what is the job of the
past and the future? To identify the "colour negative" parts from the
"colour positive" in the picture so that we invert only that which needs
inversion. One bit taken on its own will never allow us to infer whether
it needs inversion or not.

But what actually in both the past and the future is it which we need to
qualify the present picture? It is that pattern, complex as it may be and
complexer as it becomes, which distinguishes the past from the future. It
is the pattern which gives time its arrow so that we never will confuse
the past with the future and vice versa. That complex pattern can be
summarised by one single word -- irreversibility. Hence we need
irreversibility to invert only those bits of parts of the picture which
are in a "colour negative" state. (With reversibility we may easily invert
"colour positive" parts which did not need inversion!)

A Learning Organisation which do not want to know how to manage its
affairs with "irreversible self-organisation" cannot hope to achieve
anything substantial.

Rick, in my opinion one of the acid tests for a LO is to see how it copes
with war, especially if that LO resides in a country engaged in warfare.
During the years of apartheid (1948-1992) many organisations in South
Africa would have wanted to qualify as LOs. Obviously the concept LO was
not available in those days. But using the concept in retrospect, few
would qualify as LOs. The majority of South Africans of all colours now
have painful memories of those years.

But why should our children and grandchildren have painful memories of the
years still to come. What is it with us that we cannot put our acts in
order? The prophet Hosea answers us from the ancient past -- ignorance
which we love to cuddle. Events leading to a war and the war itself are
the clearcut signs of such narsistic ignorance -- lack of enlightenment.

Let us learn creatively and not make war, the epitome of destructive
creativity. Let peace be the outcome of our learning.

O peace, where are you? Please come soon.

Best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@gold.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <rkarash@karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>