Re: Who/What is there! LO1457

Mariann Jelinek (
Wed, 31 May 1995 11:47:20 +0100

Replying to LO1429 --

Tobin and Jim Michmerhuizen strike gold again! Both with important
insights about resistances, change and the stuff that makes "reality"
around us. The hologram images - "ghostly remnants" - of our
families-of-origin or past organizational realities do exert influence,
because they're part of the mental frameworks by which we make sense.
Seems to me that we're surrounded by our assumed constructs, and that
these change only with some difficulty. Vicktor Frankl's dramatic shift in
the meaning of his concentration camp experiences testifies loudly to the
blessed, extraordinary human capacity to (re)create reality; so too, does
a thread on the value of pain. Yet we need to develop more good "tools" to
perceive these all-too-often unacknowledged ghosts, to raise 'em to
consciousness and see if they're still fit companions.
With my tailfeathers a bit scorched in Charles Barclay's response
to to my politics, I'll try to respond with less naivete - I'll admit
there was some - on the related issues of how we learn, getting paid for
learning, etc. Like Charles, I, too, worked my way through school,
borrowed money and paid back every dime, with interest. I'm glad I did;
I'm glad that it was possible to do so. And I wonder about kids trying to
pay for an education that way today, because it's so much more expensive.
It's scarey to imagine graduating college $30,000 or $100,000 in debt. I'm
aghast that some do not repay college loans - and wonder why they are
allowed to get away with it. As a society, we've got many needs that, like
the GI Bill of old, could be traded off for support of education, each
enabling folks with desire to learn, to earn their way. My prior, however,
is that anybody who really wants to, and has the intellectual capability,
should be able to earn their own way. (Not get a free ride; indeed, I
think we all have social obligations .)
Yet lest the ghosts of our past ideologies, present political
stances and individual struggles all invade, perhaps our aim should be to
find what we agree on: that old tapes become obsolete (whether they're
personal protocols of behavior no longer appropriate to adult life; or
past political agendas that no longer fit our circumstances; or even the
cumulation of generations of "good ideas" and "noble intentions" that,
together, make up a hellova mess. I find it striking and encouraging that
LOTS of us, of all political persuasions, recognize the need to change; I
find it equally striking that we've still not gotten a good discussion
going about the society we want to have. Perhaps the holograms are getting
in the way; perhaps we need to push for better tools to redirect our
attention away from the evocative emotional commitments of our past
approaches, and toward a genuinely shared vision for our future.
John Warfield's excellent comments about
suppositions/presuppositions seems relevant here, too: perhaps the
presuppositions (unarticulated, yet exerting impact on our response) are
what drives the affect so, in so much of the political debate. So, too, do
Jim's comments about learning and potential corruption if paid for it;
real learning, and I think this is Charles's point too, is an individual
engagement with reality. Yes; and to engage in that for a substantial
amount of time requires living in the meanwhile. Charles's points about
troubled teens redeemed by taking responsibility is also right on track: I
couldn't agree more that much of the "trouble" for them and for the rest
of us is that we've a large incentive system that DISincentivizes
(horrible word!) taking responsibility . yet that way, madness, impotence
and chaos lie. We cannot "own" our education unless we take responsibility
for it; so we need to do that. At the same time, access to the educational
credentials that now are so vital to many jobs requires money. If we
create a system that simply keeps the fortunate few and their offspring in
comfort, while all others are stuck in the ghetto, we create chaos.
Seems to me we need a system of "escape ladders" and
"responsibility chutes:" chutes for those who don't take responsibility,
so they increasinly bear the consequences of their decisions; multiple
ladders for those who (sooner or later) decide to pull up their socks.
Kids (and their elders) who screw up should have the chance to experience
their consequences, with limiteds consequences and more possibilities of
retrieval early on and for less serious screw-ups; those who behave
responsibly should have all the encouragement we can provide 'em to earn
their way to the best they're capable of, and to earn their way out of the
holes they may have been born into, or dug for themselves.
What ghosts am I missing? This surely isn't the present system,
but also doesn't sound like anything anybody's talking about that I'm
hearing. How can we make a system just enough that individuals'
capabilities and responsibility are encouraged, while their parents' or
grandparents' luck or achievement doesn't provide too much insulation? I
end up thinking that public education is a tremendously important ladder
to assure an on-going flow upwards, to better living standards, etc. for
those who care to work; and worry tremendously that that ladder seems
seriously endangered today. Not just because the feds have blown the job
(Charles is right, they have, in important ways), but "they is us," and
most school systems have difficulties on the local level too, often
because vocal minorities (and I don't mean blacks, Hispanics or women, but
minority opinions) object to precisely the sort of consequences, and
individual responsibility, that would be the making of young people.
Enough! this tome has carried on far too long.


Mariann Jelinek 
Richard C. Kraemer Professor of Business
 Graduate School of Business, 
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23185

Tel. (804) 221-2882 FAX: (804) 229-6135