Systems and Personal Responsibility LO3925

John Woods (
Wed, 29 Nov 1995 07:36:39 -0600 (CST)

Yesterday (Tuesday 11/28) on the Morning Edition I heard the following
story related by commentator Diana Naiad:

A man with severe cerebral palsy who had a lot of trouble speaking and
being understood was facing the fact that his mother was dying. This was
very sad for the man, because she was the only person who ever hugged him.
Well, his mother did die, and he became very depressed and was actually
institutionalized, where he became very noncommunicative and bitter. He
closed up on the world. This went on for a long time. He lost weight and
some feared for his life.

But one day this man had a breakthrough. He realized that the reason no
one wanted to have anything to do with him nor especially be interested in
hugging him was the fact that, by his attitude, he was not a nice person,
he was not huggable. On that day he literally transformed himself into an
open and warm person. He now tells this story in speeches, no doubt
having to repeat himself often to be understood. The close of this story
is that at the end of each talk he gives, he introduces his...wife, who
comes across the stage and gives him a big hug.

As Diana told it, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

>From another perspective, a high leverage change in the system took place
here based on a realistic assessment of how the system was working and how
it might work better. You want to know why I am intrigued with the
systems metaphor. This is why.

John Woods
"The world is exactly like we think it is, and that's why."