Hold on ...let's think LO11673

JC Howell (orgpsych@csra.net)
Sun, 05 Jan 1997 20:36:20 +0000

Replying to LO11646 --

In LO11646 Sherri Malouf wrote:

> When asked about taking
> care of his son he said -- it didn't work. When asked why we the
> taxpayers should be paying for his son -- he had no answer. The
> interviewer said he didn't think he should have to support this man's son.
> The man said -- "Sounds like a personal problem to me..." BTW -- he
> impregnated a different woman while out of jail...

The man's response (personal problem) was probably as much a defensive
reaction brought about by being confronted with a contradiction between
reality as it exists according to HIM and reality as it exists according
to a large number of "other people." In order to reduce this tension a
flip response is often used and the "blame" for the problem, situation, or
the contradiction is mentally shifted to the large number of "others."
This reduces the tension that the man is experiencing and allows him to go
on maintaining his constructed reality.

This, perhaps, sounds like a justification for the dynamic. I don't mean
to justify such behavior, but it does happen (often as described). To
ascribe motivations, directly or implicitly, leads the "others" to make
act upon assumptions that may not be accurate.

In LO11630, Bill Hobler talks about how technology is created to satisfy
specific, immediate needs, not to serve the large function of the good of
humanity. I think that the man Sherri described is an example of an
individual doing the same thing on a personal, emotional level. Once this
has happened the rules by which that person's reality is created and upon
which decisions and actions are based (Can you spell paradigm? I knew
that you could.) are altered as is that person's conception of reality.
This is the same evolutionary process that happens as technology is
usually developed (as described by Bill).

The man described engaged in actions based on this "flawed" conception of
reality (impregnated another woman). This will undoubtedly have future
ramafications which will, probably, produce other such adaptive mechanisms
further altering this individual's conception of reality. The cycle is
repeated and life goes on.

The point here, IMHO, for us is expressed by Sherri when she says:

> My point is that there are a lot of people in the world who don't give a
> *#!* about technology. To apply our values, needs, desires, dreams to the
> rest of the world who are "poor" is arrogant at best and naive at worst.

This is a profound observation, often stated, usually ignored by those in
power as they go about their own process of "blame shifting" and building
their own slanted, albeit collective, construction of reality. They
wonder what is wrong with "them" without acknowledging their own part,
their own complicity, in the situations and behaviors against which they
rant and rave. The cycle is repeated and those in power move further away
from those whom they wish to "help."

This dynamic and cycle is repeated involving any number of other issues in
individual daily life. It's not necessarily a good or bad dynamic ... it
just IS. It also is repeated within organizations and is the basis upon
which organizational reality is usually constructed.

Case in point, no serious work was done trying to identify and kill the
HIV virus until money (LOTS OF MONEY) was available. This epidemic has
killed so many people without even being acknowledged as a problem.
Doctors are supposed to help people. Doctors had the evidence that
something was afoot. Doctors (the Center for Disease Control and various
medical societies) withheld their acknowledgement that something was
afoot. The medical community has claimed in the past that this is a
problem involving a fringe element of our society and, therefore, did not
warrant full-blown effort. Now the infection rate within other groups in
our society continues to rise. This is no longer a "fringe element"
problem, if it ever was. As far as I know, no doctor in power (the THEM
of which we speak) has admitted that the medical community made an error
in judgement by not acknowledging this problem earlier than they did.
Acknowledgement carried with it a requirement to do something. An
admission of error would suggest that the motivations of the medical
profession are, somehow, not as pure as we all (including those in the
medical profession) tend to believe that they are.

I am not trying to indict the medical profession. I am just trying to
show an example of how organizations and societies help create their own
problems and then deny their role. By blaming the problem on "them"
organizations can continue to construct their realities based on
assumptions that are not necessarily accurate.


Clyde Howell orgpsych@csra.net

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>