With regard to your post May 04, 2004 – 12:58 PM,
You have wondered about my motivations, whether I am using this forum as a testing ground and whether I will use what is discussed here for personal gain. But inherent to your questions is a problem… no matter how I respond to your questions, how would you know that my answers were genuine, or designed to deceive? The answer, of course, is that you can’t know. May I suggest that you treat everything I write here as metaphor… that’s what I have been doing. Only time will tell you whether my motivations are indeed systemically motivated or not. I, for one, look forward to developing this discussion with you.
My posts in the Bull Pit have structure. What do I mean by that? In my posts I am asking questions, challenging beliefs, presenting alternatives (albeit in the form of metaphor) for the conscious aspect of mind, AND, the structure with which I have put these together is a model of ‘how to do’ what I am doing for the unconscious aspects of mind. This way of communicating is a way of demonstrating systemic thinking – it is necessarily complex. It would not only be a waste of time for me to try to convince parents to do what I am doing, it would be disrespectful. Those parents who like a challenge, who see parenting as an adventure (as opposed to a doctrine to be enforced), may get something out of my posts… and if they contribute then together we are going to take parenting to the next level (which is ‘Learning 3’ for those who are interested*). For those parents who have not identified with what I am doing (shrug shoulders).
Jodie, I have not made any of my posts simpler than necessary. If I do that then I will fail in my role as parent.
Now, having said that, I can answer your questions.
Am I going to use any of the discussions here in my writing or teaching? Yes, I will be using the ‘patterns’ and leaving the ‘content’. That is, I will distil HOW we are communicating, or not, and the written products in these forums will remain the intellectual property of NP and its members. If I want to reproduce anything that anyone has written here I imagine I will ask permission first.
Are you my testing ground? Well, not really. Though I like the question. When I read it unconscious aspects of my mind have gone wild with anticipation. You ask whether I am ‘testing’ and the answer is that I am ‘applying’. Gregory Bateson spells out in great detail in his book “Steps to an ecology of Mind”* the pathologies of thought that, if not corrected, may well result in the end of our species – pollution in our environment and the continuing extinction of many species of fauna and flora, war, famine, overpopulation… And you might say, “But isn’t the self improvement/self help/self development industry going to correct those pathologies?” The answer, unfortunately, is that in many cases it has contributed to those pathologies, making it harder to correct them. A simple example to illustrate what I am saying; the notion of ‘independent wealth’ that is sold by many self help gurus and motivational speakers is absolute (expletive deleted) nonsense – independence is impossible but people can still ‘learn’ that is important to achieve and as a consequence can do the most atrocious things to people to get what they want.
Jodie, parenting is the ultimate testing ground for human relationship, but the thing is if we do not train for it then all we will have is our beliefs (limited ways of thinking and so behaving) to guide us in how to relate to children… and yep, that’s how many of these pathologies of thought are propagated. My Dialogues are metaphoric examples of ‘some’ of these pathologies of thought.
Jodie, you asked, “…then what’s a coherent culture, Keith?” Being an emergent phenomenon I can’t tell you what it will look, sound, feel, smell and taste like… for the simple reason that it hasn’t happened yet. I do know that one aspect of a coherent culture will be that we will share the same epistemology. I look forward to that. We will really be able to relate to each other then.
You asked, “Are we wrong to teach our children that its culturally appropriate to put others first sometimes?” No, it’s just that it’s impossible. Now I’m all for doing at least three impossible things before breakfast but what you’re asking is a real stretch. Maybe we could put relationship first… no, that would be just as pathological. I know, maybe we could become aware that we know that relationship is immanent… and then go from there (Shrug shoulders)?
You asked, “At what age can we begin to see less ego-centric social interaction in our children or have we “failed” by even expecting it?” This is a nice example of one of the pathologies of thought. If you have ever watched t.v. or read the newspapers or been to the movies or read personal development books… I mean its everywhere you look… this notion that the individual is important and that independence is something not only desirable but attainable. The individual means nothing and has no value independent of relationship – it’s that complex. To expect behaviour of anyone is to make similar contexts the same. So expectations are a way of being selectively blind to differences that may make a big difference. For example, if I expect my daughters to respond a certain way in some situation then I can blind myself (loose sensory acuity) to their non-verbal communications about their experience; I want to trust what their senses are telling them.
You aksed, “Is it flexibility if the same choice is made again and again? Sometimes it’s important to push our comfort zones – leading to greater choice and flexibility of response.” Ummm… isn’t this what I have been saying all along?
“Genuine respect for others might never be achieved without a whole lot of other social and cultural and philosophical ideals in place as well.” With all due respect (excuse the pun), I absolutely disagree. A consequence of having ideals forced upon us is that we never do experience genuine respect for each other… and if that doesn’t push some comfort zones I don’t know what will! Respect for each other WILL emerge, as an option, if we are FREE to express ourselves… in relationship.
You said, “I think your ideals are unattainable and therefore too intimidating for parents to adopt in any purposeful way.” O.K. This is what you believe, and that’s fine. You do realise that this belief in no way proves that what I am suggesting is unattainable. To move toward a coherent culture will require that people take risks, to challenge conventional wisdom and learn new ways of relating. It could be that parenting is the context where we have the greatest leverage to do just that.
Jodie, it may well be appropriate for you to keep your guard up as it makes for interesting discussion. I have really enjoyed it.
All the best,