“Alles van waarde is weerloos”. (Lucebert)
“All that is of value is defenceless”.
The central point of this essay:
As soon as children are placed in a group, it is the responsibility of the adults to guide this, in order for the individual children to feel they are in a safe environment. This essay argues that a standard component of the guidance of the children, is the group process in which threatening within the group cannot be tolerated. Where ever there is professionals, like teachers, guiding a group of children, it is important that the professionals are equipped to do so and that they know and understand the background of this standard part of the guidance. In our current daily culture this seems not always to be the case. In my view it is of eminent importance that from the start and at all times, any attempt of threatening is being stopped. If this is not done in an environment having children around, it will set the culture causing bullying to happen and children will get hurt, possibly leaving them scars for life. This is a much unwanted situation because it forms the source of a culture that accepts threat and therefor can’t blossom optimally as a result. This essay attempts to explain the mechanisms that play a role in threatening as well as the reason threat is so unwanted.
This essay gives the following suggestions for the guidance of children by the responsible adults and elaborates on an explanation:
- Do not allow threat.
- Offer the Natural Incentive (feeling) as alternative. Provide for a stimulating environment for this alternative, continuously and repetitively, leading to self-regulation of elimination of threat.
- Allow and celebrate all the children’s individual authentic characters.
0. Some definitions of phrases, to be used as a reference in this essay.
- An attempt to explain the underpinning mechanisms of bullying and the reasons for opposing bullying.
0. Some definitions of phrases to be used as a reference in this essay.
The definitions are limited to the human scope. This concerns the interaction between people. The definitions include some additional clarification.
“Threat” is the feeling that appears to someone if an event is seen by this person as damaging to him/her. A distinction can be made between threat and self-inflicted threat, where self-inflicted threat has oneself as the source instead of someone else being the cause. Often there is an interaction between the two types of threat.
Clarification: One can make a distinction in threat as caused by people or as not caused by people. In this essay threat is implicitly human threat, meaning threat that is caused by people. In the case of the threatening event being an action or interaction from people, a participant often tends to see the other participant as threatening, as being the aggressor, but actually in most cases, we are dealing with the interaction between the participants in which all participants form a (potential) threat to the other. Threatening often arises from a defensive system of action and reaction and from a lack of vulnerability. Human threat is the result of the Misunderstanding. See below for the definition of the Misunderstanding.
“Economy” is the activity that contributes to the satisfaction of human needs, in other words it is the activity that contributes to our preferred feeling.
Clarification: there is a distinction to be made between the needs or preferred feeling of an individual human being on one hand and of a group of people on the other hand. The group preference is being determined within the group by a set of forces coming from the different interests and preferences of the individual group members.
“Group economy” is the activity that serves the collective interest. An economy exists in a context of surrounding economies that the economy is connected with, this is valid for the economy of the individual and for the economy of a group.
“Defenceless” is ‘without defence’, in this essay limited to the human scope. It is about an attitude towards the interaction between people or a position one has in the interaction between people.
Clarification: Defenceless is not the same as weak or powerless. Defence brings limitation. By omitting defence there is more to offer potentially because limitations are left out, which can be a strength. Being defenceless enables someone to be oneself, to be authentic, and to come to the full potential. Defenceless is close to assertive; assertive is to advocate oneself, with respect for oneself and for the other. Defenceless is not to advocate oneself but to be oneself, having respect for oneself and for the other.
“Value” is contribution or a measurement for contribution. It is a human evaluation.
“The Design” is the reality as it is manifested consistently. It can be regarded as unchanging, as a fixed asset. Evolution is part of the Design.
Clarification: Reality is as it is, and in the case of humanity we can say that we are as we are; according the Design. “You are what you is”. The phrase “Design” is used to indicate that we are dealing with a reality that does not change over time and that is the origin of the Process of cause and effect, meaning we are not as we are without a cause. In the Process there are patterns of repetition that behave consistently and that do not change just like that, like the laws of physics for instance. Humanity is part of the Design and behaves according the properties that are laid down in the Design, by evolution for example. In the Design of human kind, diversity is essential. Without diversity there is no evolution and without diversity it is not possible for people to complement each other and to be of added value. Every individual is unique and this uniqueness is part of the Design.
“The Process” is the chain of events, being action and reaction, by cause and effect, which forms reality and space-time, in the past, the present and the future.
The Process is visible to us, detectable, where it has repeating patterns. All we see, exists in plural and behaves in accordance with the repeating patterns of the Process, like the laws of physics. The Process derives from the Design. The Process is the dynamic execution of the never changing Design.
Clarification: part of the Design is feeling, the feelings we have, in conjunction with our preferences. Feeling drives human behaviour towards the feelings of preference as it is determined in the Design. The Design imposes, through feeling, the next 3 types of interests on every individual human being. One’s own interest (self-interest), the interest of the other (someone else’s interest) and the interest of the group. A feeling of satisfaction and peace can only be reached completely, if all 3 interests are optimally served. That is how we are designed. In this situation I can feel in harmony with the Design. The steering mechanism of feelings exists in individual human beings only, but because every individual has the same set of feelings and because the preferences I have for certain feelings is considerably mutual with the feelings of others, not only the individual is being steered but our individual feelings are steering the whole of humanity as well. In other words; my needs are primarily of a universal nature and I take other’s needs into account because that is in my design. This takes place within a unique set of universal feelings that is shared amongst all human beings. Some of these feelings are concerning other human beings, feelings like empathy, guild and love. All human beings, some more than others, are concerned with what others may think of them.
“The Diversity principle” is the idea that diversity in properties of the individuals that are within a group, creates added value which potentially benefits all the members of the group.
Clarification: Diversity enables people to excel in a certain area by a unique combination of properties. Diversity is a prerequisite for evolution to occur because it enables selection. The Diversity principle is a mechanism that steers evolution in a certain direction. The Diversity principle implies that no one is perfect and it implies that added value is found in imperfection rather than in perfection as perfection is uniform. To put it in a different way; every disadvantage has its advantage and v.v.. The diversity of people and their properties brings along a diverse multitude of personal interests. In order to create added value, these interests need to be taken into account in accordance with the Diversity principle.
“Bullying” is a form of threat. It is a human reaction as a result of a conflict with someone else, in which an attempt is made to manipulate the situation by criticizing the other person and by deliberately treating the other person in a way that is conceived as unpleasant by that other person. Bullying is only possible when it is being tolerated, which means it exists by the acceptance of a group. Often the conflict concerns the personality of the other person. In the definition of bullying, bullying can be limited or not limited, to situations that concern a conflict in personality. In this essay this limitation is being used.
Clarification: Bullying is targeting people and doubting the legitimation of the persons that are targeted. Bullying is in conflict with the Diversity principle; in diversity there is added value and without diversity it is impossible to have development. Bullying hinders development.
Bullying can take shape in all kinds of forms but in all cases it involves an attack on the personality of someone else and intentional threatening of people, in the context of a group. Bullying is not being prosecuted, bullying does not break the law. The actions of bullying are deliberately limited to inadmissible facts, because one has to get away with it. Bullying is depending on the support of a group. It is the group that enables bullying, accepts bullying and facilitates bullying. This creates a situation of uneven chances for defence to the benefit of the bullying party. A situation is created, by using the group, in which the victim has no defence. An example of bullying is exclusion. In fact all forms of bullying are forms of exclusion because of the group that imposes the position of being an exception, on the other.
“The Misunderstanding” is a human interpretation of the way we are being steered by the preference for feelings, in which case one lets oneself be steered by feelings that are unsustainable on the long run. The benefit of the direction that is taken, is not sustainable because it does not apply to the environment that one is connected to. A variation of the Misunderstanding is the idea that one can control the way one is being steered by feelings, while in fact this is controlled by the Design. A result of the Misunderstanding is judgment over people.
Clarification: The Misunderstanding values optimization of the economy within one’s own limited circle more than it values optimization of the economy as a whole. This means that the Misunderstanding insufficiently takes into account the long term, the sustainability and the agreeability of the economy. The Misunderstanding is based on a lack of understanding of the economic value of sharing, meaning, a lack of understanding of the feeling as a result of sharing. Chasing ones self-interest without taking the interest of others into account, is to one’s own disadvantage. Benefit is not sustainable if it does not benefit the people that one is connected with. This situation leads to damage of the good feeling which one has when living in harmony. This is valid for all people involved, as this is the Design. When someone’s acting derives from the Misunderstanding, that someone thinks to have benefit, but the bottom line is not beneficial. An example of a case of the Misunderstanding is the limited economy of an individual or of a group, in which the economy of the “surrounding plots”, the neighbouring economies, are not or not sufficiently, taken into account. The misunderstanding concerns the idea that the limited scope of one’s own economy is considered or can be treated as a stand-alone unit, while this is not the case as one lives within the scope of humanity. A similar example is gaining benefit on the costs of others to whom one is connected with. It can be noted that every one of us, in one way or the other, is connected with all other people through the network of interaction that exists within humanity. That means that I am connected in some way, like everybody else is, with every single human being in this world through other people, unless someone lives in total isolation, which is indeed impossible. Another example of the Misunderstanding is considering one person (e.g. one self) more valuable than another. Yet another example of the Misunderstanding is the preference for assertiveness above defencelessness. Assertiveness aims to serve an interest. It is important to do so from the awareness of the context one is living in, meaning that one takes all interest within the context into account. Assertiveness is a means and not a goal. The goal is to achieve an optimal situation of defencelessness. That appears not to be easy but it can still be the objective to strive for. In an optimal situation, when all interests are served and being met, one can be defenceless and thus reach one’s maximum potential contribution.
“Incentive” is a motivating, stimulating reward that drives behaviour.
Clarification: Punishment or penalty can also be an incentive. Because punishment can be received as threatening and can lead to a defensive reaction, punishment can be counterproductive. For that reason I use the word incentive only as a reward or as a way to avoid penalty. An example of an incentive is the bonus an employee can get in case a certain achievement is made.
“The Natural Incentive” is a good feeling that occurs when one is in tune with the reality around one and this reality concerns more than just one’s own circle, it concerns everything one is connected with, it concerns the Design. The feeling can occur when there is no judgement over people and when people are seen as who they really are; unique contributors to the whole, by design.
Clarification: I live in a context that stretches out into the universe. It can be required to be aware of this bigger reality, in order to become in tune with it. Being in tune with reality is happening in my mind, where, when in tune, I have an accurate view of the Design and of the Process that I am participating in and as a result an accurate view of my own Design as well. Reality is “it is as it is” and an accurate view of it in my mind results in giving me a good feeling. That is because it results in reliability in the interaction with reality and therefor it results in a feeling of tranquillity and trust, it results into faith. This in contrast with an inaccurate view that will proof to be unreliable and then will result in feelings of anxiety and fear. The natural incentive is a feeling that occurs when I’m in tune with reality and therefor in harmony with the economies that I’m connected to. These economies are part of reality. This means that when I succeed in reaching a situation of contentment and the people in all “surrounding plots” succeed in that as well, that in this situation the feeling of contentment is shared by all, it is mutual. This is a situation in which contentment and a peaceful feeling amongst the people can be durable in the interaction with the others, and can be amplified by the interaction with the others. It also means that this is not easily accomplished as one has limited influence on how others feel and on their ability to be content, in other words their ability to be in tune with reality. The amplification of the good feeling is the effect of the optimization of all the economies involved and that are in connection with each other. It is an effect of resonation. “To be in tune with reality” means that the context of the processes in my mind, my thoughts, are realistic and the parameters that are being used in the interaction with the reality around me, are filled with values that are real. These parameter values are helpful because they are a prerequisite to have interaction with the reality around me. This results in reliability and it gives me a feeling of belonging, of being part of the whole. It gives a feeling of “all is well”.
An attempt to explain the underpinning mechanisms of bullying and the reasons for opposing bullying.
At school bullying is a responsibility of the adults, meaning adults are responsible for the way the group is functioning at school because we have imposed the group on our children, making the group dynamics inescapable for them. The child has no choice than to be part of the group dynamics. In daily practice it appears to be difficult to prevent bullying and to stop it from happening. I believe that this is partly inevitable as there are always children that feel the need to behave in such a way but I also believe this is no reason not to stop it and moreover I believe there is a need to stop it. Allowing any form of bullying to happen, sends the wrong message to the people involved. In this essay I explain the deeper meaning of this.
When we send our children to school when they are toddlers, or even earlier at day-care, we are throwing them into deep water, as a matter of speaking. We throw them in the deep waters of group dynamics and let them swim without them knowing how to swim. The children do not understand how the world of the group dynamics works, they do not understand much of how they are feeling and how to deal with their feelings, not with their own feelings and not with the feelings of others. They go under water and they feel threatened. They start to struggle. Some of them give up and drown, figuratively, in the pond of threat. Others are able to keep their heads above the water by firm floundering. A third group of children is looking around and decides to grab hold of the children that manage to stay above the water by floundering. The above description may seem somewhat black-and-white and dramatic but in my view describes the essence of the dynamics. The ones that are floundering in this story, are the ones that in daily life, having their bravura, seem to have no problem to stand firm. I think this is deceptive.
In other words, it is not so much the behaviour of the children that is the problem when it comes to bullying but it is the “water”, “the pond of threat”, being the group dynamics. Young children are unable to guide this dynamics in a proper direction. They cannot swim yet. How to keep floating in the pond of feelings and interests, yours and others? The adults can teach them. The adults can introduce a culture that brings the children back on solid ground, a culture in which threat is eliminated.
To many children it seems obvious to look after their own interest and the rest does not seem to matter much. There is also children that intuitively feel that it is not like that. In general we people are built in such a way that we feel that we need each other. This is not the same for everyone, some feel it stronger than others. Some people only feel good when there is peace around them and when the people around them are happy. Others rather go into conflict if they think it can benefit them. Some people do not like conflicts, others do not really care and others will deliberately start a conflict. In any case, it is clear that, while in a group, I’m not only dealing with my own interest.
So much for the introduction, next is some thoughts about the mechanisms that are behind the cause of threat. Human threat that is.
An attempt to explain
Bullying is based on a misunderstanding, the Misunderstanding*1). This misunderstanding stems from the lack of insight in the context in which we live. People choose to bully because they see it as beneficial for them, but seen in the wider context of the whole, it isn’t. I am connected to the whole world and to all human beings. It is a misunderstanding to think that I can exclude parts of that world for my own benefit. I do not function as a stand-alone organism and no group functions as a stand-alone unit. I have not much choice than to adapt to the way I am designed and the fact that I do not determine the design myself and that in accordance with the Design, I depend on others. These facts are also ingrained in my feeling. I can’t escape my design, which uses my feeling to direct me, not only in the direction of my own interest but in fact in the direction of the development of the whole. That is how I’m designed, that is how we human beings are evolved over ages, to what we are now.
*1)See the definition of the Misunderstanding
Bullying is about the group economy of a relatively small group that operates as being a ‘stand-alone’ unit. In reality the group is not a ‘stand-alone’ unit but is connected to the bigger picture of the whole. In the end, bottom-line, it is about the economy of the bigger group that the smaller group is connected with and part of. In the economy of human kind, there is no such thing as a ‘stand-alone’ situation; all people operate in the wider context of the whole. For every group counts that it operates in the context of the whole and the group that counts, bottom-line, being the whole, is humanity. In addition applies, that every individual, contributes uniquely to humanity.
When I think of my future, of where I would like to be, then what counts in the end is the bottom-line, the end result, structural added value in the long run. This is just as well valid for a group and for the future of the group. That is to say that it is valid for the mutual interest of the group. If I undermine the interests of the group, in the short or longer run, I am called to order, in the interest of the rest of the group. It is not necessarily the group that corrects me, it is my feeling that corrects me, as I do not feel well in this situation.
he group dynamics concerns a dynamics of forces that strives for a balance. This is basically a self-regulating process, comparable with market forces. In this balance one is satisfied. Away from this balance, feelings arise with the purpose to be corrective and to restore balance. The balance is found in the tuning with the Design. The dynamics concern the dynamic processes that are part of the unchanging Design. In order to feel good (at ease, not anxious) we need to comply with the Design. The Design is a fixed given but part of the Design is the dynamics of the Process that presents us with an ongoing stream of changes in our environment and continuously changing values of parameters that we need to adjust to. So in order to comply with the unchanging Design we need to continuously adapt to the circumstances the Process presents us with.
As already mentioned in the definition of the Process, I can see 3 types of interests; the interest of myself (my contentment), the interest of the other (the other’s contentment) and the mutual interest of the group (their contentment). Point is, that these interests are always in cohesion with each other. One contentment cannot be without the other. That is determined in my design and my feeling. It is why it is not always a good idea to just look after my own interests. When looking from the perspective of the individual, what counts for each individual, bottom-line, is only 1 interest and that is self-interest, that is to say, the feeling of my personal preference. However, if it is clear to me that I cannot feel good when I do not take others into account, then it is in my own interest to take care of others too. That may seem complicated but my feeling is leading and helps me. I believe this is valid for all people though one person feels it stronger than the other.
Intermezzo; a bit of theory
If I look at the bigger picture, the picture of all people and off all times, then I see what is the bottom-line; it becomes visible that the interest of an individual, of a dictator for instance, is subservient to the interest of humanity; we see that there is no dictatorship that survives. The power of the mutual interest always endures and has the upper hand in the long run. In the short term and locally, individuals seem to have the upper hand but in the end humanity in its whole, always comes to the surface. That is the result of the inescapable reality of the design of human kind, to which design all individuals are subjected. This leaves us the question how to deal, in the hustle and bustle of daily life, with one another and with the people that do not seem to feel that it helps to take other people into account. If I say that there are people that do take the other into account and people that don’t take the other into account and all sorts and shapes in between, this does not imply that either one is better than the other. All are good in their own right and part of the Design. We do not have to be all kind persons. What it does imply is that all need to adhere to the Design’s priority which is not with us individuals, but with us all. That means; do what you got to do but do not threaten others, just make yourself useful in the way that suits you best. With the awareness of the Design in mind, I can make specific choices in how I deal with the people around me. I am tempted to judge over people especially when they are nasty to me. I have to keep in mind that I do not help myself when judging them and that all people are part of the Design, in the same way as I am. Everyone, the nasty ones included, are contributors at least potentially. The fact that some people do not behave like that, is another matter that has to do with the Misunderstanding. I myself have to try not to fall into the same trap that judgement is. Judgement weakens me as it draws me away from the good feeling of being in tune with reality.
When answering the question how to deal with people that do not seem to feel it helpful to take other people into account, consider again the 3 types of interest; the interest of myself, the interest of the other and the interest of the group in other words the mutual interest. The answer depends on the perspective from where I answer the question. In daily practice I see everything from my own perspective, which is inevitable. I’m not capable to look inside the head and the feeling of the other in any other way, than via my own head and feeling. The key to the answer however, does not lie with my own perspective and not with that of the other either, but it lies with the perspective of the group. Whatever I do, in the long run, the party that has the upper hand will be humanity as it is incorporated in the Design; it is not me as an individual that has evolved over ages to what I am but it is me as a member of a group, of a population. When I address humanity with this knowledge in mind, I can see this mechanism also valid in the short term and on local scale. That is to say that I understand that looking after my own interest only, has little contribution to the whole. This understanding results in a good feeling since it corresponds with reality and therefor contributes to the reliability of the world around me. To have a good feeling, caused by a life that corresponds with reality, it is necessary to let the group perspective rule over the perspective of those who do not feel it helpful to take the other into account, in other words, it is necessary to let the mutual interest rule and it is in the mutual interest that no one is excluded.
Having said that, I find myself on thin ice, as the history of mankind shows many examples of an interpretation of ruling from the perspective of the group, with disastrous consequences. This has to do with a lack of respect for the individual. Disastrous consequences are the result of a lack of recognition of the unique contribution that every individual brings to human kind.
Looking at all this it is important to see that in the context of the Design one cannot dictate others, on the contrary. This is valid for a single dictator as well as for a group. The idea is to give everyone a feeling of freedom, a feeling that one gets when one is able to live according to the Design. The only dictatorship I live with is the one of my Design, which is an inescapable given. Again I am on thin ice now. It is not my intention to claim that I know the Design. A group has to be careful when it imposes a rule because the group doesn’t fully know the Design either. There is however a manual on living a life according to the Design and that roughly consists of eliminating threat. The presence of threat, real threat not self-inflicted threat, I believe, is a legitimate reason for action. The reason for this is, amongst others, that a feeling of freedom does not exist together with a feeling of threat. Threat is the indicator for behaviour which is opposing the Design. Here I have to point out that a feeling of threat can occur without the presence of real threat, in which case there is self-inflicted threat. Feeling threatened is something I do myself, whether or not for good reason. In the case of bullying, this phenomenon can occur with all people involved. Everyone who feels threatened is doing it to him or herself, it is one’s own doing. That is why, under seemingly the same circumstances, some people do feel threatened and others don’t. It is a misunderstanding to think that only the one who is being bullied, is being threatened. Bullying starts with a feeling of threat that is felt by the one that is to become the bully. Next the others in the group have the choice to support or not support the bully and this choice is being made by a feeling of threat as well. Finally, the one that is bullied feels threatened because of the absence of support from the group. In dealing with threat, it is of vital importance to see which part of the threat is self-inflicted and which part is coming from others. The source of human threat is basicly always self-inflicted, it starts with someone that is feeling threatened because of the Misunderstanding in his/her mind.
The design of human kind as a whole, is not one-on-one applicable to individual beings; that means that not everyone is the same, we differ from each other and with our differences in togetherness we form the Design of humanity. In essence we are equal, but every human being is unique, having a unique combination of details of their own, brought into existence by the Design of humanity. That means that every distinct detail is functional and it means that not everyone gets tuned in with the Design in the same way. Life and the relationship with the Design, is for everyone slightly different and that is legitimate. In striving for contentment the idea is to have all individuals in tune with the Design and that means that one has the liberty to differ from one and other on how ones tuning comes about. It means that things cannot be imposed, forced or manipulated by people but only by the Design; by the inevitable way of who we are. It is not culture that reigns here but it is nature. Culture is the result of nature and the culture of a group serves the Design of human kind, by means of the mutual interest. (That is, if we want an optimal result, which is not always the case in practice.) Within a group, it is important to have the design of individuals do its work and have it to come to its value. In this, there is a potential for conflicts between the designs of different individuals. One wants this and the other wants that, a difference in prioritizing, which can be legitimate as being a part of the Design. It then is functional. The objective when having conflicts is, to find a way that leaves room for the existing differences to exist, but without any threatening. Threatening is undermining the Design, it is a repression of the Design, a denial of the Design. When the attempt to solve the conflict does not work out and threat remains, then it is up to the bystanders, the people around, to take away the threat, to the benefit of the common interest. This is the mutual interest that exists considering the entire scope of the connections involved, measured over all economies that one is connected to. So it is about the common interest of human kind. Culture has to serve human nature; serve the Design. Doing so, the interest of an individual can be overruled. If this happens in accordance with the Design, then the individual has no problem and is not threatened, because the individual can only be satisfied in a sustainable way when it lives in accordance with the Design and because, in accordance with the Design, it cannot do without the support of the group. (For clarity; the group is the third type of interest which everyone is connected with, which is the multitude of individual interests that have common ground and which therefor needs to be served simultaneously. In other words; the mutual interest. The first type is the self-interest which does not apply to others and the second type is the interest of the other individual. The second type of interest is basically the same as the first one, the only difference is the perspective from where one is looking from.)
A critical success factor when striving for contentment is that the group does not allow threat. In those cases in which someone refuses to behave in tune with the Design or in cases which someone’s design seems to deviate from the common Human Design for that matter, the group, in order to create general contentment, needs to intervene whenever there is threat, meaning that threat cannot be tolerated. In daily practice that means that action is required from individuals within the group. It is the individuals that need to act, because the type of interest which the group has, is merely an assembly of self-interests and because the group interest can only be steered through the feeling of the individuals. A group itself does not have feeling. The interest of a group is a mutual interest or an assembly of individual interests that are similar. The steering for serving the group’s interest lies by individual group members and results in practice in leadership. Effective leadership serves the total context of which it is part of. Ultimo this context is human kind.
The above theory can be applied to daily life, for example to daily life at schools. I can continue on how I believe this could work but, for the moment, I consider that outside the scope of this post. It could be a separate post.
I do want to continue however with more thoughts about the relevance of being defenceless.
An attempt to explain (continued)
I think it is important to make clear that vulnerability is appreciated and that it stands above being tough or assertive. What counts is authenticity; being yourself without threat. What counts is the Design. In the daily practice of group dynamics, vulnerability and appreciation of vulnerability often seems to be too far-fetched. Toughness and assertiveness are having the upper hand and often are considered to be the preferred behaviour for leaders. This is based on a misunderstanding; the Misunderstanding *1). Toughness and assertiveness are not needed in a situation that is in harmony with reality. An optimal situation exists when the situation is in harmony with reality. Toughness and assertiveness can be helpful to come to such a situation of harmony with reality, but toughness and assertiveness are not an end in itself, only a means to an end. The purpose of toughness and assertiveness has to be to make itself redundant.
“All that is of value is defenceless”. That means that all that is of value is vulnerable and can be harmed or destroyed and lose value. It also means that without vulnerability there is no value. When something is secured it becomes less approachable which causes its value to decrease, being secured limits its usefulness *2). It means that the value of something is at its max when it is completely accessible. For this a willingness to share is required, a requirement to be accessible or to be made accessible. Actions that reduce the willingness to share, are harmful to the value of the concerning matter. It is not so much sharing that is the issue here, it is accessibility, in other words, it is the willingness to share, which is the issue. Here again it is threat that is harmful to the value of the things around us. When sharing is imposed, threatening is involved which causes damage somewhere down the line. (It is also possible to only be willing to share under specific conditions. That can be legitimate in case there is be no added value to the sharing, without the conditions set.)
*2)As an illustration: If nothing can be damaged, when all is solid vandalism-proof, then value of the concerning matter has been taken away. A vandalism-proof bus-stop can only be designed in limited ways with few options, on the costs of part of its value for the traveller. The bus-stop will not have nice cushions to sit on. The bus-stop then is less vulnerable but in order to be completely vandalism-proof one needs, for instance, a fence around it, which makes the bus-stop lose its value completely.
Employment of value is about interaction. When something is put to value there is interaction, there is exchange of value. If this happens in accordance with the Design, then all parties involved, benefit from the interaction and have a good feeling, a satisfaction of preferences. In this situation there is interaction without threat. In order to make interaction happen, accessibility is required as well as the absence of feelings of threat.
When I feel threatened then it’s because of my own doing, with or without good reason. It is often me myself who feels and feeds the threat while the threat is hardly there. I’m afraid, afraid to be vulnerable and so I lose the possibility to interact and the possibility to employ value. The interaction which derives from fear, goes in a different direction than the interaction which derives from vulnerability. Both, fear and vulnerability, are contagious in the interaction between people. They provoke a reaction which reinforces the situation. The contagious reaction does not only take place with the other but also with oneself. If I notice someone to be anxious, this affects me. Depending on which relationship I have with this person, I can easily feel anxious about this or perhaps the opposite but in case I have a close relationship I probably feel anxious. When my response to feeling anxious is defensive, I can easily make the other person to feel anxious about that as well. This has the potential to be a spiraling dynamic. Vulnerability shown by one person, enables willingness for the other person to be vulnerable as well. Only in the earlier mentioned situation of vulnerability, the presence of value can be optimally used and developed. These mechanisms exist on the individual level, as well as in a bigger scale in groups and nations. Protectionism is an example of fear on a national level. In order to flourish, one has to continuously break the spiraling dynamic of contagious feelings of anxiousness, by stopping one’s own defensive reaction.
Vulnerability deserves priority. In my vulnerability lies my value and the way to employ my value. The potential that is in the diversity of mankind cannot be deployed when it is blocked by defence mechanisms, when it is made inaccessible. Defence serves vulnerability. Looking at leadership, I have difficulty to recognize this in a lot of leaders. Often leaders give priority to defence instead of vulnerability, cultivating threat and aggression, making it acceptable. Leaders often behave like street fighters trying to impress by intimidation. This is only possible when the intimidation is supported by the group, being the people that let themselves be led, following the leader. It is therefore important that people know that choosing a leader which uses threat, is not to their benefit. It is not good for them.
Striving for defencelessness
I do not claim that defencelessness is the only option. The point is, to give defencelessness the right priority and to strive for defencelessness, for a situation in which defencelessness can exist. In our culture this is often not the case, that is to say, that in our culture defencelessness often cannot exist, but more so it means that in our culture the striving for defencelessness often doesn’t exist. In certain situations, like warfare, defence might be the preferred option over defencelessness, but aiming for defencelessness, is to be the preferred option in all circumstances.
Is all that is of value defenceless or is there value in defence as well? Isn’t assertiveness of value? I think that assertiveness and defence are part of the human properties which are part of the Design and the diversity in the Design. They are there for a reason. It is however important to see priority and to see where the potential value lies. Assertiveness and defence are no goals by themselves and should not be seen as such. The priority is with the value, which lies in defencelessness. That is the source of our economy, where everything else stems from. Defence serves defencelessness. As soon as assertiveness becomes a goal by itself and is being adored, there is something wrong in the priority setting. “America first” is an example, an example of the Misunderstanding, the misunderstanding whereby people think that they can choose and determine themselves, in which context they live. They can’t, because there always is a connection with the rest of the world. The denial of this connection is harmful to the whole and therefor to the people themselves. I can see things going wrong here in all kinds of areas in society. I also see examples in which defence does intentionally serve defencelessness. For instance in movies like: Ferdinand, Jumanji; Welcome to the jungle and in movies about Ip Man.
Soldiers are useful, not for making war or being though and strong but to defend defencelessness and to give defencelessness a chance to exist and to give it the opportunity to do what it is meant for, which is adding value by interaction. An army is not a purpose on itself but has the purpose to favour peace. To individual “soldiers” it can be difficult to live with an objective that seems to aim for making themselves redundant. Still, that is where their priority should be. Doing so they do not make themselves redundant; they remain the keepers of defencelessness and they enable others to flourish.
The starting point of my writing was the proverbial pond in which children appear to drown, from the moment that they are placed into a group without a proper guidance. In my view it is important to always have an adult monitoring and managing the group of children in a way that elimination of threat is taken care of. At least as important is that the tolerance for threatening is eliminated. The idea is to let the children feel the difference between two types of groups; on one hand the group that uses defence against threat and in which the children float, trying not to sink, and on the other hand a group in which threat does not have a chance to exist and in which the children are on solid ground. When this difference in feeling is clear to the children, I expect this to contribute to a self-regulation on the basis of the Natural Incentive, resulting in defence based on vulnerability; a defence on the basis of the absence of tolerance for threat and the presence of potential added value.
The feeling of threat is in myself and I myself can take the feeling away. In this it is the responsibility of the people around me, the bystanders, not to hinder this or to make it more difficult for me. The bystanders are not able to control what is inside my head but they do have some influence. In the case of bullying we can see this influence intentionally being used to have my feeling of threat increased. Bullying is an attempt to blackmail, making use of someone’s alleged weak points or flaws. To oppose blackmail, it takes courage. Blackmail is an attempt to take advantage of an alleged weak point. It takes courage to proof that this weak point is not open for blackmail and in fact doesn’t even exist as such.
It is not easy to create a culture in which threat is not tolerated, especially not when the surrounding culture is deviating from this. How does a child know how to deal with threat, when even the president it sees on television, doesn’t seem to know and sets the wrong example? The key for a culture without treat, lies with the phrases diversity and vulnerability and it lies with the bystanders. “All that is of value is defenceless”, vulnerable. In order to get to a self-regulating system that lets vulnerability be and let it have its value, it is key to offer a clear incentive, also to people that do not see the advantage of being vulnerable; bullies. A change of the behaviour of these people occurs when, in their view, it is clearly beneficial for them to adapt. The benefit is given to them by the bystanders. This is the crux of this essay. It is about dispelling the Misunderstanding. It is the bystanders that are controlling this. It is the bystanders that gain from the adaption of behaviour of bullies, but the bystanders often are not very much aware of it. Instead they only see the short term consequences or they let themselves be ruled by fear. If I was to say to a bully that he would feel better if he was listening to the Natural Incentive and if he stopped his selfish behaviour, he would probably laugh at me and continue his bullying. If however, the bystanders would stop supporting the bully’s behaviour, the bully might well see that there is actually some truth in what I said.
In order for the people in a culture to flourish, it is necessary that the culture gives clear messages which make it unmistakeable that threat is not being accepted and which proclaim that vulnerability is being valued and appreciated. Such a culture makes sure that people do not need to be afraid and that people can draw courage from their environment. That is to the benefit of all, just like peace is beneficial in comparison to war. When it comes to bullying it all boils down to diversity, threat and vulnerability. Diversity helps all of us in our way forward and therefor it is the incentive. Threat is the interfering factor which blocks the blessing of diversity. It is in vulnerability that we can show our potential and our real worth. It is in vulnerability that we can show our diversity and contribute optimally.
The challenge is to have children feel, in the here and now, that short term benefit which is harmful to the benefit in the long run, does not feel like benefit at all or that benefit to the cost of others, does not feel like benefit at all. This is possible by means of penalty and reward. That may sound perhaps as manipulating, but that is not necessarily what it is. The manipulation by penalty and reward here, only makes use of the Natural Incentive. It is important to let the authenticity of children be and let it make its contribution. The only manipulation allowed is the inevitable manipulation coming from reality itself. In this case the manipulation comes from the operation of the Diversity Principle and from the utilization of defence serving defencelessness. In fact, this is no manipulation. In a culture which opposes threat and where there is sufficient awareness of the benefits for the longer term, in comparison with the short term benefit, it is to be expected that the children carry out a social self-regulation automatically, having penalties and rewards. The Natural Incentive, in this culture, has the chance to be felt and experienced and to do its job. The Natural Incentive cannot be felt while bullying. The Natural Incentive can be felt when there is no judgement over people and people are seen as they really are; contributors by their unique design. The Natural Incentive is a good feeling which occurs when you are in tune with the reality that is around you in its full context, and this context is a lot bigger than one’s own limited circle.