DSM: The actions of groups and the responsibility of its members

From: Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Date: Sun Jan 20 2002 - 09:10:27 EST

Hi everyone.

I was just thinking that the vital subject of the relationship between
the role of large organizations (like the NEA, Governments/public
schools and unions who invariably seek, through lobbying and
legislation, to place limits on educational freedom) and the
responsibility of individuals within these organizations comes up with
me an awful lot in the conversations we have on this list.

And I just wanted to say that most of my attitudes towards the actions
of a group versus the desires and needs of its members have been
profoundly impacted by Robert Pirsig's book, _Lila_ (the sequel to _Zen
and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_).

It's been a while, but to summarize: Pirsig maintains that a large
group of people functions like a giant creature, with thoughts,
attitudes, needs and actions that are an amalgam of it's members. While
the actions of a group are a result of the desires of its members, the
actions are never intended by any single person within the group. And
while therefore no single person in the group is responsible for the
actions of the "creature", each person in the group provides fuel for
the "creature" to act.

So this is my philosophical underpinning when I say (like I have on many
occasions) that even innocent, well-intentioned and hard-working people
(like the high-schoolers in the buses, school teachers and school
administrators) are nonetheless providing the energy and means by which
the institution of conventional education oppresses the Sudbury
movement. In short, why individuals can be honorable, hard-working and
noble, and simultaneously culpable for the actions of the whole.

In any case, I could not possibly recommend more strongly that folks
take a look at Robert Pirsig's _Lila_.

-Joe Jackson
mailto:shoeless@jazztbone.com (home)
mailto:joseph.jackson@bolling.af.mil (work)
mailto:3016025060@msg.myvzw.com (cell phone)


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