Bood obedience freedom spontaneity
compulsory schooling Punishment hierarchy
Coercion is defined as the use of force to restrain, dominate or threat.
Coercion is incompatible with true happiness.
The belief that people will not work hard unless coerced is an insidious
Anything coerced is not fun.
Forced sex is rape.
Use of physical force is abuse/violence
Would you enjoy food if you were force fed?
Forceable restraint of children (holding
therapy) in the name of love is not therapeutic!
schooling is incompatible with learning
Highest productivity cannot be achieved by force.
Threat of unemployment
Threat of punishment
You cannot coerce curiosity.
Coercion creates learned
You cannot coerce someone to love you.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
War is when two nations are attempting to coerce each other.
Use of deadly force is destructive, and leads to chaos.
Coercion involves pain, and involves the discounting of feeling.
Obligation is forced relationships.
"Control breeds the need for more control, which is then used to justify
the use of control. " --from: Kohn, Alfie (1990)."The
Brighter Side of Human Nature; Altruism Empathy in Everyday Life."Basic
Books:NY. 400 pp.
Freedom is the opposite of coercion. Paradoxically, we must limit our freedoms
in order to gain freedom. For example, we limit our freedom and all agree
to drive on one side of the road. We write this rule down in a book, it
is called a law. Through the enactment of this law, we increase our freedom
of safe travel. Our responsibility is the observance of these rules that
we mutually agreed upon. There are mechanisms for change, and it is the
responsibility of government to be responsive to the people in enacting
the most satisfactory system of law.
Socrates said: "Nothing of value comes if forced?" (from his Apology?)
Something like this. I believe I saw the quote in one of Gatto's
articles. Anyway, if Socrates didn't say it, I am! Why? Because if you are
coercing a group of people to do an idea you have, you cannot be sure if
it is good. Not only this!
Let me tell you a story. I used to work at one of the great research
laboratories of the world: Bell Laboratories. This laboratory was known
for its creative and independent thinking researchers, inventors and scientists.
It has had at least 7 Nobel laureates on its staff. Yet, one day, I was
standing in the large atrium of the Holmdel building, a huge soaring structure
designed by the famed architect Eero Saarinen, the first all glass building
of its type. The crown jewel of the Bell System. My Director, an upper level
manager came to talk with me, actually he was confiding. I knew he was telling
me something important, but until now, even I may not have realized its
true importance. But I am telling you now because I know the answer to his
question. He came up real close, nose to nose, which is uncomfortably close
for an Asian like me, who prefers a larger interpersonal space, but I let
him adjust his distance to what he preferred, not wishing to offend him.
He said that he was annoyed that whenever he suggested an idea, the people
in his lab would all jump up and volunteer to be the first to do it for
him! He told me that his problem was that he did not know if his idea was
any good, and yet all these people were jumping up to try be the first to
please him, because he was the boss. Most of the people in his laboratory
were like this. Not only his. Most of Bell Labs is like this! I couldn't
tell him the solution to his problem then, but I know it now. You see, the
reason why he had this problem was because you are all trained to please
the teacher and be
obedient! If you are not pleasing as you have learned in school, you
know that you are not going to get rewarded. If you are not obedient, then
you are going to get punished!
But, there is more to this story. Some years later, even he was forced to
do something against his will. His boss, or bosses, I'm not sure how far
it went up the chain, coerced him to do something he found distasteful,
maybe wrong. I passed by his office. He called me in and started to talk.
He told me of the problem. It was still legal to do this in NJ, but in other
States, it is not. So who wants to be stuck with a possible lawsuit? But
I couldn't do anything for him. I could see the stress he was under. There
was the look of pain on his face. Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead
as he spoke. The furrows on his brow seemed deeper than I had remembered.
I even shook his hand as I left his office, and you know what, it was clammy
and cold. Very yucky. I never felt a hand like that, but had read in psychology
books that if you are under a lot of stress, then all he blood rushes away
from your extremities. So even he was being forced to be obedient. Even
he couldn't help but follow the orders of his boss too! Otherwise, he was
going to be punished!
The reason I said that I didn't know how far up the chain it went, was because
even his boss, the Executive Director, seemed to show signs of stress. I
can only speculate, but at the time, on Christmas vacation, this man was
involved in a skiing accident. Maybe he too was distracted by what he was
being ordered to do by his boss! And we, the peons on the bottom, used to
joke, because our department head had just been demoted to supervisor. We
said, "When Xxxxx (the VP) said 'jump,' he forgot to ask, 'How high."
So he too was worried that he was going to get punished!
I just thought of another story about this Executive Director. I remember
attending a meeting, where he was dispensing various kinds of homilies.
Very nice of him to meet with the troops. I was appointed secretary, and
took down the minutes. No one seems to want this job, but I took it in stride.
I already knew that the secretary is a very important position. Why? Because
when you write the minutes, you can slant them anyway you wish. Well, when
one of the attendees asked about the secrets of moving up in the organization,
he gave the following piece of advice, which is very easy to remember, he
said "Know what your boss wants. Do it. Let him know you did it."
I wrote that and some other things in my minutes, and then distributed it
to my organization. Well, later he called me into his office and said that
he didn't say these other things. Well, I knew what he was saying, at least
what he wanted to be understood as saying at that meeting. But you know,
high level managers, politicians, etc. talk in "meta-talk." Meta-talk
is talk that can be understood in two or more ways. It is ambiguous. It
is a very hard language to understand. It is a way of talking so that you
can deny what you said later on. For example, try this simple one on your
friends: "Heads I win, tails you lose," and then flip the coin.
You can do this at a meeting, substituting words for the appropriate topic
and hardly anyone will catch it. You give two choices, which sound like
opposites, but they are really the same. It is somewhat like a magic trick.
I have even tapes of meetings where this has been done! Anyway, he didn't
like the memo I sent out, so he told me to write another to correct the
one I sent out, so I did, and I let him review it before sending it out.
Last updated 14 May 2000
1999-2000 by Duen
Hsi Yen, All rights reserved.
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