International Viewpoints (IVy), Issue 35 - January 1998

Transition and Chaos
By Allen Hacker, USA
(This article first appeared on Allen's Internet forum/list Accept-l on 16th September 1997.
For Internet users, the home page is:
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SOME THOUGHTS on change:

Any two apparencies of order are connected by an apparent chaos.

An apparency, in this case, is such because it is a mere subset of perceptions from among all possible (and available) perceptions. We select out from all possibilities only those made most probable by our opinions as to where we perceive ourselves to be in the moment, and build from them our next moment.

When we are comfortable with where we are and make more of the same, we have an apparent order. This is where we believe we understand what we have created into our experience well enough so that we can deal with it without too much effort.

When we enter into a period within which we are uncertain of our details or situations, we lose or have already lost our anchors to the extent that an increased degree of randomness enters into our stream of experience. We find ourselves selecting into experience mildly or largely disrelated possibilities, and feel ourselves sliding into a disintegrating sense of continuity. We usually call this "chaos" in the old, unhappy, definition of the word.

The new, mathematical definition of chaos is functionally invisible to nearly everyone. However, it can be experienced and even applied to creating desirable futures. But that's another topic.

The topic at hand, that transitions between orders, or systems, appear as chaotic, leads to an explanation of certain personal and social phenomena.

Those who are terrified of chaos can be expected to strive to prevent all changes. They see change as destructive to their worlds, and they take that with the same seriousness as death. The most resistive of such people will be those who share both a vested interest in the status quo and a complete lack of vision regarding the coming new order. And why shouldn't they resist what will take from them everything they have and deliver them into oblivion?

Too often those who favor the change will try to reason with resistance by explaining the benefits. This usually won't work because there is the other item of vested interest to be dealt with as well. It can be as innocuous as defending a comfort zone or as vicious as maintaining a destructive financial or enslaving power base.

Still, one should not challenge these people, or rise to their challenges; one should invent neutral questions that point toward potential losses and benefits, toward fear and understanding, and make of the conversation something that will benefit even an insane attacker. Make of it a clearing session. And if that doesn't work (that's up to the other guy), simply ignore him.

Handling "reactionaries"

To those who cherish the dying order, the transition looks like chaos approaching. Thus they resist it.

To those who cherish the dawning order, the transition looks like chaos fading. So they enthusiastically make a project of getting through it as quickly as possible.

And there's the source of conflict in most cases. Somebody with something to lose, even if it's just a sense of location, being confronted with somebody with something to gain by destroying an old world in the process of building a new one. We fall into the conflict if we forget or do not realize that the old world fading under our intention is somebody's home.

If we think of a flamer and a heckler in this light, we'll deal with them as pre-emptively defensive (See IVy 32, page 6.) people who are trying to stop something they don't understand, or are trying to preserve something they fear losing, or both. Of course we must remember the rule: hecklers are not to be in control of the conversation.

When someone asks a question, answer it if it makes sense to do so, even if it's sarcastic or a trap: you can always recast it before responding. When someone accuses, or tries to put you on the defensive personally or professionally, ignore it. And when someone pushes the "must-communicate" button, let him lose by showing that you are not controlled that way: ignore it, too.

Enlightenment is not about making others feel good. How they feel is their responsibility, just as how each of us feels is our own. We should not commit antagonistic acts that will decrease their happiness, but neither should we inhibit our constructive impulse in a misguided effort to protect others falsely.

Enlightenment leads to certain abandonments. This is necessarily so: to build something new, something better, one must let go of, even dismantle, something old. Don't be surprised, however, if its proprietors object.

Ultimately, it's a matter of perspective.

Are we entering into a period of chaos? If so, expect discomfort and opposition, and deal with it from your profession rather than your self.

Or are we exiting from a period of chaos? If so, don't ask permission. Just do it!