The roar of the crowd

Lynne McTaggart

Recently I read two items about the power of groups.  The first concerned a new book, Talking to the Enemy,  written by an anthropologist named Scott Atran, who has traveled around the world making a detailed study of terrorists and all violent extremists, including suicide bombers, by asking one simple question:  Why do they do it?
The answer is not, as we believe in the West, religion.
As Atran puts it:  “People don’t simply kill and die for a cause.  They kill and die for each other.”
In his study, which has taken him around the world in search of jihad in all manner of unlikely places, he finds the same scenario. 
Rather than a big centrist organization, terrorist groups start as a group of soccer buddies, school chums or even petty criminals, who become good friends and then form themselves into a little freelance unit.
According to Atran, a terrorist group operates like any small tribe.  In anthropological terms, classic group dynamics then takes over; of most value to everyone in any cell is the friendship, approval and loyalty of the group.
Cost of commitment
Atran discovered that the most important currency in these small clusterings is the ‘commitment cost” -  the lengths to which the members are prepared to go for the cause. 
Most of the groups demand total blood-brother commitment, so that suicide, the ultimate sacrifice, becomes the way to show the depth of your allegiance.
As London Times columnist Bryan Appleyard put it, “Thus you belong only because you are prepared to die, so when the time comes you die because you belong not to Islam but to your buddies.”
Crowdsourcing for medicine
The other fascinating item I read concerned the power of crowdsourcing – the act of laying problems at the feet of large groups, rather than individual ‘experts’ to solve difficult medical problems.
Recently a Harvard dean, working with a group called InnoCentive, crowdsourced the entire university – faculty, students, administrators and staff of all varieties – to offer answers to one of the biggest conundrums of modern medicine:  type I diabetes. 
In his project, called ‘the Challenge,’ Harvard Medical School Dean for Clinical and Translational Research Lee Nadler purposefully involved a community with no apparent expertise in the problem to answer the question:  What do we not know to cure Type 1 Diabetes?
Nadler invited the entire community to come up with proposals.  A large panel of experts in a variety of fields judged the entrees and selected 12 ideas they considered highly innovative.
The 12 winners among the 190 entries included an undergraduate student, a patient, a PhD student, a human resources representative and researchers.  Almost none of them had any expertise in medicine.
All the winners came up with out-of-the-box ideas for dealing with diabetes.  For instance, one diabetes patient suggested that, instead of just using numbers – type 1 and type 2 – to classify diabetes, doctors adopt a scale called the Diabetes Triangle, using three simple measures to classify diabetes in a much more specific and personalized way. 
Another winner, undergraduate chemistry major Megan Blewett, suggested that researchers study how the immune system interacts with lipid (fat) molecules in diabetics from a chemical perspective for new insights into how to treat the disease.
Wisdom of crowds
Aside from finding some potentially innovative solutions or treatments for diabetes, the Challenge was an experiment in ‘open innovation’, using the wisdom of crowds and making use of the knowledge of the largest possible community to solve scientific problems. 
Karim Lakhania, an assistant professor of Harvard Business School suggests that ‘open source’ expertise can often reveal innovative solutions to thorny scientific problems and new directions in medical research or health care. 
What he’s essentially saying is that a group mind is often more creative than an individual expert at coming up with answers.
These two separate stories have a single thread: both illustrate the extraordinary power of community.
It’s now becoming apparent that the need for people to belong is so inherent and strong in us that we are even prepared to die to gain acceptance by our peers.
Power of belonging
Humanity is profoundly tribal; we feel most at home in small clusters in which we are a part of the whole. Indeed, so primal is the need to belong that ostracism is one of the most unbearable situations human beings endure.
A former Mennonite, Robert L Bear, referred to the Amish practice of ‘shunning’ as a ‘living hell of torture’. Teen girls at British boarding schools exile ‘to Coventry’ friends who have become too arrogant– no one speaks to her for a term — as the ultimate punishment to get her back in line.
Aboriginals understood the immense life-or-death power of ostracism or shunning for extreme cases, as it often ends in death.  This most primal of human urges  —  not to stand apart but simply to fit in, particularly with the people who immediately surround us — may well be so necessary to our existence that we are prepared to die in order to belong.
By the same token, groups also appear to possess a ‘field effect’ so that the group, when left to its devices, can prove more expert than experts themselves.
‘We are told that to make sure order is maintained, someone has to be in control,’ says British management consultant Charles Leadbeater, author of We-think: The Power of Mass Creativity, a book for which readers are invited to offer additions or revision.
‘Yet these activities seem ordered precisely because no one seeks to be in control and so people have to exercise their sense of responsibility, adjusting to one another, sorting out disputes as they go. The order comes from within these communities, not from the top.
‘To get complex tasks done reliably, we have assumed we need a clear division of labor, so everyone knows in advance what they are supposed to do, and whose job it is to do what. Yet in these non-organizations people seem to voluntarily distribute themselves to work, as and when it needs to be done.’
Beyond ourselves
The need to move beyond the boundaries of our selves as individuals and to establish ourselves as part of a group is so primordial and necessary to a human being that it remains the key determinant of we live or die. It may also be the key to creativity.

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Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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37 comments on “The roar of the crowd”

  1. How brilliant! What should that tell us about the size of organisations and how we manage ourselves within them and also about democracy?
    Wonderful! Thank you for sharing Lynn.
    With love

  2. The "glorious sound of a soul waking up"...
    when we recognize, in a worldcentric manner, what we are capable of doing with heart intelligence we will-quite soon-leap together to reach a higher level of compassionate consciousness, instead of remaining fallen angels.

  3. All you need to do to observe this phenomenon is visit a couple open meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.
    Group = Gro(w)-up
    And as far as the cure for anything... forgive it and stop believing in it.

  4. True leaders are trusted servants, they don't expect anything in return from those to whom they give. Nor do you have to vote them in, or give them money to receive their guidance and teaching.
    They naturally rise through their surrender of self-centeredness, and give up the desire to be right in order to find peace in the Truth. This is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
    Hence, God-consciousness.

  5. Wade, you might enjoy the book "The Starfish and the Spider" which explains the seemingly illogical power and effectiveness of leaderless organizations (like terrorist cells, and phenomenons such as Craigslist and Wikipedia).
    Thanks for the article, Lynne. This gives evidence to what I am consistently witnessing through our "What If UP" Mastermind groups: incredible problem-solving abilities from a randomly selected gathering of "non-experts."

  6. I would like to refer to the theory how an observer always influences his research/the objects he researches. I find the conclusions on why people become terrorists disrespectfull and belittling, western paternization. When living in an islamic culture, most men unemployed, or in refugeecamps, powerless against weapons of massdestructions, when political regimes murder critical journalist or even stage terrorist attacks, sometimes as dressed up soldiers, drugged out of their minds, who can blame the desperate youngsters our western greedy oppressive cultures have created. How can they, not knowing or finding the words to contradict our logic, most of them wanting to be left alone and respected by the world to live according to their own spiritual advises, as are written up in the Quran. How can one study anything islamic, when one does not have the experience of the islamic prayer, the Ramadan, the belonging to the Uma. I am a dutch woman, who became a muslim, when after reading the Quran, was called by Allah. I could say words like this, when speaking about the field of intention, or the LOA. But stating directly that the Field called me to become a muslim has become scary in these realms. The so called freedom of speech long lost, but claimed by people who do not verse opinion but direct voice direct insults against others, belonging to a group they dislike. Unaware or aware of this connection of all in the Field. Are we ignorant, naive or plain stupid.
    I am not defending terroristattacks. It is not my choice. I am a traumatized woman and understand to my deepest core, how wounded and damaged a person can be and what symptoms comes from that. A psychologist will tell you rage is one of the symptoms of abuse, uncontrollable rage. Yet when we can observe/witness symptoms on a collective level, some people have the audicity to compare them to simply wanting to belong. No muslim needs that however. The simple fact that you are a muslim, from whatever culture, gender or race means you belong. I, a dutch woman, having laid down my chosen hijab, after all the abuse i received for it, giving up my feminist freedom, i belong instantly with all that know i am a muslim and all i make that known to. So instead of labelling these angry youngster, we should look at why the western world so despises Islam, what are they afraid of and also what do these youngsters pick up from the collective field, in what way do they mirror western societies, that have long lost all cohesion, as studies in Politicology have been stating for decades.
    What can be more beautiful than the verse, that when you do not like, what you see outside of you, you have to change within. One of my most favorite verses in the Quran. But then i have chosen what is known to be 'the Greater Jihad'. Without judging the smaller Jihad. And how can i as a western woman, young at the time of the Vietnam war, aware of how mosques and innocent people's homes were bombed, children murdered, women raped. How can anyone after reading some of the reports of the misbehavior of usarmies and english and dutch armies in the recent occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
    In a culture, where noone has the right, to come in my home and tell me how i should live my life, threatening me with death if i do not comply, can western people not see, n0t hear, when they are not welcome in somebody elses house/land/society. Have we learned so little of the effects of colonialism. The massslaughters committed by western powers.
    And i, i have no need to belong. It is not the worst for me to live in seclusion. I am terrified of people, of all people, when not dissociating i am even afraid of my own children, who, seduced by western culture, have no time to invest in the family or in any personal relationship with their mother, no time to care for when sick or elderly.
    These islamic men together is such powerful energy. One can feel the Chi vibrating in the room. And yes, there are also many things wrong in that connection. A problem with truly speaking their minds in a personal way, a lack of authenticity and real friendship within that very strong cohesion. A forcefulness of how to behave in certain ways. They are human, just like us. They developed different strengths than us. If only we could learn from each other. If only both sides would lose their arrogance of thinking their beliefsystem is the better beliefsystem. For that is what it says in the Quran. In the enddays we will all be put together, to learn from each other.
    What is this power that is steering the collective in a direction to reject the islam and muslims. To accept insults of their religion and cultural customs. My country used to be known for its tolerance. We as dutch people represented 85 % of the worldgenepool. That was decades ago.
    History asks for recognizing atrocities that happened in the past, to many allochtone countrymen, to their ancestors. We as western nations have been the perpetrator.
    Toxic relations heal faster, when admitting truth of what happened in a shared past.
    We dutch were unprepared, like the tibetan people, when the germans raided the Netherlands, bombed Rotterdam, the city without heart, as it was called afterwards, the city where i was born in 1951. It never earned my respect. Some groups, which we are still very proud of, some jewish, some not, committed terrorist acts. And yes, after the war, most of these men, who were in the resistance, missed that kind of brotherhood, and could never get back to normal life, which to them appeared boring. Some of them even missed the war. Terrorist acts then like now. But why do we judge them so differently.
    And what makes men long for this kind of brotherhood. And what can women do, contribute in healing that apparent lack men have. Or are we all just doomed because men are men and cannot be any different. But as long as i see 1 man and recognize him as a potential brother, then according to the Morphogenetic fields theory of Rupert Sheldrake, change must be possible. If one man did it, it will influence all men. Meanwhile i hope, women will chose for empowerment, instead of looking like willing prostitutes or pornostars in the media, singing their songs of stupidity. Why, after the womens movement, many younger women made that choice, bewilders me. Did they make that choice? Or are they steered by powers in our societies, through the media, clips, movies, fashion etc. Is the collective being indoctrinated, with what to think, what to belief, by secret powers, that do not openly and fairly show their faces and speak their minds. How can i read at the same time, that in the Netherlands many illegal people are in indefinite illegal detention(against human rights), and at the same time that we need more immigrants to deal with the workload. Am i to understand this or am i the only one thinking she is going crazy.

  7. 1. It depends what chakra the group is using to link itself. First chakra is related to strong community-tribal issues. This level is not rational.
    On the other hand, linking through the 5th chakra is connecting to Love, and linking through the 6th chakra is connecting to creativity.
    2. Complex adaptive systems do not require hierarchical control, order is emergent. A new complex order is created constantly with intention and information.

  8. This article juxtaposes the power of shame and exclusion with the intelligence and inclusion of the whole. Nice job. I was raised in a shame-based religious community and understand the pain of 'us v. them' in my blood and bones. The community was bred to do prerequisite screenings of every potential relationship, separating the 'saved' from the 'unsaved.' They still do. Individuals, communities & nations are assessed by their devotion to God according to a particular doctrine. I've become sensitive to institutions that promote by exclusivity, including Ivy League Colleges, because the 'us v. them' paradigm justifies war against the 'guilty' ones. [Educational exclusivity substitutes 'less accomplished, less worthy, or poverty stricken' for 'ungodly' and perpetuates social war against them... hence class politics.] Wounds of separation perpetuate irrational thoughts and acts of isolation, and encourage personal and social demise that is contrary to our inherent nature as loving social beings. This 'separated identity' is a dynamic living energy that amplifies a personal heart at war into an institutional heart at war, perpetuating the destruction of living beings--ourselves and others. Let's dispel the lie of separation and teach inter-dependence before our social wounding secures the demise of planetary life.

  9. Lynne, you bestow many with your open window of thought instilling words.
    The one word that affects my sensibility, is the word "terrorist".
    It seems we all have excepted this word as a word of meaning. In truth what this word means and what people take as, are very different.
    I try not to choose this word in mt vocabular.
    Thanks for all you do to make us think humanly.

  10. This is about the evolution of ideas. The ultimate stage of evolution which leads to spiritual enlightenment. If we observe the world we can see the existence of every form; energy, matter, mineral, vegetable, animal, from a single cell to the emergence of an enlightened man all here one time.
    behavior varies according to where a being is on this scale. Just as we would not expect a native living in a cave in a South American jungle to have the moral understanding of the enlightened man we cannot observe the actions of such savages who happen to live in an American or European city and draw the conclusion that this is a basic human behavior.
    This is not to say that modern attitudes are always right or that primitive attitudes are always wrong. Civilizations are not always civil and the savages actions can come from very basic survival needs. However in spite of this we do progress. Spiritual knowledge is in the field and once realized is irreversible.
    In dealing with such things as terrorism the writers are correct. We must observe and forgive the terror we create in our own minds and find a way to send peace and love to all. There is only One.

  11. Hypocrites quoted "let food be your medicine" I have had great results with this all natural juice derived from the mangosteen. I wish that anyone whom has any health problems to take a serious look at this fruit. After all many times people may develop health issues due to lack of a healthy diet.

  12. I have been reading a lot recently about the inner circle of megalomaniacs who have been working patiently for many years in an attempt to establish a global government. Their tactics can be connected directly to war, genocide, mass-starvation, terrorism, drug addiction, and financial fraud. Although I am convinced that such conspiracies are real, I have wondered why such a small group of very wealthy, very powerful people would want to cause such pain and misery to so many innocent victims. I guess this concept of "commitment cost" applies to the globalists as much as to any other group. Thank you once again, Lynne, for helping me to understand a little more about ourselves.

  13. This, to me, aptly describes why teenagers place more importance on their peers than their parents.

  14. These groups resemble ethnic gangs in the U.S, but they also resemble the small, cohesive units that have been the strength of the military since time began. Yet I still believe that the cultural glue that brings these terrorist groups together, and gives them a sense of identity and purpose, is jihadist Islam. What they conceive to be their high purpose motivates them to strap on a belt of explosives and commit suicide. Thy have a cause, just as soldiers have a cause, and that is much more than just feeling required to sacrifice to satisfy the demands of membership.

  15. Great article, Lynn. It just emphasizes the enormous power that resides in groups -- whether they be mobs incited to riot or a prayer group focusing on a cure for a disease.
    I agree with what Rose said about the example set by millions of people worldwide in Alcoholics Anonymous. In this case, addicted folks get together to support one another in achieving recovery. There are no leaders and virtually no rules (other than the group's conscience). Trusted servants take turns in serving the group.
    I don't really know exactly how this works, but it has to do with a common purpose, a commitment to a cause, and the need to feel a sense of belonging to something that is greater than ourselves.

  16. There's no doubt that, generally speaking, the group is more powerful than the individual and that that power can be used either positively or negatively. However, shunning has, for the most part, been used negatively by the group and individual integrity and depth of thought rather than breadth of thought to redirect group-think that does not allow for individuality and difference, those outside the box. Historically, the burning of witches and slavery comes to mind, more recently cyber-bullying of young people.

  17. Hi Sherry,
    It works through the 12th step and 12th tradition.
    12 x 12 = 144... recognize the symbolism?
    12th step = spiritual awakening, carry the message (service), practice of spiritual principles in all affairs
    12th tradition = principles before personalities
    You see, duality is addiction to the ego. If everyone worked the 12 steps....

  18. I believe,
    The terrorist cell, are influenced by people who may have been controlled and now want to take control. They were abused and they now want to abuse, a learned behavior . The ego is powerful, more so if it is c0llective. When it attaches to dogma, suitable to serve its end, they will use it and why because the author is a compatible conduit. The bottom line is the reality and how we share the real time, in competition or cooperation. The weakest seek competition. Why, you may ask because it creates room to accommodate the bully, the exploiter. The surgeons work is of no avail if the cleaner does not clean. We are inter dependent,
    of equal importance. Its just my own opinion.

  19. If we are all one, then how can we be different? If we are all different, the how can we be one? Paradox? Mystery? Even in the womb we are of a different genetic makeup than our mothers, though we perforce share the same food with her--it's an inside job. Then if our parent or parents act unwisely, at every stage in the complex human weaning process, there is the potential for an ever growing accumulation of little shuns and rejections and ostracisms. Often, perhaps many times a day, we are pushed away and then dragged or invited back. No big surprise that after years of this one could begin to lose a sense of self acceptance. Add to that the educational stories called history and literature where we find out that there's a whole lot more of this kind of thing going on.
    Somewhere down the line( our time line) after deciding we'd better join any old group that will have us if we sign on the dotted line, we run into clusters of thinkers such as Lynne and her affiliates, you all included, who are somewhat in agreement that there is an underlying unity, that we share, and that after years and perhaps lifetimes of feeling very isolated and alone that we need to stop to consider that we may have been sort of hidden from ourselves, and that it matters that we start to look at this situation. We may not agree, at any point in these discussions, as to what this all means, and what, if anything, to think or do about it, but I think it's great and high time that these discussions are taking place.
    Thank you, Lynne

  20. What if....
    -we would drop all religions?
    -we'd finally connect to the god inside ourselves?
    -so we can feel that we are truly one?
    And we can start living from the heart?
    I already belong to this group!
    Who else?

  21. I'm with Mary.
    I keep hearing here a very fundamental question. It is about the conflict around the idea of power and the question of its source. I would ask some questions.
    How can we be victims if we have the power of intention able to change the quality of water in a distant lake, for example? This purports to be the line of inquiry of the Intention Project.
    If we cause our own successes in life how is it possible that all our failures are caused by others?
    Why do we believe others are impotent but we are not?
    If we actually have power of intention why have we been using it so poorly?
    It is an impossibility to hold two conflicting ideas at one time. The mind will wallow in confusion and finally crash.

  22. Hi to all , wonderful way to be awake to understanding,love and compassion , The times are shifting and we are part if this field
    As we know religions, politics, competition etc put us into a roll against each others perhaps we will embrace the collective consciousness and let the heart led the way
    I had what it's so call type one diabetes for 45 years , very interesting what Lynne said the labels always create and impression on the individuals and their is non o very little understanding for the patient, however it is in the approach that you take to handle the situation , that will help you make it
    Thank you Lynne again for bring this news ideas and concepts to helps us continue growing into higher levels of consciousness
    Love for all

  23. There is no is. Evolution is us creating it every now, now, now. The family, tribe, country and football club kind of thinking is an anachronism like wisdom teeth and the appendix. The only way to see the truth of oneness is to recognize that the surrender of personal authority to a belief in competition and blind group think only leads to wars etc.
    The problems of lack of personal value, self esteem and love of ones self comes from that surrender of personal authority which is simply realizing that we are the authors of our lives.
    As to how we can all be one and be individual, think of an organ of the body. It has many cells each performing different tasks but are one organ performing its own function. An image that helps me with this is that we are each a brain cell of God, or the Field, or whatever, each having a separate existence and contributing that experience to the whole.

  24. I wonder how many people have run for the tall timbers when they began to think about what it would be like to be aware of other's thoughts and feelings. Have you ever noticed that some people seemed to be hiding their thoughts? I tried to hide thoughts and feelings from my mom, but I think she was on to me every now and then. How about when you start picking up at one and the same time the juicy secret tidbits of half a dozen or so people on a bus? How about fifty or five hundred? Is unity just a cozy concept? The cells and organs of my body are fairly quiet, and although there are maybe trillions of cells, their communications may join to form the white noise that some people label tinnitus. Do people who meditate dissolve the barriers to others private and secret lives? Do people learn to turn down the gain on their antennas? Just some idle musings about collective consciousness and whether it's manageable or whether somebody needs to write Unity for Dummies manual. Maybe an Animal Communicator could shed some light on this. I hear animals are psychic, maybe they have some tips on how to handle the magnitude of all this.

  25. The later comments in this splendid exchange I find inspiring. More and more of us are embracing the idea that we are all One - something called "Life". Yet I haven't heard this preached publicly, and it's a concept that flies in the face of all we have been taught, which has been, from our childhoods, Fear. And now, spontaneously, it seems, more and more of us are embracing the concept of Love instead. My 'epiphany' came several years ago, as I was driving to visit my daughter at university. As I drove along in an otherwise empty car, a voice from the (empty) passenger seat, said audibly, "Love is unconditional. If it isn't unconditional it isn't love".
    That kick-started my quest in earnest, and I find that I am by no means alone. More and more people of my acquaintance are moving in the same direction; towards the concept that "we are all one"; that we are "cells" in the body of Oneness analogously to cells in our bodies; "as above, so below", if you will. And that seems to imply a duty to work - and indeed, live - for the betterment of the collective Whole. And what, then, defines this "whole"? Life, would be my answer - Life, in all it's multi-dimensional, multi-coloured, human, animal, vegetable, mineral, incarnate, discarnate, terrestrial, extra-terrestrial Oneness! Why fear? There is nothing to fear, because we are all One!
    ... sounds simple, doesn't it! But somehow this seems to be what more and more of us are working towards!
    Cheers, Love and blessings to all

  26. I wish to point out that there was a book out about Flocks(birds, fish and peerless herds in general). That what he noticed was that they are able to change direction in an instance and that they are all in tune to their needs as a whole.
    I believe we could do the same and we are starting to with social media.
    What will be the ultimate outcome of social media :-> that we realize that we can build a social media program that really responds to our (sensible) voting wishes as a whole - community, town, state and nation. We don't need Special Interests but rational Interests and preemptive wars are not any part of the choices of any nation. Let me leave it at that.

  27. For Bill: We are all dummies when we start learning the true nature of reality. The material from the minds of others is not going directly to our minds but is accessible to us when needed or wanted. All we have to do is ask and the information will be forthcoming, one way or another. Some teachings call this repository the Akashic Record.


  29. > I would have to take exception to Mr.
    > Leadbeater’s observation that groups
    > function best without a leader. While a
    > classless, leaderless society might sound
    > inviting, history would indicate otherwise.
    The classic example of this was Yugoslavia in the
    1980's. Marshall Tito had assumed a leadership
    role from 1946-1980 - and bequeathed a form
    of collective leadership to succeed him.
    Predictably, the various leaders within the new
    leadership vied for political power and within
    nine years the system had all but collapsed.
    A system of "tribal" loyalty to the components
    of Yugoslavia replaced the loyalty to the whole
    federation so painstakingly developed by Tito.
    This was reinforced by local "units" where the
    "recruits" were encouraged to participate in
    activities which still haunt their post-war days.
    All that happened within the last thirty years
    and in a supposedly civilised part of Europe.
    The lesson to be learned is that the underlying
    pressures can exist anywhere and that methods
    of capping dissent artificially do not work. We
    need to encourage embedding of whole-hearted
    identification with democratic and respectful
    values in our several societies.
    The same basic argument applies as that with
    regard to information obtained by torture. It
    is the full-hearted consent that is valuable (and
    why rape can never be truly pleasurable). What
    might be gained by torture (or rape or imposed
    leadership) has only illusory value.
    Alan Rayner
    EX39 2BA

  30. > 99.999% of humans on this planet have been
    > conditioned to believe, and act out this belief,
    > that they are separate, little “me’s” facing a
    > hostile world which is “out there”. Hence the
    > need to belong to a group, or groups, in order
    > to feel “safe”, albeit a false sense of safety.
    The first part of the above is fair comment.
    The scond part is not necessarily so. We can
    ALL develop an inner sense of self-worth and
    confidence - even when fearful of the outside.
    Sadly the old adage is the wrong way round. It
    should be "the best form of attack is defence".
    The best form of defence is the knowledge of
    one's own integrity. Paradoxically that method
    was used by many of the holocaust "victims"
    and the tragedy is that those now in government
    in Israel have learned a false lesson.
    At the root of the sadness is that when groups
    come together they adopt a "group mind" that
    often fails to include the individual qualities of
    love, peace, harmony etc that are present in the
    hearts and minds of the individuals.
    Thus it is IMPORTANT to avoid giving up
    one's soul to ANY group. We certainly need to
    have groups in order to enhance the quality of
    our lives but groups should be something with
    which we align for specific purposes, not as a
    replacement for our life values.
    Possibly we need to add "Maverickism" to the
    national curriculum - along with discernment
    as to when being a maverick is appropriate
    and when it is not.
    Sadly, getting elected to a position in which one
    can exercise responsibility almost demands
    that one submit to a group will. Party Whips
    are the living anathema on this - but those who
    take a responsibly independent line earn much
    respect. I would seek to emulate them - if only
    hundreds of other independent souls would
    agree to take a similar line at the voting station!
    Alan Rayner
    EX39 2BA

  31. > The one word that affects my sensibility, is
    > the word “terrorist”.
    > It seems that we all have accepted this word
    > as a word of meaning.
    It does have a meaning - it describes anyone who
    uses terror or the threat of it in an attempt to
    influence the mind or actions of another person
    who would not otherwise so think or act.
    Thus "freedom fighters" are terrorists!
    Conscientious Objectors were asked at local
    tribunals what they would do if someone were
    about to rape or kill a mother or sister. When
    they said that they would take action, their
    applications for CO status were often declined.
    However, that is not the point. British law does
    now permit the use of reasonable force to be
    used to prevent a larger crime being committed.
    The question is what is reasonable!
    > In truth what this word means and what
    > people take it as, are very different. I try
    > not to choose this word in my vocabulary.
    In my view, ANY use of terror is unreasonable.
    However there are circumstances when it is
    unavoidable. One such is where an aerial bomber is flying over an area and the only way
    to prevent release of the bombs is to disable
    the aircraft. Sadly the crew of the 'plane have
    allowed themselves to be used in the guise of
    "human shields". We cannot know whether
    the crew in that aircraft are there following
    "informed consent" or terror (enlist or else).
    In the former case we should have no qualms
    but the latter poses a moral dilemma - based
    on the fact that terror begets terror.
    Alan Rayner
    EX39 2BA

  32. > We would not expect a native living in a cave in
    > a South American jungle to have the moral
    > understanding of the enlightened man
    Why not?
    The form of the moral understanding might
    differ but the quality might well be higher, even
    on our scale of morals!
    Alan Rayner
    EX39 2BA

  33. Alan: Tribal communities may indeed have certain understandings that are part of the big picture, however I do not believe any I have heard of have the entire picture. Most peaceful tribes are lacking in creativity. Most that have creativity use it to overcome their enemies and are not peaceful. In both cases their moral development is appropriate to their place in evolution. These are definitely generalizations. In all groups some are moving into the next stage but we are all on the same path. As an example some of the African pirates have realized their error and are in a program to learn real jobs.

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