An address from Riedwaan to the Team
Ideal Society vs. the Reality of Transgression, and the need for Discipline
Whenever a group of individuals, each of whom has integrity, and is integrated, come together to associate, and collaborate, be it in a work, or as a family, or as a team, there always is spontaneously, a mutual respect; a mutual embracing, with enthusiasm and energy, of the values, that become their ethos.
This ethos is the very atmosphere in which these individuals breathe, and so naturally each single one of them will never pollute that atmosphere, which would not only be unwholesome to himself, but would eventually lead to the detriment and even destruction of the entire association.
When we conceive of the ideal republic, the ideal team, the ideal community, ideal organisation or society, there need be no rules, no policing; no punitive or disciplinary measures meted out, or even deliberated; because everybody is proud to be part of their heritage – their ethos. When each person is so identified with this ethos, exemplifying, expressing and playing it out towards one another, it becomes a shield and an insulation.
However, most human beings are not in such an ideal state or situation; they are not all equally identified with the same vision or ideal, (and even, often when they are), there are always the ego- and power-struggles that become dominant, as most of the time, some people want to have everything their own way, and would even transgress against the ethos :thus inevitably, restrictions, laws, rules, and disciplinary measures become necessary.
This is the reason why in every religion, as part of the inherited and transmitted ethos, rules and restrictions had to be laid down, with disciplinary measures to be applied when such rules were broken. In Buddhism, for instance, the Buddha himself eventually had to talk about precepts, and rules, and the consequences of a monk’s disobedience or transgressions. To protect the whole community, Moses had to ascend the Mountain to ask God, for a set of commandments; while Muhammad had descend the Mountain with a whole set of rules.
So too, with us; though we gave ourselves the benefit, and did not want rules as we were all in the ideal aspiration to be a team, exploring Sangha, fellowship, community, and so on, we observed that there were those that did not fall spontaneously in love with the ethos. However beautifully it was taught, enunciated, modelled, demonstrated or dynamically engaged, it still did not evoke the admiration, or stimulate identification, and there were those, then, who insisted on wilfully canvassing their own way, waging this way in opposition and contradiction to what they could acknowledge in their own intellect to be Beautiful, the Good, the True Way, that Way that fosters peace and engenders creativity and harmony.
We are still waiting for this ideal society to evolve, where individuals govern themselves, because they are so imbued, and have so imbibed the beautiful Ethos, that they would neither want to catch themselves nor anybody else contradicting it; because they understand that this is the Solution to humanity’s problems! We must always aspire to contribute to a society where people are self-ruled and self-governed, where rules are not needed, as in this community, this society, they are in love with the Ethos of the Good, the Beautiful and the True.
This constant aspiration can only begin when you so embrace that value in yourself, that you declare: “On this planet, I am a flagpole for that Ideal; I am committing myself to work out that in society from my Self as a centre: I shall represent myself to you in such a way that I am inviting you to play this beautiful Game where there is no winner; where to score is when we all rejoice in good feelings of companionship and teamship.
The beauty of our association is that we have gone through the whole evolutionary process that happens in society, and particularly in organizations, that can begin with fine ideals; but the moment they begin to engage each other, that very ideal that initially called these individuals together is that which is now most threatened, by these very individuals themselves. The ethos begins to change, as they do not want to promote the ethos-way; and they submit to ego-and power-struggles.
Now everything depends on the leadership. Often a new leader brings with him a new concept or ideal; and if the former leader was a poor one, then the change is a positive one when the new leader is really identified and fully integrated with his vision and mission; and he can protect the ethos as its guardian. Sometimes a good leader is deposed, or dies, and the leader following him is weak; then he is manipulated, controlled and governed by the other disparate egos; and the very ethos of that society changes for the worse; and the inevitable decay and demise of that community sets in, in this lack of real leadership.
Now we can understand the pragmatic Wisdom of Moses and Muhammad and the Buddha, and we see clearly these individuals who had to taught, “An eye for an eye”, or “If you are caught stealing, your hand will be cut off”. These were all disciplinary measures, to scare people off from perpetuating their transgressions, and consequently, from incurring that kind of punishment upon themselves, so that even though they were not yet integrated with the ethos, or even far distanced from it, they would fear the punishment of prison, or worse; and would at least restrain their immoderate and unsocial behaviour and conduct that could undermine the community, which now was protected, and has the opportunity for further growth, rather than the inevitable decay that would otherwise have quickly set in.
So disciplinary measures, or laws, inevitably has to become part of a company, an organization, or a country’s constitution. Part of the inherited ethos now includes the very measures to be applied when the rules are broken. I myself was so idealistic that I thought we would never reach that stage, but I am always pragmatic, and so inevitably, and organically, individuals made it necessary, precisely because they were not married to the ideals we enunciated, exposed ourselves to and marinated ourselves in; and they would even transgress so far as to spit on these ideals and contradict our very ethos. Had we not then asserted rigorously and vigorously what we were about, and applied the disciplinary measures needed to protect the ethos, we would have disintegrated totally a long time ago.
When there are those who will not respect what has already been democratically established, disciplinary measures are clearly necessary. For if there was the positive anticipation and assurance on the part of myself, as leader, of everyone’s maturity, of all your being integrated, and proud to be representative of the ethos, which, after all, is our mission to propagate in the world- if we had all been so integrated and indissolubly knitted to our ideals; if we were that kind of team; then disciplinary measures such as fines, time tax, or compilation of medicine manuals would never need to have been introduced: we could have all assumed what had been established, and declared that hopefully nobody would beg anything; no dusty old book of laws would need to be dusted off from aeons of disuse, and applied.
Though we are so newly established, we already have had to revisit the archetypical societal pattern; and evoke the law; first and foremost of course, you were educated and trained, cultivated, motivated endlessly, inspired, then eventually reprimanded, verbally disciplined; and of course the medicine manual, then finally there is the disciplinary measure of fines, and time tax; followed by suspension and then ultimate severance, if the remediation goes unheeded.
Severance comes into play when someone has shown that their style, their way is totally disrespectful, and undermining on fundamental, vitally important matters; for keeping such a person in the organization is undermining.
However, when a community is so representative and knitted together, and there are one or two individuals that consistently undermine that community’s standards and ethos, then these individuals in their turn must be expelled. Expulsion and severance are usually the final punishment; after which there has to be the ultimate recognition and acceptance of a lack of affinity, of an unalterable dissonance. We are, then, not birds of a feather, and you as the negative adversary, the alien outsider, must find your own flock; as you respect not the feather of ours; then for the sake of peace, and sustaining mutual harmony between us, we avoid each other’s stratosphere!
Even then as classroom teacher, one of the first things that we anticipate, because we know the nature of learners, is that there are going to be lazy learners, and learners who want to undermine. So we start by coming to democratically discuss what is reasonable; and what to do if someone contradicts that which we all agree is reasonable. Let’s agree that we’re all like this. But we know people are going to beg it, so what are we going to do? We all want to protect ourselves, we want to protect what we’re about – what happens here is learning, what happens here is promotion of learning and values.
Even after a long process of democratic discussions, of education and training, whereby we all agree about what is reasonable, individuals still may beg the agreement; and in the promotion of our own learning and values, we need protect these. When someone consistently undermines a basic, fundamental value at the very core of our togetherness, we cannot just proceed with verbal rebukes and redress; the more we advise each time, “hey- you’d better come right, you’d better this, you’d better that”? Without increasing and intensifying the disciplinary measure increase, so that the perpetrator can register that we are seriously looking after our ethos, the more we are colluding with this undermining and resistance.
We need implement that which needs implementing, and in this way we show that we are real in this world, in terms of what we have married ourselves to; and no uncouth lout is going to come into my house, into my association, into my ethos, and consistently undermine these: because I have all the measures at my fingertips; and even if I have to defend my land, my country, with a sword, in the name of peace, then I will take off your head!
But this is the very last resort: for if you are prepared to go to such an extent to transgress against me, and what I represent, and you refuse to make yourself scarce, then I will have to go to the last resort, and declare war. Why? For protection, because you want to come and invade with your uncouth ways!
So what should the next punishment-measure be, should someone beg anything that has already been covered, that we have already allowed time to address: any value, any procedure that is already covered, and with all our agreement was not just covered once; so that nobody could say, “I just did that once”, that we just gave you a warning, and now you do it again and all of a sudden we say that you’re going to get a R5000 fine. No – everybody was present and witnessed; we have really had the luxury, we could afford the time for everybody to grow. You had the time to grow; before we even mentioned disciplinary measures, I had to allow you the luxury to just to grow. I spoke to you, I motivated you again and again; you came and transgressed again; and I motivated you and I enthused about the beauty of the Way, and I appealed to you, and then you did it again.
Then when the growth stage was over, that was when we said, now if you transgress, then it is nothing to do with learning; you understand everything; now you calculatingly, deliberately want to undermine what we represent. Therefore if you do that again, then we have got to give you a message. The intent of that is not just to punish you, but it is so that you contain yourself; you at least fear the punishment, and therefore inhibit yourself, and therefore protect yourself, and therefore protect us. That is the whole psychology and philosophy around disciplinary measures in any republic, in any state, in any organisation, even for just two people who live together.
When Gavin and Jason were living together, I guided them to say ok, and sit down and make up rules. And why did I eventually say, fight it out ? Because it came to that – they could not democratically see each other, they could not come together to resolve things, and so I said, Ok, let all war break loose between the two of you then, and then wake up! So either you’re going to have to move apart, or you’re going to have to fight and beat each other, or you’re going to say, Hey, but we do have this Culture between us! Can’t we live it with each other? You couldn’t live it with each other, so you had to fight each other, and inevitably live apart. That is how the micro reflects the macro.
But our ethos is supposed to make a difference! It is to say, no, that is not inevitable. You can have a certain understanding; you can have a certain love and attraction for a certain way of being, with yourself, with another, of being in association, whether simply with family, or teamwork. You can be mature, especially if you’ve been cultivated, especially if you’ve had the privilege of time to be cultivated in that. What then is your excuse if you sustain undermining it? It means you do not value that, you cannot respect it, you do not want it (you just want your way, over and above and even in contradiction to the democratic ethos; then you as a person cannot want to promote it for humanity! We see the effort with which you promote the opposite, here, with those with whom you are in daily contact.
The point of disciplining, the point of punishment, is to inhibit in the person what is undesirable; because he would not do it by himself. There would be a lot more crime out there, many more rapes, many more murders, if it were not for the law that comes to arrest those people that commit such transgressions. We would not be safe; there would be anarchy, demonic chaos, because there are people that will not want to restrain themselves; they know what the right thing is, they know what the good thing is, they know what it is to be beautiful to another, but they do not want that because they want to satisfy another sense – self-gratification at the expense of another’s rights, or transgression against the democratic constitution of their organization.