Why Do We Post? LO12309

ray evans harrell (mcore@soho.ios.com)
Fri, 31 Jan 1997 17:14:06 -0800

Replying to LO12283 --

Jack Latimer wrote in response to
Chau's statement about the
reason for posting to the list.
>>I believe Chau makes an important point about posts being an
>>intellectual investment for most of us.

Linda Ortberg wrote in response:
> The comments mentioned in Jack Latimer's post reminded me of a story
> Dr. Deming told in his four day seminar which I attended in 1988. It
> obviously had an effect on me since I remember it to this day. In
> fact, I remind my children now and then that it is rewarding to do
> for others
> without expecting anything in return, maybe even not letting anyone
> know that you did something nice(that's a hard one).
> Anyway the story as I remember it was about a little boy who did the
> dishes for his mother without being asked to do them. He loved to do
> it and his mother really appreciated it but she never gave him
> anything for doing it there was just the internal joy of it all. One
> day she told the boy that if he would continue to do the dishes she
> would pay him 25 cents each time. The little boy never did the
> dishes again. (At least that's how I remember the story).


I'm envious, I only read the book. I would love to have been able to
sense the man. The story certainly shows that the issues are more complex
than the simple statement that began this post. I would however, point
out that Deming drew the story from the life of a child with the person
that he wanted to gain something from, his Mother. Of course he also
wanted to express his love and be an adult about it through the ritual of
dish cleaning.

I was always taught that the giver recieved more than the person who got
the gift and I wonder if it is not the same with Chau's context. I also
wonder what Deming's success would have been with the Japanese if they had
not been humbled by the bomb. The issue for me is not gift or payment but
context. The use of products, time, energy and even space is filled with
etiquette and history in each culture. What is a gift in one place is a
payment in another. To some payments are dead but gifts are alive so they
do not (try out this English phrase!) GIVE payment. If you do a service
for them you do not specify a payment but expect a gift. How much the
gift is (and how it is given) is a statement about the value of the
service performed or product recieved. The gift is an instantaineous
feedback about the value of the service performed. My students often ask
about the Native way of payment and I always explain that they don't want
to even ask. Gift giving is a way of building alliances and demonstrating
potency. If the gift is too small then it is an insult, if it is too
large it demands a reciprocal gift that can enslave. It is always best to
know the context and the meaning of a gift. A dead exchange is always
easier, however if you do it to a Native you will be considered a greedy
grubby white person. You can't win. All you can do is pay attention to
the context and adjust.


Ray Evans Harrell, artistic director
Magic Circle Chamber Opera of New York


ray evans harrell <mcore@soho.ios.com>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>