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Saturday, September 14, 2013


An anecdote I heard years ago concerned prisoners of war captured by the Chinese in Korea.

When a new contingent was caught, the men were taken to an initial holding facility, officers not segregated but mixed with other ranks. Then they were all carefully watched, to see who showed any signs of initiative.

Only 5 per cent demonstrated get-up-and-go; these were put into small, heavily guarded units. The rest went into large, lightly patrolled POW camps.

A small minority starts everything, and if it's tightly co-ordinated, runs everything, for good or ill. So the challenge is how give rein to the good and restrain the bad - and who is going to do this?

Many of the 5 don't understand the 95. Some, judging by their own lights, fear competition and oppress people who generally wouldn't dream of challenging them anyway. For the same reason others set up schemes, imagining that the majority can't wait to take advantage of new opportunities, and then become irritated:"Why don't they get up off their backsides and do x?" Still others understand that there is a divide, and simply despise the 95 for not being like themselves.

We hope that someone among the five per cent will lead, yet understand and value the majority. We look for someone with heart.

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1 comment:

Paddington said...

One problem is that the crucial 5% is often sociopathic.