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|Jard DeVille is now recognized by many as the most prolific and creative successor to Vicktor Frankl. For decades he and Roberta -- his wife and co-author and daughter Dee, who is their editor and computer guru, have followed Viktor’s approach to identifying meaningful lifestyles. They spent decades researching Logotherapy, rubbing concepts together while pastoring and teaching in churches, colleges and universities, working in and directing clinics and consulting in large and small organizations of various kinds around the world.
During their adult lives Jard and Roberta have produced a virtual library of books, seminars, and psychological assessment instruments -- most of them based on the Logotherapy constructs they first learned from Viktor forty years ago and then modified as they became more and more competent and thoughtful for themselves. Every one of the seventeen book length study courses in the LOGOTHERAPY LEARNING CENTER’S core curriculum, is their own work. As Viktor once said -- a dwarf seated on a giant’s shoulder can sometimes see further down the trail than can the giant. They have modified Logotherapy in this manner -
LOGOTHERAPY = f (Personal Meaning x Communal Belonging)
Jard combined Viktor’s focus on personal meaning with his own emphasis on situations and relationships where one belongs emotionally -- where good people are accepted, loved and trusted in places of the heart.
CHANGE AND CONFUSION - Logotherapy Mini-Course
For countless centuries, through their increasingly sophisticated physical, psychological and philosophical development, our ancestors laboriously climbed a sheer black Devil’s Tower mountain of ignorance, superstition, disease and poverty. Life was often nasty, brutish and short and it was with great difficulty families and clans wrested a bare bones living from a supremely indifferent earth. Change came very slowly and even then it occurred in a few minute increments. Because their simple technology changed infrequently and people seemed to change not at all, everyone assumed that life was destined to go on forever with the same seasonal rhythms of seed-time and harvest -- planting and reaping and birth and death. They could see the cast of characters changing through the years but life itself seemed static. It was as if each generation was watching only one frame of the world’s great motion picture show. Over time unknown and unmeasured, a firm resistance to change seems to have settled into our very genes.
Although most humans believe the myth that we enjoy new circumstances, we adapt to anything important only with great reluctance unless it is to our obvious and immediate advantage. We are comfortable with change only within very narrow limits. Jard is quite adept at shifting from roast beef tonight to pork ribs tomorrow, but don’t offer him tofu! To sum this up, few humans handle change well. We almost always resent and resist adapting to anything new unless we see some personal benefit in it. Many of us want largely to be let alone to manage life to our own advantage despite what happens to the society around us. When we cannot keep life static, with our vested personal benefits firmly in hand, we become frustrated and unhappy -- with unrelieved frustration usually leading to apathy or aggression.
The last two centuries, from roughly 1820 AD when the first industrial revolution came on line, have brought massive social disruptions and the development of serious life style challenges caused by the life styles we choose. This is the historical period that Jard calls the great transition in his consulting for business and industry. The quiet bucolic ways of the past, with closely knit families, villages and clans, in which people worked together at subsistence tasks important to everyone, in relationships where they felt they belonged, were largely lost. Changes have exploded over us until now, for example, a fierce debate rages about the survival of family farms. They are vanishing and careers are shifting, making it virtually impossible for a single wage earner to support a family. The past is still shutting down, despite many frustrated souls screaming “Stop the world -- I want to get off”, with more and more people scrambling to make life satisfying. Given our racial reluctance to change until something new and unexpected is forced on us, we often cause problems for ourselves and for society. Naturally, this creates still more stress for everyone except for the financial barons who fear the grubby peasants and have the wealth needed to call the tunes to which everyone else must dance.
Of course, it isn’t shifting circumstances per se, caused by science and new technologies that trigger the frustrations found in our industrial life style. It is rather our resistance to change that complicates our human adjustment. Because of our difficulty in discarding primitive homosapien (modern man) instincts, shopworn traditions and outdated ideologies, the great transition reflects much of our restlessness and the dissatisfaction that follow. Sam and Julia Monroe are a working class couple from St. Paul who won a lottery worth millions of dollars a few years ago. They were ecstatic at first, but the sudden wealth and their inability to shift from their traditions and ideologies, plus the demands placed on them by relatives and friends, drove them from Minnesota. Thoroughly disappointed, they fled to Tucson where they live quietly under an assumed name. Julia told Roberta:
Our friends abandoned us, complaining that the wealth had changed us, had made us snooty and selfish. That’s not it at all! It changed them in their attitudes toward us. We tried to get along with everyone as we always had but they wouldn’t let us. Even those who didn’t want anything expected us to change, started picking apart everything we said and did. It hurt the kids terribly and we finally decided to make a fresh start where no one knew anything about us.
Then, in Arizona they had other problems. They bought an expensive home in a posh suburb and quickly discovered they were not compatible with their new neighbors. They simply didn’t know the customs and mores of the country club set and didn’t share right wing political ideologies and a fundamental religious theology in a community that had been accumulating wealth and developing aristocratic attitudes over several generations. Sam laughed rather wryly; I do believe ours were the only votes cast for a Democrat in town. The changes in their circumstances had burned the bridges to their past relationships without insuring satisfaction in their new community. For countless eons human life was like one story in James Michener’s novel The Source. The Cro-Magnon, early Biblical era family in Palestine invented agriculture to supplement their food supply. The water of the spring from which the book took its name flowed cool and clear even during periods of drought so they settled there. They eventually hunted bare the surrounding countryside, needing to climb higher and higher into the hills for game. This bothered the woman for her mate was getting along in years; he must have been thirty-five at least, and she worried about him breathing hard after chasing an antelope uphill for several hours. In a project to help him and to feed the family should he falter before the children were grown, she planted grain she'd gathered from the wild in the rich soil around the stream. It was a great technological breakthrough; she succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. The plants grew heavy with grain so the family tended them, chasing away birds and rabbits and weeding the garden. They sweated out a hailstorm and felt devoutly thankful to some higher power when the crop was spared. Michener is so good at writing scenes with which we can identify! Actually, the amazing thing isn't that we are different from our ancient ancestors but so much like them in all our crucial traits. This is why the parables of Jesus and the ancient Greek dramas remain meaningful to us. Our technology has moved in great leaps and bounds with one of the greatest advances being each woman's ability to manage her life by regulating the number of children she conceives. Unfortunately, that freedom to choose enrages many emotionally primitive or ideologically driven male power freaks -- because it lessens their control over the women in their lives. Of course, as one female friend of ours quipped --
If it were men who were having babies, who were pushing babies the size of a watermelon through a passage in their bodies the size of a walnut, you would never hear another word in the Congress or from the pulpit about the evils of contraception and the freedom of choice.
In the deeper recesses of our souls, little has changed. We still experience the love and hate, the greed and generosity, the war and peace that the ancient stories tell so well. Naturally, that causes the problem we mentioned earlier. After eons of static existence, our instincts, traditions and ideologies persuade us that life should remain as it was when we were growing up, unless change brings some immediate benefit, when we were learning what was important about life and our place in it. We automatically resist, spending psychic energy on pointless, damaging and even suicidal tasks, for we live at a time when change has exploded exponentially through science and technology. As Charles Babbington, Lord MacCaulay, explained so wisely in his great history of the first British Empire, every civilization, empire, kingdom, corporation and wealthy family eventually commits suicide. It destroys itself by creating so many vest interest groups that it cannot adapt successfully when they must change or be overrun by new competitors. Then, the more threatened men and women are by the changes sweeping over them, the more reactionary politicians and fundamental clergymen become and the more likely they are to despise and attack anyone who supports the changes that terrify them.
Describe a time when you resisted changes that you should have accepted?
When have you seen an organization fail because of vested interest rigidity?
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