Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An interaction fable

Tom, Dick and Harry are in an interactive space. Tom and Dick live there, close by each other. Harry does not. Harry is a “friend” of both, a patron interested in the helping to organize peaceful coexistence between Tom and Dick. Harry is powerful and rich.

Tom is industrious, but fearful, having had bad experiences in his childhood. Deep down he wants to live in peace with Dick – indeed is keen to the possibilities for mutual gain by trade and investment. But he is also paranoid and suspicious, needing credible reassurances, because, although he is a well-trained and well-armed fighter, he is much smaller than Dick. Tom's ancestors have lived in this space on and off for three thousand years. In the last hundred years they founded many small, successful economic ventures on land purchased from the local landlords, Dick’s ancestors.

Dick is much less sophisticated than Tom and economically much poorer. He too is suspicious and paranoid. Deep down he probably would accept a peaceful existence with Tom, but his emotions are very much influenced by the conviction that Tom has no right being in this space as an equal with him. Dick is susceptible to the conviction that this space, having once been under the religious authority of his ancestors, can never legitimately be ruled by any other authority.  So he is much less focused on co-operation and much more focused on domination.

Harry does not really understand these differences – does not want to consider them intractable. So he is very insistent that Tom and Dick sit down and talk with a view to coming up with a peaceful agreement on how to share this space. Because Harry is powerful, Dick pretends to go along, indeed uses the opportunity to get financial support from Harry, but never misses an opportunity to discredit Tom so as to avoid the need to make any real progress toward such an agreement. This makes Tom all the more suspicious and reluctant. Tom is not so good at pretending and so is seen as the obstacle to progress.

Harry keeps on pushing this ridiculous agenda.

To simplify, Tom wants peace, real peace. Dick want domination, no matter how long it takes and how many lives it costs. What does Harry really want?

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