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Sustainable policy #09

Subtle restraint (Hsiao Ch'u)

Metaphors: Taming power of the small / Small accumulating


Social When the influence of a sustainable policy cycle is as yet unable to produce great or lasting effects, it is best that it should act in a restraining or subduing manner in anticipation of ultimate success.

Sub-conditions:

1. Avoidance of forceful action by the sustainable policy cycle leaves it free to advance or retreat when obstructions are encountered. (Resulting in: Penetrating clarity).

2. The sustainable policy cycle benefits by retreating with others of similar orientation when obstructions are too great. (Resulting in: Community).

3. Forceful action by the sustainable policy cycle is bound to fail when circumstances combine to enhance the powers of seemingly minor hindrances. (Resulting in: Essential quality).

4. Disinterested restraining action by the sustainable policy cycle to ensure that the right prevails will eventually succeed, despite the real dangers with which such action is threatened. (Resulting in: Creativity).

5. Relationships based on loyalty and trust reinforce the effectiveness of the sustainable policy cycle and of the complementary roles of those involved. (Resulting in: Conservation).

6. When the sustainable policy cycle has achieved limited success from a position of weakness, it is dangerous to pursue the advantage any further until circumstances are more favourable. (Resulting in: Waiting).

Transformation sequence Subtle restraints give rise to careful conduct. (Resulting in: Careful conduct).


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Earlier version in 2nd edition of Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (1986).

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