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Sustainable policy #25

Spontaneity (Wu Wang)

Metaphors: Innocence / Unexpectedness / Unembroiled / Detachment


Social A sustainable policy cycle is most successful when it acts spontaneously in response to emerging events rather than on the basis of some pre-defined programme. However, the guidance of such instinctive certainty leads to misfortune unless it is correctly rooted in superior values.

Sub-conditions:

1. The sustainable policy cycle can be confident of success when it acts on impulses involving no expectation of gain. (Resulting in: Stagnation).

2. The sustainable policy cycle's activity can succeed if each phase is carried out for its own sake and irrespective of any possible result. (Resulting in: Careful conduct).

3. Even though the sustainable policy cycle acts without expectation of gain, it should be prepared to adjust to the possibility of misfortunes arising from external events. (Resulting in: Fellowship).

4. No catastrophe can deprive the sustainable policy cycle of its inherent qualities, provided it continues to uphold them. (Resulting in: Assistance).

5. In the event of catastrophe arising from external causes, the sustainable policy cycle should take time to heal itself rather than call on external assistance. (Resulting in: Decisive action).

6. When the time is not appropriate, any spontaneous response by the sustainable policy cycle is likely to be counterproductive. (Resulting in: Following).

Transformation sequence The excesses of spontaneity are contained through conservation measures. (Resulting in: Conservation).


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

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