Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

Re: Are You Up for It?!

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
I think I have encountered here a defense of the existing SEAOC committee
system and its customary ways:

At 01:16 PM 06/09/2000 -0700, you wrote:
>At the risk of sounding like a pedant, gripes about the way things are
>vs. the way they
>should be are nothing new nor unique to the engineering community.
>There is nothing
>stopping anyone from joining a local committee and working their way up
>until they are
>in a position to be able to do something.

While I did indeed criticise this system, more particularly I called adverse
attention to the abject lack of interest the committees (and leaders of
their sponsoring professional societies) have in the general constituency
composed of the sponsoring society's membership. Do I understand that a
technical codewriting committee of long-habituated engineer
committeemembers, a code aristocracy in effect, ought to be as free to do
any whimsical thing, free of criticism, as senior artists subsidized by the
National Endowment insist is the case for themselves?

Perhaps a better illustration is the contrast between secular representative
government and old-time Church government. SEAOC and its committees operate
the Church way, by apostolic succession. Those in charge "work their way up
until they are in a position to do something." But along the way, they only
answer to their insider predecessors and mentors. The organization is
supported by a preached-to flock of the faithful, but is not accountable to
that flock. Some say the organization works to keep its flock dependent and
disempowered although believing the organization bestows strengthening
benefits. Those who wonder what's going on at the top, unless they worked
their way up there themselves in the inside, only get a privilege
equivalent to standing in the piazza and watching what color smoke appears.

Just before returning to this e-mail list Friday and seeing the above post,
I was reading a column in about Lord Acton, of "power
tends to corrupt" fame. It seems that Lord Acton "was a strong Catholic, but
opposed to the doctrine of papal infallibility." According to essayist
Gertrude Himmelfarb, Acton identified a number of damning defects in that
doctrine, and "delivered that uncompromising message to Catholics and
non-Catholics alike." She says in effect that Acton's then-radical views
gained acceptance and are not at odds with those of the current pope. The
column goes on to say good things about the importance of intellectual
courage and freedom of conscience.

It is clear at least that Lord Acton did not benignly join a committee of
the Church and dutifully work his way up until he was in a position to be
able to do something. Who's up for his way?

It is also known from history that alternatives and rivals to that
particular church came into being, some as a direct result of the Church's
then-overbearing, belittling, and neglectful conduct with respect to its
members. I wonder if SEAOC and its committee system plans to prevent the

Charles O. Greenlaw  SE   Sacramento CA