Values: Empowering the Individual in Today’s Bureaucratic Society

by Bernard Phillips

The classic 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, is full of unforgettable images. We can envision Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow whose “head” was filled with straw, Jack Haley as the Tin Woodsman without a “heart,” and Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion without the courage to act, suggesting his lack of “hand.” Our own continuation of this film can serve as an allegory for learning about our values. Specifically, how we can move from the bureaucratic values that presently dominate society (like persisting hierarchy, narrow specialization without the integration of knowledge, and conformity) and toward democratic or evolutionary values (equality, an interdisciplinary versus a narrow orientation, and the empowerment of the individual.

Dorothy finds herself back in Emerald City in the Throne Room of the Wizard of Oz, accompanied by Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. The Wizard is deeply concerned about the power of the Wicked Witch of the South, who has succeeded in enslaving the Munchkins without their even being aware of it. For she had equipped the Winged Monkeys with happiness darts that they then threw at the Munchkins. And while they were all thinking happy thoughts, she and the monkeys took over the machinery of government.

However, the Wizard had a possible solution in mind. He had a diploma in his black bag: DISS, or “Doctor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Solutions.” The Scarecrow already had a brain, yet he was anxious to make ever more use of that brain, so he happily accepted the new diploma. Turning to the Tin Man, the Wizard presented him with a tiny statue of the Buddha with the inscription on its base, “I am!” He then criticized the materialism of many of the peoples whom he had encountered during his travels around the world, wanting more and more but not looking into themselves and learning to accept who they actually were, just as the Buddha emphasized. As for the Lion, the Wizard pulled out of his black bag hearing aids for both of the Lion’s ears, saying: “These hearing aids will help you to listen to the ideas that other people have about how they solve their problems, just as I’ve done during my world travels.”

No sooner had the four of them set out on the yellow brick road leading beyond Emerald City than they were beset by the Winged Monkeys of the Wicked Witch of the South. Only the monkeys were not trying to tie them up and bring them to the Witch. Instead, they were bringing baskets of fruit, television sets, smartphones, computers, whiskey, wine, drugs, jewelry, designer clothing, and the keys to a Mercedes-Benz. But just as they started to eat the fruit, put on the clothing, turn on the tv sets, take pictures and start texting with the smartphones, put on the jewelry and surf the internet on the computers, Glinda—the Good Witch of the North—appeared. She said, “Stop what you’re doing! This is the way the Wicked Witch of the South enslaved the Munchkins! I’m going to show you where the Witch is taking you if you continue to do what you’re doing. I will show you your future.”

Then the Good Witch waved her wand, and a large screen appeared in front of Dorothy and her friends. They stopped what they were doing and watched the film that appeared on the screen. What they saw was a picture of themselves lying on couches and surrounded by Munchkins who were also lying down. There were tables everywhere filled with varieties of desserts: chocolate cakes, ice cream cones, muffins, cupcakes, jars of M & M’s, cream puffs, fruit tarts, and lollypops. And large plates were filled with food from all over the world. Dorothy and her friends looked much different, for they had all gained a huge amount of weight and were now obese. In fact, Dorothy was so obese that when she tried to rise out of her couch she couldn’t make it and fell to the ground.

“Is this the future that you want?” Glinda asked? “No!” they replied in unison. Immediately, they all left the goodies that the Winged Monkeys had brought, including the keys to the Mercedes-Benz, and moved back on the yellow brick road. As they continued on their journey, Dorothy asked the Scarecrow, “Do you have any idea of how we can save the Munchkins, just as the Good Witch of the North saved us? The Scarecrow thought for a while and then said, “Just as we learned to diss what the Winged Monkeys brought, we can teach them to diss their present way of life. The Tin Man also had something to say: “I’ve noticed that there’s red clay along the sides of the yellow brick road. I can use by statue of the Buddha as a mold and make up any number of small statues of the Buddha, and I can write ‘I am’ on each one and then give them to every Munchkin. The Lion was ahead of the others, but his new hearing aids enabled him to listen to what they were saying, and he chimed in: “I don’t have any other hearing aids, but I can still teach the Munchkins to do what I’m learning to do.”

At that point Glinda said, “I can also help. For I can show the Munchkins a film that gives them a picture of their future if they continue to conform to the life style that the Wicked Witch of the South has taught them. Also, I can use my magic powers to bring them all here, next to the yellow brick road, and I can bring Aunt Em and Uncle Henry here as well.” Then she waved her magic wand, and suddenly Dorothy and her friends were surrounded by all of the Munchkins, and Aunt Em and Uncle Henry were there as well. Dorothy and her friends all did what they had said they would do, and before long everyone had moved onto the yellow brick road. Dorothy was happy to have saved her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry from having no place to go, and they were equally happy to join Dorothy and her friends.

This continuation of the story of Oz introduced a new character: the Wicked Witch of the South. Instead of attempting to kill Dorothy in order to steal her magic slippers, she ordered the Winged Monkeys to bring “baskets of fruit, television sets, smartphones, computers, whiskey, wine, drugs, jewelry, designer clothing, and the keys to a Mercedes-Benz.” She was attempting to get them addicted, to these things, and she succeeded for a while. For they left the yellow brick road, which was taking them in an evolutionary direction ,”and were about to make use of all these goodies.

Addiction need not be just about substance abuse, like addiction to alcohol and drugs. Addiction has to do with any outward-oriented pattern of action—like watching television endlessly—that takes one away from behavior that fulfills the full range of one’s developmental goals, like intellectual, emotional and problem-solving behavior. All of the elements of the Bureaucratic Code point one outward, versus both outward and inward, thus influencing all of us to become addicted to one thing or another.

As the Munchkins continued on the yellow brick road along with the group, they were able to use their own experiences to teach the group what they had learned in their own lives. For example, they had learned that getting angry at the Wicked Witch of the South would have been a very good idea as a basis from their having resisted conformity to her because of the goodies that she gave them so as achieve control over them. Yet instead they had followed a bureaucratic emphasis on repressing their anger. This taught the Scarecrow to feel free to “diss” the Wicked Witch of the South, and as a result he taught the Tin Man and the Lion to do the same. This interaction with the Munchkins illustrates the importance of such external interaction within an evolutionary way of life. It contrasts with the isolation linked to the prejudice or aggression tied closely to a bureaucratic way of life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *