The New Johari Window #3: Interpersonal Relationships and the Locus of Control
John Calvin, the monumentally influential Swiss lawyer and theologian, saw the world as just such a finely crafted and divinely created Swiss watch. Like the American behaviorists, he looked primarily to external sources when examining and explaining human behavior. He didn’t look to the environment, however, as did the behaviorists. Rather, Calvin looked to a Protestant God. He believed that each human being was placed on the earth to act out some pre-destined drama. The Calvinist task was (and still is) to discover God’s plan. It would be arrogant, foolish and ultimately sacrilegious to design and enact our own individual plans.
We see comparable perspectives on the externally determined human destiny in many Eastern religions and philosophies. Contemporary businessmen in Taipei, Taiwan, for instance, venture from their office buildings at lunchtime to discover something about their fate and future (through the I-Ching). Mahatma Gandhi met with his enemy (and childhood friend) every afternoon during a nonviolent strike in India to ensure that each party to the conflict played out his predestined role in this great, pre-ordained historical drama (Erikson, 1993).
The external locus of control situates us on a much larger stage and provides us with assurance that we are not alone. Yet, ultimately, we are alone—and we must somehow stand outside the steam of history so that we can feel accountable and engage in the courageous act of seeking to improve the human condition. Despite precedence, dominant mindsets and the powerful societal, political and economic forces of our society, we must exert our free will and do that which is unexpected, brave and transforming.
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