We have posted this HCOPL in full, as it true today, (in fact even more so), it was 52+ years ago. It is vital that we do not become the effect of our environment. Read this in a new unit of time and think on how it applies to the ongoing state of affairs and the viewpoint we must hold.
The differences between a competent person and an incompetent person are demonstrated in his environment (surroundings).
A person is either the effect of his environment or is able to have an effect upon his environment.
The nineteenth-century psychologist preached that man had to “adjust to his environment.” This false datum helped begin a racial degeneration.
The truth is that man is as successful as he adjusts the environment to him.
Being competent means the ability to control and operate the things in the environment and the environment itself.
When you see things broken down around the mechanic who is responsible for them, he is plainly exhibiting his incompetence which means his inability to control those things in his environment and adjust the environment for which he is responsible.
When you see the mate’s boats broken up, you know he does not have control of his environment.
Know-how, attention, and the desire to be effective are all part of the ability to control the environment.
One’s “standards” (the degree of rightness one is trying to establish and maintain) are directly related to one’s desire to have a controlled environment.
The attainment of one’s standards is not done by criticism (a human system). It is done by exerting control of one’s environment and moving things effectively toward a more ideal scene.
Control of the environment begins with oneself-a good case state, a body that one keeps clean and functioning. This extends to one’s own gear, his cloth- ing, tools, equipment. It extends further to the things one is responsible for in the environment. Then it extends out into the whole environment, the people and the MEST.
One can get pretty dirty fixing things up. That’s okay. But can one then also clean oneself up?
The ability to confront MEST is a high ability. After that comes the ability to handle and control it.
The ability to confront people is also a high ability. After that comes the ability to get along with them and to handle and control them.
There is the supreme test of a thetan-the ability to make things go right.
The reverse of this is the effort to make things go wrong.
Incompetence – lack of know-how, inability to control – makes things go wrong.
Given some know-how or picking it up by observation, sane people make things go right.
The insane remain ignorant intentionally or acquire know-how and make things go wrong.
Insane acts are not unintentional or done out of ignorance. They are intentional; they are not “unknowing dramatizations.” So around insane people things go wrong.
One cannot tell the difference really between the sane and insane by behavior. One can tell the difference only by the product. The product of the sane is survival. The product of the insane is an overt act. As this is often masked by clever explanations, it is not given the attention it deserves. The pretended good product of the insane turns out to be an overt act.
A large percentage of this planet’s population (undetermined at this time for the “general public” but in excess of 20%) is insane. Their behavior looks passable. But their product is an overt act. The popularity of war confirms this. The products of existing governments are mainly destructive.
The final product of the human race will be a destroyed planet (a contaminated air cover rendering the planet unable to sustain life, whether by radiation or fumes).
Thus, due to the inability to detect and handle the insane, the sane majority suffers. The hidden actions of the insane can destroy faster than an environment can be created UNLESS one has the know-how of the mind and life and the tech of admin and the ability and know-how to handle MEST.
An area or activity hit by an influx of new recruits or new customers tends to unsettle. Its MEST gets abuse, things go out of control.
Gradually, working to put in order, the standards are again being attained. The minority insane get handled, the know-how of groups and orgs becomes more generally known, the tech of MEST gets used again.
As an organization expands it goes through cycles of lowered condition and raised condition. This is normal enough since by taking on more and more area one is letting in more and more insane even though they are in a small proportion to the sane.
Order is reestablished and survival trends resumed to the degree that the sane begin to reach out and handle things around them and as the insane are made sane.
Thus, one gets downtrends and uptrends. As soon as a group begins to feel cocky, it takes on more area. This includes more unhandled people, admin and MEST and a downtrend begins. Then the sane begin to handle and the insane begin to be sane and the uptrend starts.
This is probably even the basis of national economic booms and depressions.
This is only bad to the degree that the insane are put in charge. As soon as this happens the downtrend becomes permanent and cultural decay sets in.
A group expanding rapidly into a decadent culture is of course itself subjected to the uptrend-downtrend cycles and has to take very special measures to counteract the consequences of expansion in order to maintain any rate of growth.
The individual member of a group can measure his own progress by in- creased ability to handle himself, his post and environment and the degree of improvement of the group itself because of his own work within it.
A group that is messing up its gear and environment worse than it did a while ago and is not improving it of course has to be reorganized before it perishes.
No group can sit back and expect its high brass to be the only ones to carry the load. The group is composed of individual group members, not of high brass.
The survival of a group depends upon the ability of its individual members to control their environment and to insist that the other group members also control theirs.
This is the stuff of which survival is made.
A sane group, knowing and using their technologies of handling men and MEST, cannot help but control their environment.
But this depends upon the individual group member being sane, able to control his MEST and those around him and using the tech of life, the tech of admin, the tech of specific types of activity. Such a group inevitably inherits the culture and its guidance.
L. RON HUBBARD, HCO POLICY LETTER OF 30 DECEMBER 1970, Personnel Series 15 Org Series 20, ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL