cement factory. The potential investors were alarmed by the idea of investing in Industrial- Age technology until Beck convinced them to look through Palestinian eyes. The refugees were living without permanent homes; what they needed most was not computers or mobile homes, but materials for housing, predictable, blue- collar work, an industry with a constant market and a source of building materials inside their own borders.
It was Beck who first came up with the idea of using South Africa’s entry into the World Cup rugby play-offs in 1995, depicted in the film Invictus, as a means of creating nation- building euphoria, in order to unify a country emerging from apartheid. Beck had a special fascination with the psychology of premier-league games, and through his experiences working with the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints, he had developed a belief in the power of sports as a peacemaker.
This was a bold idea, given that the Springboks, the South African rugby team, were the very symbol of apartheid. Rugby was considered a white man’s sport. Virtually all players were Afrikaners, the white pro-apartheid minority; rugby coaches even shouted out plays in Afrikaans. English-speaking or black players seldom made the team, and consequently, the
black population in South Africa actively boycotted the sport.
In 1995, Beck presented Kitch Christie, the Springbok’s coach, with a paper entitled Six Games to Glory, which detailed a series of psychological strategies that would help transform the team from underdog to world-class contender in the games leading up to the World Cup. Besides the strategies for winning the game, Beck’s paper included ways that the Springboks could stand as a focal point of pride for the fledgling country and connect the township blacks with the Afrikaners.
Psychologists call this a superordinate goal – a goal only achieved by large cooperative teamwork of two or more people. Engaging in sharing and teamwork tends to transcend differences, because it emphasises the very heart of humanity — we are all in this together. And if we are all in this together we are no longer competing for scarce resources.
Beck’s document offers many strategies that can be used to create superordinate goals in other areas. He suggested that the Springboks adopt a collaborative or common identity — the green and gold colours of the team shirts, and a sports crowd song, with a Zulu drum to lead the team and arouse the crowd. He advised Christie to have the team sit together and watch films such
as Hoosier and Chariots of Fire to help establish the sense of a “mystical brotherhood” – the sense that the team stands together as one family, with a blood bond greater than their loyalty to themselves, and a cause to fight for.
Beck arranged for the team to visit Mandela’s tiny prison cell at Robben Island, in order to emphasise their larger role in their country’s destiny. Above all, his exercises were to help develop a sense that each member of the team faced a life-defining moment requiring that they pull together as one.
As the games progressed, Beck’s superordinate goal began to infect the country; young blacks from the township tore down anti-rugby signs and hung photos of their Springbok heroes. During the World Cup, which the Springboks went on to win, Mandela was persuaded to appear in a Springbok green and gold shirt — the colours that had always symbolised his oppressors — as a tangible sign of unity and forgiveness.
To Beck, creating a
superordinate goal is one of the best ways to achieve peace in areas of political conflict. In his work, Beck often meets with both sides in an area of conflict and shows them a positive vision of future possibility, but one that requires that both sides work together and use their common geography and
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