I managed a computer network for an independent school for about 15 years. For the first couple of years, I worked with sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. I taught them computer programming.
We used a terrific program by a company that is now out of business. The developers of the program wrote it for kids as young as second grade. It required the same thought process, though, as more advanced programs. It made programming accessible to anyone. In much the same way that Bill made painting available to everyone.
I would always introduce the class at the beginning of the year the same way. We would discuss the two most important words in computer programming.
Without these two words, there would be no computer programs. With no computer programs, there would be no smartphones. There would be no tablets, no Facebook, no technology of any kind. Every interaction we have with a device or software application uses these two words.
But these two words are even more compelling than running computers. These two words also profoundly affect almost every minute of every day of your life.
The two most powerful words that are the foundation of all computer programming are: “IF” and “THEN.” Here’s how it works.
A line of computer code might look like this:
“IF (button) is (clicked), THEN (page) (appears).”
A laptop or smartphone or tablet has a powerful processor inside the case. That processor scans hundreds (in some cases millions) of lines of written instructions. It looks for “IF,” and when it finds the right one, it executes the instructions after “THEN“.
I would tell the kids to think of this concept as interacting with their parents.
Kid: “Mom, can I go to the movies with my friends?”
Mom: “IF you’ve done your homework, THEN you can go to the movies.”
I then proceeded to explain to them that computer programs were nothing more than a series of “IF … THEN” statements.
There is another, perhaps, more widespread and insidious use of the “IF … THEN” statement.
It’s used a lot by parents on their children. It’s also used even more among adults. What’s worse, more often than not, we use these two words on ourselves. The result of using these two words is devastating. It causes breakups and divorces in married couples. It causes conflicts among groups of people. It even creates world wars. The statement goes something like this.
“IF you do what I say, THEN I will love you.”
This use of those two words is also called “conditional love.”
Rules and regulations control most of us all the time. Others handed down these rules to us. One of the ways our parents, for example, got us to accept these rules was by using conditional love.
As a result, we became domesticated. We treasured their love so much that we would do whatever they asked of us. We even accepted beliefs we didn’t understand at the time. These beliefs governed our actions then and affected our lives decades later.
Conditional love limits our ability to recognize the divinity in others. Conditional love restricts our full potential as human beings.
The tyrant’s tool
Conditional love is the primary tool of the tyrant — the tyrant of others … and … the tyrant of our souls. Every form of domestication can is nothing more than this simple statement. “IFyou do what I say, THEN I will love you.”
What goes unsaid in that statement is, “IF you do not do what I say, THEN I will withhold my love from you.”
Love yourself, love others.
You’ve heard Bill talk about Love in many of his videos. Bill knew that you could not become a great artist until you could love yourself. By loving yourself, you accept the divinity God gave you. You recognize that you are “next to God.”
A painter needs to learn basic techniques and use the right tools. To break through to the ranks of a great artist, though, requires more. A great artist can love herself first so that she can love others.
That was Bill’s message to us. He lived it. He proved we could do it. We need only follow his example to become the greatest artist that ever lived!
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