Just Because We Can….. Doesn’t Mean We Should

Over the long weekend, I had occasion to tune in to different memorial services for two rather prominent people in our country. And I have a couple of observations.
Because we may hold a position of authority or status, doesn’t mean we should violate that position and demean another individual. Just because we can treat another person badly…. doesn’t mean we should. As leaders within our communities and organizations we have an ethical obligation to be the best we can be, to be positive role models for young people, old people, and people in between. We have an obligation to treat every single individual with respect and dignity. Nothing in our position or former position entitles us to degrade or demean anyone. Our employees deserve to know that they will always be treated with respect and dignity. Crime victims deserve to know that they will always be treated with respect and dignity. Our society needs to know that those who have access to public forums will follow a philosophy that showcases respect and dignity for everyone. As our parents used to tell my generation – you don’t have to like that person. But you do have to be treat them with respect and civility. In that instance, because we can, we really should.

Passion

 

A few random thoughts

I recently saw an update on the three young boys I met about three years ago.  It’s really gratifying to see how much they have changed in the years since meeting them.  All three are now in pre-school or school and, for the most part, doing well.   They have worked hard to deal with the issues their situation forced upon them.  At each step, they have been supported by a wonderful loving family.  Their adoptive mom has worked equally hard to create as normal a home for them that she can.  She, in turn, has been fully supported by her family and friends, all of whom have taken these three young boys into their hearts.  Yes, there have been setbacks, some bureaucratic in nature and some resulting from the boys’ struggles to deal with their issues.  But the setbacks have been offset to some degree by the forward steps these young boys have experienced.  Educational goals have been set and met.  Behavioral goals have been set and met.  Social skills goals have been set and met.  I love the fact that the oldest boy and I have an arrangement  involving books and I don’t know who’s having the most fun.

I love the fact that these boys, finally enveloped in the arms of a loving family, have shown all of us the true power of love.  It will never erase the memories or even some of the scars they each carry with them, but it does show them that life doesn’t always have been lived in the darkness of abuse and pain.  Love will show each of these truly lovable boys that they are worthy of seeing the better things in life.  Each of them has value and I, for one, can’t wait to see how they will change their little slice of the world for the better.

Did I Just Figure It Out?

For some time, I’ve been trying to figure out why some organizations continue to experience the same management issues time and time again with no solution in sight. I admit that I’ve been trying to figure out why the issue of victim abuse is met at times with a “so what” kind of attitude. I’ll also admit that I don’t understand why we aren’t working harder in all venues to try to stop the abuse of individuals, especially children, the elderly, and other other vulnerable populations. But recently, I had an encounter with some folks at Microsoft and I think I finally figured it out.
I despise the Microsoft Office’s error filled grammar check tool that comes as part of that program. Whoever programmed that inane tool apparently doesn’t know the difference between “it’s” and “its,” just to cite one example. Fast forward to a telephone conversation with an tech and her supervisor. The tech’s solution – if it bothers me so much, why do I continue to use their product? Now why didn’t I think of that? Anyone want to guess the response I got from talking with her supervisor? He admitted that he doesn’t really know English grammar and their programmers rely almost exclusively upon customer comments posted in discussion threads to see what they might need to fix. No discussion thread? Apparently there’s nothing to fix.
So our efforts to address victim abuse might be getting the same response. No real effort to identify and address the problem means no discussion. No discussion thread? Apparently there’s nothing to fix.
We need to change that perception. We need to engage in a creative, collaborative discussion to finally, once and for all, develop and implement solutions that will end the abuse of any victim, young, old, or in between. Let’s get this discussion thread going and keep it in operation until victim abuse is appropriately addressed or, better still, ceases to be. Will you actively join me in that discussion and search for a realistic solution?

(P.S. Yes, I have turned off the grammar check. You can call me an honor graduate of the Microsoft approach to problem solving.)

It’s Been a Bad Week

I should stop getting updates from a variety of news sources. This week has seen a flood of reports about abuse of children and others. The one that stood out was the sentence of probation passed out to a woman defendant in Minnesota who attempted to hang a 16-month old in her home based child care center. The sentence handed down by the judge? A ten year term of probation, including special conditions for mental health treatment, and no unsupervised visits with minors, among others. The defendant was credited with the 20 months in jail that she has served since her arrest in November 2016.
Here’s the problem – a sentence imposed in a criminal matter has a number of functions to fulfill, not the least of which is specific and general deterrence. According to defense counsel, the defendant already served a sentence of imprisonment because of her pretrial detention and she’s now lost her career in child care. Seriously? How does the sentence imposed address the important consideration of general deterrence? So long as our criminal justice system continues to be inconsistent is punishing offenders who inflict harm on others, especially children, we all will continue to read horrific stories of people inflicting unspeakable harm on victims, especially those who are too vulnerable to fight back. Those of us in positions of leadership, whatever the organization, can be of help by working toward a more consistent approach to effectively punish anyone who inflicts harm on another. Our criminal justice system is good, but by exercising our moral and ethical leadership, we can make it better, especially for victims of abuse.

Cotton Candy or Substance?

The ongoing debate about any topic you might want to select from the news these days has reached a new standard, in my assessment of, “are you kidding me?” I don’t doubt for a moment that the people involved think they’re making sense but they’re not making their arguments clearly or logically. In many instances, the “debate” has been reduced to an emotional display of nothing more than name calling. So what has this got to do with leadership within our organizations or even more importantly, our goal of protecting victims within our society? A whole lot, if we stop to think about it.
If the goal is to get changes made to existing laws to better protect victims but our arguments for doing so are confused and illogical, those who don’t want to make the changes will be able to derail the goal. The same is true for making changes within organizations.
On the other hand, if the arguments for making changes to the laws are well reasoned, logical, and based on verified facts, those individuals who oppose the goal will be less able to undermine it. Again, the same is true for an organization seeking to make changes in process, policies, procedures, etc.
It’s important to remember that it’s not about how something appears. Rather, it is the underlying foundation upon which the goal is based. Base the goal figuratively on cotton candy, and the first hint of any moisture will melt the foundation in a New York second. Base the goal on a solid foundation of reason and verified fact, and no amount of argument will undermine it.

Breaking Out of Our Rut

This past weekend I had occasion to shop at my local office supply store and was a bit shocked to see “Back to School” displays and goods already available. It took me a couple of seconds to remember that here in the desert southwest, school starts a number of weeks before schools in other areas of the country, so it’s only going to be a bit more than a month before school starts back in earnest.
It’s sort of comforting to know that despite all that‘s going on in our lives these days, there are still some things that never change – schools open for about 180 days and close for the summer. We know that Labor Day will mark the traditional end to summer and we’ll enter into a busy time of the year with various holidays upcoming. And we know that with the New Year, we’ll continue that comfortable cycle.
What we can’t continue is turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the needs of hundreds of thousands of children in foster care in this country, nor can we continue to stay in our rut when it comes to child abuse, molestation, and murder. I know I keep beating this drum about protecting our children, but as leaders in our communities and organizations, if we don’t stand up and do so, who will? Data is available which shows that hundreds of children die each year from neglect or abuse. I know that so little attention to paid to this horrific situation, probably because it doesn’t garner a whole lot of media or public attention. That, in itself, speaks volumes about those people who would seek to continue to ignore this issue. I can’t ignore this any longer. I know that today’s children represent the future employees and leaders of our companies and organizations and we need to protect their futures now. I hope you will join with me in breaking out of this rut and finally make a positive, significant difference in the lives of our children.

It’s Raining

A characteristic of our summer is the monsoon season, which officially began on Friday, 15 June.  Sure enough, for the first time since March, I’ve seen rain at my place yesterday evening and today.  I have to chuckle at myself as I head out to see if the clouds are building up enough to give us some rain at the house.  Even the pups are looking skyward, although truth be told, the biggest of them refuses to get wet.  If it’s raining and it’s time for him to go outside, he pokes his nose out, feels the first drop and heads back inside.  Hard to explain to him that just answering the call of nature in the express lane is a whole lot faster and drier than trying to find ways to avoid getting wet.  And this got me thinking –

It is unfortunate that problems happen.  Like the rain, we know that many of them are going to occur simply because we have yet to hit upon the long-term solutions for stopping them. My one pup spends more time trying to avoid getting wet than simply going and doing his business and like him, we also try to avoid addressing the issues. As leaders, it’s important for us to know and believe that whatever the problem, each of us has a contribution to make in finding the long-term solution and, in the case of abuse (especially of children), each of us has to follow our heart and our passion in resolving that issue.  What’s also important is that we all focus on the same goal – developing and implementing a solution that, once and for all, addresses the issue effectively.  Like the raindrops, individually and collectively, we can make a difference.

Imagine

Scanning through the Internet yesterday, I came across a difficult piece of news. Charles Krauthammer has written a letter announcing that he is losing his battle with cancer and reportedly has just weeks to live. I was struck by the grace and dignity present in his words, especially the following: “…I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life…I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life I intended.”
Imagine being able to say such a thing about our own lives, that we all lived our lives the way we intended them to be lived.
Even better – imagine that each of us, in our own way, did all we could to insure that victims of crime, especially the children, were given a voice so that their stories could be told and proper actions taken to punish those who inflicted the harm. Imagine doing everything we can to insure that the future of our children, our grandchildren, and all future generations would be one where no individual, no child, no elderly person, would be physically, mentally, or emotionally harmed by another. Child abuse, sexual assault, or elder abuse offenses would become a distant memory, part of a dark and difficult history. Such behaviors would no longer inflict harm because we’ve educated ourselves and our future generations to keep such crimes from ever happening again. Just imagine.

AUTO CORRECT

(This posting was rejected for “boosting” by Facebook because according to their policies, it contains political material.  It is presented here verbatim, from the posting made to our Facebook page.  You decide.)

I HATE AUTO-CORRECT. It drives me crazy at times. I’m doing battle with the grammar check for Microsoft©. The latest – telling me I have an error with the phrase, “So do I.” Their correction? I’m supposed to use, “So do me.” Seriously? I hate auto-correct on my phone. It has led to some interesting comments sent from me to family and friends, prompting an immediate second message to correct the first.
When we hear of particularly heinous crimes involving victims, especially children, we sometimes want to have an auto-correct program of our own, to shut out the horrific details of what happened. For example, we saw this with the murders of both James Byrd, Jr., in June 1998 and Matthew Shepard in October 1998. Both murders were particularly gruesome and that gruesomeness was reported in great detail by various media outlets. One outcome of these murders was the passing of the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act,” which was signed into federal law in 2009. But because of the extensive detail provided in the media coverage, people sought refuge in shutting out the details so that they were not overwhelmed by the nature of the murderous acts. It’s a natural reaction. We’ve developed an auto-correct system to deal with the news of such horrific crimes. When such crimes come to light, we use our auto-correct defense: The story can’t be as bad as it’s being reported. People just don’t do that to others – or do they?
Unfortunately, people do harm children and others in gruesome and stomach wrenching ways. Those of us who cannot conceive of a time when we’d torture a child or another person, have to realize that when such stories are reported, we need to disconnect our auto-correct defense. We need to focus on doing what we can to insure that those individuals who harm others deliberately and with malice, are isolated from our communities and our societies. We have an obligation to work together to insure that a clear message is sent to those who think nothing of harming others – bad behavior will be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and those who facilitate such behavior will also be held accountable. Truly, we can have no lesser goal.