A State of Weird

I don’t think it’s any stretch of the imagination that since March of this year. we’ve been traveling through what can only be described as a State of Weird.  The pandemic caused by the unleashing of the COVID-19 virus has devastated families, communities, houses of worship, businesses, and even our own concept of what it means to look out for one another.  Just when it seemed like we were reaching the end of the tunnel and a new day was dawning, the resurgence of this virus has continued to claim lives while also showcasing the absolute callous disregard that some of our citizens have for others.

I’m not going to argue whether any governmental agency has the right to require us to wear masks in public.  While I have tested negative both for the virus and for any exposure to the virus, I choose to wear a mask in public because my mayor and governor have recommended that I do so.   The wearing of the mask doesn’t diminish who I am, nor does it diminish my civil liberties.  What it does do is showcase my consideration for others.

I am concerned about my family, friends, and neighbors.  I’m going to do my research to make sure that I fully understand what is happening, including an understanding that some of the numbers being reported may be based upon false information.  No testing program is completely infallible and false positives and negatives are going to happen.  We need people in positions of publishing the numbers to be scrupulous in their reporting.   We need a governmental response that focuses almost exclusively upon making available the resources needed by the doctors and nurses on the front lines of treating this pandemic.  We need a responsible media to stop shouting the figurative “fire” in the crowded theater and focus, instead, upon the accurate reporting of how this virus was unleashed upon the world and what are the best practices for eliminating it.  We need the finger pointing to stop, the shouting to stop and we, as a community, need to come together to help those who have lost loved ones; support business owners who are desperately trying to stay open so their employees can get paid;  and, make sure those who can’t fend for themselves know that they have a safe haven and are given the helping hand that they need.

Bad Optics

When Kindness and Respect Really Matter

Any time anyone  is targeted for hate on social media and elsewhere, we all should realize that a hateful word is like throwing a pebble into a pool of water.  There are ripple effects that none of us can begin to imagine but which can lead to a devastating act by the targets of that hate, leaving family and friends to grapple with a tremendous burden of grief that lasts a lifetime.

Case in point: One kind person who has been targeted for hate comments is Jennie Kim of the group, “Black Pink.”  For those who’ve read our recent postings, you’ll recognize her name from our posting about the hatred that spewed forth because of her obvious struggle to deal with the panic of an apparently overwhelming crowd closing in on her, as seen in the published videos.  I’ve since learned that she has been targeted with some of the crudest expressions of hate for quite some time.

What’s troubling is that I could find no effort by anyone associated with her management company to speak up on Jennie’s behalf.  I think that a delayed response is useless.  An ineffective delayed approach was showcased in the recent suicide death of a young Korean entertainer who had received hateful comments for more than a year.  In a video published over the weekend of 19 October, the apparent response by Jennie’s management company appeared to treat her as a second class citizen, subject to different rules than the remaining members of Black Pink. She wasn’t allowed to ride in the same vehicle with the other members, allegedly for security reasons.  But as seen in the video, managers controlled who she talked to and walked with into the airport.  Whether intended or not, YG Entertainment’s response validates the words of the haters.  Bad optics…..

Other management companies in Korea have started tracking down offenders and bringing legal action against them. Let’s all hope that these actions are soon taken globally and the hate seen on social media becomes a thing of the past.  Now is the time for YG Entertainment to proactively protect their entertainers.  To do anything less will signify YG’s agreement with the comments.

Jennie has refused to respond to the haters.  She has gone about her work and behind the scenes acts of kindness with her head held high.    From my vantage point, this very kind young person merits my respect.  As a leader within my community and profession, I can learn a lot from Jennie’s situation and how best to help anyone who might become targets of hate on social media.  They deserve the very best I can do for them to protect them and pursue appropriate legal action against anyone who targets them for hate and malicious comments.  Those people I will be protecting will have no doubt that I hold each of them in very high regard.


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.


With no subtle filter in place, so far this month has been the “May from Hell.” One of my pups had surgery in late April to address a year old spider bite which had never fully healed. Thank goodness for that because during the surgery the vet discovered a completely encapsulated mass. Had the bite healed properly, we would have discovered this mass probably too late to effectively address it. Now comes the hellish part.
An infection unrelated to the surgery accomplished the removal process of the sutures by literally blowing out the incision just two days before the sutures were to be removed.
Both she and I are blessed that her vet team was/is determined to get her through this. Tests, cultures, exams, etc. have all been done and no satisfactory answer for the source or cause of the infection has been found. Thankfully, her vets won’t give up until my pup is healed and restored to good health. Gotta love persistence.
Wouldn’t it be great if our leaders and managers were just as persistent in finding practical and realistic solutions to the problems facing them? Instead of going for the easy fix, wasting time, money, and human resources, leaders and managers need to buckle down and do the hard work. What is the correct source of the problem? Exactly what is the problem? How can we find the best solutions to resolving this problem? (HINT: It’s not about imposing a solution to address the symptoms – it’s about getting the best people together to correctly identify the problem and work out possible resolutions.) How do we communicate the issue to our organization factually and accurately? Persistence, that’s how. Long hard work that’s firm in its dedication to solving the problem.

National Crime Victims Rights Week: 8 – 14 April 2018

Sunday, 8 April, marked the beginning of a week long recognition of the importance of letting crime victims know of their rights within our criminal justice system. Many organizations, especially NOVA and other victim advocacy agencies, are doing special events to inform the public of the many services available to assist crime victims. Here in the Phoenix area, a local church, the Church of the Advent in Sun City West, is hosting an information session with members of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Attendees will hear about different types of scams which specifically target the elderly. The focus of this session on Saturday, 14 April (10 a.m. to noon) is to let potential targets know what they can do to minimize their chances of being victimized. Unfortunately, the reality of today’s world is that many elderly residents will be subjected to criminal behavior. The presentation will also include information on what to do in the event a person becomes a victim of criminal conduct.
Our criminal justice system is well served by a dedicated and passionate group of individuals who serve as victim advocates throughout our country and our military. Almost on a daily basis they see individuals at their lowest moments, many of whom have suffered severe physical and emotional trauma. Victim advocates often bear the brunt of the anger, the outrage, and sometimes a complete emotional breakdown as they figuratively walk with the victim through the process of prosecution, trial and conviction, sentencing, and hopefully, the start of the healing process. They do an extraordinary job for every victim they meet, oftentimes completely in the background. They’re so successful at working in the background that many members of our communities have little to no knowledge of what victim advocates do. Suffice to say that victim advocates are a special group of individuals, much deserving of our support and respect. I, for one, am extremely thankful that we have such a dedicated group of professionals who selflessly and tirelessly work to make crime victims whole again.

Failure – oh my!

I attended a meeting today during which the question arose as to how to make the educational experience more meaningful to students. With subtle filter in place, I offered the idea that as faculty, we need to help our students deal more effectively with failure. Why is that?

Well, not everyone is going to get a participation trophy for simply registering for class. (At least I hope not.) I know things have changed since I was last in undergraduate school. But I think it’s still required that students participate in class discussions and activities, do well on exams, quizzes, etc., and turn in required assignments on time that meet the academic standards for whatever school they’re attending. College should prepare students for the real world of being an adult – a responsible adult. In the real world, we don’t usually have someone telling us when to go to work, how to dress, how to do every assigned task, etc. If someone has a job where the supervisor looks over the shoulder of every single employee, pointing out when they’re making a mistake and taking the time to correct that mistake for them, and the employee is still getting paid (on top of keeping his/her job), please tell me where I send in an application.

Failure is not a horrible thing.  Think of it as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and improve our skills. Certainly it hurts the ego when we fail.  For all those former students out there who sailed through high school with straight A’s, remember how it felt when you received your first ever B or C in college? Once the shock passed, what was the result? More than likely it was a higher level of motivation and effort so the B or C was quickly overwhelmed with A’s again. I don’t think we’re doing our younger generation any good by awarding them prizes for simply showing up.  Life requires more than that. It requires a commitment to do our best each and every time. Remember that success is usually the result of hard work.

Breaking in a New Cold Front

Family and friends living on the east coast – you’re welcome!
It’s been chilly of late here in the southwest desert. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the photo taken late last week at about five in the morning.
I don’t know about anyone else but it’s a bit strange that the Phoenix area would set records for high temperatures in January and the week before MLB’s spring training starts, we’re colder than a number of places east of us. Now there could any number of ways to handle such an event. We could complain mightily, wrap ourselves in every single layer of clothing we own and top that off with a new pair of flip flops (another story for another time), or simply go with the flow. I no longer own a serious winter coat and haven’t seen my good winter gloves in over a decade. It’s a shock to the system to get the pups up and out around five in the morning only to see the temperature is well below the mandatory minimum 60 degrees. The three looks of, “seriously, Mom? It’s freezing out here,” are priceless but Mom prevails.
This cold snap might help explain why I never complain about the triple digit weather we experience here throughout an extended summer. I guess I’ve finally reached that point in my life where I know there are simply things over which I have no control, the weather being one of them. That doesn’t mean I simply give up. With this cold snap (hopefully done by the weekend) I can’t control how cold it is but I can control my response. Fussing isn’t going to change a thing and complaining to folks who are well below zero and still shoveling snow is sort of like spitting into the wind – another waste of time and often inconsiderate to boot.
I know that the task I took on late last summer is something that contains a number of things I can’t control. What I can control is my passion and my commitment to making a positive change, even if it’s only in the lives of the three young boys I met over two years ago. And if we all work together, each of us can make a similar change in the lives of any number of young people whose lives have been seriously impacted by neglect and abuse. Do I know for certain that the weather’s going to change? Yup. Do I know for certain that I’m going to make a positive difference in someone’s life? Not really, but that uncertainty isn’t going to stop me from trying.

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Moving Forward

It was gratifying to watch as Larry Nassar was sentenced in the latest of his court cases to a minimum of 40 years and a maximum of 125 years, concurrent to the sentence imposed by Judge Aquilina and consecutive to the federal sentence of 60 years. The question now looming over this situation is how do we move forward from this point?
First and foremost, we must make sure that the victims of Nassar’s criminal conduct are supported as they begin or continue the healing process. I understand from the sentencing hearings that restitution is still open and will be decided at an upcoming court hearing. Restitution will address the victims’ needs for therapy or continued medical care.
Second, as leaders within our organizations and communities, we must work with legislators, law enforcement, and courts to insure that the laws are complied with by all organizations. The conduct of MSU, and USA Gymnastics enabled Nassar’s criminal conduct to continue for over two decades. Had the officials who were originally told of his conduct in the mid-1990s fulfilled their responsibilities with due diligence, scores of young girls and women would never have been exposed to the horrors of sexual assault. We must insure that not only are the offenders held accountable but that those who enable the offenders are also held to account.
And finally, we must work together to insure that our communities are safe for all residents. People of all ages and genders must have the confidence that when they legitimately report that they have been sexually assaulted, law enforcement will act responsibly upon that information, in full compliance with the laws. Where the laws are weak or ineffective, we must insure that new laws are passed and upheld. When victims are found, we must do all in our power to insure that they are made whole again. To do nothing is not an option.

Ignorance Versus Compassion and Understanding

While watching the sentencing hearings for Larry Nassar, I took an opportunity to also watch the hearings on social media, reading many of the comments which folks posted. I was struck on many occasions by the complete lack of compassion and understanding expressed in some comments. A disturbing trend were comments to the effect that somehow, the victims of Nassar’s criminal conduct lost any right to pursue justice because they failed to speak up in a timely manner. What appears to have been lost on those observers was any understanding or appreciation for a victim’s response when sexually assaulted. To all those individuals who believe that none of the victims had any right to speak because they did not speak up previously, a brief lesson in compassion is now offered.
How can we expect victims of sexual assault to speak up when, in this specific case, those who bravely did so in the mid-1990s were intimidated and coerced into silence? What exactly is expected from a six-year old victim of sexual assault? What about a nine-year old victim? What about a fifteen-year old teenager who is assaulted by someone she has been conditioned to trust implicitly?
For those who believe the victims are somehow at fault for not reporting the conduct, I respectfully recommend that you talk with any victim advocate, especially those who deal with young child victims on an almost daily basis. That victim advocate will tell us that we can’t undo the harm that was done. But once we learn what has happened, we owe each and every victim our compassion and our understanding. As responsible adults we also owe the victims a restoration of their sense of security – that we will do all that we can to insure no further harm is done. Let’s stop the rush to judgment and instead, start creating a society where our children are no longer at risk from sexual predators and others who seek to do them harm. We can do no less.

Does resignation equal absolution?

(Dear readers:  I appreciate your patience and understanding more than you know.  As you have come to realize, a passion of mine is victim advocacy.  I have and will continue to use this forum to share information with you and hope that you will join me in that passion – seeking better ways to protect our children and our fellow citizens from degrading, demeaning, and dangerous harms caused by others.)

Does resignation equal absolution?

No, no, a thousand times no!

I read with interest late last night that MSU’s President Simon has resigned her position and I humbly offer this observation.  I am very glad that she saw the writing on the wall and took that step, although from her published written statement, it doesn’t appear that she gets it.

In my assessment, the following citation from President Simon’s statement reflects the crux of the problem with MSU and especially President Simon, and all those school officials who failed to protect the victims.  In her published statement, President Simon (2018) wrote, “Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first.  I have tried to not make it about me.”  What an indictment of the harmful philosophy that is in place at MSU!  When the first complaint was made to school officials in the mid-1990s, the response by those mandated reporters made it painfully obvious that it was all about the institution, MSU.  It was never about doing the right thing.  There was no ethical leadership being practiced by those most responsible for protecting the young adults and children being harmed by the monster in their midst.

As leaders in our organizations and communities we have a perfect example here of what not to do when allegations of sexual assault, harassment, or abuse are made.  We know the importance of not only educating ourselves about the principles of ethical leadership, but actually practicing those principles.  Our children, our employees, colleagues, and others are depending upon us to do the right thing.  We can be a role model within our communities and our professions by working to secure the futures of our young people, families, colleagues, and employees by keeping them safe from the predators and the indifferent within our society.