Dedication

There are any number of definitions for the word, “dedication.” I like the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition which defines dedication as, “self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty.” (Retrieved from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dedication).

We have examples of dedication all throughout our lives. We see it in students who work through difficult classes and graduate with honors from colleges and universities all across this country. We see it in athletes who are not blessed with natural ability but through hard work and perseverance, they individually achieve a skill level that allows them to excel in their chosen sport. We see it in individuals who experience a horrific tragedy in their lives and turn that devastating experience into something positive. We see it in the dedication and passion of victim advocates across the country, striving to provide assistance, compassion, and understanding to victims of crime and crisis. These dedicated professionals usually see people at the lowest moment in their lives and yet, each one of these victim advocates works to let that victim know that he/she has value and is an important part of the lives of many other people.

Dedication is also seen in the members of our communities who step up and provide safe and secure homes for children who have been abused and/or deeply traumatized. Despite the many challenges these foster and adoptive families face on a daily basis, they are dedicated to making a positive change in the lives of these children. Often meeting challenges that make them want to simply sit down and cry, they take a moment to take a deep breath, and renew their dedication and promise to these youngsters – that somehow, some way, their foster and adoptive parents will make things better.

As members of the community, we can surely help these dedicated individuals by dedicating ourselves to helping them achieve their goals. In difficult times, our communities can come together to make the futures for such youngsters much brighter and far more hopeful.

Dedication to Excellence

Respect and Honor

Today, 11 November 2018, is Veterans Day in the U.S, and the 100th anniversary of the guns of the “Great War” going silent all across Europe. If we were to believe the TV commercials, radio ads, and newspaper inserts, this day is all about what fantastic sales are going on and what a great price we can get on virtually anything we want to buy.
But I think it is important that we stop thinking about today as nothing more than a great day to go buy things. I happen to think the same thing about Memorial Day. Both of these days are set aside to honor the military. But how many of us know what the significant difference is between the two, other than one falls in May and one falls in November?
We celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May. This is a special holiday set aside to honor all the men and women who died while serving in the military. The purpose of this day is to provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the service and patriotism of those who gave their lives to protect and defend our nation.
In contrast, Veterans Day is a day set aside to recognize all those individuals who have served in this country’s armed forces. Originally called Armistice Day, over the years and generations, Veterans Day has evolved into a recognition and celebration of the service and contributions of the members of our military. It is not simply recognizing those who are currently serving. But rather, it is the day to acknowledge the service of every military veteran.
Such service by our active duty and military veterans would not be possible without the love and support of their families. We need to acknowledge that families are the backbone of support for many veterans and active-duty service members.
So, for one day at least, let us strive to come together as a grateful nation to honor those past and present military veterans who made a contract with our nation, payable up to and including their life, to protect and defend those very liberties which we all hold so dear.

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.

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.

Problem Solving – The “Whack A Mole”© Method

Ever watch young kids try the arcade game where they hammer the moles into oblivion? As the game progresses, they hammer the moles harder and harder. The older kids quickly realize that no matter how hard they hit the moles, another one is going to pop up. They generally walk away, refusing to play anymore. Ahem, leaders and supervisors – a lesson to take to heart?

Simply addressing the symptoms of an issue within your organization is not going to result in any meaningful solution to your problems. And if you keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome, you’ve just succeeded in demonstrating Einstein’s definition of insanity.

A key component to problem solving is the correct and accurate identification of the cause of the problem. But I think that’s the issue. Identification of the underlying issue seems so simple at first. When the identification doesn’t come easily, the tendency is to revert to looking at the symptoms because they’re more obvious and easier to address. Address the symptom, hammer another mole and problem solved. NO! Symptom addressed.

Here’s a practical suggestion: Put the hammer down. Sit down, take a deep breath, and get a plan together. Put together a quality work team to begin the problem solving stage. Talk with AND LISTEN to the people involved in the problem situation and those who have experience handling such issues. After collecting information, work together to develop quality responses. Communicate with the people involved in the situation, as well as the entire organization. Decide on your best solution and implement it. Use the evaluation phase to assess how well the solution is working. If it’s working, great! If not, make the necessary changes to either fix the implemented solution or toss it out and implement one of the other solutions developed previously. It’s hard work but worth the effort. And if you want to pick up the hammer and whack something, take your kids to the arcade and see how many moles you can whack.

Let’s Ignore the Cabal in Criminal Justice

I have watched with increasing concern, the behavior of some folks who have sworn to uphold the laws and the Constitution. Seems we have a cabal of individuals who believe that certain people are to be treated more fairly than others. A privileged class of individuals has grown who flagrantly violate the law – the same law that others without political power or money are prosecuted under and are often sentenced to prison when convicted.

Why am I worried about what some would call “old news?” A couple of reasons. First, I’m very proud of our Criminal Justice System (“CJS”) in this country. It’s not perfect but I know that we have dedicated folks who are passionate about insuring that changes are made so that we can achieve the fair and impartial administration of justice. These individuals should not have their efforts tarred with the self-serving conduct of others who support a privileged class of select citizens.

More importantly, with the cabal in place dominating the headlines, time, and effort, those of us looking for meaningful changes in the way in which victims are protected and served throughout the entire CJS will be stymied.

Getting laws passed is the least of our concerns – fair and impartial enforcement is the most important concern. Prosecutors who pick and choose who to prosecute based upon status and perceived political power; judges who consider the future of the offender over the rights of victims; or, universities and colleges which decline to press for criminal prosecution for a campus rape, continue to threaten our efforts to implement change. Members of the CJS who work daily to insure the fair and impartial administration of justice are the folks which should be grabbing the headlines. Indeed, their efforts and passion about protecting the rights of victims should be fully acknowledged and recognized. Shine the spotlight on these dedicated folks, and let’s ignore the cabal.