19Aug

Complexity of Work Relationships and other Power Inequity Encounters

There is so much complexity in the work encounter.  Part of it has to do with our social roles, be it woman, man, wife, husband, parent or sibling.  Part of it has to do with that which is not social, but individual instead, such as our place in Maslow’s hierarchy.  Another portion of that complexity has to do with our place in the work hierarchy: secretary, janitor, chief operating officer?

The psychological factors are myriad and cannot be denied ~ although we may wish to deny them:  Am I attracted to you?  Do you remind me of my mother, my father, my Uncle Joe who molested me, my Aunt Jan who took me to the playground?  How badly do I need to be approved of?  How badly do I need to be dominant?

How do I see my belief system?  What do I think about my role in this work encounter?  Are my beliefs about proper protocol unyielding?  Do I believe that men and women should act differently?  When I see a woman tell a subordinate what to do, does she become a bitch and when a man displays the same behavior, he is commanding?

Are my beliefs set in stone?  Do I believe that I have the right to my beliefs because I am the supervisor and therefore everyone must abide by my beliefs?  Do I believe myself to be the expert?  No other person can tell me what is correct in my field.  I know it all.

In Maslow’s hierarchy, do I fit on the very bottom tier, struggling so that I can feed my family and one paycheck away from homelessness?    Do I feel panicked about my work because I work with hostility and others who threaten my well-being?  Have I accomplished these minimum American standards (food, shelter and safety) and I am only looking for friendship and alliances?  Am I working on career accomplishments, or is this a paycheck until I can go somewhere else or do something else, or finally make my dreams come true?

What we think about someone or something based on our workplace encounters have so little chance of being accurate because of these reasons outlined above.  We have very little chance of understanding what a person is doing or feeling or attempting to accomplish, unless we are willing to have a conversation with that person.  Part of the conversation will include the person’s perspective and the other part of the conversation is understanding where the person’s experience is.  But this kind of understanding needs hard listening, not a casual in the hallway, or 10 minute “I’m in a hurry” listen.

So many managers are dismissive, hardly caring what the subordinate is experiencing or dealing with.  Often managers have a hidden philosophy, that says “I’ll fire you and hire another better than you.”  The view of the manager can be entirely focused on the product and the making of the product. 

Managers often do not believe in the importance of avoiding staff turnover, if there is difficulty in dealing with a relationship, they will often choose to end the relationship rather than learn from the encounter.  Why not?  No one is quite monitoring the supervisor.  Nor is anyone quite believing the subordinate.  For this reason supervisors can be extraordinarily egomaniacal.  It is a position that is hard to resist.  When you can act as you wish with very little consequence, why not turn everything to your own favor?  You can find any number of reasons to dismiss the needs of others when you are the boss, and you have the power.

10Jun

Elitism

Elitism is in Everyone

Elitism is the single biggest equality killer in the world.  Since recorded history humans have been practicing it.

Elitism is no more than a mind game, it’s what the millennials would call head-trash.  We think that we are better than others.  We believe that there is a reason that others don’t deserve as much as we do.

We tell ourselves it is okay for ourselves to have more because, we live in America and, after all, we have earned it.  If we didn’t earn it and we are just plain wealthy, we have a different story, such as, “I am entitled to my family’s money.”    The point is, that it’s all a story that we tell ourselves.

This kind of thinking works particularly well in America because we are all about rugged individualism and earning our keep.  If someone doesn’t earn their keep, we ignore them, or denigrate them.  If they die, oh well, not our fault.  Homeless are homeless because they want to be, or because they are drug addicts. 

Elitism is everywhere!  In politics, if you lose, you just weren’t tough enough (I’m tougher).  This is true in sports and, of course, in business.  Elitism is the process whereby we make our selfishness and greed okay to ourselves.  We tell ourselves whatever it takes to continue with our consumption behavior.  We don’t want to be wrong about how much that we purchase for ourselves and our family.  If we do feel guilty, why we can just contribute a little bit to charity and that takes care of it.

Elitism is what allows us to indulge in religious wars.  We have decided that our God is the best and so much better than others.  We believe that our culture answers all questions.

This kind of thinking has hurt us for thousands of years and it is time that we started a new way of thinking.  It is time that we acknowledge that we do not deserve wealth just because we have it. 

The Catholic church believes in it’s own wealth because they believed that they were closer to God than anyone else.  It is time to acknowledge that people don’t deserve wealth that is at the expense of another’s life or another’s well being.  An example of putting wealth and its acquisition above life and well being is healthcare in America.  It is not true that capitalism is more important than healthcare, and yet in America we have made capitalism more important than anything else, including people’s health and their lives.  One person dies every hour because of lack of healthcare, because of lack of money.  This is a moral failing of America.  It is equal to the Third Reich’s killing of all humans that they deemed less than the German standard.

In fact, Hitler began his murderous campaign by proclaiming that Germans were better than anyone else.  It was elitism at its most dangerous.

We imagine that we, personally, are not part of this elitism problem.  We are mistaken.  We must believe in elitism in a thousand little ways every single day.  What do you think makes it possible for people to cut you off in traffic?  What do you think allows a doctor to make you wait for thirty minutes in the waiting room?  Why is it okay for strangers to be rude to you when they have no idea what your situation is?  People are telling themselves that they know better, are better or have more privilege.

No matter where you go, or what you do, you will be exposed to elitism.  It’s the school secretary who looks down her nose when your child is late to school.  When you are at work, and your supervisor snubs you, or the manager tells you “we make those decisions” when clearly, managers don’t know how to make those decisions.  Elitism allows people to make these kinds of errors in judgment.

We don’t realize how pervasive and life threatening elitism is in America and in the world.  We would have to acknowledge our own elitist tendencies and then we would have to speak out against the thing that makes us feel valuable.  After all, if we are better than no one, are we good enough?

 

02Jun

We are All an Inch Away from Homelessness

Winter

Winter

I’ve recently read some statistics that say that anxiety in America is at an all time high of 20%.  Think about that, that is one in five people.

In this country, the poor far outnumber the rich.  To make matters worse, we won’t admit how poor we are, so we deny the reality that lives here in our country.

I think America is so much better off than any other third world country – no question.  It’s just that we don’t admit to our frailty, and our love for the feudalistic system of the Dark Ages.  The rich ravage the poor and own everything worth owning.

Americans pretend that we are all well off.  We are so good at pretending.  Fully half of our retail system is built around the concept of false wealth and looking like you have it, when you don’t.

We pretend we have power, we don’t use.  We pretend we have money we don’t have, we pretend that we are smarter and better, we are not.  We have been sold out by Madison avenue.  Let’s be clear though, we are the ones who bought into this falseness.

The truth is that we are embarrassingly poor and poverty stricken in this country.  We actually don’t realize how much money our society wastes on non-humanitarian endeavors.  We don’t need any more nuclear bombs, but our country has committed itself to continually enriching the one per-centers.  It’s the one per-centers who are bomb makers, and oil company owners.  You and I don’t have that kind of influence and money.

HOWEVER, we want to pretend that we do have that kind of money.  We want to be on the Trump side, because that’s the side of the wealthy.  Ivanka sells bracelets for $10,400.00.  Isn’t THAT the group that we want to be part of?  The heavy hitters who can afford anything?

In the meantime, I struggle to pay for healthcare.  Yes, I have health insurance, yes I have an Health Savings Account, and still, because I am sick, I can barely afford my healthcare.  I have to buy a prescription that is compounded and because it is compounded, my insurance won’t cover it.  My physicians are specialists, so I must always pay the higher rate to see them.  My procedures are always paid at 80%, and any SMALL and SHORT procedure costs us several thousand dollars.

Republicans talk about how Social Security is not enough and Americans should be saving for retirement.  To keep myself working, I have to spend approximately $500.00 to $1,000.00 a month for health care.  I have been spending this much for about five years now.  How do I save money under these circumstances?

It maddens me that at least 30% of this money goes to enrich healthcare executives.  It’s not for healthcare, it’s for profit and for the greed of those one-percenters.  The reason for this is that our Congress in the United States of America, is for sale.  This congress are retiring as millionaires because the healthcare industry has paid them off.  After all Viagra is very, very lucrative.

I don’t understand this.  What I really hate about it is that in other countries, politicians and capitalist executives are likely to admit that they work together.  It’s only in America that we pretend that capitalism is a good thing.  We need to admit that although capitalism has value, it has run amok in America.

Back to anxiety and the prevalence of anxiety in America.  Americans may be in denial, but something inside (intuition) is telling us the truth about capitalism in America.  We are all an inch away from being homeless and America has no safety net for us.

Because our culture believes in “rugged individualism”, most Americans believe that if you don’t work hard and pull yourself up by your boot straps, then there must be something wrong with you.  Because we believe this about ourselves and others, it can be devastating to lose a job.  We believe that this is our own fault.  More devastating still is the idea that we cannot then find another job to replace the lost job.  America is changing rapidly, printers are out of business, paper newspapers are out of business, factories that make records, tapes, and CDs are out of business.  Americans blame it on themselves when they cannot create financial success, even when the entire industry they work in has been demolished by change.

We know, we Americans know that nothing will save us.  There is nothing in America to help people survive.  Churches are trying and don’t make the mark.  Food stamps have always had limited application and now trying to attain them can be a nightmare.   Americans are dying at the rate of 5 per hour because of lack of healthcare, tens of thousands of Americans are homeless and our own children are often at risk of hunger and going to bed without dinner.

We have anxiety.  We know that we are not okay.  We know that we are at extreme risk.  America is brutal unless you are wealthy.  Comfort is difficult to attain, often, it is only the young who have not the left the security of their parents home that feel comfortable and live without anxiety.  The only other source of comfortable is for the wealthy or the ignorant.

Being aware of the brutality of our home country is a source of anxiety for millions of Americans.

We have to find a way to regain our hearts and souls in America.  We must regain a safety net.  If we can’t do it politically, we can do it by stopping blaming ourselves for things that are so much beyond our control.  We can take back America by believing in ourselves and by supporting each other in our best efforts.  We cannot do this by being “rugged individuals”.

We can be more realistic about our beliefs.  People with money are not necessarily smart in any way.  They haven’t done anything better or more meaningful than anyone else in America.  The single difference is money.  Then one must look individually for other differences and put all presumptions aside.  Let’s not give away power and wealth by allowing this country to be managed by the greedy and the cheaters.  Let’s reclaim America.

Spring

Spring

 

08Apr

Believing in Karma and in Hell are Not Good Things

Concepts of Karma and Hell, Do Not Serve Us Humans Well

Humans believe that justice is attainable via Christianity and/or Karma.  They see justice as a function of the universe.  The popular conversation is as if injustices will be managed by the universe through Karma or through the use of an afterlife called hell.

So when the downtrodden and the poverty stricken are beaten down even more, they appease themselves by believing that the perpetrator will go to hell.  The perpetrator will receive all kinds of payback at the hands of God or at the hands of the unforgiving universe.  I propose that this is not true.  Perpetrators do not receive revenge by the hands of God or through Karma.  They live their lives with their ill-gotten gains and then die, happily grasping their ill-gotten gains.

By believing that the universe will dish out the evil-doers just desserts, we skip our own opportunities to deliver retribution or even (gasp) revenge.  We allow people to get away with some really awful stuff, all the while saying to ourselves “he will get his someday, and then he won’t be so happy about taking away from me.”

Think of this concept from an historical perspective, when feudal lords in England and Europe were raping women and children and stealing from hardworking farmers, the Catholic church was busy telling the peasants, “you will receive your reward in heaven.”  The peasants were comforted by these words and thoughts, and so the habits of repression could continue as long as the peasants could believe in a hereafter that gave them power and punished the sinner.  It is these beliefs and habits that produced a careless princess who told the starving peasants to eat cake.

It is this way today in America.  We have left the confines of religious beliefs behind, and yet now, Karma has taken over as the new revenge machine.  Karma is ‘all the rage’ for the tormented women and other such victims of America.  The word is used all over Facebook, Twitter and on Meme captions.  We want to believe in Karma and in the revenge of a just God.  This helps us to get through the suffering of the trauma of a hardship caused by another.  It helps us to make sense of being victimized or of our loved ones being victimized.

I will never forget my girlfriend telling me that she needed to believe in karma, it was the only way she could live with the knowledge that her husband had beat her every day for ten years before she could get away from him.  She said that if karma did not exist that it would hurt her terribly to know that nothing would happen to the man who had inflicted such suffering on herself.

No, I thought, though I did not say, he died and he got away with it.  No one hit him back, he never went to jail, he never suffered the horrifying fear of knowing that another beating was coming at any moment.  He got away with beating his wife every day for ten years.

So, if you know that your perpetrator, that your bully, will get away with whatever that person is doing to you, would you be more likely to want to pursue justice yourself?  Would you be more willing to make sure that your perpetrator faced a judge and some justice?  Would you be less likely to hope that karma resolves your need for revenge?  Would you be less likely to wait for heaven or hell to get your justice?  I think so.

We cannot wait for “outside” to bring justice.  We must take justice into our own hands.  We must make sure that some future promise is not what we are hoping for.  We must make justice now.

This is never to say that vengeful violence is the option to pursue.  This is to say that we must speak up, we must pursue justice ourselves and not leave it to others, nor leave it to the universe.  We must seek it by telling others of the crime, by ensuring that potential victims are aware of the perpetrator’s history.  We must, ourselves, block further efforts of the perpetrator to commit more crimes.  This includes the idea that we must protect our own self from others.  We must never allow ourselves to be beaten and stolen from. Report the criminal behavior.  Even if no one believes you, the perpetrator is sure to continue the behavior and someone will eventually believe you.  Your story will help keep others from being hurt.

Remember the saying “My reward may be in Heaven, but rent is due here on Earth”.  Use this wisdom as your guide, don’t be a victim of anyone.

 

14Feb

Justice is a Human Construct

I was raised a Christian and taught to believe in the concept of justice.  I am the naive type anyway.  I actually always believed that humans’ default was a good one and only rare and awful circumstances created meanness and evil.

Not any of that is true.  First I don’t believe that justice exists in the universe without the intervention of humans.  Not even Karma is a reality.  In fact, it is all a sophisticated construct for revenge.  We want people and organizations who have harmed us to pay for that harm and often, we want that harm to either equal or exceed our own pain.  This is the way of humans.  Even our language supports the concept of revenge as justice: “he must burn in hell for what he has done to my family.”  This is language we recognize and condone.

As to the idea of human goodness as a default of thinking and behavior, nothing could be further from the truth.  Humans are not innately good as an overwhelming majority, indeed I think we would be lucky to claim that half of humans see good as a virtue.  The other half of humans are hard wired for selfishness, cruelty and trickery.  They have no interest in other human beings unless those humans can provide for them or profit them in some way.

At the moment that the crime is occurring, is the only time that we can attain justice, for all of the time after that, the only real thing available to us is restitution.  If we cannot stop the criminal at the point of robbery or stop the rapist from consummating the rape, then the damage is done and there will never be “justice.”  The best that we could ever hope for is to make the criminal give back restitution to the victim.  To hope that the perpetrator suffers to match your own suffering is fruitless, as all people suffer and mostly from their own awareness not from someone else’s awareness.

Justice is not something that exists out there in the universe.  Justice exists because humans make it so.

25Jan

We Have to Decide: What is Truth?

The most pressing challenge for America is how we will determine truth.  Will we believe the computer screen in front of us?  Will we believe the advertisers on Madison Avenue?  Will we research and do the work of truth?  Will we settle with what is served to us as truth?

This is such an important question as it determines the future welfare of America.  If we believe that our leader is telling the truth, when in fact our leader tells no truth at all, we end up supporting someone who leads us to doom. 

We believe the press is a place for lively discussion as well as the ability to disagree, however, we will only watch news that we agree with and that we enjoy or like.  This means that we look only for what will make us happy and will agree with our own opinion.  We refuse to examine truth, or worse yet, get angry when someone gives us a truth that doesn’t agree with our own truth.  As we muck about trying to determine a future for us and our offspring, we can do great harm if we do not at least look at what could be lies, and what could be truth.

The thing is that it is an effort to see the truth.  Some truths are harder than others, as some truths can violate how we see ourselves.  If I see myself as a strong and hard working person, I may be resentful of those people who do not work.  The only belief that I will support is a belief that strong and hard working people are good and people who do not work are bad.  It doesn’t matter to me why people don’t work, I just believe they are bad.

It would be no surprise that I would ignore any news that gave people who don’t work *the face of humanity*.  If people who do not work, are okay, then I am just an ordinary working human, not better than anyone.  This may be an unwelcome thought for me.

Let’s go further and talk about advertising (Madison Avenue).  Somehow advertisers have been able to get men to believe that having a gun and being dominant in relationships, is the correct way to express masculinity.  Additionally, advertisers have convinced women that they need no less than 14 shades of eye shadow and uncountable shades of lipstick.  For anyone who watches TV (everyone) the “right car” is fully automatic and will start itself even if you are 25 feet away.

I know that we continue to follow what is popular, whenever I go out, I notice that everyone dresses the same (even myself).  Women wear leggings, men wear cargo pants, kids wear jeans with the phone stuffed into the right rear pocket.  It is no different no matter where I go.

Society has spoken and while we must be special, special means a very specific prescription: dress according to designers, drive according to Madison Avenue advertisers, live according to Facebook, Pinterest and every other advertising means that works in the media.

So how do we get at the truth?  We can’t seem to trust experts, they are for sale.  What used to be police officers protecting our welfare, now are robots who must collect a certain amount of traffic fines in order to gain raises for themselves.  Now we have a congress and a senate that has sold itself to large corporations and billionaires.  They have sold out Americans as well.  We have been sold to wealthy entities because of our inattention to what is true.  The price of our inattention to the truth is huge.  We make our once pristine world filthy and we continue to allow wars that kill and maim our young people.

What will it take for us to get to caring about the truth and making & defining our own truth instead of that which is sold to us?  What will it take for us to make our country great again?  How do we make a country built on equality for all humans?  How do we make a country that will be healthy today and tomorrow?

We must-must decide and define “the” truth and then we must stick to it.  Back to the simple: Thou shalt not lie…

17Dec

Now I’m Judgmental: My View, the Graduation

Unfettered power, is it always selfishly concerned with self?  I attended a graduation this weekend and was deeply disappointed with the pomp and circumstance, there was none for those who deserved it.  Rather than the acknowledgment and coronation of these graduates, rather then giving these students their due…the ceremony was nothing more than a few old white men congratulating themselves on their own achievements.  There were young men and women who have spent $35,000.00 and more on the degrees being awarded here.  Instead of acknowledging those who have completed a course of difficult work, a decision was made to acknowledge upper management at the college.  These managers each took their own sweet time screaming their own personal message from the pulpit and not a bit of it had anything to do with the now “poor souls” who had worked so hard to be there at this graduation ceremony.

What is happening in the world when those among us who have power, care not for anything but themselves?  What is happening in the world that so few recognize this selfishness in others?  It is no wonderful thing to award a degree in exchange for $35,000.00.  You have done nothing special or important, it is simply an economic exchange and yet you wish to pretend that you are noble and wise and do great things.  No sir.

You, who spoke, are all disappointments.  You gave nothing and you served no one, you do not belong on the pulpit.  You are no leaders.  You are simple self-aggrandizing old white guys looking for a pat on the back and using a Graduation ceremony to get those needs met.Beautiful Church F2AA5F57-EB2B-485E-923A-59F83B42381A

17Sep

Why Do We Have to be Strong A.L.L. the Time?

It is as if, there is shame in weakness.  Worse yet, illness is a condemnable offense.  I don’t understand this, because as mothers, we realize that there are good days and bad days.  As mothers, we don’t hesitate to provide love and care to our family members no matter who and what they are, or how they behave.

My challenge is this: why aren’t we women defining society?  We understand, we acknowledge the different faces of the human condition.  As women, we should be defining the societal structures of being human in America.  It’s ok to be weak, it’s ok to be sick, it’s ok to be ignorant, why add insult to injury and shame those less capable than the strong?

This strength thing has become its own illness, in the sense that lots of people say and think, “I don’t need anyone and I don’t need anything.”  This can go past the point of wisdom and could even cause self harm.  Look at those who die after refusing medical help, or women who are murdered by a husband or boyfriend because they refuse to go to the police?

This norm of strength is fostered by our society.  Perhaps it is the pushback from the way people are treated when they are in economic need.  Our society is not very nice to the poverty stricken, but again that is because we all believe in this notion that strength is enough to overcome anything.

Needy people are normally put down, made fun of, ostracized and of course, they are deprived of very real and very normal opportunities.  This can become a hamster wheel of frustration along with denial that keeps those in need – in need.

How do we balance all of this out?  Strength and weakness, need and satisfaction?  How do we ensure equality in spite of the fact that not all humans are strong?  Those that are strong, what price do they pay to exhibit that strength?

Mother and Son, modern life

26Aug

The Pressing Need to be Better Than

This universal pressure here in America permeates everything, in almost every way.  People have a need to be better than someone, almost any one will do.  Most of the time, this need manifests itself blatantly.  Men who buy the biggest truck, they may have no need for a truck, but they must display the largest truck.  Women who spend an entire paycheck at the spa, getting manicures and pedicures, as if to say, I don’t have to work, look at my manicure: perfect.  In these situations, for the most part, it is a matter of successful marketing and is harmless, except perhaps to the wallet.

However, there is nothing harmless about the crushing need that certain sectors of our society have to be better than entire races and cultures.  This “being better” ideology allows a belief system to justify harsh and hate filled judgment of others.  This harsh judgment separates humans from each other and consequently allows cruelty to proliferate.

What I don’t understand is where does it come from?  In almost every conversation, particularly in business and social settings I see the conversations slipping into comparisons of wealth, status, intelligence, to say nothing of displays of wealth and privilege.

Not all societies have this need, and certainly there are gradients to the need.  This need is causing more destruction than can be counted.  One-up-man ship is a relationship killer, so we can readily acknowledge what it is doing to the melting pot of America.  Throughout our short history we have punished and denigrated all new cultures, indeed, beginning with the genocide of the American Indian.

Long term world peace is a real goal.  The attainment of such peace must begin with the individual who is willing to be equal in rights and privileges to all other individuals.   That can be a scary thought, as we can’t seem to imagine the abundance that is enough for everyone.  We want our own wealth and an assurance of survival.

As long as America grants person status to corporations and idolizes wealth and the wealthy, we will struggle with equality.  That is shameful for a nation founded on the tenets of equality and emancipation.

18Aug

Disturbing and Worse, it Continues

I think John Kasich said it best, when asked why no one is taking action against Trump “Well he’s the president.”  Under that simple statement lies a plethora of beliefs, some of them American and some of them Feudalistic.

I watch the news, I read the news, I hate it, but I do.  There seems to be universal agreement that we have made a mistake electing Trump and allowing him to stay in place.  Yet, there is no one to step forward and do something about this travesty.  We listen to Klan members telling us why it was justified to kill a 32 year old woman.  We listen to Trump justify the actions and the words and yet, here we sit.

The clinical side (and thousands of therapists have banned together to make these statements), is that Trump is a narcissistic man, with a disregard for humanity and a never ending interest in self aggrandizement.  The “duty to warn” case law is very clear, if a therapist can realistically predict harm, then the therapist must act to warn those who are in danger.  America, we are in danger.

For whatever reason, we allow this monster to proceed down a path where human life is inconsequential and his own comfort and pleasure are monumental.  Two things, our capitalist culture  values wealth above human life and admires wealth as if it is meaningful in some way.  This is part of the reason Trump’s dynasty has continued.  Trump is seen as a Demi-God, after all, he is wealthy.  Of course the fact that he is president stops us from taking action against him, and we must.

Let’s be clear, Donald Trump is a selfish, antagonistic childish man who does not deserve American respect.  He does not deserve admiration for his wealth, he is neither responsible for it, nor responsible with it.  He is a sexist, power hungry, nasty little boy and he needs to be removed from office.  This is America people, not North Korea, we have the right to require that our leader be humane and compassionate.