Keep Your Friends Close

Which identity

Which identity


A perennial quote from Sun Tzu, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

There are several explanations regarding the meaning of the statement. One relates to being able to anticipate the actions of one’s foes. Another relates to understanding the motivations of those who are one’s antagonists or rivals. Thus, it explains why some businesses thrive in a highly competitive marketplace while others exit for one reason or another. Sometimes it isn’t a question of anticipating the actions of the competition as much as not having the foresight to envision the next enhancement or not being the one clever enough to create a strong consumer desire for your product or service.

Friend or Enemy

This brings us to the question of how to accurately identify the friend who may actually be the wolf in sheep’s clothing. So many who have survived either domestic workplace abuse thought they had an ally who could be trusted with the private grousing or the sharing of hopes and desires. How many can attest to sharing the details of a proposal with a manager only to later discover those very details have become part and parcel of a project under another’s direction?

Is it an enemy who tells you outright that you’ve been blacklisted and will not be working in any industry anymore? Or is that actually an ally who’s providing notice that adjustments in your plans need to be made? Better to know than to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make the car run when it has no gas tank or wheels.

With a certainty, there will be disparaging remarks that are only made out of earshot. They will relate to one’s character, work product, sanity and stability, and other matters that are cause for people to spurn and disassociate. Yes, they can come from an outright enemy. That venue is to be expected. In fact, it’s the grist of many soap operas. But how do we define the one who is our most trusted who drops a word or phrase that casts doubt and discourages?

And then there’s the one who spreads false rumors or attributes negative comments about a person or group that were never made. If no one brings up the subject with the one given credit for having made those statements, it becomes nearly impossible to put out the flames of destruction. Better to address the matter when there’s some inkling of trouble. In circles of good social responsibility, making the bad news public from the owner of the blot rather than have it blown out of proportion and raise the question of whether a cover-up was attempted is a prudent move.

Friends and enemies. Yes, it’s a good idea to think of many situations, both social and business, as a potential for re-enacting an episode of Big Brother. When we think of the management style of leading by example, we don’t have too far to look for a role model. While it may seem like paranoia, being prepared for and able to anticipate the pitfalls is both rational and reasonable.

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Influences and Influencers

Using a Guidepost

Using a Guidepost

They’re so subtle that we don’t realize our thoughts and actions are being shaped by their impact. Yet various words that imply certain concepts trigger one type of response compared with another. That in turn makes the difference between one type of action compared with a different choice.

Sometimes it’s words that imply a certain type of reward. Sometimes it’s words that suggest a painful penalty or dreaded condition that causes avoidance or complete abandonment of a project or association. It can sometimes lead to isolation, blacklisting, and even one of our current blights – homelessness – existing on the streets in a camping style existence. Perhaps minimal government assistance is available; perhaps it’s been depleted. No matter which, government assistance is one of the reasons our taxes keep rising, thereby pushing our middle class closer to the low income strata or plunging into below poverty level.

It’s the below low income and poverty strata that will force people into either becoming extremely clever because they come up with viable alternatives that were overlooked. These alternatives can also be the negative side of the coin when gangs, illegal trafficking, and theft are the resort. Coercion into joining the darker side is what leads to growth of the practice. Rewards bestowed upon those who follow the rules of the “gang” are what act as the glue and the magnet for members.

Still, there are those who are not at low or poverty level income. They can be found in many economic segments. The liquor of their motivation is the feeling of power when they see the effects of their desired practices pay off and either eliminate the target or increase their level of power and influence.

The myths born of stereotypes perpetuate the dynamics of what is now referred to as “unconscious bias.” Playing into the stereotype myths is the reluctance to delve into learning about the subject and interacting with those who are associated with it in order to become more aware of the circumstances as well as become empowered through learning the truth of the matter.

It seems ethical practices are becoming a rarity. However, the emergence of various movements to disclose some of the historic backdoor practices seems to be forcing us into taking full cognizance of our so-called unconscious practices. In reality, they’re not unconscious; they’re part of a long-standing cultural practice of using unscrupulous tactics at the cost of humanity (a gross over generalization, but very close to the heart of the message).

The way to escaping the negative influences and unethical practices, the gang mentality, is to pull the covers off the perpetrators in order to show who and what they are. Before taking drastic measures, it is prudent to attempt discussing the matter with them as a means of changing behavior or creating an awareness of the rewards of doing things in a positive way. Perhaps those private conversations are why we have so many movements these days; because the conversations were not effective and the thought processes of the perpetrator were too firmly ingrained.

Unfortunately, we as a society tend toward the easy path of group mentality. We follow the practices of those who are staying with the herd in order to gain the benefits of being part of the group’s practices. Rather than becoming more inventive with regard to devising viable, reasonable alternative, we look forward to gaining a better foothold by doing as the others do. If only there were the luxury of time to consider the consequences – social and individual – of those practices. If only there were some type of exposure to the consequences that the practices have on the stakeholders. Perhaps that is when the influence and influencers will no longer wield as much power.

Perhaps a few samples of various practices would be helpful. Then pick and choose which are the more ethical practices and which are not. Some profiles are listed under “career coaching” or “career advice” on one site. How interesting to find some vendors who offer fortune telling services as a means of delivering advice. But their reviews are stellar.

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Terrorism: Domestic and Foreign

Gunman in need of a target.

Gunman in need of a target.

According to the history, this post was started on 2017/08/23. I remember this endeavor. Collecting the links to make the point of how conditions are devolving became overwhelming and I simply abandoned the effort. The hopeful thought was someone else would become cognizant of the issues, motivated by the circumstances, and act upon them before my feeble efforts at screaming “Stop it” were read, let alone heard. That wasn’t the case. Here we are nearly a year later. Here we are with so much more death and devastation.

Youth who are barely over the age of 16 years have become organized. They are speaking out. They have the organization and funding to plan and execute protests not only in Washington, D.C. but across the nation. Their voices are being heard. They are demanding that Congress stop using PAC dollars to maintain the status quo. They are saying ‘our lives matter’ – just as Black lives, and Brown lives, and Yellow lives, and the rest of the spectrum. All lives matter.

Even as I prepared to write a post regarding ethics, my attention was drawn the the number of times I’ve written about assaults in just this space. It was painful to relive those posts. It was even more painful to realize we use these instances as cocktail and coffee hour conversation. We suck our cheeks, cluck our tongues, feel good about the fact that we had a superficial exchange about the latest news, and then return to our normal activities, content with the belief that we’ve done our part for being socially aware and involved.

We have reached a point when it’s time to peaceably take action. It’s time to urge immediate action to preserve our Constitutional values and rights. It’s time to urge Congress to unite in protecting its citizens and population from the looming war that threatens us domestically, in every city nationwide as well as the foreign threat against the nation and the peace and safety we deserve to enjoy.

We should not awake before hearing the news report and wonder whether we are about to suffer a nuclear attack from some foreign country. Nor should we awake wondering when someone in our neighborhood (or even those who have crossed state borders to our neighborhood) who has the intent and armaments to attack and destroy our lives and desecrate our homes has done so. We should not be forced to live in fear for our lives and safety at every turn. Like a person living in a domestic violence setting, this is unhealthy. Anything could prove to be the tipping point that leads to the explosion – and our destruction.

In many ways, we’ve been told how inconsequential we are compared with the gratification of the president’s ego. His grandeur, not the welfare of this nation, is paramount for the attention devoted to sitting in the Oval Office. The power that seat represents is what drives the hourly tweets and inappropriate communication that emanates from the place. Those who serve the man, reflect his principles because he has set the standard and now leads by example.

Since August 11, I’ve been consumed with journalism about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and posting coverage of not only those events but also related incidents. Enough. Depressing and disturbing as they are, the curated content is posted here.

August 12
Protesters in Charlottesville, VA turned violent as counter protesters reacted. The demonstration, in the early hours of California time, erupted into breaking newsworthy publicity. Three hours later, a car rammed through a crowd of counter protesters. One has been killed.

There was silence from the White House, yet the mayor of Charlottesville decried the situation and the cause of it.

It was FLOTUS who finally spoke out against the violence via a tweet.

It’s now an hour later. There’s been an announcement that of those in the counter protester injuries, one has died. The President (who during his campaign encouraged acts of violence and disorder while promising impunity for such acts) has remained silent.

Another breaking news announcement hit the airwaves a few minutes ago. The President was supposed to finally speak about the Charlottesville situation.

In reality, he had no intention to speak nor do anything about the situation except to do a PR one-minute acknowledgement of it. His first priority was recognition of the VA, which was essentially more his proclamation than addressing the violence and disarray in Virginia.

These protests against removal of the Robert E. Lee statue have been ongoing (at least since May of this year). Today’s activities took the protests to a higher pitch.

In a response to that incident, the observation was made that:
Leader inaction has consequences. You know, they were only following the campaign rhetoric and examples of the President. What’s wrong with that?

Things kept spiraling:
An account of the activities in Charlottesville that takes in many of the perspectives involved. It sounds like the domestic beginning of WWIII.

While China along with both North and South Korea looked on and worried:
In yet other news, China is urging Trump (for the second time since April) to use more restraint in his language and actions toward North Korea. Apparently there have been more than three warnings from China about the bullying stance coming from the new President up to this week.

Meanwhile, back in the States and as the events continued to escalate, I wondered, Is Virginia an open carry state? Apparently Charlottesville is an open carry city. Some of the alt-right protesters are carrying rifles. But we should take note that several days after this “rally,” it was reported that not all of the members of the crowd were Charlottesville residents. Protesters and rally attendees came from as far away as Portland, Oregon and other states in order to raise their voices and create the tumult. Their actions had absolutely nothing to do with rights and interests that pertain to their own homes and property.

August 13:
In sharp contrast to Charlottesville, VA, there were repercussions in Dresden, Germany when an American Tourist Punched For Giving Nazi Salute In Germany on the same day. Where’s the American enforcement of hate crime laws? In fact, it was time to look up the United States definition of “hate crime” as defined by the FBI.

* * *

Enough. I can’t endure this anymore. We cannot afford to endure this anymore. Time for us to join the youth as mentors and co-organizers. These acts of violence are not coming from immigrants; they’re homegrown in a toxic garden that’s being constantly fertilized. Time for all of us to lift our voices in protest to our current circumstances and take affirmative action.

How Many Times?

How many times have I talked about this issue? Here are some representative posts:

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Onset of the Second Year

Let's Make America Great Again

Let’s Make America Great Again

Here it is January 3, 2018 and the beginning of the second year of the 45th U.S. Presidential administration.

The headlines throughout the first brought shock, amazement, outrage, disappointment, fear. They incited resistance by some followed by affirmative action by others who had more power and resources. The defenders of the Reich (oh, I mean regime) did their best to make excuses for the unacceptable or disparage representations of what was blatantly put before a world audience by the model. But the slow progress to our journey into darkness continues.

What are we being told when traditional journalists who broadcast their researched editorial opinions that are negative toward the President find themselves removed from their positions?
Fortunately, the phrase “fake news” is now considered a punch line for satirical monologues and comedy acts. But it appears the new McCarthy Era is going through birthing pains to resume its place in our society.

This morning’s reportage of the schoolyard taunts between the leader of the U.S. and the leader of North Korea about whose button is bigger again makes us wonder how far in the future is the reality of nuclear war because two narcissists want to implicitly compare their genitals via amount of power they have.

The smoke issued from the White House in the form of threats this year (and a type of bombastic display) are numerous. Merely attempting to locate the link regarding the firing of a CBS news anchor revealed this list of related searches:

  • colbert on trump
  • trump threatens media
  • trump threatens venezuela
  • trump threatens paul ryan
  • donald trump threatens pope
  • colbert late show trump
  • trump threatens nuclear war
  • trump threatens north korea

There may be some specter of hope for positive change on the horizon. In the process of confirming which administration is currently in charge of our country, some interesting headlines tumbled into my search results, headlines that urge reflection and consideration. What those headlines suggest is altogether more positive than the negative emotions created in the past. They imply that the time for accountability has arrived. They suggest the time for more assertiveness by the republic has arrived. (Think, “When in the course of events . . .”)

Those research headlines said:

There are probably a lot more that are similar; these were sufficient.

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Hispanic Migration Circa 2006

[November 25, 2017]

Barriers to immigration

Barriers to immigration

The current rhetoric against allowing immigration into the United States from our southern border cites the negative attributes of undocumented (and therefore, illegal) immigrants. How those conclusions were reached when first pronounced in 2015 should have been called into question. But the immediate (and ongoing) reaction was polar. They were either completely accepted as near gospel or they caused so much outrage and revulsion that there was a major distraction and omission. Few voices were raised that asked, “Where did you get the statistics to support that?”

Quite interestingly, a study was conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center that resulted in a report called “Survey of Mexican Migrants, Part Three: The Economic Transition to America.” It was compiled during July 2004 to January 2005 by soliciting responses from a total of 4,836 individual at Mexican consulates in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Raleigh, and Fresno. The respondents were applying for an identity card and it is believed most lacked authorization to work in the United States. (There are presently 51 Mexican Consulates in the entire United States.)

In the original attack on Hispanic migrants, one of the assertions was “. . . they’re taking our jobs, . . .” According to the report, “The vast majority of undocumented migrants from Mexico were gainfully employed before they left for the United States. Thus, failure to find work at home does not seem to be the primary reason that the estimated 6.3 million undocumented migrants from Mexico have come to the U.S.” If this was the case, we need to ascertain the real reason for seeking employment in the United States. Perhaps we have something that is not available or is in small quantity in Mexico.

At the time of the study, migrants were concentrated in a handful of industries, those being agriculture, hospitality, construction, and manufacturing. However, the characteristics of the migrants and the nature of the demand for them began to change. Two such changes that were noted were:

“The more recently arrived and younger migrants from Mexico are better educated than their predecessors, less likely to be farm workers, and more likely to have a background in other industries, such as commerce and sales.

“Also, they increasingly come from a greater variety of regions in Mexico and make homes in new Mexican-migrant settlement areas, such as New York and Raleigh, . . .”

Suffice it to say, there will be an argument about these migrant settlement areas. Undoubtedly the argument will be that the population is deteriorating the areas and causing blight. However, given the findings of the Pew report, those types of conditions are highly unlikely for people who see themselves as upwardly mobile.

And Then There Are the Dreamers

Earlier this year an announcement was made with regard to the requirements for allowing immigrants into the United States. They now must pass incredibly stringent requirements with regard to language proficiency, amount of education already attained, and more. We need to ask ourselves whether we would be accepted into another country if it held similar immigration standards. These conditions are to be applied to all immigrants.

Just an aside: There were no exceptions mentioned when it came to considering those who seek asylum, whether from Mexico or any other country.

Putting these issues aside, let us consider the status of the Dreamers. They are young Mexicans who were brought to the United States as infants or were born here. They are not criminals nor any of the other adjectives applied in broad brush strokes to Mexicans. They are undocumented. They are among those covered by DACA. They are focused on being the best of breed and proving themselves to be so in many respects. They are not taking jobs from anyone. They are competing for existing jobs and striving to prove themselves worthy of a position in the company where they desire to work. But their tenure is challenged by revisions to the immigration policies of the United States and suspension of DACA.

There was mixed reaction to DACA (formally, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) when it was implemented in 2012. It should be noted that it was not an act but a program. It was implemented through an announcement, not made law by Presidential Executive Order. According to Wikipedia, a group of states sued to enjoin the implementation of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans). Legal opinions regarding DACA are divided. Truthfully, I was among those opposed to it for many reasons, principally because of the drain on American resources and what appeared to be a scheme being used to make illegal entry acceptable for reasons of compassion (don’t harm innocent small children and infants). Having read the 2006 articles that document the positive impact of the population, my opinion is changed.

The challenging situation is the theory that fueled introduction of the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE) as it modifies the previous points-based system for legal residency as it accords a higher number of points “to people who are highly skilled.” Regarding the immigration system prior to August 2, 2017, Senator Cotton (co-author of the RAISE Act) said “For some people, they may think that’s a symbol of America’s virtue and generosity. I think it’s a symbol we’re not committed to working-class Americans. We need to change that.”.

The status of DACA, however, is that it was suspended. A Memorandum on Rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was issued in September 2017 by the Department of Homeland Security. Both DAPA and DACA will be wound down, according to the Memorandum. Adjudication (review) of applications will be done on a case-by-case basis. No new requests and applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed after September 5, 2017 will be rejected.

The Generalizations cf. Realities

Generalizations tend to get us into trouble when we use them to speak of large groups and assign attributes to them. Rhetoric that foments suspicion, divisiveness, and hate does nothing for creating a healthy environment for mutual support and growth.

It would be prudent to consider those who comprise the population of this country as people who have valuable skills and talents that can be used for improvement. The 2005 statistics show that just the narrow segment of Mexican immigrants are a desirable group of people who can and already are involved in making this an even better country. That’s just one segment. There are many others that offer similar benefits.

It may not have been part of the original installation but it still [Statute of Liberty poem] makes a statement about what our land represents to those who choose to come here as well as what the represent in terms of seeking renewed opportunities they’re willing to strive to earn.

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Oppression and Hope

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

    “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost

Although the Civil Rights Movement began in the 1950s, the reasons for its importance to people of color still exist for many. The excuses run the gamut for not hiring: lack of skills, poor literacy, meager education, lackadaisical work habits. Those, and others, still prevent individuals from rising above poverty level income or minimum wage jobs – if job opportunities exist for them.

A cultural awareness that discrimination still exists and is quite healthy abounds in some places. The specter of cradle to grave bondage looms. There are two paths, to the school or to the jail. The myths of having a particular skin color is tantamount to indicating a person has violent propensities is taken as gospel for some. Explosions of emotional outrage from lack of communication skills and pent-up rage at locked doors and low expectations only serve to perpetuate the myths. And the myths continue to exist because the go unexamined.

Racial profiling is urged these days. The rationale is predicated on illegal immigration from the south and foreign terrorism from the Middle East. Our educational standards have dropped. Our global standing in quality education is now taking a back seat to China and Scandinavia. Yet, those areas also have their issues with ethnic inequities and poverty.

We need to consider the causes of the deficits domestically compared with those abroad. Perhaps one of the foundations is the fact that the underpinnings go deep into the psychology of the late 18th Century when there was no bright horizon for some save being released from this existence into a spiritual existence on another plane.

The new math of the 1950s endures. You have to be three times better in order to be considered half as good. Reduce that result by one-half if you’re a woman and another one-third if you’re a woman of color – any color.

Watching the documentary Raising Bertie (aired August 29 on PBS) should cause discomfort and motivate its audience to rise up, to advocate for positive change. It should drive the desire for more equality, not digging more ditches one generation after another. While there is dignity in being skilled in any particular endeavor, it should not be the chain that binds an entire race to be limited to only one or two choices and then no more. “Raising Bertie” represents how one segment of our population is viewed. It shows us the crossroads that challenge us and threaten to drag us into the dark days of our past or finally realize the wealth that population could be contributing to the wholeness of our country. We need to help make that happen. Those in this country deserve to have viable options.

Quality education that opens the doors not only for the individual but for the community (no matter how broad) should be available for all. Delivering quality education begins with insistence on excellence. It’s perpetuated with engendering curiosity that gets fed with the broadening of awareness. Quality education is evidenced by use of critical thinking skills that aid in problem solving instead of resorting to insults, bullying, harassment, and violence (warfare).

Quality education is not evidenced by very nice, flattering letter grades. It is evidenced by the ability to use the knowledge that was conveyed. That knowledge should be delivered through the textbooks, of course, and through exercises that provide practice in the discipline. Thus, execution of the proficiency is accomplished with dispatch in the real world, no matter what the setting.

Instructors provide guidance and interpretation of the subject and the content in the textbook. The books should challenge the student’s comprehension not pad their reading list. Therefore, tests of the student’s knowledge (evaluation of how well they have learned the subject), should not be a measure of how much and how well they learned compared with their fellow classmates. Instead, tests should reflect how much of the discipline was learned based on a measurable scale, not a bell curve. The grades are not to boost the student’s self esteem (and bury them in a false sense of accomplishment). The grades are not intended to embellish the instructor’s standing and continued tenure in their position. If they have not taught the subject, it is the instructor who needs the remedial work.

It is critical that we bring an end to our national oppression. It rides on the back of scrawny education. It emaciates our nation. And our nation becomes emaciated because the hunger for knowledge is not being satisfied.

The road away from all forms of slavery and to hope is paved with making our leaders at every level accountable for recognizing and respecting human rights to freedom.

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Reactions to Harm

Words of hate that are actually expressions of anxiety and stress.

Sprouts of new life

Sprouts of new life

Day after day we’re bombarded by the narcissism of #45 because he doesn’t feel he’s receiving as much attention and adoration as he feels he deserves. His tenure from Day 2 is more about campaigning for a second term when he still hasn’t figured out how to be a leader with the best interests of the country in mind. So we get home-based terrorism coming from the White House.

Compounding that is people buying into the negative behavior and vitriol and following the example. They resort to calling names, using labels, hurtling to unfounded conclusions, and condemning others for even attempting to conduct their lives and affairs in responsible ways.

It’s truly more than a bit much to take. We all face our own personal storms. Some are so intense that they make us ill but we do not mention them. We put on a face of either stoicism, or joy, or practical level-headedness. But inside, ah, but inside, we must remain alert and at the ready in spite of the increasing and crippling ailments that assualt us from far and near, sometimes on a daily basis – if not more frequently.

Although Harvey is horrendous and not everyone is able to make a donation, does that mean they must stop trying to earn a living in order to show their sympathy? Should those not in the area stop paying their bills in order to share the misfortune with Texas, and now Louisiana? I think not.

It is far better that we strive, in our individual ways, to be responsible, respectful citizens. We can do our part by offering joy and comfort. We aren’t ignoring the harm, just creating a positive frame of mind so that we all can get through today, and then tomorrow, and the next.

We don’t need to be castigated for making a contribution that doesn’t fit someone else’s frame of mind. And we definitely don’t need to be bullied nor show obeisance to someone who brays harshness because they need to feel in the right.

I send you flowers of hope, America. I send you love. I send you peace and comfort.

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