Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Substitution

Substitution has become a default mode form of protest.  When we see something that is amiss because an authority; a parent, a government, an employer refuses or is unable to accept responsibility, we step up and offer a substitute service. Our charitable model is based on substitution. Organizations feed kids, teach reading, house families, care for seniors, deliver programs and services that at a different time in a different place was the responsibility of someone else. Families, neighbors and community filled in when someone was ‘down on their luck’. Churches were once the respite from deprivation, Government took over the ‘taking care’ business and then washed their hands of it when it became difficult and costly. Charity stepped in and did the best they could considering the limitations of resources and ability.

Individually we undertake acts of substitution when we donate to a cause or volunteer with an organization.

The issue with substitution is that it absolves the authority of responsibility and unless persuasion and denunciation become part of the strategy, no solution is found. Substitution perpetuates the problem by making it invisible and by disempowering recipients with the heavy hand of service delivery.  The bigger the charity, the more removed it is from the issue and the impacted population. (Just the fact that we have created jargon like, impacted population, those furthest from the opportunity, those with lived experience speaks to the commodification of victims).
Substitution isn’t solution focused and uses palliative acts to mitigate rather than curative practices. Curative is extremely difficult when compared to palliative bandaids. Feeding kids a meal is simple when compared with solving an economic, training, capability or attitude issue in the family. Unfortunately, painkillers, analgesics, pain relievers, sedatives, or tranquilizers in the form and good intentions of programs and services does more to trap people than to lift them up. Maybe every act of substitution needs an exit plan before inception. – we will feed these kids until some date in the future while we assist the family in finding what they need to feed their own kids.

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Persuasion

As a form of advocacy and protest, persuasion can seem easier than railing and ranting. It is perceived as easier because it is less likely to offend. Persuasion can be done in writing, in person, on social media, through petition or boycott. It is most often a collective action. We band together with like-minded folks who are dissatisfied with the status quo and wants a different outcome which we can combine our signature or buying power. Persuasion is meant to nudge rather than push, encourage rather than blame, discuss rather than chastise.

The Red Cross movement is in 191 or more countries because they don’t climb on a soapbox. They are able to improve conditions and effect incremental change by quietly presenting a case.

When persuasion is the only tool, it is largely ineffective. When it is combined with the myth of neutrality, it is dangerous and complicit with the aggressor.  Persuasion is useful as part of a sales process or a coaching regime because the nudge is followed by another nudge and another and another.  In the face of oppression,  disaster, conflict, injustice, poverty, hunger or an array of social and environmental issues, it leaves the issue perpetually bringing angst, agony, and acrimony.

If you are reticent about taking a provocative action, I encourage you to write a ‘sandwich’ letter to an official as an easy start to activism. Start the letter with congratulations and cordial greetings and end it with a collegial salutation. In between, fill it with a meaty, well-reasoned position and appeal for change.

What did you see in the last 24 hours that caused you concern? Who can you write an email or a letter to? Will you?

Bob

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Denunciation

protest

The FreeDictionary.com defines denounce as;
1. to condemn or censure openly or publicly.
2. to make a formal accusation against, as to the police or in a court.
3. to give formal notice of the termination or denial of (a treaty, pact, or the like).

Over the past fifty years, I have found myself vigorously and rigorously denouncing public policy, corporate action, charitable practices and individuals from my private and in my public life. I lean towards respectful and evidence-based criticism but have found myself speaking in hyperbole and passionate posturing. Respectful denunciation is a much better and more effective approach.

In a world where injustice, prejudice, environmental degradation, inequity, and violence raises their head in every corner, there is much to denounce. This can be down without standing on a soapbox railing at authorities; Condemnation can look like standing arm-in-arm with the oppressed (physically or metaphorically). It can manifest as a silent vigil in solidarity with a cause or an impacted population. It may be a letter to the editor or an open letter to your mayor, expressing your concern and consternation about a decision or nondecision.

Denunciation is one bookend in the continuum of protest and is valuable and necessary in almost every circumstance. Amnesty International and Greenpeace place a strong boundary on the edge of the situation, and even when it inflames resistance, it nudges the middle to take a well-reasoned position and action. Social, justice or environment wrongdoing needs the point of the needle poking and prodding so that less aggressive forms have space to rise up.

I do appreciate the camaraderie and passionate position of denouncers and could easily find myself standing on a dais with a bullhorn raised in a demonstration of my objections.

Whatever your tendency, consider how far you are willing to go to help and then consider if you will raise your voice, your hand, a sign, your influence to hold those in authority to account.

Power to the people,

B

Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Give it a Try

What do you do in your leisure time? No leisure – sad and dangerous. The expression: add life to your days not just days to your life” is hard to manage but in the 21st century, we need to heed the essence of the message.

Do you have hobbies? Are you a musician, an artist, a writer, a knitter, a sailor, a cyclist, a cellist, a baker, a canner, a gardener? When was the last time you did something for the first time?

This weekend, next week, tomorrow, this afternoon find something to do that you have never tried. If you are reading this, you have access to the world and everything in it. Find a free online Tai Chi class, a Skillshare painting class, or an online book club. Search your community for events and activities. There is a big cleanup happening in our neighborhood.
Join a rowing class, walk a pathway and record how many robins you see. Stretch yourself and make a deposit on something more outrageous like music lessons, climbing lessons and dancing lessons.

Add some life to your days by adding something as yet unimaginable to your next 168 hours.

B

Uncategorized

Support and Disappointment

In my not so humble opinion, relationships are complicated, exhilarating and require dedication and commitment. There is a theory that we basket our relationships into four categories; intimate, personal, social and public. I hold one person in my intimate basket, dozens in my personal, hundreds in my social and thousands in public. At the widest point, my commitment and dedication are lowest and so is the exhilaration and complexity.
Those in my personal basket are people who I care about; I care enough that when I am making a decision, I consider how my actions will impact them. We remain connected through an undocumented and unaudited reciprocity. We support each other; we listen for opportunities to offer sincere feedback, and we extend grace to each other when we screw up. It is hard to acknowledge and own the mishaps (maybe it is in all cases), but if I am open to accepting culpability,  the relationship remains authentic. If I am ducking for cover and denying involvement, the relationship is eroded.

In my intimate relationship that has survived and flourished for 43 years. All of the above is encapsulated; complicated, exhilarating, supportive, dedicated, grace and committed. But I believe that the reason that we have continued to work hard every day to live happily ever after is because we don’t want to disappoint each other. I have disappointed her and been disappointed, but I know that each day I ask myself “if I do this would it disappoint her?” 99.5% of the time the answer is “no” and 99.9% of the time when the answer is “yes,” I don’t make that choice.

My relationships are my responsibility, and I take seriously the role that continues to evolve and hold those close to me to a high standard.

Are your relationships healthy and reciprocal? Do you care and demonstrate that you care in equal measure? Are you willing and ready to step up and move to the next level?

Make Today Remarkable, for someone close  to you,

B

The Cultural Curiosity Daily will be a hodgepodge on some days and a treatise on others. If you are entertained, provoked, inspired, edified or angered by any of it you can respond with comments and as always you can ‘buy me a coffee.

Uncategorized

Even When I Don’t Want To

Being considerate, caring and compassionate shouldn’t be optional. Regardless of how I feel, what the situation is, or who is involved, I should strive for the three big C’s.

It seems paradoxical that I can be inconsiderate of people that I have never met and people who are closest to my heart. Neither are acceptable. When I encounter someone, for the first time, that challenges me, offends me, or rubs me the wrong way I feel justified in any rudeness or callousness that pours out of me. I am not justified in treating them badly regardless of the circumstances. Rudeness begets negativity, and I am always in the position to decide to break the cycle.  As I reflect on the times that I haven’t considered someone else, there are far too many times that the object of my derision is the person or people who mean the most to me. I take them for granted; I raise my voice; I cut them off; I can be mean-spirited. Is this because I feel safe that my outburst will be forgiven?
There is a huge segment of my social and public spheres that have never seen that side of me.  I see them once a month, once a year or in specific situations. I treat them with respect even when I challenge them. We disagree without animosity. Is the reduced familiarity a factor? I don’t know how they will react, so I am on better behavior? Am I consciously deciding to treat them as I want to be treated even when I may want to lash out? Can I consistently decide to be respectful to everyone? I think it is possible. I know people who are always sincere, interested and ethical (I don’t live in their skin so my impression may not be accurate).
It is my responsibility to choose to be respectful. To decide to be compassionate. To opt for consideration, especially when I feel challenged.

I am going to observe my tendencies and alter my approach as needed over the next month. Would you benefit from a wee modification?

Make Today Remarkable, for someone else,

Bob

Self Improvement · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Its a Fact

uncertaintyCommuting by foot and train this morning, I encountered a pair of young women holding placards that said ” Know the Facts” and then a sentence describing what they held to be true. For the purposes of personal responsibility, their assertions are irrelevant. Maybe because of the bold red title and the style and font, I was suspicious enough that I read their thesis sentence and then considered it as I finished my trip. In this case, I rejected their truth in favor of my understanding, experience, and research. I discerned that there was a different and better statement to accept.

It seems that discernment and consideration are in short supply. Most of the time we accept the assertions of others; experts, media, politicians, authorities. I suggest that lazy thinking and poor training has created a dangerous and futile habit.

Readers will know that I believe truth is mostly relative and perspective driven. If I believe that all men are created equal, then I take the position that inequality arises from some barrier. If I believe that all men have equal opportunity, then inequality is a distribution problem. If I believe that all men should have equal opportunities, then inequality is framed as injustice. All or none of these statements can be portrayed as facts and will garner support from a predisposed constituency.

I am not trying to convince or unconvince you of anything other than that you don’t need to accept the truth that someone else holds up. You should be willing to explore the issue, arrive at your own conclusion and with discernment build your own values set. There is significant political pressure, from both the left and right, to accept their bill of goods but ideological promiscuity gives us a chance to discover an as yet unimagined approach.

You are responsible for what you believe. An unexamined set of beliefs is a lazy and mediocre way to live through your 168-hour weekly allotment.

Bob