I have been off for a couple of weeks and at least a few of you noticed. I have been working on a project here in LaLa Land but it is irrelevant to the conversation. I have written a couple of missives but was not terribly pleased
with the result. With so much going on for topics, I am not sure if I am swimming in a pool of sewage or that I have an array of Godiva chocolates in front of me. Here goes..
It’s easy to pick sexual harassment. As they say everybody’s doing it. Yet I settled in on power as the personification of all this. it is simply the ability to influence or in worst casecoerce people into doing what you want. We need powerful people to get things done.Otherwise we would wander around our desert of life without a Moses in sight.
We have benevolent dictators and ruthless ones. Some take on the mantle of responsibility because it is the right thing to do. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Abe Lincoln and George Washington come to mind. Even a present day Bill Gates or Warren Buffett fit the mold. Then there are the Trumps, the Clintons, Weinsteins, Lauers and even archbishops who take a turn for the worse. Why? Good question.
How do we ascend to power? As kids there was always a team captain or a lead singer. They probably put the group together. Everyone said ,”Sure,Go for it.” It really comes down to someone coming to the fore. I was going to say it takes balls to step out but I don’t think that would be cool in today’s environment. The debate is endless as to whether leadership is an ingrained trait or an acquired taste.It’s just that certain something that gets people to follow
People expert power in different ways.One could earn the respect of their peers and seek consensus. On the other hand you could just bury the opposition unmercifully.Never let’em up for air. Perhaps become the leader from hell and get what you want by bluster and bravado. Lastly you could be a hulking figure either physically or financially that assumes the acquiescence of all. But the real deal is when you get there and how you handle yourself.
Power can be intoxicating. As you climb the ranks people start to hold you in some sort of awe. People are kissing your ass. They are kissing your feet. You start to believe your press releases. You begin to distance yourself from the everyday hoi polloi. You know better. After all if you weren’t so smart how could you have gotten here? Even if your word isn’t gospel nobody is going to stand up to you. That trait I hate so much called arrogance, becomes your persona. You speak for your department and then your company. Before long it is your industry and you are the fide king or queen of the hill.
It is said that power is liberating. No longer having to conform you are now calling the shots. The rules don’t apply you. You are forming your own brand of ethics. The air of invincibility is fueled by the huzzahs of sycophants. As you become more and more withdrawn from the real world your perspective completely changes. You embrace the literati and cognoscenti. You, your spouse, and your children are above it all. Dalliances? Why not? Your subjects are mere pawns to serve you faithfully. Cheating on taxes? C’mon TTG, it is merely creative accounting. Besides you have minions of lawyers and pr people to deflect any corrective action.
Am I overstating my point? I dunno. This last election had the Left and East Coast thinking they had it all figured out. What does Middle America know? The Ins have a clear sense of everything and the public be damned. You see it not only in Washington and state capitals but in everyday life from city councils to HOA’s. We even have it in our own families where a mom or dad is all powerful or all hail the patriarch. Do as I say not as I do.
People have gotten away with sexual harassment and political chicanery for years if not centuries. Bullies and blowhards can prevail until someone speaks up. Therein lies the counterbalance. People are compliant until they feel they have been pushed too far or God forbid they start doing their homework.Ignorance is bliss and also a subtle form of submission. We shrug our shoulders and feign indifference or impassivity. The tyrants dazzle you with bullshit. You and I are at fault. We have all seen things amiss and looked the other way.
If you dig deep and understand your world you can argue effectively. As you dwell upon a concept, ideas and structures appear in your mind and if well thought out will appeal to some but not all. Then an amalgam of credos creates a more sensible approach that works for most. I think that is the way democracy is supposed to work.
We then demand transparency beyond closed doors. A scary concept called accountability keeps most if not everyone honest. This is for senators, corporate suits, pastors and school principals. Society can’t exist without constraints. Left to their own designs at the public trough of whatever sort, people are going to overindulge. That is the folly of man but no one says we have to accept it as a given.
We need leaders but we don’t need egomaniacs. How do we put up with this without even a whimper? Go ahead. Don’t get involved. Don’t read beyond the comics or sports pages. Look the other way. Don’t rock the boat. Tons of people know about the slugs and say nothing. Is this a watershed? Probably not although it should be. Spare time and stock markets have a way of numbing people’s minds and their consciences.
Ted The Great
In heterosexual relationships, most abuse happens to women by their male partners. Emotional abuse, like physical abuse, is used to control, demean, harm or punish a woman. While the forms of abuse may vary, the end result is the same – a woman is fearful of her partner and changes her behaviour to please him or be safe from harm.
On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime
On a trip I had a discussion with the Inspector General for Health and Human Services. I marveled at his statistics. I cringed at his conclusion:” The greatest danger to our civilization is corruption!”
People do not speak up because:They don’t feel their opinion is valued, they fear ridicule or recrimination or because they feel it doesn’t do any good.
On more than one occasion in our soon to be 47 years of marriage my wife has fired back at me,”Don’t give me orders. I am not one of your men” Good Point!
You always spark in me to think of bigger things. I just got off the Bleacher Report site and am going to read the Jesuit “America”. Wonderful article on the history of Jerusalem.
Well said, Ted. This is among the ugliest and most abusive forms of bullying. I recently received an email from a woman I worked with at a different company, but owned by my grandfather, in the early 80’s. She described the sexual harassment from a boss of hers and how he threatened her that she would lose her job if she reported him. I was in my mid 20’s in those days and had no idea of this. The man who harassed her is now dead. I expressed my horror and sympathy for what had happened to her and I asked how I could be most helpful. She said this was something she needed to express to someone and she asked that I ensure something like this is never tolerated in my company. It was a courageous and honorable thing for her to say. It seems there has been a lot of pent-up and deep-seated hurt for this kind of abuse. We train on this with all staff at orientation and at least annually, and are clear that the consequence of this behavior is termination. Equally important, my co-workers know that all such concerns are treated seriously and respectfully. Employers must be completely intolerant of such behavior, even drawing the line at the “locker room talk” that some think is okay.
Seems kind of timely that I’m reading the book ‘Serpico’ right now…