Enlightened Conflict

an ironic view of building a wall

January 25th, 2017

 

symbolism construction growth progress business trump

 

Well.

 

The United States Commander in Symbolism Chief is at it again.

Except on this day he not only seems to be establishing the upcoming war for the soul of America but also the war over our tax revenue.

 

 

feel the irony wall trump hate

………………. The Wall …………………….

I have no doubt that President Trump will be doing some hacking to existing government programs and planned spending to free up funds to pay for all the shit he is suggesting we are gonna do … but as it appears to date … he seems to feel the pocket book <most likely be prefers a wallet> is open and bottomless.

 

 

Here is the irony.

 

This all costs money to do.

And this money comes from one of two places … business tax revenue or citizen tax revenue.

 

We already know that larger businesses do not pay shit for taxes <and will apparently be paying even less than shit when President Trump slices their tax rates>.

 

We already know that the bulk of tax revenues come from the citizens <which includes self owned small businesses>.

trump and taxes 1

Therefore … the tax money he is using to fund many of his symbolic gestures to a greater America … is yours & mine … uhm … and none of his.

 

We have no proof he has paid any taxes for years <decades>  and … well … he sure ain’t gonna start paying now.

 

 

I may like spending money on infrastructure <I do>

 

 

I may like expanded Medicare because it helps people <I do>.trump and taxes 2

 

 

I may like cutting corporate tax rates <I do … although it tends to feed the business bottom line more than it does feed employee salaries>.

 

I may like building a border wall <I do not … stupid use of a finite budget>.

 

I may like a less expensive approach toward immigration like hiring more border security & enforce existing laws <I do>.

 

I may like investing in military & security upgrading <I kind of do>.

 

I may like contributing to all these things with my tax dollars <I am okay with it>.

 

But … unless proven otherwise … my President is contributing zilch.

Zero. Nada. Nothing. No money.

 

I find it slightly ironic that I am helping make America great and he is contributing nothing to help <and has not been for quite some time>.

 

irony could not recognize enemy no friends people lifeI find it slightly ironic that a multi millionaire, who is playing president, is actually making money on a business he still owns <but is technically not running> and not paying taxes on that increasing self wealth and my minuscule tax dollars are funding a wall <or some semblance of one>.

 

And, lastly, I find it slightly ironic that no one in our congress … who we voted for to battle for what is good and right for the citizens … is saying how stupid the wall is to the President of Symbolic Actions … and the past Mexican President actually tweets what they should be saying:

Vicente Fox Quesada

✔ @VicenteFoxQue

Sean Spicer, I’ve said this to @realDonaldTrump and now I’ll tell you: Mexico is not going to pay for that fucking wall. #FuckingWall

3:55 PM – 25 Jan 2017

—–

 

Sigh.

Basically … we want to build a wall to keep out someone who is smarter and more courageous than many of the people who will be inside the fucking wall.

 

A sadly ironic day.

important to know when something has reached its end

November 11th, 2016

 

period just stop here

=============

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end.

 

Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”

 

 

Paulo Coelho

===============

 

“When you start to suck, stop.”

 

 –

 

Kristen Hersh

=============

 

So.

 

This is mostly about business <although, I imagine, some aspects bleed into Life>.

 

stopIn business … we create false endings all the time. And I mean ALL the time.

Milestones, quarterly objectives, standards, etc.

 

We do this not just because people have a tendency to work better aiming at something but also because we suck at knowing when something has naturally reached its end.

 

Now.

 

I have written about stopping, or closing down, when you start sucking and how difficult that is.

 

Back in 2012 I said “sucking is like quicksand.  The harder you work to stop sucking the further you get sucked down into suckedness.”   A fun idea to write about but that is different than recognizing an ‘end’ … that is simply not recognizing you have given all you can and it is all downhill from there.

 

I have written about ‘periods’, the stop punctuation, and the art of knowing when to stop. A fun idea to write about but that is different than recognizing an ‘end’ … that is simply about not recognizing when you should shut up.

 

This post is about knowing … and I mean really knowing when something has reached its end.

Knowing that it is time to close, close up … and move on.

 

Uhm.

 

This is hard. Really hard.

And, speaking for myself and how I think philosophically, I know I make it even harder. I once wrote about running through the end of project … I called it “riding to the buzzer.”

Riding through things you are working on makes it a little more difficult to recognize whether you ran through a milestone or through its natural end.

 

I say that because here is where a natural end truly becomes sneaky … 99% of knowing when to stopthe time it doesn’t appear as some brick wall or solid stop.

Sure.

‘The end’ most likely does have a stop sign around if you pay attention … but more often than not the sign is most likely covered up by some overgrown bushes which have never been trimmed.

 

It seems a little strange because one would think we business people would be better at seeing ends and when to close up on something and move on.

I mean what the hell … business is strewn with milestones, objectives, deadlines and a slew of ‘people created’ ending points. And, yet, most business people suck at the really important ability to know when something has reached its end.

 

We are not particularly good at it with regard to a company <uhm … companies actually do have life spans>.

 

We are not particularly good at it with regard to employee initiatives <once in place we have a nasty habit of thinking it should be an ongoing ‘organizational culture tool’ which enables consistent behavior>.

 

We are not particularly good at it with regard to existing products & services <what happens when there is actually something better to be offered?>.

 

We are not particularly good at it with regard to sales objectives <what happens when our stated audience is … uh oh … sated?>.

 

 

In fact.

 

What we are particularly good at is getting whatever it is that we want done starting over poohinto a “doing” mode and then developing a whole slew of ways to nudge it down the road. I imagine if I stick with that metaphor I could suggest we suck at not seeing any stop signs because we are too focused on nudging and tweaking the engine and replacing shoes so people can keep walking down that road.

 

But ‘being over’?

 

Whew.

 

We hold on way beyond the sell date. Everyone does <me included>. It is natural.

 

===========

 

Letting go. Everyone talks about it like it’s the easiest thing. Unfurl your fingers one by one until your hand is open. But my hand has been clenched into a fist for three years now; it’s frozen shut.

All of me is frozen shut. And about to shut down completely.

 

—–

Gayle Forman

 

================

 

It is natural because of the dreaded “what’s next?”

few whats next

Yeah.

 

In order to acknowledge an end … to close up shop and move on … well … you have to know what’s next. And not only that … you kind of have to already have a plan in place or at least a road to bus everyone over to where they can get off and start walking.

 

And maybe that is where we business folk suck the most. It’s not that we don’t know when to stop we just don’t know how to start again.

Start anew.

 

About the only time we are actually good at it is within a ‘forced end.’

 

As in … we have no choice.

 

As I typed that I thought about … well … a different kind of business … the business of having a band and the arrival of the Foo Fighters after the death of Kurt Cobain:

 

============

“There were people that really resented me for starting this band. ‘How dare you start another band?’

 

They asked me ‘Why did you decide to carry on and make music that sounds like Nirvana?’ and I said well, wait a minute – like, loud rock guitars, and melodies, and cymbals crashing and big-ass drums?

‘Cause that’s what I do.

What do you want me to do? Make a reggae record?”

 

Dave Grohl

<Foo Fighters>

 

============

 

When viewing the music industry and bands and individual artist you can find a lot of examples of forced ‘doing what needs to be done and moving on’ as well as ‘well, it is time to move on’ type endings <we business people should think about that a little>.

 

When forced … talented business people do what needs to be done.

Unfortunately … most of business doesn’t really create this kind of ‘forced decision.’ Most times we simply try and squeeze whatever we can out of whatever we have. And we squeeze until there is nothing left <way beyond the ‘end’>.

 

Ok. What to do.

 

This is solvable.

And relatively easy in the scheme of things.

 

It is a version of ‘planned obsoletion’ <which I have always been a HUGE fan of in business> … but your senior management team needs to sit down on occasion and not do ‘blue sky thinking’ but hunker down like a military plan of action and say “we won this ground and what ground do we attack next.” This includes an attitude which says we will aggressively pursue that plan <so it is not just a plan but a plan of action>.

 

Far too often we look at the ground we have won and seek to consolidate it … and … well … consolidate it.

Squeeze and squeeze and squeeze.

And, on occasion, we fool ourselves into thinking we are truly exploring ‘what’s next’ by saying ‘let’s take that hill just outside of the area we currently occupy.’

And we make it sound like some massive effort that will refresh us. Instead we are investing significant resources on a less than significant objective. I am certainly not suggesting that incrementalism does not have a role in business strategy but rather we far too often use incrementalism to ignore the stop sign we just walked past.

 

I am not a big SWOT analysis guy nor am I a big ‘white space’ business guy. I am more a pragmatic “this is who I am and this is what I am good at and I don’t care who I may compete against or what they may be currently doing I believe ‘these x’ people will like what I have to offer and I am going to go get it” business guy.

 

In a growth situation <which, by the way, I tend to believe any healthy organization should always be in> you should be seeking to grow. To expand. To think of ‘saturation’ as a swear word. To always be thinking about how to shake-the-etch-a-sketch so that stagnancy <in sales, attitude, behavior, thinking> never sets in.

 

To be clear.

Sure.

 

I believe you should always talk with your innovations/new product pipeline people because they may have some new widget up their sleeve you can go and expand your business with but, more often, you will be successful by looking at what you have now and finding new ground to attack with that. I have found starting over i amyour new widgets just have a tendency to cement the ground you have already won more often than not.

 

Keeping with the military analogy I often tell businesses to think of their business modeling with an ‘occupation force’ team with a separate “attacking army” team mindset. Especially if you are in a growing category you almost have to have a “win this ground and move on” attitude or you can get stuck in a grind-it-out business war.

 

Regardless.

 

It is important to know when something has reached an end. If only because it permits us business folk to close it off, leave it behind, not invest more energy squeezing something that has really ended <even though we do not want to admit it> and move on to the next chapter of our business life.

 

============

“Do not fear to lose what needs to be lost.”

Sue Monk Kidd

after the events have occurred

June 16th, 2016

TOY STORY OF TERROR - ABC has set an airdate for Disney•Pixar's first special for television, "Toy Story OF TERROR!," a spooky new tale featuring all of your favorite characters from the "Toy Story" films, airing WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16 (8:00-8:30 p.m., ET). What starts out as a fun road trip for the "Toy Story" gang takes an unexpected turn for the worse when the trip detours to a roadside motel. After one of the toys goes missing, the others find themselves caught up in a mysterious sequence of events that must be solved before they all suffer the same fate in this "Toy Story OF TERROR!" (Disney/Pixar 2013) JESSIE, BUZZ LIGHTYEAR, WOODY

 

============

 

“Things are seen plainer after the events have occurred.”

 

Ulysses S. Grant

====

 

“If opposition movements are to do more than burn bright and then burn out, they will need a comprehensive vision for what should emerge in the place of our failing system, as well as serious political strategies for how to achieve those goals.”

 

—-

 

Naomi Klein

 

====

 

Whew.

 

weird al-bonnaroo-2013If there is one thing I believe every one of us has faced it is a “20/20 hindsight” discussion.

 

Especially in business.

 

 

Why?

 

Well.

Because it is easy.

 

Nothing makes you seem smarter, look smarter and … well … is easier to look brighter, shinier and valuable to senior leadership than to represent an ’opposition movement’ to past events.

 

 

What’s another easy thing?

 

Opposing what is being done now.

 

Nothing makes you seem smarter, look smarter and … well … is easier to look brighter, shinier and valuable to senior leadership than to represents an ‘opposition movement’ to what currently exists.

 

But looking smarter and actually BEING smarter are two very very different things.

 

Ah … being smarter.

 

You need a comprehensive vision for what should emerge in the place of our failing system <or the current system>.

 

You need ‘serious strategies for how to achieve those goals.’

 

Note.

 

Not serious tactics … serious strategies which can accommodate smart tactics.

 

That is hard shit.legacy great shit notice

 

That is difficult shit.

 

That is the kind of shit not many people can do.

 

This is the kind of shit of leaders and visionaries and the ones who are willing to put their as on the line <versus the ones who discuss past events or offer ‘only ‘opposition movements.’

 

It is both easier and more difficult to be that type of visionary in today’s world than it has been in the past.

 

Today’s business world has become significantly more forgiving to visionaries … well … okay … a certain type of visionary.

 

In the good old days <when there used to be typewriters on people’s desks> a visionary placed a big thumbtack on some wall chart to say “here is where we need to go” and a business gathered up all their shit and started heading out for that thumbtack. It was kind of like building the transcontinental railroad … you just blasted your way thru whatever may be impeding your progress. Not exactly the most efficient method but as long as you kept heading toward that thumbtack on the map … by golly, by gee … you were attaining your vision.

 

That type of visionary isn’t so successful these days.

 

In the good ole new days <where there is lots of data and you can track things in real time> a visionary can place a big post-it note on some wall chart and say “here is where I think the people will want to go” and a business starts simultaneously building shit and adapting it as the people start moving westward <watching if they avoid insurmountable mountains and flow naturally like water does as it is poured>.

 

Today’s successful visionary is more adaptable, less adamant in a specific destination and more responsive to feedback.

 

The business world will always, let me repeat … always … have a huge population of people who are quite happy discussing the ‘plain things after the event has occurred.’

 

maybe we have no ideaIt is a crowded room.

 

It is a noisy room.

 

And it is most often a room with things being discussed that are … well … useless.

Ok. Maybe less than useful.

 

After events occur I want, shit, we want someone who can offer a comprehensive vision for what to do next and where to go next.

 

We may like to listen to someone who talks about past events because … well … it is easy. It is always easier to edit than to create. And it is always easier to listen about the past than something yet to be <because it is less tangible>.

 

I will suggest that many 50something & 60something leaders struggle in today’s business world because business looks more amorphous and more amoeba-like than anything they have ever experienced in their ‘past event’ experience.

It can be, feel, appear more uncomfortable & risky than their experience suggests business should be. And their natural instinct is to do what is easiest <hindsight crap> because the alternative isn’t just harder … it is harder to NOT put a big thumbtack on some map and still tell people you know where you are going.

 

I am NOT suggesting that younger people are better visionaries simply that start over suess get goingthey are often better at accepting more amorphous visions.

Most younger people’s vision, because they are based on less experience, are a little less well thought out and a little less ‘market ready’ from a practical standpoint.

 

But there is a happy medium. There is a happy place in business. it is when you combine the two. As a 50something myself I cannot envision anything more powerful in today’s business than to have a viable vision and empowering younger people to “go get it” without dictating the specific paths they need to trod.

I am no visionary. But that business vision seems fucking powerful.

what the American presidential campaigns remind us about business leadership

February 9th, 2016

leading young direction

====

 

 

“The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels.

 

For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”

 

 

H. L. Mencken

 

=====

 

Ok.

 
Presidential elections most often remind me about one thing with regard to business – amateurs.

 

 

Amateurs are the kiss of death, more often than not, in business. From the outside in … many people <amateurs> mistakenly believe they can do, sometimes as well as, what another person is doing. Therefore “outsiders” end up making their play to be involved with some misguided thinking, perilous rhetoric any intelligent fooland, ultimately, some glaring leadership gaps they gloss over with generalities.

 

Amateurs are the scoundrels of business.

 

This never becomes more obvious as when leadership of a business is at play.

 

 

Mostly because an amateur can only play the game while a professional understands it isn’t a game. It isn’t superficial theoretical programs and soundbites but rather a complex, nuanced, intertwined actions of push, pull, adapting & consistency.

 

 

Suffice it to say Amateurs create acid indigestion.

 

 

And while the presidential election reminds me of this <senators & representatives & no political governmental leadership experience> I could also throw into this group a lot of young people with minimal business experience, 1st <and sometimes 2nd> time start up entrepreneurs, 50% of consultants <who deal in theoretical mumbo jumbo> and untrained marketing & advertising people.

 

 

They are amateurs who, at their worst, believe they are as good as the best of the professionals in the industry, or responsibility level, they want to compete with despite having no real training or practical experience.

 

 

Let me tell you four business aspects in which amateurs are not only a huge pain in the ass but create acid indigestion:

 

 

– rhetoric

 

– rules of engagement

 

– leadership

 

 

– results focus

 

 

Here you go.

 

 

– rhetoric.

 

lies we tell unraveling

I was tempted to call this pandering but that is just one aspect.

 

 

All leaders recognize that what they say matters. They also recognize that there are certain “phrases that pay.”

 

You say something and an uninterested audience all of a sudden locks in. but almost all good leaders understand that while vision is what permits people to be inspired and think big thoughts they also understand that pragmatism maintains belief in the vision. It is always a balancing act of which the leader has to inspire enough tangible near term activity in order to maintain the future vision appeal.

 

 

Amateurs inherently get the balance wrong. And while I personally feel the burning in my stomach when I hear the obviously misguided rhetoric the real acid indigestion occurs when some amateur actually gets into the business. the business either gets ground down on uninspired ‘results based actions’ initiatives or flounders behind some grandiose vision which becomes obviously a futuristic ideal – seemingly out of reach for many people/employees who don’t want to think beyond a couple of years because they are already planning their own personal next steps.

 

 

Idealistic rhetoric is the scoundrel’s tool. The amateur’s tool. It feels and often even sounds great. It does so because it most likely taps into the hearts of the audience but inevitably leads the employees on a fool’s errand … and no one likes feeling like a fool.

 

 

The amateur’s rhetoric most often simplistically taps into some emotion – fear, anger, frustration, disappointment

 

The professional’s rhetoric first and foremost taps into behavior … and THEN provides affirmation it is attitudinally and emotionally the right thing to do <but the best can leave that unsaid and let people arrive at that conclusion all on their own>.

 

 

That is why I often like governors in a presidential race <or a cabinet member>.

 

There is a pragmatic aspect of their experience that tempers their rhetoric in reality. Amateurs can only conceptually dip into the pragmatism which often means they float on the superficial surface of reality. Professionals realize you cannot float … you have to swim.

 

 

– Rules of engagement.

 

 

This can actually come to life in mainly one of two ways.

 

The first one is because they have no, or little, experience they define how a business should do business. This is more often than not theoretical management put in practice <because they do not have the practical experience>. Think of the “this seems like common sense” type leadership style.

 

It’s kind of like the amateur suggests you have been doing it all wrong and now here is the right way <and it is common sense from the outside looking in>.

 

 

Well.

 

They are wrong.

 

 

Simplistically there are ideas and then there is infrastructure <or the institution in which the idea is implemented>. No idea is worth a shit if the infrastructure cannot accommodate the idea.

 

That is the practical truth of any business.

 

An infrastructure, whether you like it or not, can dictate an idea. And that is where an amateur absolutely can kill you. They do not understand how difficult it is to change infrastructure. It is rarely as easy as they make it sound or wish it could be.

 

 

I can’t eliminate a department tomorrow.

 

I can’t change my whole distribution system next week.

 

I can’t … well … suffice it to say an amateur always neglects to consider time it takes to do shit. And even worse … they neglect to consider the effect that time to change shit has on employees and perceptions and attitudes.

 

 

The second one is because they have no, or little, experience they define how a business should do business by competitors’ rules of engagement. In other words … if they behead their customers than, by golly, we can too.

 

This may be the most dangerous amateur.

 

To them moral and ethical behavior is dictated by what the other guys are doing.

 

 

This simply becomes a race to the bottom. This amateur simplistically suggests that to effectively compete you need to play by the rules established by the competition.

 

 

This is scoundrel logic.

 

 

 

 

– Leadership and leading

thin line professional

 

 

In general, freedom to lead is an under discussed topic.

 

This isn’t about getting elected … this is about having the freedom to implement what you want done in your business.

 

Yup.

 

You have to have freedom.

 

Having been a leader of an organization I can clearly state that acquiring a title does not guarantee a freedom to lead.

 

Amateurs don’t see it that way. An amateur sees a title as an entitlement to … well … everything … but mostly leadership.

 

 

And this title entitlement undercuts what research suggests is the most important leader attribute – character.

 

A social scientist, James Q. Wilson, stressed the central importance of character and virtue in a culture. When he wrote about character and virtue, he focused on the basics—decency, cooperation and that action always have long-term consequences. Wilson once wrote that, “It is as if it were a mark of sophistication for us to shun the language of morality in discussing the problems of mankind.”

 

 

Simplistically he suggested that virtue for people becomes a habit when they practice good manners, are dependable, punctual and responsible every day.

 

In The Moral Sense he wrote, “Order exists because a system of beliefs and sentiments held by members of a society sets limits to what those members can do.”

 

 

 

Amateurs completely underestimate the concept of freedom to lead.

 

 

 

– results <and money>.

 

While amateurs can absolutely veer into the intangible ‘feel good’ aspects of a business, more often than not in today’s business world they dive into the results, money & short term milestones pond headfirst.

 

 

Amateurs are more likely to not recognize results, and money, is a double edged motivation sword. It can motivate ambition & focus but it can also motivate ‘cutting corners’ to get to what you want.

 

Amateurs have a tendency to either unhealthily focus on sheer results <winning is all that matters> or conversely focus solely on money <ROI>.

 

 

Amateurs not only ignore the phenomenon of “putting profits before people” but actually suggest simplistically that “if we gain profits everything else will be taken care of.”

 

Amateurs take on the most simplistic view of capitalism and job growth and economy.

 

Capitalism is good and therefore if we simply encourage entrepreneurship and enable businesses to prosper everyone will benefit.

 

 

Even the penultimate capitalism professional Adam Smith understood the link between markets and morality. Contrary to his common portrayal, he did not believe that a successful economy could arise from the raw, unbridled pursuit of self-interest. He maintained that self-interest could fuel a successful economy only if it were narrowed by the constraints of traditional morality.

 

Amateurs ignore that.

 

 

Lastly.

enlightened conflict sand less

 

Amateurs are more difficult to debate than you would think. Their simplistic views with regard to what should be done or how to think about things maintains an aura of simplistic common sense which seemingly deflect professional smarts by suggesting they are complicating things.

 

 

Yes.

 

Professionals can overthink. There is no doubt about that. The main danger of that are missed opportunities … but not complete failure.

 

And it can be managed.

 

 

Amateurs consistently under think. And that is difficult to manage because the core knowledge doesn’t exist. To ‘manage up’ actually increases the odds of indecision, or worse, bad decision.

 

 

Amateurs absolutely can play a role in new ideation and fresh thinking … just not in the most important leadership roles. Basically … amateurs are unenlightened business people. We do not want to have them become enlightened on the job.

 

oldest known form of freedom

April 1st, 2015

consistency dangerous freedom

 

“If he wants to be an asshole, it’s a free country.

 

Millions before him have made the same life choice.”

 

=

Margaret Atwood

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

This is mostly about freedom of speech … but also includes the spirit of freedom that lies within us.

 

Anyway.

 

 

 

I would imagine that as soon as humans began some form of thinking beyond survival, sex and eating … they began to grapple with freedom. Uhm. And have been grappling ever since.

 

 

I tend to believe it is a lifelong, generation spanning, grapple because freedom is instilled in all of us.

 

 

It can be found in youth as breaking free of adult rules & restrictions.

 

 

It can be found in adults in physical behavior <traveling beyond the boundaries of current location>, self-esteem <freeing oneself from self-destructive – or self-inhibiting – thoughts> or even cultural attitudes <seeing things differently than before>.

 

It does not matter who you are or what type of personality you have … inevitably all of us seem to constantly seek to ‘free ourselves’ in a variety of ways or at least seek some aspect of freedom in our lives.

 

In fact.

 

I would tend to suggest that freedom is at the core of the human soul.

 

Conversely.

 

 

This means that anything that inhibits freedom chafes. Shit … something doesn’t even have to actually inhibit … we just have to think it may inhibit our freedom and it chafes.

 

Regardless.

 

 

I began this post when I saw a picture of “cuneiform” … an ancient form of writing … where, etched on a cave wall, was the word “Freedom”written in Sumeria in 2500 B.C.

 

 

freedom amagi cuineifform

freedom (ama-gi) written in Sumerian cuneiform

==

 

 

 

This means humans have craved freedom for thousands of year.

 

By the way.

 

Craving can create some fairly passionate feelings.

—-

 

Ask her what she craved, and she’d get a little frantic about things like books, the woods, music.

Plants and the seasons.

 

Also freedom.

=

Nightwoods – Charles Frazier

 

 

 

All that said.

 

Who would have ever thought freedom would be tricky to discuss?

<not me>

 

 

But.

It is.

 

I like to believe I am a fairy articulate guy and I know I always have an opinion … and yet … when discussing freedom I seem to offer up well intended meaningless pabulum <”freedom is good”> and struggle when asked “when does freedom become lack of tolerance?”

 

Maybe because I never thought freedom and intolerance would ever be in the same sentence let alone the same thought.

 

It is easy to say things like … if you say stupid stuff that will cost your employer money, expect to face consequences. But that also assumes I can show a direct cause-effect relationship.

 

 

I would suggest, however, that simplistically … while freedom is a privilege … free speech is actually a responsibility.

 

Uhm.

 

That means … you say dumb things and you can face consequences.

 

 

I say that because all of a sudden there is a ‘victim’ mentality being associated with people who say dumb shit.

 

freedom to speak

Well.

 

Any ‘victim’ is free to say stupid things.

Any and all the times they want.

 

But they also aren’t guaranteed a job by their employers if they do so.

 

That is freedom of an employer to decide who represents their company and their brand.

 

Is that discrimination?

 

Yikes.

 

Another tricky topic.

 

 

Sure.

 

It is establishing some discriminatory behavior guidelines with which you assess your employee.

 

Outlined up front … well … they are established.

 

And they represent … well … let’s call it ‘rules.’

 

Sure.

Some could argue that individuals do not exist to promote the interests of group consensus.

 

Uhm.

Unless that individual is actually part of a group … like a company.

 

 

Therefore, in that case, if a person who thinks differently from the company desired behavior says something that suggests “offensive” … outside the ‘established rules’ … the group <the company> does have freedom to act.

 

 

Anyway.

 

This is all why freedom is tricky.

 

 

Don’t bother trying to make sense of what beliefs are permitted, what words or phrases are permitted and which ones will get you hauled off as some criminal to be placed on the rack in the middle of town.

 

Even worse?

 

Today’s world has created a minefield of inconsistency.

 

 

Criticizing Islam can be construed as intolerant and yet insulting Christianity is simply a sport.

 

 

But.

 

This is not about religion … this is simply about freedom.

 

freedom feels like hold

And once you have freedom … you don’t ever <ever> want to give it up … even a small degree of it.

 

 

That is why I scratch my head as the mob delightfully destroys people’s lives under the guise of intolerance <and yet that person was sharing freedom of thought … albeit sometimes dumb>.

 

I also scratch my head thinking that the mob seems to never stop to ask themselves the basic scary question … what happens when they come for me?

 

 

Yup.

If history is any guide that’s what will happen.

 

 

Regardless of the ‘mob mentality’ and political correctness … we need to pay attention.

 

 

Because, at its most basic, we are discussing freedom of thought.

 

And it is the out of control political correctness and the knee-jerk consequences we assign to speaking out of the norm that we need to pay attention to.

 

Maybe it is possible we are simply blinded with the richness of our freedom.

Because freedom is blindingly bright.

 

 

===

We feel like we have escaped from a dark cave into the bright daylight.

 

And here we stand not knowing where to go or what to do.”

==

unknown Siberian peasant after the Russian Revolution

———–

 

 

I imagine I used that quote to make everyone think about the ‘dark cave.’ Let’s call it the cave of intolerance where views were never expressed. Or views were only expressed in private … in the cave as it were.

 

Oops.

 

In today’s world the cave is public.

public is the new private

And public is the new private.

 

 

 

Ok.

 

Let’s be clear. There is no longer ‘private.’

 

 

But just because it becomes public doesn’t mean you lose your freedom to speak and think.

 

 

 

And this public world is the world we live in.

Our forefathers made laws about freedom of speech (to protect citizens from government, not to protect gossip channels), but they never displayed equal foresight for privacy.

Probably because in their day decorum prevented certain behaviors from ever seeing the public eye.

 

That was a long time ago.

 

Today, no place is safe, no restaurant, no parking lot, perhaps not even your own bedroom.

But its not just privacy.

 

 

It is anything and everything IN the public.

 

 

 ===

 

 

Students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota canceled a “Hump Day” celebration featuring a camel because someone thought the camel signified racism against Muslims.

(Yes, Muslims aren’t a race, but that doesn’t matter, apparently.)

 

 

Dartmouth cancelled a charitable fund-raising “fiesta” because one student complained that the word “fiesta” was racist. And going beyond race, commencement speakers, ranging from Condi Rice at Rutgers to Christine LaGarde at Smith, have been turned away by rabid student protests, mocked here by Yale Law’s Stephen Carter.

From the economics to the politics, colleges and universities are looking less like serious places to improve one’s mind and one’s prospects, and more like expensive islands of frivolity and, sometimes, viciousness.

 

===

 

 

Frankly … it has reached some absurd levels.

 

freedom free speech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I am not speaking of political correctness … but rather … freedom of thought.

 

 

 

“We naturally associate democracy with freedom of action, but freedom of action without freed capacity of thought behind it is only chaos.”

 

=

John Dewey

 

I am certainly not condoning stupidity.

 

 

 

However.

 

 

People are free to be stupid.

 

<note: I have written about how the most articulate stupid, the morons, are actually quite intelligent: http://brucemctague.com/morons   >

 

And while I ramble on about tolerance, and intolerance, it may be good to remind ourselves that we are actually a country of knowledge and learning. While our country’s success has a foundation of “doing” <other countries always think we are always in a rush>, the doing has a strong thread of quality about it because we are a country of thinkers.

 

 

Great thinking.

 

 

Great freedom of ideas.

 

 

Great freedom of thought.

 

 

 

Look.

 

 

We always think about what we deserve or are entitled to.

 

 

Sometime these rights, or freedoms, are viewed that way by people.

 

We think about those rights to which we are entitled … which, uhm, are actually not an entitlement but rather a privilege guaranteed by our Constitution & Bill of Rights.

 

The words are part of our everyday vernacular and part of our identity and therefore deemed a ‘given’ not a ‘privilege.’

 

 

But just because we enjoy certain rights and privileges does not mean we can do whatever we want … whenever we want to.

 

 

There are necessary restraints on freedom.

 

Basically the most basic restraint is that you may enjoy your ‘freedom of’ liberty as long as you do not harm others <or yourself>.

confidence stupid people

 

Oh.

 

 

 

And this doesn’t mean ‘harm someone else’s’ thought.’

 

This means actual harm.

 

 

I think <I am no lawyer> that legally … restriction of our freedom is rarely justified.  Suffice to say that the legal judiciary has to prove it has a reason to limit the freedom, that the law actually addresses the harm (i.e., that by limiting our freedom the government is actually protecting us from something harmful).

 

 

Oh.

So why should a ‘jury of peers’ not have to follow the same rules? The burden is to PROVE a reason to limit a freedom … not just bully it into change or limiting.

 

 

Harmful thought is incredibly difficult to prove <excepting maybe inciting to riot’>.

 

There’s a massive difference between expressing your personal opinion versus trying to punish someone for theirs.

 

I fear we are leaving ‘I do not agree with what you have to say but will defend to the death your right to say’ behind and it is being replaced with I do not agree with what you have to say and will do everything in my power to ruin you for saying it or even thinking it.’

 

 

I fear there is little, or no,  tolerance for a different point of view these days.

 

 

I fear it is gone.

 

 

And within that fear is a greater fear.

 

 

I fear we have begun a slippery slope on something so innate, so powerful … it resides within all of us – freedom. I fear we are grappling with ‘what are the limits on freedom’ on this very very slippery slope.

 

stupid but will do it anyway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I fear we are undoing something, freedom, which has been around for thousands of years.

 

 

In the end I like to remind people that a desire for freedom resides in every one of us … from the minute we are born. And while it is born within us many of us never have the privilege of  living somewhere in which we can actually live with freedom of thought, speech and religion.

 

 

And because it truly is a privilege … it seems like we should be doing more to protect freedom rather than seeking ways to limit it.

 

 

This includes, yes, freedom to be stupid.

Enlightened Conflict