I am unbelievably, incredibly, outrageously gullible. Even though it does not serve me well, I tend to think the best of people and of organizations until I’m proven wrong. And I’m proven wrong with distressing frequency. You’d think I’d learn, but this lesson gets thrown in my path over and over again, and all I seem to do is trip over it and fall flat on my fool face.
Case in point: It has finally dawned on me that there’s a reason that Personnel departments have changed their names to Human Resources. These departments are not there for the benefit of the person, the employee. They never have been. Their sole purpose is to protect their organizations from litigation. And if they have to throw you under the bus to do so, they will, without hesitation. I have the tire tracks on my back to prove it.
We humans are their resource. Resources, by definition, are there to be used up and exploited to benefit an organization. I now place HR staff on the same shelf with used car salesmen, politicians, and lawyers. A necessary evil, perhaps, but better to avoid them whenever possible.
If you are being sexually harassed, abused, or otherwise threatened at work, you won’t get satisfaction from HR. You’re much better off approaching your union, if you have one, or unionizing if you don’t.
There’s a reason Corporate America is trying to demonize unions. It’s the only power most of us have left in the working world. And even their powers are limited.
The working world is like the wild wild west, and the bad guys have taken over the town. If you’re ever in doubt who wears the black hats, try dealing with your company’s HR department. Then pay your union dues and hole up in the school house with the rest of us who are under siege, pardner.
One of the most distressing features of social media is that it really highlights the more despicable aspects of humanity. If I’m not reading about some sick $&*@(% who buried a dog alive, leaving only its snout exposed, causing its eventual death, then I’m seeing pictures of men cheering as roosters slice each other to ribbons. If I’m not hearing about people who get off on torturing black cats at Halloween, then I’m learning that the Amish (whom you would expect to have a moral compass), are some of the worst perpetrators of puppy mills, because they see dogs as livestock to be exploited. And how does one hunt not for food, but for fun, Trump Junior?
And then there are all those animal rescue videos. It warms your heart that all these animals are saved, rehabilitated, and given forever homes, yes, but it’s horrifying that they were abandoned in the first place. Seriously, how hard is it to spay or neuter your pets, or, here’s a thought, not take the responsibility of owning one if you don’t have the maturity to follow through?
And don’t even get me started about people who tie their dogs up in the back yard, all alone, even in the worst weather imaginable. Because I’ll cut a b****, if I have to, to prevent that. I really will.
There is nothing lower than someone who abuses, neglects, abandons, or tortures a helpless creature. How do people who do that carry on with the rest of their lives? How do you send out for pizza while you have dozens of animals starving in their own filth in a shed somewhere? How do you read your kid a bedtime story after having reveled in the painful death of a creature that you’ve forced to fight for its life? How do you decorate your Christmas tree after dumping kittens on the side of the road like so much garbage? How does that work?
Here lately, humanity seems to be struggling with concepts that should be pretty straightforward. It doesn’t make any sense at all. It is causing conflict and anxiety that seems completely unnecessary. Given that so many people these days don’t seem to want to think, let me lay down some basic concepts for you:
Texting while driving? Deadly.
Waiting your turn? You freakin’ better!
Compassion? Karma, baby.
Net neutrality? Crucial.
Racism and/or sexism? Idiotic.
A fur coat for your schnauzer when people are starving? Unconscionable.
A right to health care? Obviously.
Voting? The most important thing you can do.
Helping yourself to my french fries? Get your own.
Not pulling right up to the car in front of you in a traffic jam, thus preventing the people behind you from getting through intersections sometime this century? MORONIC.
Abuse of power? May your chickens come home to roost, and soon.
Courtesy and Respect? The bedrock of civilization.
Education? Critically important.
Smoking? Bad for you. Even worse for those who love you.
Human rights and basic freedom for everyone? Duh.
Paying your fair share? Of course.
Vaccinations? Not important, as long as you’re okay with having the life expectancy we had in the freakin’ 1600’s.
Global warming? HERE. NOW.
Abuse of children or animals? Sick. Demented. One of the few things worthy of torture.
Taking care of the planet? A good idea if you want to live.
Blocking the grocery aisle because you’ve run into a friend? STUPID.
None of these concepts seem particularly controversial to me. And yet here we are, a world divided on these issues. I don’t get it. I really don’t. Please make me understand.
We are all a product of our past. The way we cope with things in the present is greatly influenced by what we’ve experienced in our lives. Our psyches do not always know best. All they know is that it’s important to survive, and if something has worked, however twisted it may be, then, hey, let’s go with that.
Case in point, I was sexually abused as a child, and the adults around me who should have been protecting me were either oblivious or in deep denial. So now, when someone in a position of authority over me is acting irrationally and/or clearly does not have my best interests at heart, it tends to freak me out. That’s putting it mildly. I go straight into “Danger, Will Robinson!” mode.
Because of this, my coping mechanism is to speak up, and continue to speak up until SOMEBODY LISTENS! Cockroaches do not like to have light shined upon them. So I give them the spotlight, by God.
This doesn’t always serve me well. For a start, it makes me look crazy and/or hysterical and/or like a trouble maker. Most people really don’t want to hear about injustice. They’d rather let bullies do their thing, as long as that thing is being done to someone else.
I can’t do that. I just can’t. It’s not in me.
On the other hand, I have a friend who grew up with an abusive alcoholic, and the way he learned to cope was to pull his little turtle head into its shell until the storm had passed. He will do or say whatever it takes to appease his abuser, even at the risk of his own dignity. And to my shock, this actually seems to work rather well for him, self-pride notwithstanding. People in the vicinity of a confrontation absolutely love it when the situation is “fixed” quickly. Even if it isn’t really fixed.
I could never be like that. Not in a million years. Clearly, we are at opposite extremes of the coping spectrum. I set great store by integrity. He sets great store by peace. But does that mean one of our strategies is better or worse than the other? Not really. We are who we are. We do what works for each of us. We are both wounded, and doing our best to keep those wounds from further infection.
I guess my point is that when you see someone reacting in a way that confuses you, try to remember that the war that person is waging (or choosing not to wage) is one that he or she has been fighting (or not fighting) for many years. There’s history there. There may be wounds that you can’t see at first glance. And while change may be possible, it can’t be counted upon. Look deeper. Understanding is a step in the right direction for all concerned.
I just read an interesting article in the New York Times entitled, In China, Wives Fight Back After Their Activist Husbands Are Jailed. It went on to describe the kinds of human rights abuses you come to expect from China: Defense lawyers being imprisoned simply for standing up for the rights of their clients. Being detained without counsel for months or years. Being tortured. And their families pressured. Children kicked out of schools, wives fired from jobs, families evicted from their homes and prevented from traveling. Guilt by association.
What was new and interesting is that a lot of these wives have found each other and are speaking out and organizing protests. Even though the authorities have told them to be compliant and not make waves, waves they are definitely making. Good for them.
Even in China, one of the last bastions of total public suppression, we the people can no longer be silenced. There are just too many of us now. We are talking to each other. It’s harder to isolate us when we are everywhere you look. The more educated we become (never trust anyone who demonizes education) and the more we connect with each other (never trust anyone who wants to mess with a free internet), the harder it will be to keep us down.
If you want to be on the right side of history, you should consider lifting us up so that everyone wins, including you. Because we are legion. And we’re not going away.
First of all, happy International Women’s Day! It’s nice to be recognized and celebrated. I’m glad that organizations throughout the world will be using this as an opportunity to speak out about equal rights. I’m thrilled that this will open up dialogues that many people wouldn’t otherwise have thought to have.
But at the same time, it frustrates me that we still need a day like this. Aren’t we women every day of the year? Don’t we deserve basic human rights all year round?
Recently I was sitting at a table with 15 other women, so I took an informal survey.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been touched inappropriately without your permission.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been cat called.
Raise your hand if anyone has ever discussed your breasts, behind, or legs without your initiating that conversation.
Raise your hand if your opinion has been dismissed as trivial.
Raise your hand if you’ve heard a man singing the words “bitch” “slut” or “ho” along with the radio.
Raise your hand if you yourself have been called a bitch, slut, or ho.
Raise your hand if you’ve seen nude women calendars in public places.
Raise your hand if you’ve been interrupted by a man who insists on explaining something to you that you already know.
Raise your hand if you’ve been treated like an idiot by a mechanic.
Raise your hand if men have assumed that you’re not intelligent.
Raise your hand if you’ve been rejected based on your weight, age, or shape.
Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized because of something you were wearing.
Raise your hand if people have assumed you need to ask a man’s permission to do something or go somewhere.
Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of not being feminine enough.
Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being too girly.
Raise your hand if you’ve been told you do something good, “for a girl.”
Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not having children.
Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for having children.
Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for working.
Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not working.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to drive behind a truck with naked women mud flaps.
Raise your hand if you’ve been paid less than a male counterpart.
Raise your hand if men that you’ve trained have been promoted above you.
Raise your hand if a man assumed you needed his protection when you didn’t.
Raise your hand if you’ve been told something was women’s work.
Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being emotional or hysterical.
Raise your hand if you’ve been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused.
Try giving this survey the next time you’re with female friends. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading this that in the vast majority of cases, every woman at the table raised her hand. And that’s probably the most outrageous part of all – that it comes as no surprise.
The only reason that this happens is that we are not in the exclusive group of humans who sports a penis. That simple fact makes “us” not “them”. As far as I can tell, that appendage does not endow people with superior abilities of any kind. It just means we get to be easily identified as being on the other team. And society has arbitrarily decided that our team gets to be the losing team. It’s not rational. It’s not just. And it’s not acceptable.
I for one am sick and tired of being treated to micro-aggressions every single day. Case in point, I looked at my supply of Graphicstock pictures to see which one to use for this blog entry. This, below, is their idea of a good image for Women’s Day. Because we all should be depicted as naked, sexy, thin, with long flowing hair and luscious lips, arching our backs while floating with our heads in a flowery cloud.
Consider this to be a thought experiment. If your body were a separate, sentient being, and you were simply a parasite who rode around inside of it and dictated what it did, what would your body want to say to you? I’m fairly certain mine would be rather furious.
So, what follows is my attempt to voice my body’s opinions.
“Oh, HELL no! This has got to stop. My whole life, I’ve done every single thing you’ve asked of me.
“I have run, walked, jumped, and even danced to your tune. I’ve toted that barge and lifted that freakin’ bale. I’ve even climbed up the side of a volcano for you, for cryin’ out loud! I have fought off infections, suffered broken bones, survived illness and surgeries, and subjected myself to untold numbers of indignities, all for you. For you!
“And what have I gotten in return? Abuse. Pure and simple.
“You’ve pierced me, poked me, and put me in precarious shoes. You’ve sunburned me, dehydrated me, and exposed me to toxic substances. You’ve closed my fingers in doors. You’ve crashed me into things. You’ve dressed me funny. You do stuff you know is going to make me feel worse.
“You fill me with junk food. I don’t need it or want it, and still, in it goes! It’s like there’s this crappy food conveyor belt and you keep it piled high. Are you trying to turn my liver into foie gras?
“And do you exercise? Do you even take me for a freakin’ walk? Nooooooo… Not you. You’d rather sleep or binge-watch Star Trek. (Although I must admit, you give me plenty of rest, and then some.)
“And where’s the appreciation after all I’ve done for you? You don’t love me. You don’t even like me. You do nothing but criticize me. You have spent half your life being ashamed of me, and picking me apart for not meeting your standards. That’s the thanks I get.
“You are a kind person. I’ve seen you be kind to others every single day. It’s time you appreciated me for all I’ve done for you, Buddy-roo. It’s time for this relationship to become a two-way street. You’d be lost without me. Where’s the freakin’ love?”
I am allergic to chocolate. It gives me migraines. But that doesn’t stop me from eating it. Over the years I’ve just learned how much I can get away with by trial and error. I love chocolate.
So if the prospect of excruciating pain would not deter me from eating this delectable treat, and my ever-increasing waistline clearly hasn’t, what would? Well, I must admit that this documentary, “The Dark Side of Chocolate” certainly has me rethinking my consumption habits. It reveals that child labor and even slavery is very common in the cocoa industry in Western Africa.
From there, I read this article from the Food Empowerment Project, and it made me feel even more uncomfortable.
I’ll let those two sources provide you with the statistics, but suffice it to say that children have been sold, abducted and/or deceived in order to be forced to work on these cocoa plantations. They are often beaten, deprived of education, forced to survive on a diet of corn paste and bananas, all while working inhumane hours using very dangerous tools that leave them scarred. They are locked in at night as they sleep on the floor, and are whipped if they try to run away. Many never see their families again.
That’s what you are most likely holding in your hand if you are holding a candy bar. And some of the worst culprits are the larger chocolate companies, such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle. The industry hopes to keep this a dirty little secret. In fact, several reporters have been killed trying to get this story to you. After all, there’s big money in chocolate.
Suddenly chocolate doesn’t taste so sweet to me.
All is not lost, however. Go here for a list of companies that source their cocoa from Latin America and Asia, where this horrible cycle of child labor on cocoa plantations is not currently in evidence. (Seattleites, great news! Theo Chocolate is on the list!) It’s still possible to eat chocolate without compromising your morals. It’s just harder, because 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from Western Africa.
If I could stop all child abuse on these plantations by never eating another piece of chocolate again as long as I live, I would do it. It would be hard, but not nearly as hard as what these children are forced to endure. But as with all important changes in the world, it’s going to take more than just me. As individuals, making smarter chocolate purchases is the very least we can do.
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In the near future, when the leader of the free world is going to be someone who publicly declares “I’d like to punch him in the face,” and also condones waterboarding and other war crimes, can an uptick in violence be far behind?
There is a thin veil between humanity and aggression. That veil is called morality. The reason we don’t devolve to a society of cavemen is that we have developed laws and codes based on this morality. It keeps at least some of us in check. Violence is wrong. We all used to know this, at least on some level.
But soon we’ll have a leader who is willing to pierce that veil, and do it with a smile on his face. I’ve recently noticed a lot more adult bullying and intimidation. We are regressing. We are losing our civility. Check out this video of a man kicking a woman down the stairs. There is nothing on earth that can justify this type of behavior.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a violent world, and always has been. Every woman I know has been abused in some form or another at least once in her life. It’s hard to feel safe in that atmosphere. But the only thing we seemed to have in our favor was public outrage. Now the outrage seems to crop up when we don’t behave aggressively enough. It’s a different world.
I don’t know about you, but I’m scared. I’m also disheartened.
I leave you now with a link to a television clip from Morocco, in which a makeup artist is demonstrating how to cover up the bruises you receive from domestic violence so that you can “carry on with your daily life.”
No, I’m not talking about who won or didn’t win this election (believe it or not). As a matter of fact, I wrote the first draft of this entry well before election day. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I think we can all agree that this whole campaign experience has been stressful beyond belief.
There is absolutely NO reason why a campaign should drag on for more than 4 months. If you can’t learn enough about a candidate in that length of time, someone isn’t doing his or her journalistic homework. And shorter campaigns would be less expensive, and therefore donors wouldn’t have the opportunity to burrow so deeply inside the candidates’ pockets.
We need to make this a law. No political ads, annoying phone calls, back biting, in-fighting, junk mail, interviews, yard signs, drama or stupidity prior to the day after Independence Day. This would also allow us a shorter period to argue with friends and family, and less hard feelings and bitterness as a country.
This campaign was cruel and unusual punishment. I’m not the only one who was impacted physically and emotionally by this. It seems to be the general consensus amongst all the people I’ve talked to. There’s no need for it. We don’t deserve this. After all this torture, we are all left with a sour taste in our mouths, and a level of cynicism that makes it very difficult to function.
And let’s get rid of this electoral college BS and Gerrymandering while we’re at it. We have reached a level of sophistication in this country where we can count above ten, and election results aren’t being delivered by horse and buggy. (I swear I’m writing this without having a clue whether the popular vote will fall in line with the electoral college vote. It usually does, but not always.) Every single solitary vote should carry equal weight.
Democracy should not be equivalent to abuse. If this is the shape of things to come, I absolutely, positively cannot take this every four years. I just can’t.
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