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Archive for September, 2019

SHOULD I ENTER INTO THE DARKNESS. . .

The darkness around us is deep. –William Stafford

Nine years ago, my friend George sent me this photo.  Periodically I open the file and sit with this photo.  I have been sitting with it for a few days savoring what emerged into my consciousness.  I have decided to share with you, gentle reader, some of what has emerged for me.  I also invite you to sit with the photo and savor what emerges for you.

by George-'What I See Right Now'-29October2012

There is much darkness in the world today; it surrounds us.  Yet, all is not darkness, there is light.  Is the light that appears so far off fading or emerging?  In order to reach the light it appears as if I have to immerse myself into even more darkness; I must step into the darkness and travel in the darkness before I reach the light.

This journey will require me to have courage.  The Japanese Kanji symbol for courage is:

courage-kanji

It is pronounced Yuuki.  Two symbols represent ‘courage.’  The top symbol – yuu – represents ‘courage’ and the bottom symbol – ki – It represents ‘heart or spirit.’  Thus courage is nurtured by ‘heart and spirit.’ Thus, if I am going to journey into the darkness I must not only have courage, but I must also have the heart and spirit necessary for such a journey.

Since I do not know if the light is fading or emerging the journey also requires that I take a risk; the risk of journeying into the darkness without the guarantee that the light will be on the other side.  This risk requires faith.  Or to put it another way, if there is a guarantee that the light will be there then the risk is not as great.

I have choice.  I can stay where I am and pray (or ‘hope’ or ‘trust’) that the light is actually emerging and not fading or I can choose to enter into the darkness, risk becoming lost in the darkness, and journey towards the light.

Both are risks.  I cannot avoid the risk but I can choose which risk to embrace and live into.  Both risks require me to embrace my anxiety – or is it ‘fear’ – and engage the courage standing behind it, waiting to be called forth.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

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THE LEADER’S BEHAVIOR. . .

Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does! –William James

The people in organizations are charged with measuring.  What are they to measure?  What should they measure but choose not to measure?  In all organizations – but perhaps particularly in not-for-profit organizations – it is crucial to discern ways of measuring the quality of relationships.  Why?  Consider that the quality of the relationships determine the quality of thinking, decisions and actions taken.  What are some of these qualities that might/should be measured?

The first is the quality of trust.  A close second is captured by this: Is the Culture (which includes the sub-cultures, the climate and the environment) ‘safe’ for all (consider physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and relational safety)?  We are also charged with measuring the quality of communications.  And we are also charged with measuring the quality of the behavior of the leaders.  There are two types of leaders: Leaders by role and/or Leaders by situation.

When folks in organizations are looking for examples of acceptable – or exemplary or dysfunctional – behavior they look at the behavior of the leaders.  Leaders are the walking and talking manuals of behavior.

When the leader speaks the followers, even though they might not be listening to the leader’s words, are recalling what the leader did when there was a problem or a challenge or a crisis.  Followers watch leaders just as children watch their parents.  They watch and learn.  They watch in order to have their judgments about the leader confirmed or disconfirmed. [NOTE: This also leads us to the topic of ‘Loyalty-Commitment.’  A person ‘loyal’ to the leader will be tempted to censor out information that puts the leader in a ‘bad light.’]

Followers measure the behavior of the leader(s).  They measure the leader(s) against their own ideals, against their own values, against what the organization espouses (the vision, the mission, the values, the guiding principles, etc.) and what is actually enacted by the leader.

I am now recalling what William Ayot wrote: The Contract – Consider and be Mindful of those who are led: And in the end we follow them — …simply because of who they are: the man, the woman… We give them our trust. What we seek in return is that they stay true.

Staying True’ does not mean ‘to be perfect’ it means, more realistically, striving to be consistent.  Rather than ‘walk the talk’ the leader is more likely to ‘stumble the mumble.’  The leader will not always be able to bring a ‘clear voice’ and the leader will, at times, stumble and fall.  This is why ‘trust’ is so crucial.

The leader is challenged to embrace the following ‘Ways of Being.’

  • Be Authentic – Being congruent: Feelings/emotions, actions, thoughts are in alignment
  • Be Faithful – What is the leader ‘faithful to’ even though he/she might not be effective or efficient? Think: ‘Core Values’ for example or ‘Acting rooted in Integrity at all times.’
  • Be Useful – Being a resource for others. Being a sounding board for others.  Being a good thought partner to others.
  • Be Present – They live ‘in the now’. When one talks with the leader he/she knows the leader is fully present to/with them.
  • Be Vulnerable – The leader is ‘transparent’ (think: is fully human). The leader models taking risks.  The leader trusts and models ‘being trust-worthy’.  The leader ‘carries the wound with grace’ [‘Vulnerable’ comes from the Latin root ‘vulnus’ which means: ‘To carry the wound with grace.’]; the leader will be wounded and the most painful are the wounds delivered unintentionally (via ‘misunderstanding’ for example).
  • Be TrustWorthy – The leader builds and sustains trust and ‘models’ trust. The leader ‘leads with trust.’ The leader also seeks to re-build trust that is broken via forgiveness, reconciliation and healing.

Leadership is a serious meddling in other people’s lives. –Max De Pree

 

 

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GOLDWATER & TRUMP, PART VI. . .

A lot of my enemies call me simple…  The answers to America’s problems are simple. –Presidential Candidate Senator Barry Goldwater, 1964

Gentle Reader.  This will be my last posting on this important topic (important to me at any rate).  There is much more to be written and reflected upon but these six postings will have to suffice for now.

Goldwater was overwhelmingly defeated in 1964.  Up to that time most presidential candidates who lost the election would respond to their defeat by stopping, stepping back and reflecting upon what contributed to their defeat at the polls (or in the Electoral College – the ‘College,’ not the popular vote, elects our president; we are not, in this sense, a true democracy).  Goldwater and his followers took another path.

They interpreted Goldwater’s thrashing as another sign that the system conspired against Goldwater; the ‘conspiracy’ was real.  Goldwater’s candidacy was subverted by the moderates, the independents and the ‘left’.  An observer raised an interesting question: Was Goldwater’s goal to win the election or to sow the seeds of a new Party – still called ‘Republican’ but no longer the Party of Lincoln?

After the San Francisco convention in 1964 it was clear that Goldwater would not win the election (few independents and moderates supported him and his new philosophy).  Yet, the right-wing, the pseudo-conservatives, interpreted the election as a success for their cause.  Goldwater, his ideologues and the far-right wingers were ecstatic.  For the defeat was not the defeat of their idea of conservatism – it was the defeat of the Republican Party.

For Goldwater, et al the defeat was a victory.  Their new ideology had replaced the traditional Republican ideology.

Goldwater noted: ‘I don’t feel the conservative cause has been hurt.  Twenty-five million votes are a lot of votes and a lot of people dedicated to our concept of conservatism.’ [5 November, 1964 – the Election had taken place on 3 November, 1964]

Their goal was to make the right-wing’s notions more popular and they succeeded.  For the first time in generations a brand of ultra-right wing individualism and aggressive nationalism and ‘fear of them’ had been embraced by such a large number of folks in our Country.

The seeds were sown and the garden would be tilled for more than 50 years and then the fruit of their labor, in the guise of Donald Trump, would come to fruition.  Finally, the Republican Party of Lincoln (my party) would be transformed into the Party of Trump.

Ironically, for us in our Country, one of the most wonder-full consequences of the 1964 elections was that our Country became more just and more caring and the New Deal of the 1930s was extended (broader and deeper).  I wonder: If Donald Trump continues to self-destruct and if he is soundly defeated in 2020 will this result in another version of the New Deal – a version that is broader and deeper still.  On the other hand, even if Donald Trump continues to self-destruct there remain a number of scenarios that, if enacted, could result in his being re-elected.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. –George Santayana

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GOLDWATER & TRUMP, PART V. . .

My life is my message. –Gandhi

After winning his party’s nomination in 1964, Goldwater and his team presented their platform to the assembled delegates.  Their platform repudiated many Republican policies.  The proposed amendments to the platform endorsing civil rights, reasserting civilian control over nuclear weapons, and condemning extremist right-wing groups were crushed by Goldwater and his followers.

Goldwater upped the ante when he selected fellow Arizonan Dean Burch as national chairman – ‘a politician of limited experience who had never even been a county chairman and who was a complete stranger to hundreds of eminent Republicans around the country.’ [Robert J. Donovan]

Finally, to bring this all to a crescendo, Goldwater’s acceptance speech, far from offering a conciliatory note that was so necessary after the contentious experience divided folks even more.  Goldwater said that ‘those who do not care for our cause we don’t expect to enter into our ranks in any case.’  He then hurled his famous challenge: ‘I would remind you that extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.  And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!’

This two-sentence manifesto was spoken by Goldwater, written by a hard-core right-winger whom Goldwater kept by his side throughout his presidential run and approved by a dozen of his top staff members.  Goldwater’s moment of victory at his party’s convention found him firmly in the hands of his ecstatic pseudo-conservative followers.

Goldwater was openly supported by the John Birch Society.  Goldwater’s campaign gave focus to the right-wing movement.  He attracted, and supported, right-wing extremists (think: John A. Stormer & Phyllis Schlafly for example); these extremists’ conspiratorial views gave voice to the mental passion that supported the pseudo-conservatives and right-wing radicals (there was they claimed a conspiracy afoot to undue all that Goldwater wanted to accomplish and there was a conspiracy directed against Goldwater himself by the moderates, progressives and liberals).

Earlier, Goldwater had offered us these words: ‘this country would be better off if we could just saw off the Eastern Seaboard and let it fall into the sea.’  John A. Stormer, author of ‘None Dare Call it Treason’ offered the following counsel to Goldwater and his team: ‘For treason to prosper, none dare call it treason!’

Unlike Trump, Goldwater did not agree with all of his right-wing pseudo-conservatives.  But he had been caught in an unintended trap of his own making.  For example, he did not fully support the John Birch Society but he was not able to distance himself, much less repudiate the members.  Any path away from extremism was blocked by the right-wingers he needed [Think: Donald Trump and David Duke and the white supremacists that support Trump; unlike Goldwater, however, Trump continues to demonstrate by his words and behavior that he is a fellow-traveler with the white supremacists.  Trump is not trapped by them; Trump openly supports them].

For the first time in our history, the 1964 convention showed us how well organized the radical right-wing movement had become.  The convention also revealed during the campaign that followed that the right-wing was organized for a fight it was not organized to conciliate or persuade.  They had convinced themselves that the forces they were fighting were conspiratorial and sinister and perhaps treasonous and so they found it impossible to let go of the mental models they had integrated.

Goldwater and his followers were filled with a desire to punish and humiliate – they were not interested in appeasing nor in pacifying.  Goldwater went on to conduct a right-wing campaign.  He was overwhelmingly defeated.

BUT…

A Culture cultivates whatever is honored there. –Plato

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GOLDWATER & TRUMP, PART IV. . .

…as often happens, reasoning and imagination stifled the voice of conscience. –Leo Tolstoy (1881 – ‘What Then Must We Do?’)

Goldwater’s deviation from the Party of Lincoln was marked by his conduct and his ideas.  When it came to both behavior and thinking, Goldwater’s close advisors in 1964 brought him as close as any presidential candidate had ever come to subverting the whole pattern of our American politics rooted in coalition and consensus.  In 2016 Trump completed this process.

Now we know that, above all, in our Country politicians want to win.  Their conduct is shaped by this obsessive goal.  Sadly, it seems, for many of them, they also know that if they are elected then they are charged with governing.  Their behavior in dealing with opposing factions in their own party, with the opposition and with the electorate is constantly molded and adapted by a traditional understanding that they are charged with organizing a government capable of coping with the problems placed on their plates.

These politicians are quite aware, for example, that their promises, which express what they think they should offer more than what they can actually do, cannot actually be fulfilled.  They are also quite aware that if ‘progress’ is to be made that they must work with the opposition.  They are charged with searching for compromises that benefit all and that frustrate all [remember our Founding Fathers were brilliant in ensuring that our democracy will only work, thrive and survive rooted in compromise].  At their best they seek consensus (sadly, they are not often at their best).

Goldwater’s career – and Trump’s career – are distinguished by their lack of training and development when it comes to learning, experiencing and integrating this unwritten code.  Goldwater did have one leg up (as we say) on Trump.  Goldwater had been elected to Congress – he was Senator Goldwater.  Now, as a Senator he assumed no important role.  He was involved with no legislation when it came to major National Challenges.  His main business – supported by his own record – was simply to vote ‘NO’.  He did not command the ear of his fellow senators – not even the ear of those who shared his views.

As a presidential candidate, Senator Goldwater, like presidential candidate Donald Trump, made decisions that reflected the outsider’s mindset.  Again, candidate Trump elevated this mindset to a new level.  The ground was seeded and tilled by Goldwater and nurtured and harvested by Trump.

As ideologues, Goldwater and Trump were/are more interested in preaching than in addressing the challenges of State.  Goldwater addressed us via his speeches and Trump refined this as he addresses us via text-messages (Ah, the blessings of technology).  Goldwater, like Trump, ensured that he only spoke to audiences that were converted to his views (sound familiar).  For both men, the resounding applause that followed them whenever they spoke to their audiences reinforced, confirmed and affirmed that they were ‘right-just-accepted-important.’  Both bring salvation to the saved!

Again, does this sound familiar:  Goldwater held no press conferences during his campaign.  When he visited the cities he generally avoided the crowds, the slums, and the ghettos and appeared only in halls filled with militant pseudo-conservatives and white-supremacists who needed no persuasion by him.  There was precious little effort on Goldwater’s part to take his case to the unconvinced [Thanks: Robert J. Donovan, 1964].

Goldwater’s team of amateurs and provincials trumped the political professionals – this team was called ‘The Arizona Mafia.’  They were new to politics and found it easy to abandon the familiar rules of political conduct.  They were moved by the desire to dominate the party.  Again, Trump has reaped what Goldwater had sown.  For Goldwater, his true victory was not in being elected President but in winning the party.  Thanks to Goldwater’s good work, Trump was able to do both and, it seems, Trump also finished Goldwater’s vision as the Republican Party is becoming – or has become – the ‘Trump Party.’

Ah, Gentle Reader…We are not finished yet (or, perhaps we are).  Stay tuned for more…

The world we see clearly has already been distorted by unconscious mental processes.  –RW Smith

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GOLDWATER & TRUMP, PART III. . .

The decisions of the Supreme Court are not necessarily the law of the land. –Senator Goldwater [14 November, 1963]

Senator Goldwater’s departure from the Republican Party (Lincoln’s Party) was exacerbated by his position on civil rights (1963).  Goldwater and his advisors adopted the ‘Southern Strategy’.  They committed themselves to a pursuit of a core of the Southern States but also to a strategic counterpart in the North which involved a search for racist votes.

They believed they saw a good mass issue in the white back-lash, which they could exploit by talking over and over again of violence in the streets, juvenile crime by ‘them’ and by fomenting and nurturing fear of ‘black power.’  Goldwater was unmoved by the noble visions of progress toward racial justice.  He arrived at the position, far from a true conservative position in its implications, when he stated that ‘the decisions of the Supreme Court are not necessarily the law of the land.’

The pseudo-conservatives at the time began to more than hint that disobedience to the Supreme Court was not merely legitimate but was the essence of conservatism.  Ironically, today, the pseudo-conservatives under the rule of Trump, now that the Court has been seeded with radical right-judges, remind us that the ruling of the Court is, indeed, Supreme.  To challenge their judgment is un-American.

The pseudo-conservatives, guided by Goldwater and today by Trump, questioned – and today question – the legitimacy of the political order itself.  We must remember (at least we are challenged, as ‘We the People’ to remember) that the two-party system, as it has developed in our Country, is rooted in a common recognition of loyal opposition: each side traditionally accepts the ultimate good intentions of the other.

Traditionally, no candidate’s ‘Americanism’ is questioned.  Even in the most contentious presidential campaigns it had been – up to the time of Goldwater and carried by the pseudo-conservatives into the era of Trump – an accepted idea that each candidate was a person rooted in good faith and good intent for the public welfare.

Unlike Trump today, Goldwater strove to live in two worlds: half in the world of routine politics and half in the world of the pseudo-conservatives.  He was not able – or willing – to accept and embrace one and reject the other.  Goldwater distained and repudiated the pseudo-conservatives manifest absurdities (think: President Eisenhower was a Communist Agent).  In contrast, Trump fully embraces the pseudo-conservative manifest absurdities (think: President Obama was not born in our Country and therefore is not a citizen – the birtherism movement touted by Trump).

Goldwater did slip over the edge.  On the night of his defeat, he flagrantly violated the code of decorum governing the conduct of the losing presidential candidates (given that Trump continues to up the ante when it comes to violating codes of decorum who knows what he will do the night of his defeat).  The code requires a message of congratulation.  This message is worded in a way that calls for unity among all of us.  The message reasserts the loser’s commitment to accepting the will of the people.

Goldwater withheld his congratulations until the following morning (you might remember, Gentle Reader, that Goldwater was more than soundly defeated and we knew this before midnight).  In his ‘congratulations’ he more than hinted that Johnson was not up to the task.  Goldwater also upped the ante when he expressed his suspicion that our whole political system was not fit for a world as carnivorous as our world.  Our country and our world needed a strong man – Johnson was not that man (and, without saying it, Goldwater left us with the idea that he, Goldwater, was that man).  Today, Trump plays this card over and over: We and the world need a strong-man and I am that man!

Goldwater was defeated because the American people were indeed fear-full; what we were fear-full of was Goldwater and the pseudo-conservatives.  Goldwater’s ideas were anxiety producing – however, it was his conduct that actually contributed to his losing the election.  Let’s explore this a bit…

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.  And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. –Presidential Candidate Goldwater [1964]

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GOLDWATER & TRUMP, PART II. . .

We stand stronger together – as Americans – many cultures, races and faiths but one Nation under God. –Robert Taft

I fear Washington and centralized government more than I do Moscow. –Barry Goldwater

Good morning Gentle Reader.  As I continue to reflect upon the fraternal twins, Goldwater & Trump, I began to remember the great moderate Republican, Robert Taft.  I thought that it might be helpful to offer you a contrast between Taft and Goldwater (we too often forget our own history).  As you read what follows I also invite you to consider the connection between Goldwater and his twin, Trump.

Goldwater deviated from ‘Taft Republicanism’ – and in doing so he took the Republican Party with him and together they marched to the extreme right.  Goldwater successfully eliminated the moderate conservative wing of the G.O.P.

Unlike Goldwater, Taft came from a family of seasoned politicians and a long family history of public service.  Unlike Goldwater, Taft took an active part on Capitol Hill in framing legislation.  As a moderate conservative Taft modified his views via compromise (one of the major tap roots upon which our two party system was rooted and sustained).  By the by, ‘Compromise’ enables our elected officials to choose for the PEOPLE and not just to choose for their or their supporters’ self-interest.

Taft accepted the idea that the Federal Government should concern itself with ‘seeing that every family has a minimum standard of decent shelter,’ should ‘assist those states desiring to put a floor under essential services in relief, in medical care, in housing and in education,’ should underwrite the states in providing ‘a basic minimum education to every child,’ sustain minimum-wage laws ‘to give the unorganized worker some protection’ comparable to that given to organized workers by the unions, persist in steeply graduated income tax, maintain minimum prices, and through its social security program ‘assure to every citizen 65 years of age and over a living wage.’

These commitments accept the reality of a welfare state; a commitment that moderate Republicans were willing to embrace because it serve the PEOPLE!

For Goldwater, governmental activities in ‘relief, social security, collective bargaining, and public housing,’ had caused ‘the weakening of the individual personality and of self-reliance.’   Goldwater wanted the ‘prompt and final termination of the farm subsidy program,’ declared himself against ‘every form of federal aid to education,’ denounced the graduated income tax as ‘confiscatory’ and asserted that the country had ‘no education problem which requires any form of Federal grant-in-aid programs for the states.’  Goldwater said that the Government ‘must begin to withdraw’ from a whole series of programs that are ‘outside its constitutional mandate,’ including ‘social welfare programs, education, public power, agriculture, public housing, urban renewal…’

Goldwater called for the dismantling of the welfare state.  He said: ‘I fear Washington and centralized government more than I do Moscow.’  Goldwater tilled the garden that produced the fruit of the pseudo-conservative radicals who were convinced that they lived in a degenerate society populated with folks not-like-us and their main enemy became their own Federal Government, which they deemed to be a ‘Welfare Government’ (they conveniently neglected to acknowledge all of the help they received from this daughter of Satan).

Goldwater also departed from a long-standing commitment of the Republican Party.  We will briefly explore this departure next time.  This is a departure that Goldwater’s twin, Trump, continues to embrace and exacerbate today.

If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. –George Washington

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