Seize Da Who Dey…It Didn’t Happen!

Happy Valentines Day! Many of us would be happier this morning if the Bengals had beaten the Rams in Super Bowl LVI. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
CBS Sunday Morning, February 13, 2022, aired  The Agony of Defeat: Lessons From Football Fandom. I recommend watching this 10-minute video. It may help with difficult conversations we are having in politics.
As a Bengal fan, I wish Roger Goodell could have overturned the results of Super Bowl LVI. I wish the Bengals hadn’t conceded the results of the game, but that is not how the game is played. I accept the outcome of the game and know a new season begins September 8, 2022!

Are You Participating in the “Great Resignation”?

As a growing number of people are walking away from work positions, climbing down from the “corporate ladder,” acknowledging burnout, and having a hard look in the mirror, there seems to be a greater need to talk through possibilities.

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity           – Dorothy Parker

Our identity is rooted in our patterns. The more we repeat a pattern, the more we strengthen our identity. How do you want to be identified? How do you want to be experienced by others? What patterns need to be challenged to create a better identity? Our patterns offer limited thinking. Coaching creates an opportunity to examine your current identity and see if transformation is necessary.

Those beliefs and assumptions impact our needs, including health, balance, purpose, growth, learning, connection, and significance. Our needs lead to goals. Goals require strategies and action steps that lead to desired outcomes.

Are you the best person for your work? What is your evidence? What are your overt benefit, the reason to believe, and unique difference? What other questions need to be asked to create transformation and transition? My approach to coaching looks at five key areas and determines if new patterns are necessary.

We begin by looking at the past. Who, what, where, and when can be significant. What were significant failures and mistakes? What did you learn? From your past, what defined you?

To know the past is to know the present. To know the present is to know yourself.    – Ibram X. Kendi

This allows one to acknowledge the present. What habits are serving you well? What habits are not serving you well?

One discovers the light in the darkness. That is what darkness is for.     – James Baldwin

This leads to working on one’s future. Where do you want to be significant? What would you like your legacy to be?

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived however, if faced with courage, need not be lived again.  – Maya Angelou

From here, we look at relationships. Who are the mavens, connectors, and salespeople in your circles of influence? Who can you go to for support? Who are the subject-matter experts in your life? Where do you need to grow your diversity in your relationships? How will you deal with difficult people going forward?

It is precisely the minor differences in people who are otherwise alike that form the basis of feelings of hostility between them.         – Sigmund Freud

Gratitude impacts our attitude. For what are you grateful? Where is your hope? How will you nurture hope in others?

Of all the arts, the art of living is probably the most important.       – Deborah Levy

If you are interested in learning more about my approach to coaching, contact me at

Push Back on My Word For 2022

I received pushback on my blog concerning my word for 2022 – civility.

“I found it curious that you cited the Jan 6 insurrection but did not mention the unrest in Minneapolis, the Seattle occupation of 6 city blocks for 21 days, and destroying a police precinct, and the 25 deaths, thousands of injuries, over 14,000 arrests, all the businesses destroyed and a couple of billion dollars in damage, and BLM and Antifa connected to many of the civil violence and unrest actions in 2020,  I say this because I do not believe a single action that happened on Jan 6 can incite a civil war or would make me worry about it, but In my humble opinion-   ALL these acts over the past several years have contributed to the concerns of civil war that you have … It is easy to twist any of this for political convenience, right or left…”

It’s like the difference between an apple and an orange to me. Here is my response:

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”    – James R. Schlesinger

To understand the difference between the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the BLM protests in Minneapolis, Seattle, or even here in Asheville, NC, I offer several different areas for your consideration and understanding.

Simply put, the insurrection on January 6th, 2021 was disloyal to the U.S. Constitution. The insurrection took place at the heart of our democracy, the U.S. Capitol. Protests are a part of democracy. The BLM protests were on the streets and were a call for acknowledgment of the untaught ugly history of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) over the past 400+ years, the unequal, unfair treatment of BIPOC compared to white, and the call to make right has been made wrong in the past.

True democracy in America only goes back to 1965, the year the Voting Rights Act guaranteed to ALL American citizens, regardless of race. Forty-three years later, we elected a Black president. As in the past, the rise of Black people to political power made some white Americans question the wisdom of democracy. Personally, I saw white people cringe and shake their heads when I was doing diversity workshops at the City of Asheville back in 2014 when I shared that by 2045, “white people” will be a minority according to the US Census. This is the main concern of The Proud Boys, The Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, the Alt-right, and the KKK. Here is the unspoken ‘elephant-in-the-room,’ – these groups want to ‘Make America Great Again’ beginning with being as white, male, Christian, and heterosexual as possible. After all, America was invaded by white, male, Christian, heterosexual people and made for white, male, Christian, heterosexual people.

I do not condone the violence and destruction of property by the BLM protests, but this video clip, How Can We Win? may help you get a Black and POC perspective on violence and destruction of BLM protests. It is crucial to understand the facts of the history of the BIPOC in the United States. White people have never treated BIPOC well. Beginning with the indigenous people who lived on the soil of America, white people scorned the indigenous, treated them as less than human, stole their land, broke treaties, and continue to treat the indigenous poorly.

Then there is the sordid history of how white people have treated Black and POC. There have been three countries that have promoted chattel slavery on this earth – India, the United States, and Nazi Germany. Guess where Nazi Germany learned about chattel slavery? – The Jim Crow south of The United States.

I ask you to learn and understand the untaught, ugly history of BIPOC including:
– why Blacks did not receive Social Security back when it was implemented in 1935
– why over 1 million Black GI’s were denied the GI Bill
– why the average wealth of a white family is 10 times greater than the average wealth of a Black family
– why threatened with death if Black and POC voted in elections
– why the infant mortality rate of Black and POC children is 2.3 times greater than white children
– why the life expectancy of a Black male is at least 4 years less than a white male
– the systemic and institutional racism that contributes to ‘Driving while Black,’ ‘Running while Black,’ ‘The Talk,’ ‘The Look,’ ‘The Choice,’ ‘Buying while Black at Kroger,’ ‘Buying while Black at Walmart.’

I would encourage you to have hard-to-hear conversations on these topics with BIPOC. Do your homework on a couple of these topics and then go share with a BIPOC what you learned and ask them to validate ‘Driving while Black,’ ‘The Talk,’ ‘The Look.’

One of the most powerful encounters I had just before COVID hit, was going with four other white men and five Black men to watch the movie, Just Mercy. Afterward, we sat around a large table and talked about the movie and how close to home it was for the Black men among us. We white men had no idea and could not relate.

This history is at the foundation of BLM protests. George Floyd’s murder was a current-day lynching that added to over 4,000 previous lynchings in our history and set off the protests.

What do you suppose is the history of the insurrection participants who were front and center at the January 6th insurrection? Do you think these people have experienced anything close to what BIPOC has experienced the past 400+ years? Have they experienced injustice, inequality, and trauma? Many of these groups were tied to the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, which Trump said were “good people.” Trump at the September 29, 2020 debate with Biden was quoted as telling the Proud Boys, directly to “stand back and stand by.”

If you go back to my blog and open the links for the political instability checklist leading to the demise of democracy, you will find 10 major causes:
– If the rights and freedoms of the people are not respected or are trampled upon, then it is very easy for instability to emerge.
– Corruption and mismanagement of the wealth of a country has over the years been shown to be one of the biggest factors responsible for political instability.
– An election that is characterized by rigged votes and intimidation of voters and that is not free and fair is one of the major causes of political instability in many countries across the globe.
– When the majority of the people are impoverished and cannot find jobs, they vent their anger on the government. Many countries have suffered from instability as a result of this.
– When members of opposing parties of the government are deliberately targeted and prosecuted for no apparent reason, this can easily give rise to instability in the country.
– When the government decides not to be open and transparent.
– When the citizens constantly live in fear because of a government that prevents them from freely expressing their views or opinions.
– High levels of prejudice in a country also leads to instability. In Africa, ethnic prejudices have over the years led to some of the worst forms of instability.
– A country can easily plunge into political instability when the head of state decides not to step down when his or her time is up. A good example of this is Syria.

The insurrection of January 6th had many of these components including mismanagement of wealth, the unfounded belief the elections of 2021 were not fair or free (over 60 courts have ruled otherwise; multiple recounts by different states included hand counts have shown no evidence to the contrary), suppression of opposition parties, not being open and transparent (evidence is showing this as the committee looks at the January 6th insurrection.)

The seeds of insurrection were planted by Trump when he encouraged attendees at his rallies to “knock the hell” out of protestors, praised a lawmaker who body-slammed a reporter and defended rioters who yelled to “hang Mike Pence.”

And the insurrection continues! For evidence:

Look at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Back in February 2021, she was removed from congressional committees after a series of posts advocating the execution of Democratic members of Congress and embracing elements of the QAnon conspiracy.

Look at Rep. Paul Gosar, who was censured back in November after posting an animated video of himself killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Look at Rep. Lauren Boebert and the Islamophobic remarks she had made on several occasions which have led to violence towards Muslim Americans.

Look at election officials and their families who have been threatened for certifying the presidential election even after numerous validated recounts affirmed by our courts.

Look at lawmakers and politicians and their families who have been threatened for voting their conscience and values and not going along with GOP party lines.

Look at a conservative rally in Idaho back in October, when one man stepped up to the microphone and asked when he could start killing Democrats? Ben Adams, an Idaho State Representative, replied, “That’s a fair question to ask.”

Look at Josh Mandel, former Ohio State Treasurer and candidate for U.S. Senate, urging Republicans to resist tyranny and said, “When the Gestapo shows up at your front door, you know what to do.”

One of the conversations I have with coaching clients is about their risk matrix. On one axis is risk, on the other axis is benefit. For common BIPOC, their risk matrix is benefit low and risk high. For me, as a white male (and most whites in the U.S.), my risk matrix is high benefit and low risk because of the tailwinds of being white throughout my life. Until these two different matrices become more symmetrical, you will see BIPOC in the streets protesting, and you will see insurrection growing as whites fight to maintain the status quo.

I’ll end with this quote from Omar Wasow, a poli sci professor at Pomona College who studies protests and race from the past to the present, “What’s different about almost all those other events is that now, there’s a partisan divide around the legitimacy of our political system,” he said. “The elite endorsement of political violence from factions of the Republican Party is distinct for me from what we saw in the 1960s. Then, you didn’t have — from a president on down — politicians calling citizens to engage in violent resistance.”

Evidence points out civility is on life support in the ICU.

I Now Pronounce You Husband and Wife!

I was asked by my son and future daughter-in-law to officiate their wedding. I went online and got “ordained” by The Universal Life Church Ministries. Several people in attendance as well as friends and family asked me to share the ceremony.

I began the ceremony with a welcome and acknowledgment of tribal and indigenous communities who originally lived and live on this land and on whose blood remains today. For Johnson City and Washington County, Tennessee, we recognized the Cherokee, Choctaw, and Muscogee “Creek” Nation citizens.

There was an opening prayer followed by scripture readings from Ecclesiastes 4: 9-11, Romans 12: 9-12, and an ee cummings poem [i carry your heart with me (i carry it in].

Here was my message to the bride and groom:

It’s an honor to stand before you two and officiate this ceremony!

We have come to this point in Brett and Abby’s lives who wish to share the magic of what they have experienced with each other and now with us.

For those of us in committed relationships, we also get to relive the magic we have with our significant other. I’d suggest this is an opportunity for us to hold hands with that person and experience the magic, the Holy Breath that is among us and in us. Brett and Abby’s magic becomes our magic.

It’s all lead up to this single moment of Brett and Abby looking at each other and saying, ‘I see you. I see you standing there. I know who you are. I totally get you. At this moment, I see all of you.’

This was captured in the 2004 movie Shall We Dance with Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, and Susan Sarandon.
Sarandon’s character, Beverly Clark, meets Richard Jenkin’s character, Devine. They talk about why they think people get married. Devine says it’s passion! Beverly Clark responds:

“We need a witness to our lives. There are a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the unexpected things, the mundane things … all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.'”

That is the gift that we struggle to receive every day. And because we’re all struggling to receive it, we forget to give it.

Someone said, we actually marry three times – the first time for love, the second time for security, and the third time for companionship. If we are lucky we marry the same person for all three!

Here is a piece of trivia for you … in the four gospels of the Bible, Jesus asks 339 questions. He was interested rather than interesting. A great marriage is about being interested rather than interesting. Ask more questions of one another. Many times, the question is more important than the answer and follow-up with another question.

There are six questions I’m going to suggest you all learn to ask each other regularly … as well as all of us in this space who are in a relationship with a significant other!

1st question …Wait! What? This question is at the root of all understanding. This is actually part of the Prayer of St. Francis – seek to understand before being understood. Seek a shared-mental model. Ask for clarification. This is also an invitation to slow down and hit your pause button.

2nd question … I wonder …? is the foundation for curiosity is as in “I wonder why Brett is so quiet?” Or “I wonder why Abby hasn’t smiled much lately?” Or “I wonder if we could take our relationship to a higher level?” And “I wonder if I could help?”

3rd question … Couldn’t we at least …? is the beginning of progress. It is the question to help you get out of the rut or hole you have fallen into. It can be the bridge to overcome disagreements.

4th question … If not now, when? We human beings procrastinate. We put things off and have a laundry list of excuses. “Honey, you said you were going to (fill in the blank!)” “When I get (fill in the blank), then I’ll (fill in the blank).”

First, don’t make promises you cannot keep. Second, great relationships are built upon reciprocity – yin, and yang, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours! Third, we live in an age of distraction. If not now, when? is a call for focus and action.

5th question … How can I help? is the heart of your relationship. Be aware of trying to “fix” each other. How can I help? may mean putting down your smartphone and just being beside each other at a time of pain or suffering.

There are two basic kinds of people – givers and grabbers. I’ve never met a grabber who has grabbed enough to be happy. On the other hand, it’s the “givers” who seem to be the happiest. Giving of your time can be the greatest gift we can give to another. How you help each other matters as much as what you give to each other. Remember when you ask, “How can I help?” begins with humility, recognizing you are not the expert.

6th question … What truly matters to me? This gets to the purpose of this relationship. You also need to ask,
What truly matters to you? I would hope that what truly matters to each of you is to be called “Beloved.” Beloved is dearly and deeply loved and cherished.

After their declaration of intent, vows, and ring exchange, there was this blessing:

Holy Creator:
May these vows, rings and this marriage be blessed.
May their trials keep them strong.
May their failures keep them humble.
May the sorrow they encounter keep them human.

May their faith carry them when they feel broken.
May they have hope to bring them joy daily.
May this marriage be full of laughter.
May their wealth meet their needs

May they always be significant to one another.
May they have enough determination to make tomorrow better than today.

And all God’s people said, “AMEN”

I gave a pronouncement, and then told Brett he may kiss Abby. After which, I got to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Carr to the gathering!

My Word for 2022, Civility

As I have blogged before, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I allow a word to pick me and then understand and practice that word in my life for the upcoming year. I believe the word that has my attention for 2022 is civility.

Civil war is a big concern I have heading into 2022. Barbara F. Walter is a poli sci professor at UCSD and an expert on civil wars, terrorism, and violent extremism. She has a book coming out in January 2022,  How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them. She was interviewed by David Remnick, The New Yorker Radio Hour podcast. Give a listen at this link. Walter serves on the Political Instability Task Force (PITF) that helps the CIA predict upcoming civil wars in the world. If you go down the PITF checklist of what makes a civil war likely, the United States is in dangerous territory demonstrated by the insurrection we saw on January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. As a result, the United States has moved from being a democracy to an anocracy. Walter writes, “We are no longer the world’s oldest continuous democracy. A partial democracy is three times as likely to experience civil war as a full democracy.”
Civility is a huge behavior to move us back to democracy, BUT it requires a lot from each of us including:
– spend more time “slow thinking” rather than “fast thinking” (which is nearly 95% of our thinking!)
– be more curious and less judgmental. If you are a fan of Ted Lasso, here is a lesson in becoming more curious and less judgmental.
– embrace and practice emotional intelligence including being more self-aware, better at self-management, becoming more empathetic, and continuously practicing relationship management (a leader’s #1 responsibility!)
– acknowledge and face your fears. Brene Brown‘s research shows the opposite of love is fear. Hate and indifference are rooted in fear. Our ugly behavior, our addictions, our suffering are rooted in fear.

May civility be our New Year’s resolution as well as the gifts we give to each other going into 2022.

Climate Choice, Really?

I am part of a small group with different points of view, different beliefs, and different opinions. We call the group Building Bridges as we meet to discuss different topics led by two people in the group with different perspectives, learn of each other’s point of view, and seek to find common ground.

An upcoming discussion will be on climate choice. We have been asked to share our opinion on climate choice.

Here is my response:

I believe climate change is science, not a choice. Is gravity a choice? Is blinking a choice?  Busy is a choice. Putting on sunscreen is a choice.

“Death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.”  Seneca

Science is a process of learning and discovery. Science, like the world we live in, is not simple and requires discipline and effort. Science is a collection of facts of which we need to decipher, understand, and adapt to help us make predictions. Science like life represents reality.

“Scientific theories are not perfect replicas of reality, but we have good reason to believe that they capture significant elements of it. And experience reminds us that when we ignore reality, it sooner or later comes back to bite us.”  Naomi Oreskes

Science like us needs to be open to new information and possibilities. Observation, critical thinking, curiosity, and imagination are essential components of science as well as a life well-lived. Science recognizes it can be flawed and with additional observation, critical thinking, curiosity, and imagination, it will update and correct itself. The science behind our continuously learning of COVID, its characteristics, the way it is transmitted, its ongoing evolution is evidence.

Science is not comprised of a dominant group that decides what society will accept and what it will condemn. Science is not groups or systems within our society that adopts and supports misinformation or unsubstantiated beliefs into practices. Science is based on theory, not opinion. While you are entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts!
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. Aldous Huxley

In May 2019, my wife and I took an intimate Alaskan cruise. Onboard was Karen Dillman, a US Forest Service ecologist who lives in Petersburg, AK. She is a subject matter expert on lichen (of which one is named after her!), fungi, glaciers, and forest ecology. Dillman lead us on exploration hikes and gave talks on subjects of her expertise. It turns out that lichen are climate change indicators! Lichen are a keystone species in many ecosystems; serve as a food source for rodents, birds, and many other animals; provide nesting material for birds; protect trees from extreme weather elements. Dillman pointed out the lichen were suffering from climate change and thus rodents were not as big and plentiful which in turn impacts bald eagles that feed on rodents.

When we arrived at Sawyer glacier, Dillman pointed out that a year ago, this glacier extended out to where our boat was. The glaciers were “calving” at incredible rates due to the warmth of climate change.

Dillman pointed out the deterioration of lichen and the rapid glacier melt were primarily anthropogenic – industrial revolution, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gas emissions that have raised temperatures, even higher in the poles, and as a result, glaciers are rapidly melting, calving off into the sea and retreating on land. At the current rate, more than a third of the world’s glaciers will melt before the year 2100. The glacier melts we are witnessing today are changing the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean and have been linked to the collapse of fisheries and the creation of more destructive storms and hurricanes around the planet.

Human beings have changed the environment in myriad ways with industry, transportation, agriculture, and land cover leading to vast increases in CO2, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and N2O. The World Data Center for Meteorology is in Asheville, NC, and tracks these gases and their impact on the earth’s environment. It requires critical thinking to unlearn unfounded, weak, or misinformed thinking nurtured over time.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our power to choose. And in our choice lies our growth and our freedom.Victor Frankl

Here is a fact: Ignore the environment and it will go away. I can make choices in how my wife and I wish to impact the environment. Did you know the average American home is over 2,300 square feet? If all 7.9 billion of earth’s current inhabitants lived in a 2,300 square foot home, Earth would need to be four times its current size. We choose to make our carbon footprint smaller by living in half that size home. Consequently, we consume less energy. We are looking to downsize to one car and choose a hybrid. Livestock contributes almost 15% of the global greenhouse gases. We choose to consume less meat.

What will you choose to do to impact the environment and assume your role as a collaborator in creation?

To The Next Person Who Sits At This Desk…

October 29, 2021

To: The next occupant of this desk

From: David Carr, HR Consultant, Human Resources, City of Asheville


I was at this desk for over 9 years! I hope you find your work to be as fulfilling as I did while using this desk!

The people I worked with were wonderful. I hope you find them equally enjoyable.

Here is my advice to you on the use and care of this desk:

First, use this desk as a tool not as a barrier! Whenever people came in to see me, I moved my chair so the desk was not a barrier between us.

When people came into this office, I gave them 100% of my attention! I avoided the distractions of computer screens and smartphones. I was fully present. (This was also important when I attended meetings.)

Second, this desk gets really old after being at it for more than eight hours. I tried not to stay late. I went home! There is no work-life balance – there is just balance. When people ask me what I do, I tell them, I am a collaborator in God’s creation, a significant other to my wife, a father to my children (even though they are grown!), a friend to my cohorts and friends, and then an HR Consultant to the City of Asheville. These were my priorities, thus the City of Asheville got just over 40 hours of work from me per week. The rest of my time went to my priorities!

Third, I emailed less and went to see people face-to-face as much as possible! In fact, if an email took longer than 5 minutes to write, there was emotion involved, and I would meet face-to-face. Emails hurt relationships! I cannot tell you how many people came into this office with a stack of printed-out emails who were in conflict with a cohort just a couple of doors down from them!

Fourth, this was a great desk to handwrite notes to people to let them know I saw them doing something right, or to thank them for helping me with a project or for being a part of the team!

Fifth, this desk was essential on late Friday afternoons! I closed the door, reflected on what went well this week; what got accomplished; who helped me; who I helped. And then I would plan for the next week. This made Sunday evening less stressful and prevented me from thinking about Monday’s work!

Best wishes for the work you are doing here at the City of Asheville! You are part of a vibrant community that makes a difference!

Carrpe Diem!

David Carr

Before I Leave…

My final presentation to the staff at the City of Asheville…a couple of key points…

People asked me what I did with the City of Asheville. I told them I was an adult playground supervisor. I helped employees play better together with sticky learning – learning by doing!

I suggested the City of Asheville staff practice five key behaviors – steal, swear, gamble, drink and lie!

Drink in relationships especially with those who don’t look, think or believe as we do! The absence of conflict is not harmony, but apathy. We need people in our lives who are disagreeable! Disagreeable people reveal our blind spots, help us to unlearn and rethink.

Swear you won’t take yourself so damn seriously!

Gamble! Speak up! Share your privilege with those without privilege – especially those who don’t look, sound, or smell like you!

We are living in an age of “Conspiracy Theories.” Walking on the moon was a Hollywood set. 9/11 was an inside job. The 2020 presidential election was stolen. COVID vaccines are weapons of mass destruction! Don’t believe everything you read or hear. Don’t believe everything you think!

I tell groups, to become a team is huge. Teams collaborate and find flow. But for a team to become a community is sacred! In a community, I can be vulnerable and share my imperfections and hear back, “Me too!” Grow your group to become a team. Grow your team to become a commUNITY!

Here is the Youtube link to my final presentation, “Before I leave…Some Closing Thoughts!”


Are We Close to a Second Civil War?

This blog was inspired by David French writing, A Whiff of Civil War in the Air.

We were driving to Lake Lure, NC, this past Saturday and drove through Chimney Rock. I stopped at a pedestrian crossing and right in front of me was a 60-something white male displaying a holstered handgun on his hip. I got a big whiff of Civil War in the air!

We live in a country of fear, and it is escalating. Fear is in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and all the screens we scan. We are oppressed by fear. It’s the monkey on our backs; the weight on our shoulders. Thus, we fear one another, we fear our leaders, we fear government, we fear business, we fear our shadow!

French writes about malice and disdain. I believe shame researcher Brene Brown would tell us malice and disdain like shame are rooted in fear.

“Malice and disdain make a person vulnerable to misinformation. Misinformation then builds more malice and disdain and enhances the commercial demand for, you guessed it, more misinformation. Rinse and repeat until entire media empires exist to supply that demand.”

Fear keeps us from sharing our vulnerability. If you learn of my weakness, I fear you will take advantage of me.

Fear is the foundation of distrust. We are consumed by distrust. Distrust feeds denial.

Fear is the foundation of cults in which the cult’s leader is seen as all-powerful, can do no wrong, and is not held accountable. A cult perpetuates us versus them mentality and establishes the binary, ‘you are with us or against us.’ Questioning, curiosity, and open-mindedness are discouraged and even punished.

Fear is destroying our democracy, which thrives on compromise. There is no compromise these days. We see opponents, people who think and believe differently from us as enemies, socialists, Marxists, sluts, nasty, snowflakes, and retards. While French writes: “With rising hatred, I’m seeing a rise in purely destructive spirit, especially on the right.” Just to be fair, I also have seen this behavior on the left.

Fear has turned relationships into transactions rather than transformations. Transactional behavior follows law, policy, and tradition rather than adjusting and changing. Transactional behavior is about maintaining the status quo rather than looking for opportunity. Unlike transactional behavior, transformational behavior deals more effectively with the VUCAs – volatility, uncertainty, confusion, and ambiguity which are the headwinds in our face today.

Fear has thrown ethics, values, and principles ‘under the bus.’ We are consumed in the short-run, individualism, and loyalty over truth. The Golden Rule is on life-support. After all, the Golden Rule challenges self-serving interests.

I have Jewish friends who fear living in the United States. They look at me as a Christian and point out how Christianity is dividing our country. Christianity is fueling fear rather than love. They say that “love thy neighbor as thyself” is a sham. Many Christians don’t walk-the-talk of Christ’s teachings. These friends are looking to move to Portugal (which is 2nd in the world in COVID vaccinations at 85% while the United States is 46th with 55% as of 10/3/2021.)

I have POC friends who are considering moving to Spain or Canada to escape racism. (Spain has one of the lowest costs of living in the world and treats BIPOC much better than here in the US according to them. Canada celebrates multiculturalism.)

So how do we overcome this epidemic of fear?

South Africa is working to overcome hate. Perhaps we should take some lessons from them. When South Africa rewrote their constitution in 1996, it sought input from the public. They got over 2 million responses! The opening line of their constitution reads: “We, the people of South Africa, recognize the injustices of our past.” The US Constitution focuses on government structure while the South African Constitution focus is on human rights, including the right to dignity and respect.

We need to learn about our history, our past beyond what is white-washed in high school. I read Boston College American History Professor Heather Cox Richardson who publishes daily, Letters from an American. She schools me about the history of this country I never learned. She continuously reveals how we fail to learn lessons from our past. She adds substance to French’s OP-ED as well as Robert Kagan’s OP-ED on our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here.

Finally, we must mindfully get out of our comfort zones, including our echo chambers, and seek to have hard conversations with others who think and believe differently than we do. When we hear something that is contrary to our belief and stokes our fear, ask a question rather than respond with our point of view, label, or shut down. Stay engaged. Stand in their shoes! Practice empathy and compassion. Find common values and principles.

When I learned the process for identifying core values, discovering purpose, developing a mission statement, and creating strategic plans, I was taught EVERY strategic plan has the same mega starting point: What kind of world do we want to create for tomorrow’s child? As the grandfather of a six-month-old, this challenge has become a living challenge. How about you?

Juneteenth and an Invitation

I wish I could say “Happy Juneteeth,” but this is a day of remembrance much like Memorial Day (which I think we fail to recognize the gravity, the solemn remembrance, and the purpose of the day instead of the  beginning of summer!)

Juneteenth…why should I care? Why should I be interested?

Do you remember the Juneteenth history lesson from high school history class or even in college? I don’t.

Juneteenth was an 89-year-old catch-up to the Declaration of Independence that all men (and women, LGBTQ+, Hispanic, Indigenous, Asian,…) were created equal (even though it failed to recognize different circumstances require different resources and opportunities were/are needed to reach equal outcomes.)

Did you know that Juneteenth occurred 2.5 years after President Lincoln signed Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, Texas where 25% of white Texans owned slaves? Over 30% of the population of Texas were slaves. After the announcement of “all slaves were free,” over 400 freed slaves were murdered over the following three years.

Juneteenth is a reminder that every historic step taken by Black people as well as anyone else who is not white has been met by fierce resistance. Even the 1968 Civil Rights Act and the 2008 election of a Black president have shown fierce resistance.

Juneteeth adds to our national narrative about an important part of American history that is uncomfortable, but which we can not ignore.

Question. How long can our democracy survive if it has no self-respect, no courage to acknowledge the truth? How long can our democracy survive when we turn our heads from the cries of “I can’t breathe”?

Question. Are you up for “Uneasy Conversations on Socialization, Racism, and Privilege?”

Beginning Tuesday, July 6, 2021, from 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM EST and running for five consecutive weeks via Zoom, up to 18 participants will have conversations…
– On the four levels of racism.
– How I as a white person unconsciously contributes to the four levels of racism.
– The untaught history of the United States.
– Examine what it means to be inclusive and empathetic.
– Examine and reflect on “Silence is Violence” including, “What does it mean to be anti-racist?”

I will send out an email before each session with suggested videos, articles, and podcasts to watch, read and/or listen to. I will also send key questions we will discuss.

These discussions will be limited to 18 participants. I am asking for a small financial contribution to show commitment.

If you are interested in being a part of this, email me, and I will add you to the roster.