Men and women have worked together since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Thing is, though, with them--they were husband and wife.
To state the obvious: most people at work are not married. So what do proper relationships between men and women in the workplace look like for those who are not married? By "proper relationships," I mean moral, professional, and appropriately friendly and productive relationships.
In the past thirty years or so "gender relations" has become a much bigger concern for businesses and organizations. In some ways we've become more aware. We've finally awakened to some serious problems and begun to try to correct them for the benefit of everyone but usually especially for women. In other ways we've become hyper-sensitive to the point where some "fixes" seem worse than the problem. For corporations, gender relations in the workplace has become so much policy. But who can write a policy for every eventuality?
Shouldn't adult professionals police themselves on such common sense matters? Well, yes they should, but some men and women are not mature, some are naughty, and some are downright nasty. All this means the corporation, to protect itself from legal liability and to protect its employees from unwanted and harmful interactions with the opposite (or maybe the same) gender have had to develop H.R. policies.
Then there's the issue of what used to be acceptable--maybe, for example, truly innocent friendly hugging--isn't wanted or isn't always acceptable any more.
During my days as a university administrator our institution and other similar ones had to address gender issues, including appropriate interaction. Out of those experiences I wrote this recently published article: "Men and Women In The Workplace." It's not the last word, not even my last word, on the subject. But it does address some basic concerns, share what I learned, and make some recommendations.
One thing's for sure, the question of appropriate male/female interaction in the workplace is never going to go away.
Americans still think they can get away with it. They still think they, unlike all civilizations that have gone before, can somehow take gambling into their bosom and not get burned. Not going to happen.
Since 1988 with the enactment of the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Americans have chased bad bets like the most obsessive of problem gamblers. We can’t get enough of it even though it drains local economies, sends families into bankruptcy, feeds graft, greed, and corruption, and results in higher costs for local governments responding to the social pathologies gambling encourages.
Gambling is as bad a bet as it’s ever been. No one ultimately wins in a casino except the House, the owners. And now the owners are in trouble.
A number of casino companies are wrestling with debt like so many cities and states, not to mention the Federal government. Bad times have combined with bad investments (bad bets?) to produce bad debt for casino owners. The casinos expanded when they should have contracted. They “let it ride” when they should have pulled in their money and gone home.
Let’s hope more than a few of these centers of debt-production go under from a taste of their own medicine.
Afghans from President Hamid Karzai to local citizens to members of the Taliban are understandably incensed by this brutality. The increased tension and potential for violent response has put all troop contingents on alert and calls into question once again, Why are American troops still in Afghanistan?
But my interest here is not whether American armed forces should be withdrawn expeditiously from Afghanistan (they should as I’ve said before). My question is: Should capital punishment be employedif theactual perpetrator is given due process, legally tried, and found guilty?
Capital punishment, taking a life for a life, has been employed by virtually every civilization since creation. In the modern era some countries have ceased implementing capital punishment even for the most heinous crimes because these countries have concluded the state should never take life. Yet, of course, it is interesting to note that many of these countries have also legalized abortion. Some have experimented with euthanasia. But again, those are issues for another day.
From 1942 to 1961, some 160 American soldiers were executed for murder, rape, and other infractions of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. They were executed because these American soldiers’ actions took human life, assaulted law and order, or undermined authority among troops at war and the moral momentum of the cause. Without such justice, most believed at that time, more soldiers would be put at risk.
Since 1961, no American armed forces personnel have been given the death penalty. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan reintroduced the death penalty in the military, and in 2008 President George W. Bush approved the death penalty for a soldier convicted of multiple rapes and murder. To date this soldier has not been executed.
I think the same concerns should be considered in Afghanistan in this case. I believe the perpetrator of this latest crime should be given the death penalty.
Lest I be misunderstood, I am not arguing for capital punishment as the result of a summary judgment, kangaroo court, lack of evidence, due process, or conviction, or as a political statement.
I am supporting capital punishment in the case of the latest incident of mass murder in Afghanistan if the accused Staff Sargeant is duly and properly convicted in a military court of law. I argue for this not because it necessarily becomes a deterrent to future crime, although it may. Not because this action may assuage understandable angry emotions among Afghanis, although it may. I argue for capital punishment because this form of sin and crime is like no other and it demands a just response.
The scriptural basis for this view is Genesis 9:6: “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.”
Taking human life in revenge is not the province of individuals. Taking human life as a form of justice is the province of government, in this case the United States Military. The death penalty is extreme, but so are the limited number of crimes that demand it.
I’ve always loved the outdoors. I’m reminded of that as I visit southern Oregon this weekend. Driving in I could see snow-covered volcanic cone Mt McLoughlin, or as the old-timers call it, Mt Pitt. In the other direction, there’s Table Rock, a high and long, chiseled mesa that once served as a home and refuge for the Takelma Indians. Beautiful.
My hotel room balcony is just feet from rapids in the Rogue River, full and playing soothing music on its way to the Pacific. Also from the balcony, I see enormous pines and thousands of lichen-laden short oak trees.
This brings back memories from my time as a kid in Ohio. We didn’t have Rocky Mountains. We had the rolling foothills of the Appalachians, equally stirring in their own way. We had fields and woods, hollows and lakes, and we had farmland. I spent hours in all of them and here I developed a love for nature, the outdoors, and wildlife that’s lasted a lifetime.
My favorite color is green because it was, in my kid’s view, the most natural of colors.
The early American frontiersmen like Daniel Boone and their Native American counterparts like Tecumseh were my heroes.
I learned caught, kept, and tended tadpoles and all manner of bugs. Whenever I could in the fields or woods I froze into stillness and watched animals and birds live without human interference. I learned their names, sounds, and habits, as I learned the names of plants and especially trees.
This need to observe flora and fauna remains with me, for I still find it exciting to see something different, maybe a fox, an egret in Florida, or prairie dogs in Nebraska. I still find it exciting to see a bird or animal or tree I’ve never seen before. I remember the first time I saw a roadrunner in Arizona and a magpie in California.
Hearing birds sing in the early morning is my favorite music. Their distinctive and varying harmonies are unmatched.
In the 8th Grade another student and friend, Dave Hammond, and I built an extensive Conservation display for the school’s science fair. I don’t remember the award we received. I do remember getting our picture in the paper. Though I would not today call myself an environmentalist, a term fraught with problematic politics, I am certainly concerned for the stewardship of all creation. “Extinction” is an awful word, and “despoiled” is almost as bad.
As a kid I never felt freer, more alive and optimistic, than when I was alone in the fields or woods. Not because I had a poor family life, because I was blessed with the opposite. But because I felt connected with a kind of beauty, purity, and simplicity that could not be found even in village life, let alone amongst urban congestion.
The Great Outdoors is great because it’s nothing less than divine art. I loved it all from the moment I could walk in nature’s cathedrals. I am part of it. I am responsible for it. I love it still.
Few non-fiction writers have caught the public’s attention in the past few years like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Born in Somalia, educated but coming of age in a family with a strange mix of love and abuse, living in four countries mostly without a present father, an unwanted arranged marriage at 22 years, and a run for freedom to Holland, this is Ali’s background.
Then add a remarkable story of fortitude, resilience, and drive for independence that leads Ali from scared immigrant to Member of the Dutch Parliament to death threats by Islamists for producing a controversial film questioning the Koran. Ali is a rather amazing individual who by any reasonable guess should be a victim of her upbringing and circumstances. But she’s overcome them all to become an internationally recognized women’s rights advocate, writer, and speaker.
Since I read her later books before reading this one, it was easy to catch the differences in the writing and the yet-maturing nature of Ali’s thinking and social analysis, all of which are so evident in the later books. Don’t get me wrong. In this book Ali offers an hard-hitting evaluation of what she believes are the backward values embraced by so many followers of Islam.
She points to mental stagnation, repressive regimes, rejection of reason, and a collective mentality that suppresses individualism, sacrificing all to absolute obedience and a drive for “honor” and avoidance of “shame” at all costs. Ali believes Islam offers no credible political model, that Islamic societies are characterized by the lowest economic growth of any in the world, and that such societies are fueled by aggression, distrust, and fatalism.
Islamic culture is, Ali contends, obsessed with virginity, therefore turning girls and women into chattel of the men of the family and clan. This twisted view of sexual morality makes women invisible, figuratively and literally. They are persons for whom both external and internal freedom are inhibited. They are in the virgin’s cage, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Ali argues for an Islamic Enlightenment, an openness to self-reflection and criticism, a willingness to consider new ideas, attitudes, and behaviors. Islam, she believes, is static, and it's not being held hostage by terrorism but by itself.
These are powerful insights and allegations, ones that have earned Ali the continuing condemnation of Islamic leaders and even, incredibly, the criticism or disdain of some in the Western Left. The Left doesn’t like Ali’s comments not because they don’t see that female genital mutilation, for example, is a serious issue, but because the Left has bought into the Kool-aid of multiculturalism, i.e., cultural relativism, i.e. moral relativism. In its zeal for tolerance and freedom from judgment the Left has steered itself into an intellectual cul-de-sac in which it cannot offer credible critique of anything because anything goes.
This is perhaps Ali’s greatest contribution thus far. Not simply an able defense of women’s rights, though her words carry passion and power on this important issue. Not simply questioning Islam, though she is noteworthy for her combination of personal experience, hurt, and educated social sophistication, all of which she turns on a religion too long without evaluation.
No, perhap’s Ali’s greatest contribution thus far is simply to call boldly and articulately for freedom of inquiry based upon intellectual honesty. She wants to know the truth and to work with the truth. She wants others to get their heads out of their self-delusional sand and see for themselves. Just answer the question, she says: What set of values best advances individual life, liberty, and wellbeing? What moral framework actually works for the good of one and all? What set of values is better?
While this book, collected essays as it is, seems a bit choppy at times and doesn't give us the mature thinker we later read, it is nevertheless worth reading. I highly recommend this book.
Betrayal is something that's part of life for some people in a world gone awry. For others, betrayal is not so common, but it can rear its ugly head.
I think I've experienced betrayal, albeit in the scheme of things not nearly as threateningly or severely as others. But at whatever level of intensity, betrayal is usually shocking. We don't expect it, especially from people close to us, and it hurts or angers or embitters.