Showing posts with label Injustice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Injustice. Show all posts

June 29, 2016

Compassion Instead Of Anger

So I was speaking to someone recently about how angry they were with some stressful things and people in their life. 

I listened carefully and tried to empathize--also in full transparency, it got to be a lot and I at some point was begging them to stop!

At one point, I just said, instead of being angry maybe try to be compassionate. 

And I could see in other person's reaction that they thought perhaps that I had hit on something a little eye-opening here. 

We can get angry about all the stresses and injustices that we perceive in our lives. 

People blame us, attack us, don't appreciate us, talk down to us, disrespect us, even bully us or try to hurt us.

Also life throws some pretty stinging to earth-shattering circumstances upon us.

And maybe we have every right to feel angry.

But usually the anger, unless we need the adrenaline-rush in fighting for our survival and for our core beliefs and values, doesn't help us achieve what we really want. 

What we want most of the time is to resolve things!

But getting angry and lashing out often only makes things worse. 

We act rashly, we overreact, we say and do things we may regret afterwards, and the consequences of our reaction can be severe to us afterwards in terms of alienating and harming others, escalating the situation and making it worse, creating hurt and destruction in our own wake, and even losing jobs or getting yourself in trouble and sent to the pokey.

If instead of getting angry and flinging arrows, we look at things from eyes of compassion, we can listen to others more carefully, understand the situation better, and try to rectify bad relationships or cope with stressful life events by employing emotional intelligence and a soft hand/skills. 

This is not to say that we should excuse really bad behavior or truly unforgivable misdeeds, but rather that we should look at things in a larger context, the role we play, and as part of our our life challenges to make things better and overcome.

Anger and the associated response is appropriate when the little devil is doing their misdeeds (lashing out severely and/or repeatedly with harm and intent), but compassion can help to see everything else for what it is or isn't and gives us an opportunity to react with a level head, a stable hand, and humanity as a first resort. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 15, 2013

Driving Away With It

This last week was another week for gross social injustice. 

As it has now been widely reported, a wealthy drunken teen stole 2 cases of beer and then plowed into a stranded motorist and 3 bystanders who were trying to help--and killed them all.

The teen was 3x over the alcohol limit!

What an irony: 3 people stop to help a stranger in need and they are killed by someone who cares nothing for human life.

And the flagrant injustice of it all is that the kid was let off on 5 years probation and will attend a $450,000 a year private school rather than going to prison. 

On the news this week, they interviewed the husband and father of 2 of the dead, killed by this teen. He is broken. 

The defense teen argued "Affluenza" -- like a disease, the kid should be let off the hook because...he is unbelievably wealthy and therefore was not given proper parental supervision--in effect, he is a victim of having too much--too many things, too much opportunity, but too little parenting as well. 

I guess I never realized that justice meant if you had too much you could murder 4 people and walk!

While others that have too little--education, jobs, money, 2-parent families, and so on--must take the rap and go away for their crimes.

Too much--you can buy your way free.

Too little--you get sent up the river without a paddle. 

Wouldn't you think it should be the other way around--if you have more, then more is expected of you.  While if you have less, your challenges are greater and so we take into account extenuating circumstances?

But no, money talks, and the guilty walks. 

It is a shame on our society--and what we inappropriately call a justice system.

Whether the money buys you a top-rated defense attorney, paying off some officials or jurors, or provide alternatives to the the same punishment and rehabilitation that others must face, there is no denying that money influences the outcome.

Sort of reminds me of the infamous O.J. trial--another travesty of justice. How many more? 

Funny, how art imitates life and life imitates art--in Season 2 of Homeland, the son of the V.P. drinks and drives and also kills someone and gets off with nothing but a slap on the wrist. 

You see it's not whether you're black or white or yellow or whatever, it's plain hard !!power!! and $$cash$$. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 3, 2013

12 Years A Slave, But Not Anybody's Property

I saw the movie "12 Years A Slave."

I have seen other movies on slavery, such as Amistad and Glory, but none were as potent and realistic as this was. 


I came out with my head full of feelings of pain and injustice, as if I had just lived through those 12 years as a slave myself. 


I literally felt sick to my stomach and the room felt as if it was spinning and I could hardly breathe. 


My wife said to me, "You wouldn't be human if you didn't feel bad."


And I responded to her, "I feel bad that they (the slave owners and traders) weren't human."


I cannot tell the story of Solomon Northup or of the horrors of slavery any better than the movie in fact did. 


But what I can convey is my shear disgust for how anybody could enslave and mistreat others the way the Black people and others throughout history were. 


As a Jewish person, my own people have a history of 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and this took on a whole new meaning. 


As great actors as Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner were, The movie, The Ten Commandments, did not show the depths of Hell of slavery as much as the breadth of Heaven of redemption. 


And while the Pyramids of Egypt were built not with massively powered Caterpillar earth movers and construction equipment, but with the flesh and blood of my people under the whip of servitude 3,500 years ago, similarly the Capitol of the United States and The White House were built with Black people in chains and hung by the noose. 


In the movie today, the plantation owners said they could do what they wanted to the slaves and without fear of retribution or sin, because the slaves were their property. 


What is unbelievable is that anyone can believe that anybody can be the property of anyone other than G-d, the Master of the Universe, him/herself. 


The slave trader in the movie, tearing apart a family and selling the mother and her children separately, when questioned on his ability to commit such atrocity, says matter-of-factly,"my sentimentality extends the length of a coin."


For a buck, what will a person not do?


In history, we have seen individuals and whole societies cheat, steal, rape, enslave, torture, murder, and commit every treachery and treason...for a buck or even just because they could. 


What is the lesson for all of us?


People can do great good in this world, but unfettered by faith, conscience, reason, or fear of justice, they can do great, great evil--and for that we can never let our guard down.

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November 2, 2013

Exposing Rape

On the Metro in Washington, D.C. there is a sign that warns people about sexual harassment. 

In the crowded rush hour trains, people can take advantage and try something.

But the advertisement reminds people that if they do the wrong thing, they are the ones who will be exposed--and punished. 

This is in contrast to a story today in the Wall Street Journal about a gang rape of a 16 year-old girl in Kenya. 

She was attacked in June--while walking home from her grandfather's funeral!

Six men ambushed her, took turns raping her, and then threw her unconscious body in a toilet pit--as if to say that she was just a thing for their sexual satisfaction and nothing but a proverbial piece of sh*t herself (excuse the directness here). 

But to make matters worse, the horrific act was not punished, but mocked. 

The rapists were "told to pay for some pain medicine for the girl and mow the grass at the police station"--I am feeling sick again!

I write this blog for this victim and for women everywhere to try to do my little part to expose the continued injustices against them--from inequality and unsafe conditions in the workplace to sexual harassment and rape in society. 

Perhaps, if we all expose the injustices, we can finally make it unacceptable and rub it out of existence evermore. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 29, 2013

Outrage At Bogus Judge Baugh

Injustice, Injustice does Montana Judge Todd Baugh pursue. 

G-d, hope you are listening...

BBC reported about this bogus Judge Baugh who called a 14-year old girl that was raped by her 49-year old teacher, "as much in control of the situation" as the man who assaulted her. 

The poor girl later committed suicide, which her mother probably rightfully attributed to the distress from the rape and aftermath. 

And what does the judge do to mete out justice? He sentences the rapist to 15-years in prison AND suspends the sentence for all but 31 days with 1 day time already served. 

The victim was raped and is dead and the rapist gets not 30-years, but 30 days!

While the judge who is under pressure to resign has all of a sudden expressed his deep remorse, it is almost unbelievable that this is someone charged with seeing that justice is served. 

Shock, disbelief, outrage...what can you say about such a justice. 

While there is certainly a time and place for empathy, compassion, and mercy--would anyone in their right mind, see this as one of those cases? 

For all who believe that this world is not the end, but just the journey, I'd venture to guess that the 14-year old girl is not done either with her rapist or the judge who mocked her suffering and death. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 2, 2012

From Coworker to Killer

People are people, but there are some who walk a fine and dangerous line. 

Some are stable, rational people--those, that we hope we can depend on. 

Others are prime time wack jobs--they are not "safe" and everyone knows to beware of them.

Finally, there are those who are like firecrackers, one step away from explosion--and these can pose a nasty surprise. 

These last two perhaps invoke the fear of someone in the workplace "going postal"--a reference to the 1986 killing by a postal worker of 14 people and then himself. 

In light of the workplace shooting this week in front the Empire State Building, Newsweek (3 September 2012) asks "How to Spot a Workplace Crazy?"

Their default answer--see the Department of Homeland Security's Active Shooter Booklet, which includes a list of 16 "indicators of potential violence by an employee" (page 10) from addiction to depression, over reactions to mood swings, unprovoked rage to paranoia, and more. 

Perhaps, their more genuine answer is that anybody can be the next workplace shooter--and that it is hard to really tell what demons lay in wait inside a person's head or heart or what can set them off.  

They reference  the book, Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion, which states: "it can be anybody who's getting completely screwed in the workplace--so that's most workers in this country." 

When people feel a "perceived injustice" or they are "grievance collectors"--harboring hurt and anger at their mistreatment day-in and -out, they may be one step away from dangerous. 

As leaders and managers, we cannot control for everything that people feel or for all their personal struggles and life's circumstances, but we can do our best to treat others fairly, with compassion, to listen to them, and try to accomodate genuine needs.  

I was reminded of this again, recently, when I went with my daughter to a car dealership.  At one point in negotiating for a new automobile, I asked a question about the current odometer reading.  

The Manager yells over to a worker and tells him harshly to get on it and quickly.  It wasn't what he said per se, but how he said it--ordering his subordinate around like a thing, not like a person.  

My daughter turns to me and she is clearly uncomfortable with what she saw.  I asked her about it.  And she whispers to me, "Did you see how they treated the worker? It's not right." 

I couldn't agree with her more. And when the man came back with the information--we thanked him so much for helping us and told him what a good job he was doing getting everything ready--the paperwork and the vehicle.  

Is he going to "go postal" today, tomorrow, or never...I don't know--he seemed nice enough, but if people get pushed too far and their mental state is frayed, anything is possible, and we shouldn't tempt fate--more importantly, we should treat everyone with respect and dignity. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Charlie Essers)

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April 8, 2012

Poisons Anonymous

One of the Buddhist teachings is that there are 3 poisons in this world: greed, anger, and ignorance

But that by turning these poisons around into generosity, compassion, and wisdom, we can create life-healing. 

While this is sort of simplistic, it does point to a number of important things:

1) We can have an impact on our destiny. We can choose our direction and work towards something that is good or we can fall harmfully into some bad and destructive ways.

2) Everything has an antidote.  While we may not know the antidote at the time, generally everything has its corollary or opposite and we can find healing by moving towards that. 

3) The answers in life are not so far away. How much of a stretch is it to turned a clenched fist into an open hand or to quench ignorance with learning--these things are doable.

If we look at people and events at face value, it is easy as times to get angry and feel hatred at the corruption and injustices out there--but I believe, the key is to channel those feeling into something positive--into change and Tikkun Olam--"fixing the world". 

By channeling our feelings into constructive actions, then we are changing not just ourselves, but can have a broader influence--one deed at a time.  

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 18, 2012

The Evil That Men Do

This time I barely know what to write, except that I have been very upset the whole week.

I watched this multiple award-winning movie called The Stoning of Soraya M.

Have you seen it yet? 

It was one of those life-changing events for me that taught me about (in)justice, adversity, and purpose.

It is a 2008 film that was adapted from a book by a French-Iranian journalist. 

It is based on a true story about a journalist whose car breaks down in a remote Iranian village.

There, he learns from a decent, well-respected women, Zahra about the nefarious plot and stoning death (read murder) the prior day of her niece Soraya M. 

Soraya is targeted by her abusive husband Ali who wants to divorce her in order to marry a 14 year old girl in the village. 

When Soraya refuses the divorce knowing that she and her children will be destitute without Ali, she suffers violently, both verbal and physical abuse. 

Soraya is asked by the mayor and Mullah of the village to help (as a job) a recently widowed man with his house and son and she is kind and generous to them--she appears a genuinely good person, the diametric opposite of her sorely evil husband.

However, Ali uses Soraya's kindness to the other family to turn against her and he concocts a story of infidelity by Soraya and the man; he cajoles and threatens the others to go along and bear (false) witness against Soraya. 

Soraya is condemned to death by stoning in a mockery of a "trial" behind closed doors that she is not permitted to attend or even be represented at--the mayor, Mullah, and her own father decide she is too die for her treacherous infidelity to her husband--based on a complete fabrication!

The men and boys in the village go "crazy" chanting for her death, that G-d is great, and preparing carts of stones for the carrying out of the (in)justice. 

Soraya has a heartfelt goodbye with her two young daughters, while her two older sons--who are turned against her by Ali--prepare to participate in the stoning. 

Aunt Zahra tries everything to save Soraya, but cannot stop the crowd from carrying out their false retribution on her. 

They march Soraya to a dirt yard, where the hole has been dug for her.

They tie her hands, and bury her to the waist.

She is given the opportunity to say a few last words and asks completely bewildered as we all are, how could her neighbors, friends, and family--who know her (the real her, the truth of who she is), do this to her. 

But just when you think, the story will end--in her death or sudden saving--the movie surprises with a blow by blow showing of her brutal stoning death.

Her own father throws stone at her, but misses. Then her evil husband Ali takes aim and hits her twice right in the head and she is bleeding from a hole there. Then her own sons.  The "religious" Mullah.  Only the widowed man she had helped, refuses. All the other townsmen and boys throw stone after stone for what seems endless minutes as her face, head, torso, spine is crushed, shredded, torn.  

When her husband checks to see if she is finally dead, she is still somehow able to partially open one eye--he jumps back in horror that the "witch" is still alive and then she is overwhelmed by rocks from everyone all at once, putting the final end to this poor woman's life. 

Soraya was given one of the worst deaths that can be imagined--long, painful, literally "in your face" and by virtually all the people she loved and cared about--and all based on a complete lie!

To show the woman that their infidelity will not be tolerated, the men make a Colosseum-style event to the gruesome death and then add to that punishment that Soraya is not allowed to be buried, so that the dogs end up eating her remains.

After watching this movie--this life event--that happened to Soraya and G-d knows how many other helpless women who are violently mistreated, abused, and even murdered, I could not get the image of Soraya buried waist-deep in the ground, taking hits stone by stone, and bleeding out from her mangled body. 

I did not sleep (well) this week and I am still emotionally recovering from this movie. 

Thank G-d, the journalist escaped with the recording to tell the story of Soraya M. and all the other tortured women (and men) out there.

I know that I am deeply shaken by the graphic portrayal in this movie and of the injustices that are done, the evil that seems to prevail, and the pain that is left behind.  

Only faith in G-d's higher purpose for us--to learn and grow through all adversity--and of some ultimate justice and the reward of the righteous and punishment of the evil can fill this wound where I myself feel like I've been stoned too. 

(Source Photo: here)

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August 13, 2011

Attacked And Then Some

We watched this week the riots in London--the chaos, the anarchy, the destruction, and ultimately the fear brought upon the everyday people.

But nothing was more chilling than the video of the Malaysian student who already beaten and bloodied is helped to his feet by what seems like a good samaritan only to be taken off-guard by what turns out to really be a second attack, where they steal his wallet, phone, and Sony PSP playstation.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said about this incident: "When we see children as young as 13 looting and laughing, when we see the disgusting sight of an injured young man with people pretending to help him, while they are robbing him, it is clear that there are things that are badly wrong in our society."

But what is wrong with society and how are we going to correct them?

Clearly, there are feelings are social inequality and injustice around the world and this has sparked protests, riots, and war.

This last week we saw the gamut from peaceful protests in Tel Aviv over the rising costs of living, to the riots in the UK leading to over a thousand arrests and estimates of hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, and ongoing warring battles for the Arab Spring occurring in the Middle-East in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and more.

And while protesting and even demanding change in the face of injustice is sometimes necessary, the brutal attacks on innocents is not a fight for social justice, but rather of those who would take advantage of the times for their own greed and malevolence--it is sick to loot, burn, and attack just because they can.

Unfortunately, we saw similar mob mentality in Egypt when CBS reporter, Lara Logan was brutally raped by a crowd celebrating the resignation of Hosni Mubarak.

So what is wrong? There are some people who lack a clear sense of right and wrong, and who are not inhibited from doing horribly wrong and violent things.

I remember as a child growing up, my father used to tell me, when there is no one to stand up and be a man, you be the man--you be the example!

This was not a lesson in masculinity, but rather of morality--no matter what others do, no matter how egregious, no matter how many, you must have the conviction to stand up and do what is right.

To me, we need more fathers in this world like mine, who teach and demand responsibility from their children.

Similarly, we need more nurturing mothers, enlightened educators, genuine models of religious piety, as well as wise and inspirational leader--who can bring out the best in our young people and give them hope, but also guidance.

Both the London riots and the attack on the student that happened this week, could happen anywhere next, if we don't continue to address the basic needs of the people (from freedom to human rights, economic prosperity, etc.), and ensure a society that is governed by law, but also driven by ethical behavior and a sense of duty rather than entitlement.

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January 8, 2010

Speaking with Integrity

At work, there is often a lot more talking going on than just work issues. There is the office politics and the chatter about staff, colleagues, management, stakeholders, and so on.

“Oh by the way, have you heard what John said to Mary this week?”

Rumors easily get started about office indiscretions, “dumb mistakes,” bad decisions, injustices, nepotism, and even office romances.

Yeah, it goes on everyday.

Some of it is true, but more often than not, a lot is exaggerated, taken out of context, only one side of the story, or just plain B.S.—but for many, it makes for interesting conversation nonetheless.

Speech is a true gift. It enables us to easily communicate with each other and to share feelings, thoughts, and form meaningful relationships.

But speech is also something that needs to be guarded, because words misused or abused can hurt others—their feelings, their reputation, their future prospects, and even their basic human dignity.

There is an old saying that G-d gave us two ears and one mouth, so that we could listen twice as much as we speak. In other words, our speech should be carefully thought and wisely used.

I remember this Talmudic story going something like this…there are various parts of the body arguing about which is the most important—the legs said without me you couldn’t walk, and the eyes say without me you could not see, and so on and so forth. But the mouth says, I am the most important because with just one (or a couple of) word(s), I can get you in trouble and even killed. And sure enough, on some pretense the man is called before the king and from the man’s mouth comes some insulting words to the king who orders that the man be executed for his insolence.

Indeed our words are very important—they can harm and they can heal.

I was reminded of this just recently, a young adult was telling me that a boy in her high school class made fun of her “in front of everybody” and she broke out crying—deeply hurt and humiliated. Sometimes, these are the events that can scar a person long after the event is over and seemingly forgiven and forgotten. Perhaps, this was just another person’s insensitivity or their misguided thinking that they are elevating themselves by putting down someone else, but either way, their words cut like a knife.

I ran into another example of this recently, when I heard of a Star-Trek fan who questioned whether artificial intelligence (e.g., like the character Data) could be considered human, “just like Jews and Blacks.” Whatever the intent, it was a shockingly racist and hurtful use of language.

Words can and do hurt others, and people should be careful with their speech as well as with their actions.

On this topic, I read this week in the Wall Street Journal (6 January 2009) about a movement to get people to stop gossiping—like the Jewish prohibition against lashon harah (evil language).

Essentially the mantra for better speech is kind/true/necessary. Before we say something, we should ask ourselves:

· Is it kind?

· Is it true?

· Is it necessary?

And “every word we utter should pass through [these] three gates.”

One organization called WordsCanHeal.org advocates for this and asks that people take a pledge, as follows:“I will try to replace words that hurt with words that encourage, engage, and enrich.”

This is a great and worthwhile endeavor for us all in the workplace and in our personal lives.


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