PERSPECTIVES: RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND “BAD WORDS”

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Rights? Privileges? Wrongs? Confusion!

Much of what we humans may think are rights are actually privileges.

And even those can be quickly redefined with a short walk in the jungle.

Go stand in front of a hungry lion and say “I have a right to life and to be here.” And see what happens.

The King of the jungle gets to write the rules.

And you are food.

ABU DHABI

Now what has this got to do with Abu Dhabi?

Well it depends. This week an Australian woman and her family were deported from Abu Dhabi for posting a photo of a car parked in a parking spot for handicapped people and “writing bad words” on the internet – after having lived there for around 3 years.

I have spent 15 years working in Indonesia – another Muslim country – and almost half of my life as a visitor and guest in countries of which I am not a citizen. One learns to respect the laws, customs, mores of the places that give you stamp in your passport to visit them, even make a living there.

QUICK ANALYSIS

So let me try to analyze a few things:

It is Ramadan. The Muslim holy month of fasting. During this period people are prescribed to be extra careful with word, thought and deed. And keep that which may be considered “bad” or offensive to themselves.

Posting a photo of a parked car – in whatever location – and adding some “bad words” is not the way to behave during Ramadan. We do not know who parked the car there and for what reason. It might have been an emergency.

The woman says she only posted a photo. No words. The news did mention “bad words” without describing them. If they were not good enough to mention on the news, then why would someone consider it good enough to post on an almost worldwide platform?

CRAZY ORGAN?

A judicial source says she added “crazy” and “a slang term for a male sexual organ” (crazy dick?)

Not the way to behave when referring to a person you don’t know and in a country where you are a guest. And not knowing why the car was parked there.

Observation: Different countries, different laws, different customs, different mores. Respect them.

Did the parked car inconvenience the woman? We don’t know, but let’s assume not.

So what has it got to do with her? Minding one’s own business is preferable in a country where you are a guest. I repeat “a guest”.

One more point: One would have thought that after 3 years in a Muslim country one would have developed some cultural sensitivities – especially around fasting months.

CULTURAL SENSITIVITY

Observation: Maybe the company who employed the husband should have run a cultural sensitivity course for the family.

Was there a lesson learned here? One would hope so.

One more thing: The Abu Dhabi State Prosecutor said that the actions committed by the woman fell foul of the 2012 Federal Anti-Information Technology Crimes Law No. 5.” Now the woman probably did not know of this law – all the more reason to be careful in a country you visit and work in.

APPRECIATION?

And to close this off: The woman also posted her apparent “appreciation” of her government’s action as “…belated efforts of the embassy..”. More “bad words”?

Question: Is an embassy there to mop up the personal problems of those who land themselves in strife through publishing “bad words”?

Maybe the relevant department should take note of this appreciative comment when dealing with a request to re-issue or extend a passport in future.

CRUEL AND BARBARIC

In Singapore, some years ago, an “under-aged” male was given 3 cuts with a rattan (cane) after spraying someone else’s car with paint. The West called the caning a cruel, barbaric and middle age deed.

Well was it? It was not the sprayer’s property. He acted stupidly in a country where he was a guest.

Question: What is so difficult to understand? Different countries have different laws.

Apparently the person was caught back in his home country 9 months later doing the same thing. Question: 3 cuts were not enough? No lesson learned?

Go spray your dad’s car – and see how he likes it. Or their TV set. Or couch. Or bedroom. Or the car of the President who stood up for you. Or better still: go buy your own car and spray it.

In Australia, this same week, two men who shot dead another man and then set the corpse alight, each received a 9 year sentence. Only 9 years. The reason? “They are from broken homes”.

Broken homes? So tell me, whom of us are from perfect homes? Is that an excuse to kill someone and then set his corpse alight? But there are whispers that this was a drug-related matter. Drugs. Yes drugs.

Not a broken home. Now wasn’t that a cruel and barbaric deed?

SELF-DESTRUCT

People tend to do silly things, even self-destruct on social media platforms.

Recently a person was given a job at a fast-food chain. On a Friday. Over the weekend she posted on Facebook saying she didn’t really like the job. Her manager posted back “Don’t bother coming in on Monday”. Fired before she started. In today’s tough environment should one not respect being employed?

There is no “right” to be employed, as she soon found out.

Again, was there a lesson learnt here? One would hope so.

SUMMARY: 

  • The public domain is not there for you to insult, gripe, slander.
  • You are not a citizen of the web. You are a guest on the web.​
  • We live on a planet that we are not in control of – and we all share.
  • We don’t really have many rights. We have privileges. Most of today’s “rights” are recent politically correct inventions.
  • We need to learn respect and behave respectfully.
  • We need to behave responsibly. And take responsibility for our actions.

If we do not, then we may have to face consequences. Some of which may be very unpleasant. The choice is ours. And that is right.

 

Or am I just old fashioned?

RAP SHEET

And to top the week off: A foreign sportsman was arrested in Miami after playing music too loud in his hotel room and refusing 3 times to tone down the party. He then resisted arrest and has now been charged with two offences.

Consequences? He may now have a police rap sheet in a foreign country.

The newscaster mentioned that the sportsman has also not been picked to represent his country in a prestigious event and that he must earn the right to do so.

The newscaster got it wrong. It is not a right. It is a privilege. Let’s get it right.

KEY POINTS

  • Rights are often confused with privileges.
  • Not everyone sees things your way. It helps to be sensitive – and establish the facts.
  • Man has very few “rights” – if any – on a planet we do not control.
  • Technology can be a dangerous platform if used unthinkingly.
  • Different countries, different laws, different customs, different mores.
  • Criminals are often excused due to “having been brought up in broken homes”.

ACTION STEPS

  • Learn to respect others and behave respectfully.
  • Behave responsibly. And take responsibility for our actions.
  • Learn the difference between a “right”, a “wrong” and a “privilege”.
  • Be prepared to face the consequences of your deeds and words.
  • Don’t write “bad words”. You don’t have a right – and it’s not right.

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PERSPECTIVES: JEALOUSY – A POISON.

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“Jealousy … is a mental cancer”. B.C. Forbes

“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications Q3 2015

Jealousy. The Green-Eyed Monster. The Othello Syndrome.

Some call it the tribute that mediocrity pays to genius.

Jealousy is a mental cancer. A cancer of the soul. Destructive. Humiliating. Dangerous. Even deadly.

But it is not a tribute.

Rooted in the Greek word “zelos” with a connotation to “boil, ferment” it is prevalent in families and friendships, romantic relationships and in the workplace. Driven by feelings of insecurity, fear and an anxiety of the anticipated loss of something that a person (believes to) hold dear, it results in a clutch-full of powerful emotions including anger, and resentment.

We all have to deal with it at some point during life – either as a victim or as the afflicted.

Jealousy is said to be healthy and unhealthy. Healthy inasmuch as that it prompts one to be more alert, engaged and self-improve certain aspect of oneself. Unhealthy when it leads to social and workplace issues.

Classes and Types

Humans like to classify and typify things, and have come up with various classes and types of jealousies, some considered normal and others abnormal – even delusional at that – all of which can be hurtful, violent and destructive in one form or another.

Jealousy can be symptomatic of major mental illness, drug abuse or other afflictions and which can develop into pathological jealousy – depending on the sensitivity of the afflicted person – resulting in a number of possible dangerous behaviors based on lack of trust and low self-esteem.

Normal jealousy on the other hand is a controllable emotion that stems from a real challenge to a valued relationship –complimentary as it sometimes may be, it can still be hurtful, even demeaning to the person on the receiving end.

The classes differ mainly on the biology and personality of the persons involved and the intensity of their (perceived) relationship as felt by one or both parties. Recall John Hinckley’s shooting of Pres. Ronald Regan to impress Jodie Foster.

Jealousy is further typified into (a) time jealousy (b) sibling jealousy (c) professional jealousy (d) and the pinnacle of all jealousies – sexual jealousy – which not infrequently results in violence, and all of which can turn into hate.

  • The tragedy is that sexual jealousy which leads to violence is often construed by the jealous person as “love” for the victim.

Time jealousy happens when a person near to you has to compete with someone or something else for your “time” – actually your attention.  So I would like to call it “Attention Jealousy” – which can be a catch-all for some other jealousies as well. By the way, when you give someone or something your attention – then like in all things – let it be quality attention.

Sibling jealousy can be more than a bit of rivalry between siblings who may compete for the attention within a family. Though it may also be seen as “Attention Jealousy”, history provides many examples where kingdoms are strewn with fratricide, patricide, and many other “cide’s” in search of personal power.

Sexual jealousy is triggered by a display of someone else’s interest in a partner who is then suspected of real infidelity. Men’s jealousy seems to stem more from suspicions of a partner’s physical infidelity whilst women’s jealousy is apparently more often triggered by real or suspected emotional infidelity and the fear of abandonment. When sexual jealousy gets out of hand, it often leads to tragedy, possibly even to the death of one or both parties.

It also finds echo within the animal kingdom: males generally protect their partners and therefore their bloodline whilst females’ so-called “nesting instinct” apparently lead to fear of abandonment.

Professional jealousy is something that I am sure most – if not all who are reading this – have had to or are still dealing with throughout a career. It is even worse if your manager is the jealous one due to lack of experience, compounded by being a people management ignoramus but with connection to higher places.

You basically have three options: (a) remain and suffer the indignities which will continuously be bestowed upon you (b) try to work on the issue OR (c) leave.

How much jealousy is enough? 

Enough – and acceptable – is when you stay alert and engaged within a relationship, and perhaps work on self-improvement.

Too much is when it starts to pre-occupy your time, thoughts, even sleep and affects your normal social and work relationships – leading to things you may later regret such as divorce, loss of health, job-loss or loss of a friendship,.

What can be done about it?

Attention jealousy

  • Give attention where attention is due and with the right quality. Do not short-change your family. Whom else do you work and live for?

Professional jealousy

  • DON’T tell your boss or co-worker you think they are professionally jealous. It will backfire.
  • Show your best side – with a smile.
  • Be a team player and compliment others – including your boss – when deserved.
  • Do some soul-searching. Do you turn up in flashy expensive clothes, brag about fantastic overseas holidays? Tone down.
  • Respect your peers and win their respect. I found – in three vivid instances in my last working position – that when I stood up for my staff who were sidelined or attacked by others, I earned their respect and loyalty. Your staff are your diamonds.
  • Laugh off the jealousy and concentrate on your work. Action mostly speaks louder than words, and when your manager is in a tight position (resignations, retrenchments, holidays) he or she may find a new respect for your “heads down” approach, realizing that if YOU also leave, he/she will be in strife.
  • If things get real nasty, document it, especially if you think someone is trying to destroy you. You may need that in future.
  • Catch the eye of your manager’s manager if you can – through hard work.
  • If things do not improve it may be time to leave – under graceful circumstances, and with a smile. Remember – their low esteem is not yours.

A word to jealous managers

Jealousy is not good for an organization. It breaks up teams and damages the organizational spirit. Don’t foster, allow or ignore it. There may be a number of reasons for it (organizational change, promotions, compliments, resources – I have seen them all) which the manager and leader must address.

  • Don’t show favouritism.
  • Encourage and practice open communication.
  • Assess your own maturity. If you are immature at managing people, do not accept or apply for a management position. If you do, then work on getting your jealousies under control – or your best staff will leave – which will eventually reflect on you.

Sexual jealousy

  • Remember that in probably all cases you cannot reform a jealous partner.
  • If it gets out of hand, leave for your own safety. Battered people eventually land up more battered, even dead. A jealous person may go after the kids to hurt the parent. In a recent case a cowardly husband threatened the wife with physically hurting their children if the wife did not succumb to his will! May karma work!
  • Treatment is possible for severe cases, and find it if you must.

In closing

From a Biblical perspective, Songs of Solomon notes that “Jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame”.

KEY POINTS

  • Jealousy can be a mental and soul destroying cancer.
  • It is prevalent in families, friendships, romantic relationships and the workplace.
  • There are various types of jealousies.
  • It stems from feelings of insecurity, fear, mistrust, low self-esteem and anxiety of the anticipated loss of something that a person (believes to) hold dear.
  • Jealousy can be acceptable or symptomatic of deeper – even pathological – issues.

ACTION STEPS

  • Give quality attention where deserved and important for you.
  • Be genuinely happy for the success of others.
  • Realize when you are jealous and rise above it quickly.
  • Get out of jealousy-driven violent relationships as quickly as you can. They normally deteriorate further.
  • If your jealousy leads to violence, seek help.
  • Remember – others’ low self-esteem is not yours.

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PERSPECTIVES: DON’T BE BULLIED. IT’S NOT OK !

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“Bullies are cowards! And bullying is not alright!”

“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications Q3 2015

Welcome to my life

“No, you don’t know what it’s like
When nothing feels all right
You don’t know what it’s like
To be like me
To be hurt
To feel lost
To be left out in the dark
To be kicked when you’re down
To feel like you’ve been pushed around
To be on the edge of breaking down
And no one’s there to save you
No, you don’t know what it’s like
Welcome to my life”
― Simple Plan
I don’t know the author is, but this speaks volumes. Thank you for publishing it. It could just as well have been written by a bully victim.

Strange as it may sound, some people accept being bullied – especially at work – as being part of life. It is not part of life. Period. I had bosses who sometimes displayed a tendency to bully – and the relationships normally terminated soon. I don’t get bullied. And I don’t bully. I repeat my quote “Bullies are cowards. And bullying is not alright”.

Bullies repeat their behavior over time until it becomes a pattern and the victim accepts it. It is therefore very important to realize this ASAP and break the cycle.

If you cannot, then your next best option is to leave as soon as you can – whether it is a personal (husband/wife/partner) or professional (work) relationship. Bullying is not alright!

Being bullied leads to physical, emotional, mental and social issues, insecurity, anxiety, sadness, depression, headaches, not to mention feelings of worthlessness and damage to self-esteem, problems with trusting others, making friends and being social, self-hurt and even death. Victims often feel and become suicidal – and if this happens to you, please seek immediate help. Talk to a confidante, your parents, or your doctor. You are not at fault. The bully is.

And bullying is not alright.

There are a multitude of types of bullying that manifest itself in different ways, including physical violence, name-calling (are you stupid or something!), threats, visible social exclusion, spreading rumours, ignoring requests for help but extending help to others, and many more. It can be face-to-face, cyber-space or behind the victim’s back.

It is possible to be both – a bully and being bullied. I have seen it tolerated in the workplace of small companies, medium sized organizations and multi-nationals. Victims are often scared to speak up or do something about it for fear of being bullied more, lose their jobs and their income.

If violence is defined as doing harm to others, then bullying fits the definition. The day should come that it is against the law– more so than physical violence should be. (Sneak peek: I will do a blog on violence against women – which is an outrage. Please note that I am a male). I am aware that in some countries it is possible to sue but it is still not common. I would like to see a zero-tolerance approach to it – by governments.

Bullying is not alright.

Victims may – amongst other:

  • Feel both angry and scared. Scared to be bullied and angry at themselves – wondering what they did wrong in life and why it is happening to them.
  • Be at their wits ends and wonder if the bullying will ever stop.
  • Waste precious moments of their lives, trying to figure out how for it to stop or avoid it.
  • Withdraw into themselves – become lonely, feeling trapped and helpless.
  • Try to please the bully beyond any reasonableness – and still keep on being bullied.
  • Fear retribution. And become timid.

A friend of mine’s son – a boy of small stature – was bullied at school, his pocket money and later his food taken off him. He was then threatened with physical violence if he did not bring more money to school. He turned to stealing from his parents, started gambling thinking he can make money that way, and by the time he was in his next to final year, was expelled for taking drugs – trying to escape reality. He got into gang fights, was stabbed several times and landed up in hospital with severe injuries – his parents fearing for his life. Bullying lead to substance abuse, academic and social issues, violence. His personal, social, mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual life is a mess – to this day. And no doubt a reason for some of his parents’ grey hair. He is just but one case.

Bullying is not alright.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Report it.

If you see someone- self-harming, or hear someone talk about it, reach out and get professional help for the person as soon as possible.

Search websites. There are some very good ones.

HOW TO HANDLE IT

Workplace bullying:

  • Write it down. Keep a dossier, date, time, event, persons involved. Write to the person who bullies you. And keep / document any response.
  • If it continues, write again, this time copying the person’s manager and HR.
  • If the company has a corporate ethics or employee support group, contact them.
  • Update your CV – you may have to leave your employer.
  • If nothing happens, leave. That is not a company to work for.

School bullying:

  • Let you parents take your case to the Principal. If nothing happens, move schools.

Private life:

  • We have mentioned above that your next best option is to leave if things do not improve permanently. Many cases exist where people have been murdered by bullying partners. It is a regular news item.

Advice to a bullying Boss: If you cannot accord people respect, take the honourable way out: Don’t manage people.

KEY POINTS

  • Bullies are cowards. Bullying is not alright.
  • Many people accept that bullying is a part of life. It is not.
  • Bully victims run a gamut of emotions which can result in even death.
  • Bullies repeat their behavior until a pattern is established. This pattern must be broken.
  • Bullying is violence. It takes many forms and is done in many ways.
  • Advice to bullying bosses: Stop your bullying. Respect people or give up your management position.

ACTION STEPS

  • Don’t be bullied. Develop the mindset that you are equal to others.
  • Don’t bully.
  • Face your bully.
  • Seek help.
  • Move out or away – if you must.
  • Believe in yourself.

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BEHEADINGS AND BULLETS/BOMBS

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  • You lose what you don’t defend.
  • Principles count.
  • Actions matter.
  • And have rippling consequences.
  • Life is not Facebook where you can “delete a page”.

Liberalism is not Liberty, though apparently one of the cornerstones on which it was founded (as per Wikipedia definition: Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property).

  • Note it does not include the liberty to take someone else’s life. Read my first 5 points.

If this sick cycle of violence does not stop, I can see it lead to another Crusade – but this time with far worse consequences, due to the power inherent in today’s weaponry and its availability. A beheading done by a knife has consequences that ripple far beyond knives. Imagine the ripple effect of bombs, God forbid eventually atomic bombs.

Let’s not go back and say “the other side started this”.

Seize the moment between action and re-action- to stop the cycle of violence. However, if one side will not participate then go back to my first 5 points and ask yourself these few questions:

  • Will you negotiate with terrorists? (Some countries do. And it doesn’t stop terrorism).
  • Will you negotiate/pay ransom to terrorists? (Obama says US families / loved ones can now do it).
  • Will you sit silently by and see terrorism happen? (Todd Beamer and others died on September 11, 2001 trying to reclaim control of UA Flight 93 by attacking the hijacking terrorists who then crashed the plane into a field near Shanksville – it’s suspected target? The White House or the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C.)

Quo Vadis?