Ageism at Work: “Unfit to be on Campus”

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  • Discrimination is discrimination. And none more so despicable, pathetic and cowardly than when perpetrated against the elderly.

 

Today’s News in Australia:

 

Dr David Goodall – a 102 year old botanist and ecology scientist – has been told to pack up his office with the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia declaring him unfit to be on campus.

His career spans 70 years resulting in more than 100 research papers, earning him three doctorates and the Order of Australia for his contribution to serving Humanity.

David Goodall is also a Shakespearean actor of note.

Below link will take you to a short article on this 102 year old scientist:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/102yo-researcher-told-to-leave-his-edith-cowan-university-job/7769422

 

This will be a death sentence. Most of his social exchanges are at the University.

This man is a scientist. Not a fitness instructor. Why send him home?

 

The Edith Cowan University is a public university, thus taxpayer-funded.

We also fund jails.

  • And this is where they are sending this man who has devoted his life to Humanity.

 

Says Dean of the School of Sciences, Andrew Woodward:

  • “This is not a decision we’ve taken lightly, this is something that has been considered over a period of time.”
  • “We are now of the opinion where the situation is at a point where we really do need to make this change in David’s best interest and our own.” (my accentuation)

 

(George Orwell: Rule # 3 on writing: “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out”

Question: Can anyone spot the excess words in the above statements? Or are both statements excessive?)

 

Here is a snip from Dean Andrew Woodward’s public LinkedIn profile:

  • “In my leadership role at ECU, I have a strong commitment to quality teaching, engaged research and a focus on expanding international partnerships. I believe strongly in ECUs values, particularly those of integrity and respect, and make sure that I demonstrate these values in my dealings with others.” (my accentuation).

 

Mr. Andrew Woodward, let me put this in a different context:

  • So, a person can be too black and must move off campus?
  • Or too white?
  • Perhaps too short?
  • Too tall?
  • Bald?
  • Wrong sex”

 

Or Too Old?

 

With modern science you may even be able to change some of the above parameters.

But age?

 

Here is a suggestion:

  • Let us put in place forced retirement of Deans after one year in their job. And move them off campus. For their best interest.

 

Sounds silly doesn’t it? But to paraphrase Andrew Woodward:

  • This is not a suggestion I make lightly, this is something that has been considered over a period of time.
  • I am now of the opinion where the situation is at a point where universities really do need to make this change in their Deans’ best interest.

 

I repeat: Discrimination is discrimination. And none more so despicable, pathetic and cowardly than when perpetrated against the elderly.

 

I would like to close with 6 points on “Remember – Age is Mostly a Number” from my 2nd book “50 PERSEPCTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen”.

 

KEY POINTS

  • How ‘old’ would you be if you didn’t know your birthdate and real age?
  • Ageism is another –ism, and is as offensive as racism and sexism.
  • Some reach mental maturity earlier whilst others are slower and even stagnate.
  • To age is a privilege. It is neither a sin, nor anti-social. Character is what counts.
  • Knowing and understanding things become easier as we age.
  • Ageing is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one with challenges taking on different hues.

 

I note Andrew Woodward was an IT Network Security Manager and Advisor for 10 years of his life. I can relate to that having been in the IT domain for 43 years of my life, and having had IT Network Security Managers work for me….

I can share the passion for acting with Dr. Goodall, having been able to play in numerous student movies and one feature film (at age 68/69) care of Singaporean independent filmmaker, director and producer Tzang Merwyn Tong. And am thankful for that opportunity to do something outside of the IT world…

 

Hence in closing:

 

“You are not old until regrets take the place of dreams” – Adapted from John Barrymore

Dr. Goodall – don’t be bullied. May you be spared for many fruitful years!

 

We all get old. Or die on the way trying to get there.

RIGHTS

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There are three types of Right.

  • Right and Left.
  • Right and Wrong.
  • Right and Privilege.

 

Right and Left

These are basically directions. If you turn Right and I turn Left, it is going to perhaps take a long time for us to meet – if ever we do.

 

Right and Wrong

Sometimes also Incorrectly referred to as Correct and Incorrect. This is a bit more troublesome. Especially when it comes to the courts (more on the courts when we get to Rights and Privileges) where countries and cultures enshrine their norms in Laws. These change over time and under circumstance. What was Wrong last year, or even last week, could all of a sudden be Right. When it comes to Maths, then things get a bit tougher. 1 + 1 = 2. But what happens around the concept of Zero. Is there such a thing as Zero? A more difficult question is “Is there such a thing as Nothing?” See most people have problems with concepts.

 

Rights and Privileges

These are even more troublesome. What are rights? And what jurisdiction do they have? Are they local, regional or universal? Who gives Rights or are they inherited from birth? Are they inalienable? Can you lose your Rights (if you ever had any) and who can take them away from you? Do you ever have to pay for Rights? And what if your Rights clash with my Rights?

Tough questions. To which we all think we may have the answer, but let me tell you “No we don’t have the answers” because if we try to enforce some of our answers under the pretext of a Right, we are going to land in more mess than we can handle, or would like to handle – as a person, a society, as a humanity.

 

What are Rights?

I tried to find a definition of Rights but gave up. There are too many words trying to describe this word. Here is a definition of Human Rights by The Free Dictionary by FARLEX: “The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are considered to be entitled, often held to include the rights to life, liberty, equality, and a fair trial, freedom from slavery and torture, and freedom of thought and expression.”

Really?

Take note of the words “considered” and “often”. Who gives this consideration? What does “entitle” mean? Another big word to struggle with. A short and simple answer is that this may be “considered” fair in certain circumstances and places but:

  • Go take a walk in a jungle and see how many Rights you have. To any of the things mentioned here.

Who guarantees your “Rights” and under what circumstances? If a lion savages you in the jungle, who decides if the lion should be put to death? In fact, should the lion be put to death? Doesn’t the lion have a Right in its own backyard? So, Rights are not universal and they are arguable amongst species. Now what happens amongst humans who live in different countries? Interesting question, more so when country A decides that the people in country B has the same Rights as those in country A. This sort of thinking leads to war. And then we send in soldiers from country A – some of whom die – to “free” those in country B. And who decides that country A’s soldiers can have their lives (a basic Human Right) terminated? Is that Right?

You see, the concept (and it is just that – it is not a Right – that Rights are Rights may be misleading. In fact it may be Incorrect. Too many assumptions. So I give up trying to answer these questions. It is a waste of time.

And politician and lawyers make too much money out of them.

 

“Freedom”

I prefer the word “Freedom”. It imbues a choice. But even those are limited.

 

Privilege

Maybe the word “Privilege” make a bit more sense. But there are also questions about that. Who gives you a Privilege? Or is that an Incorrect question.

Maybe you don’t have to be given a Privilege.

Maybe you are born with Privileges. Maybe Life is a Privilege. Arms. Legs. Eyesight. So is fresh air. Running water. Food. An opportunity to learn. Study. Have a job. The Time we have with loved ones.

  • Privileges are things we should be thankful for.

Rights are things we claim. Rightly or Wrongly. But who “guarantees” them?

 

oooOOOooo

US – OR “THEM”

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It is often said that what we do and say defines us.

 

I beg to differ:

  • Is it not the other way around?
  • Is it not who and what we are that defines our actions and words?
  • Is it not our inner feelings, emotions, thoughts – and sometimes our logic – that drive us to do what we manifest?

 

The answer is “Yes”.

 

And I put logic last since it is more than often not the thing that drives us.

  • Think back in your own life. Are you where you are because of logic? Did you get involved with your partner because of logic? Do you have 3 kids because of logic? Do you work where you work and do what you do because of some flurry of logic?

 

The answer is “No”.

 

As much as we would like to think we are the pinnacle, the top of the tree – The Bee, never mind the bees knees – we are far from it.

 

It has been said that humans use less than 5% of their brain capacity.

 

I believe that it is far less than that. I don’t think we use even 0.5% of our brain capacity. And we are constructed that way. We do not have the physical, mental, psychological, emotional, intellectual and spiritual make-up to use even that tiny fraction of what we carry in our cranium.

 

And I am not going to buy into some genetic, biological or sociological gumpf here (done enough study in sociology, psychology and criminology in my time) that absolve us from our actions or non-actions. Such as “I had a terrible life as a child, Your Honour. And I was under the influence of drugs Your Honour. That is why I did this and that. So please humor me and give me a pass on this deed”.

 

We have been given this Life. For which we are responsible in all aspects. Our job is to develop it. Maintain it. Respect it. Use it for the good.

 

So let this then be the year in which our words and deeds be defined by who we are. Not the other way around.

 

Welcome to 2016.

MORE PRIDE – LESS PREJUDICE

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SANTA and SWEETY TWINKLETOES

 

As I blogged earlier on, this year I had the privilege to be a Santa at a national chain store, during which I engaged with over 3000 (recalculated figure) children and parents. I was very ably supported by Elf Sweety Twinkletoes (she selected her own name) who did a great job of taking photos as well as handing out candy canes to all kiddies, and in some cases the adults as well.

Of course one makes mistakes – some of them based on perspectives, perhaps even prejudices – during such engagements.

  • I was no different.

Apology is – as I also wrote in my most recent book “50 PERSPECTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen” – good for both body and soul.

So today is a good day to report on myself and then to apologize for some of my prejudices and laud the prides of those who pointed out the error of my perspectives. And most of them were children, which makes me hold out hope for the future!

Case 1:

A somewhat overweight child walks up to me, short hair and long pants with a T-shirt and the conversation goes like this:
Santa “Have you been a good little boy this year:”
Child ‘ I am actually a girl”.
Santa ‘I apologize and thank you for correcting me. So let me ask, have you been a good little girl this year.”
Girl “Sometimes”.
Santa “Honesty gets you to the front of the class” after which she does me a favour and poses for a photo (yes, and for those who think I am in the child-snatching business, with the permission of her mother. And yes, it was her mother – not her father.)

Case 2:

A boy (this time it is a boy, with dark glasses and a big smile approaches me with his mother a close step behind him.
Santa “Is the sun shining very bright outside?”
Mom “My son has a problem with his eyes”.
Santa apologizes. Photo gets taken in a friendly milieu.

Case 3:

Two youngsters approach us, one clearly on the verge of being around age 17 or 18. Santa and Sweety Twinkletoes are not allowed to take photos of any child under 16 unless accompanied and permissioned by a family member of age older than 16. So Santa obtains permission, poses for a photo and wishes the children a Blessed Christmas, only to see the parents approach – with smiles – and the mother, with a short jilbab (in this case the Muslim headgear, not the whole coat-like garment) whispering smilingly in her husband’s ear.

  • Santa writes this down to a learning experience. Both parents thank us as they walk away with a giggle and a rib-pump.

 

LUNCHTIME SANTA

Following my 7 weeks as an in-store Santa I was asked to be lunchtime Santa at a hotel on Christmas Day. What an opportunity! 450 paid diners with only food, drink and celebration on their minds (their plates and in the glasses).

Santa waddles through the crowd, spreading cheers and stops to lighten up the face of a child with longer-than-shoulder length curly hair.

Santa “Hello, and have you been a good little girl this year?”

Child “I am actually a boy!”

Santa (taking off his classes “Apology young man! Of course you are. Look at MY long white hair!”

What is astounding is that the boy remains friendly, has a lovely chat with Santa and then gives him a High Fives.

  • The forgiveness of children is something to marvel at.

(Interjectory note: When this Santa was 35 years old and going through a 3 year back-packing trip his hair was shoulder length and often worn in the Prince Valiant cut). As I am now double that age I believe that memory loss also has something to do hairloss!

Santa writes this down to being a slow learner.

And finally, the little boy who wore dark glasses in Case 2 above runs up to Santa with “Hello Santa! I remember you from the store. Merry Christmas to you!”

Santa is at a loss for words a bit – and High Fives the boy!

 

TAKEAWAYS

  • Takeaway Line 1.

Girls can have short hair.

In fact half of my work-life managers (whom I respect very much) are ladies with short hair AND may I add, some of them are younger than I am. Glad to say I hold no prejudices there. My wife is younger than I am and not only do I love her, but also respect her very much. So here is my question to those men who cannot work for a female manager “How do you respect your wife – more so if she is younger than you?” GROW UP and MATURE.

 

  • Takeaway Line 2

Not all people – especially children – with long hair are girls. Some of them are proud boys, with the guts to stand up and correct even Santa!

 

Brilliant!

 

  • Takeaway Line 3

Not everyone who poses with Santa is a Christian.

Corollary : does it matter? No, I don’t think so. I have lived in a Muslim country for a quarter of my life and posed for many photos with Muslims. That does not mean I am a Muslim or that I cannot wish my Muslim friends blessed returns of the days that they celebrate.

 

  • Takeaway Line 4

Santa makes mistakes like all people do. And there is nothing wrong with that and Santa feels better for being corrected and after apologizing for his (yes in this case it is “his”) mistakes.

I trust all my Christian friends had a Blessed Christmas, and to my non-Christians friends, a great festive break. May you all enjoy a safe, healthy, prosperous and memorable 2016, and here we open a new can of worms, since some people count the years in a different way than Christians do!

I wish you peace and no prejudices, regardless of your religion and perspectives.

 

oooooOOOOOooooo

Was Your 2015 a Groundhog Year?

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 “Hello Again”

As a year draws to a close we all normally – at one point or another – reflect silently on what we had done during the time.

Two things are important:

  • Things change. “You never stand on the same river bank twice”.
  • Time goes by – relentless. “Our tomorrows are not endless”.

So what do we do to distinguish ourselves from the one period to the next during the passing of Time? Do we groundhog-live the same life again or do we tackle new things, brave new adventures, leave a fuller Chest of Legacies?

Many years ago I spent 3 years with a backpack on the road – and tried to make each day different from the previous day – learning new things, experiencing new places, savouring new cultures, building a mental album of things that I can now both reflect on and find blank spaces to put a “snapshot” in.

I sat on our patio the other night watching a fantastic sunset and noticed that the crumbs that I spilt (I was celebrating the release of my 2nd book) attracted some ants. As dusk settled in it dawned on me that if I sit still long enough in one place I will be eaten by ants.

So, rather than be eaten by some virtual ants, I make it a point to keep moving in life. I do not intend to live groundhog years.

What are your Goals for 2016?

 

My 2015 in Short Review – Activity-wise

  • Published 36 blogs
  • Completed and published my 2nd book (50 PERSPECTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen)
  • Started on 2 others (one practical, one semi-autographical)
  • Appeared at Faeryville Singapore Red Carpet Event with award-winning producer Tzang Merwyn Tong, his production team and my co-stars.
  • Enjoying a 2nd season of organically self-raised (“free range”) vegetables.
  • Delivered 6,000 free local newspapers in our suburb, walking 250kms in the process.
  • Played Santa to 2500 children and their parents over 7 Saturday in a national chain store.

 

Missed doing

  • Playing in another movie.
  • Making a record.

MY OWN OLYMPICS

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“When will it be finished?” ….”When it is ready!”

(Pope Julius and Michelangelo in The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone)

 

I woke up this morning with a dream in which I thought to have my Own 16 Events Olympics every year, not every four years. This will be a personal Olympics with the only entrant being myself.

Now that sounds a bit silly but allow me to explain.

There are two types of time, i.e. chronos and kairos. We live in both.

And without getting too deep into the history, definitions and philosophy, in short they are:

  • Chronos denotes sequential time. It is quantitative. Measured in terms of seconds, minutes, hours. A day. A week. A month. A year. You get the idea. I don’t know about a lifetime.
  • Kairos denotes momentary time. It is qualitative. Existential. Indeterminate. Measured in terms of a moment. Sometimes a specific moment at the intersection of “now” and “eternity”. We have all had those.

 

BACK STORY

Years ago a few guys whom I thought of as friends asked me to join them as the MD for their nascent business in Singapore. I will stick to the business side of matters here. It is safer.

After a month the one owner and his wife came to see me in the office and fired me – without salary. Note it was not a board meeting. I shared their apartment and went back, packed my bags and left for an hotel. The following day I wandered through the city. I had very little money (the story is in my book “50 PERSPECTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen”.)

As dusk approached I went to occupy a table at Brewerkz Clarke Quay right on the edge of the river to reflect on what had happened during the past 24 hours.

My third long beer was working its wonders. I looked over the river. The sun was setting. The world had a surreal golden coat on. The little visitor pleasure boats were plying their trade. Then the little Chinese lanterns on one of them became my focus. Next I disappeared into one of the lights.

There was nothing.

I was living a Kairos moment.

MAGIC!

As I returned to my Chronos life I took a vow that I will come back to Singapore and that place.

 

A YEAR LATER

Through an incredible confluence of circumstance over the internet, continents and islands amongst people I never met my wife and I returned within a year. We worked and stayed in Singapore for a number of exciting and wonderful years. We had rewarding and stable jobs. We recovered financially and it set us up for my late semi-retirement.

The Kairos intersection became a reality.

Serendipity became a Main Dish on the Menu of Life.

I have had a few more such moments recently. Latest was an evening on our back verandah and I just had a feeling about the sunset. I lived another Kairos moment and the next day I read that it was considered to perhaps be the most beautiful sunset ever in Melbourne. I daresay more people than I had a Kairos moment.

 

WHY THE OLYMPICS?

Consider a life in 5-year lumps.

The 5-year difference in our formative years and then again in our senior years (I am now 70) are much more different than the 5-year lumps in our middle years.

And that is where the Personal Olympics come in. To measure how I age Y-O-Y (“year on year” – now THERE is a NEW meaning of Y-O-Y.)

 

Childhood – The First Serendipity Years

In the 0-5 and 6-10 year age groups serendipity is still the main outcome of activity. There is an urgency about playing and having childlike fun – a casualness about life. Children still believe in Santa Claus and how presents land under the Xmas tree. And they put a glass of milk and cookies out for The Old Guy in the red suit. Kairos is at work. Chronos is on probation.

What is a fortunate happenstance for a boy (a wiggling frog in his trouser pocket)) becomes a not so pleasant surprise for his mom on washday.

 

The Middle Years

The middle years are Chronos years. They move in a straight line: 20 becomes 21. 29 becomes 30. 39 becomes the Big Four Oh and before you know it The Big Five Oh (nothing to do with Hawaii) rolls around and then it is 60 quickly onwards to retirement. Before you can say “Birthday”.

They are much more “equal” in terms of many parameters (less equal in terms of power sport but more equal in terms of endurance sports).

 

Early Middle

16-20 see you leave school and maybe go to university or start a job. In my case I did both. Daytime work. Night classes. To pay for my own tuition. Money was a scarce commodity at home.

21-25 are ramp-up years. You buy a car. Think of a house, a partner. A bit of partying and then the “middle years” kick in.

 

Middle Middle Years

From 30 onwards the middle years kick in. Kick is a very operational verb here. During these years there are a lot of kicking and kissing. At work. And at home. The pressures of life and surrounding reality introduces Chronos. Things happen sequentially. Every month there are bills to pay. Year-end bonuses are an unsure commodity. Santa has grown Claws. Xmas does not leave a present under the tree but a dent in the credit card. And then there is the Tax Bill. There may be a little bit of Kairos that works its magic at the end of a month and the beginning of the next when 30 days seem light years away.

But Chronos is mostly in charge – day by day by day. Month by month.

Retirement is a lifetime away. Literally.

 

Late Middle Years

Birthdays come around too often. The presents become more modest. Unlike the mid-rift. And that may be one of the reasons why they are called the “middle years”.

Cracks appear in health. “Middlers” start to take up sport again. This time with serious intentions. The cost of high blood pressure pills equal the groceries bills. Gym fees outstrip them both combined. Kids might have grown and have kids of their own. The nearing pension years become a frequent though-of – if not yet talked about – subject.

You get your copy of “OVER 65 And Still in Demand” and look at how to prepare for the “post middle years”. The younger guns in the office get promoted with titles that are preceded by “Senior” and “Principle” (nothing to do with school). At night your bedroom ceiling shares many restless hours.

You retire.

 

The Second Serendipity Years

The Senior Years start to roll by.

Chronos assumes a different meaning. Afflictions and visitations are not a straight line anymore. They can seriously differ from year to year. Last year you did not lose your glasses and any keys. This year you have two sets of glasses (both of which you lose by February) and the wife hangs the keys around your neck – with your home address on it.

In most cases the years between 66-70, 71-75, and 76-80 onwards start to resemble a reverse order of 11-15, 6-10, 0-5 but this time the serendipity is often accompanied by a more present and urgent look at spirituality. Is there life after death? If we come back, how do we come back? Or was this going to church bit just a big money-making scam? Last Sunday the choir didn’t sound so great. Am I losing my hearing?

Just 10 years ago it took the fingers of both hands to count your Friday night beer intake. Now it represents the number of pills you take in the morning. And it also feels like your number of nightly toilet visits. After one night cap.

At age 5 a sunset meant that soon you would be called in for dinner, a wash-up and bed. Serendipity. Tomorrow was just a frog-hunt tucked away in the future.

In the middle years the sunset meant a choppy on the barbeque and a few rowdy friends talking about sport. Or last night’s pub crawl. Or car problems. The job.

At age 70 a sunset may mean a glass of wine and a few peanuts in the hand and quiet accompaniment of a partner or friend – reflecting on the brevity of life. Watching a magic sunset. Cloaked in gold. Perhaps the best it has ever been.

And perchance a Kairos moment.

Serendipity.

THE UN-FRIENDING

And what becomes very apparent is that time and experience now run in opposite directions.

The older you become and more experience you build up, the less time you have left to use it in. In the early years this is not vividly visible. In fact, the passing of time is seen as a necessity to gain experience. They “seemingly” walk hand in hand.

But in the senior years, they seem to have lost their friendship. They clearly don’t walk hand in hand any more. There is a limit to the “experience” you need. And what other people need from you.

 

THE OLYMPICS

My 16 items are to include things that can be measured in terms of time and quality. All practical and with good outcomes. For example:

  • To copy-type a page from a book over a period of 5 minutes and see how many mistakes I have made.
  • How far I can walk in 5 minutes.
  • The number of names of things I can remember after 5 minutes of learning them.
  • Learning a set part of prose – maybe from a Shakespeare play.
  • How long does it take to vacuum our house and how many times do I have to rest during it.
  • How long does it take to mow the back lawn?

Of course my wife would be the judge and can cast a singular 0/10 or 10/10 vote on the qualitative items.

And I forgot what the other 15 items were. Or was it 10?

 

SANTA CLAUS

At age 5 I was waiting for Santa Claus.

At age 40 Santa = bills.

At age 70 I play Santa Claus.

~~~~~~~~~~

 

LOYALTY

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“You may be born to royalty, but not to loyalty”

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(This is one article in my book “Perspectives” which will be submitted to the publishers this week)

It has been said that the difference between a man’s and a woman’s loyalty is that a woman’s loyalty is tested and shown when her man has nothing, however a man’s loyalty to his woman is tested and shown when he has everything.

Interesting.

This may not be true in all instances BUT sadly seems to have significance when observing the life and times of powerful people the world over.

It raises a number of questions, starting with what is this seemingly – if not disappearing then at least – rare gift which is said to include:

  • The quality of showing constant and complete support and being faithful to someone or something.
  • A feeling of affection and dedicated attachment, faithfulness and devotion to obligations and commitments.

Loyalty can be a double-edged sword.

  • So, how much loyalty should you show and how much should you make yourself vulnerable to another’s loyalty?

We have all experienced times or situations when we felt a friend or a partner had been dis-loyal or betrayed our loyalty. We may for instance have confided something in a friend who then disclosed it to someone else to our embarrassment. We had perhaps then called into question our friend’s loyalty – or even the matter of loyalty itself and the worth thereof.

  • When and where does loyalty start and stop – if it should stop at all?

Socrates was utterly loyal to his principles, so much so that he drank a cup of poisoned hemlock as a final lesson to his students. He did this after he was sentenced to death by the theocratic Greek rulers who charged and found him guilty of two “crimes” i.e. (a) teaching about new gods and (b) corrupting the youth.

Socrates believed in an all-knowing god and not the gods acknowledged by the state. He also advocated that state officials should not be appointed by way of ballot since unqualified people might get appointed by running for positions of power.

He also believed that the state was more important than a single being and therefore insisted that he be found guilty and given the death penalty – which he accepted.

  • Was his loyalty misplaced?

The loyalty to country and government often comes into focus and of which Mark Twain remarked “Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it”.

  • When does a government deserve your loyalty – if at all?
  • Should you defend your country with your life?
  • Is “country” defined to be inside the national borders only?
  • What should you do if you are a pacifist and do not believe that war is the way to solve humanity’s problems?

If you do not trust that the government of the day has made the right decision, should you go to war on its behalf?

Cassius Clay, who changed his name to Muhamad Ali, was arrested and found guilty of draft evasion when he refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military on the basis of his religious beliefs and opposition to his country’s involvement in the Vietnam War. He was also stripped of his world boxing title. The conviction was eventually overturned and he regained his title by way of his own making.

  • Was he disloyal to country? Loyal to himself and his belief?

As for political horse trading, we all know of instances where a public display of loyalty results in private leverage – behind the curtains with an “I will support you with my vote on this, IF you will support me with your vote on that”.

The question immediately arises whether these politicians are self-serving or loyal to their constituents and country and it of course depends on their promises and ulterior motives.

  • Are there different “kinds” or “levels” of loyalty?

I believe we bestow different levels – if not different kinds – of loyalty on partners, family, friends, pets, country, employer, manager, job, and religion. Allow me to juxtapose loyalty and disloyalty:

Pets, who are seen by many as friends, have been known to literally take a bullet for their human friends, or jump into a pool to save a child and put themselves in harm’s way.

How does that compare to people who may cheat on their partners and laugh it off with “no-one will miss a slice from a loaf of bread”.

  • One-sided loyalties exist but one may ask its worth – if not the insanity of it all.

I had a friend who would change girlfriends like shirts. In one trip to the airport he would drop off one girlfriend for her outbound flight and then wait around for the next one to arrive on an inbound flight. This would make me think about his loyalty to me, and mine to him.

The thought comes to mind about showing loyalty to only those who make you not question their loyalty to you – and to others whom they call friends.

  • How do we “reward” loyalty? Or should we not even use the words “reward” and “loyalty” in the same sentence?

We have all watched reality TV where celebrities choose their BFF’s (in this case “Best Friends Forever”) the one moment and then embarrass, ridicule, even socially torment their BFF’s a few minutes later.

This also broaches the subject of loyalty on social platforms. Who and what is to blame? The human make-up? Changing values? The anonymity of the platform where faceless people are “brave” to be rude, even bully another person publicly?

Someone clearly forgot to add “anti-” in front of the word “social platforms”.

  • It is a rarity today to find and be a true friend today – which is a valuable gift.

People whom I have never met have helped me out of very difficult situations when I was in precarious unemployed and financial positions. I am forever indebted to them. At other times I have been publicly ignored by my wife’s managers from work at their social gatherings – to her embarrassment. We will ignore such “social” events again – to spare my wife the hurt.

  • We are not born to loyalty.

In some countries and cultures people “pick their family”. They say that being born into a family does not make you real family, as it is an accident of birth. They therefore pick their own “family” – those with whom they feel a greater affinity, respect, and bond. Someone who will stand beside them when others – including their birth-family – will not.

I cannot see any reason to fault that approach.

  • Is loyalty at an all-time low?

U.S. corporations lose half of their:

  • Customers inside of 5 years
  • Employees within 4 years
  • Investors within 1 year.

What does this say about future business relationships: Loyalty is gone? Opportunism takes its place?

  • Loyalty is not earned in a day, but over time.

What is there to say about loyalty in a world where – on the internet – you can “friend” and “unfriend” a person you have never met? Where friendships are held together by hyperlinks, “likes” and smiley icons? Where you have a million followers because you write 140 character tweets?

In years gone by it was said that loyal partners and friends used to “eat seven bags of salt together”. In today’s new and healthy vernacular that may mean seven bags of “lite salt”.

  • And maybe that spells a new type of loyalty – “Lite Loyalty”.

I count amongst my closest friends only about 5, maybe 6, surely less than 10. So, allow me to confess that I cannot be a politician, a hyperlink friend, or a big corporate person.

In summary there are a few points to be made:

  • Be loyal to your life partner. In public and in private. Not everyone can claim to be this.
  • Be loyal to friends. And note you cannot have 100 friends.
  • Do not let your loyalty turn you into a slave – especially for your job. My loyalty to my job almost killed me. I nearly fell over on the way to work one morning. A few hours later my doctor said “if you did not come to see me when you did, we would not be having this conversation now, and I would be having a different conversation with your dear wife”. No job is worth your life. One Life – many jobs.
  • Walk away when your self-worth is being trampled on. No exception.
  • Loyalty goes two ways. Be loyal to your staff. Defend them in public. Do not leave them out to dry if they are attacked by others, including clients. You may sort out matters behind the scene but NOT in public.
  • Be loyal to yourself, your principles, your purpose and your future.
  • Be loyal to God.

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