August 22, 2005

Rubber Knives to Gun Fights

I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but I have a secret love for private emails so awful that they are copied anonymously about the Net that others may laugh and/or writhe at their innate cluelessness. It is an ancient, if not honorable, tradition and once involved flames, threats, and love notes rife with embarrassing details before people started being careful about those things.

The most recent missive to show up unbidden but cherished in my In-Box is a letter on "conflict" from some hapless dolt who has evidently been on a drip-feed of Political Correctness Kool-Aid for some decades now. This is a letter that reveals a soul teetering on the edge of catastrophic mental collapse as the liberal bromides, solutions and blather of the last few decades of academe devolve into an ever-escalating Tourette's episode from which there is no escape, only life in a strait-jacket and locked in a padded cells with hosts of fellow sufferers. All of whom have mysteriously received tenure.

While there are many examples of the "The Manic Meltdown of the Liberal Mindset in the Post-Post-Modern World," this one has it all; blatheration, obfuscation, estrogenation, and the "mind-forged manacles" of a philosophy that not only has no answer to the current era, but no chance of surviving it. It's the kind of note that is
probably read very slowly at the start of Terrorist Anonymous meetings right after "We admitted we were powerless over our desire to kill infidels" to much mirth and merriment just before coffee and cookies.

The full flavor of this letter comes out if you read it slowly and out loud to yourself. You could read it out loud to others, but I've tried that and found it causes them to set their hair on fire and run out of the room screaming, "I got the Fear! I got the Fear!"

Proceed at your own risk.

It is important for us to mend and move past the "otherisms" that fractionalize the center and cause pain.

"Otherisms" develop when we assign a less-than status to colleagues whose work and contributions differ from our own.

"Otherisms" abound in such words as "we" "they" "they make a big deal out of this", "they won't understand" etc. A powerful alternative to otherisms is the building of community and fellowships.

Bridge makers are those persons who refuse to perceive the other as less than and instead establish interrelationships and open channels of communication that engender appreciation and humility across what might otherwise be seen as unbridgeable divisions.

Empathy and respect for others is essential along with a commitment to nurturing relationships with individuals that honor the dignity of all, especially those who disagree with us. By fostering growth potential in individuals ... that build upon interconnections that bolster the common cause, we achieve true effectiveness through connectedness and working together.

This welcomes a diversity of voices and resolves conflicts with humility. Each person has his or her own contribution and ways of working toward the common cause with no one less than or more than anyone else.

All of us are fallible human beings who have a large potential to grow and contribute. This bridge making serves to strengthen everyone's contribution and pride and commitment that otherisms destroy.

When we approach others whose work, interests, and contributions differ from our own with an open, positive, and empathetic heart and mind, we see each person's unique treasures and contributions more clearly.

A more inclusive vision promotes unity and paves the way for the richness of collegiality to be experienced by more persons than exclusivity.

Exclusivity promotes divisiveness, submission, control, manipulation, and domination.

I urge us to think about the whole and work together and examine openly and reflect how we might each be better bridgemakers and more effective in our mission to serve the center with humanity, humility, and utmost effectiveness.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and reflect upon becoming a bridge maker.

And thank you for sharing or, as my late father-in-law would say, "Putz."

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Posted by Vanderleun at August 22, 2005 8:36 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

My GAWD! One can only hope that no animals were hurt in the composition of this screed.

(P. S. Daily typo nitpick:
"...that no only has no answer")

Posted by: Deborah at July 22, 2005 9:05 AM

And what does he propose that we would do with the people whose only interest is killing the bridge builders and blowing up all of the bridges?

Sounds like your late father in law hit the nail on the head.

Posted by: Matt at July 22, 2005 9:06 AM

What a touching email. A nice blend of respect, empathy, and good sense was on display in a documentary I was watching last night about aircraft carriers. An old Navy pilot from the Pacific War was describing how his fighter unit tore into a large Japanese formation in the air battle over the Philippine Sea. After the pilot had shot up a Japanese plane and sent it spiraling toward the water, he noticed that the tail gunner had stayed with the plane and was still firing his 7.7mm machine gun at the pilot's plane. The pilot paid tribute to the gunner's bravery and determination, then said, "For a split second, I almost felt sorry for him."

Posted by: Axel Kassel at July 22, 2005 9:41 AM

Missing ingredients:

camp fire
people in circle holding hands around said fire
lyrics to "Kumbaya"
(non-sequitar: my son in Afghanistan tells me camp fires look 'neat' thru night vision goggles)

Posted by: ed in texas at July 22, 2005 10:34 AM

Let this be a lesson to all. You cannot mix gin and Ritalin, and sit down at a keyboard.

Posted by: paul at July 22, 2005 10:44 AM

Add vanilla and stir gently...

Posted by: P.A.Breault at July 22, 2005 10:51 AM

It's even worse read aloud in German, a language that lends itself particularly well to psychobabble:

Exklusivität fördert Trennfähigkeit, Unterordnung, Steuerung, Handhabung und Herrschaft. Ich dränge uns, an das Ganze und die Arbeit zusammen zu denken und öffentlich zu überprüfen und zu reflektieren, wie wir jedes in unserer Mission bessere Brückenherstelleren und wirkungsvoller sein konnten, die Mitte mit Menschlichkeit, Demut und äußerster Wirksamkeit zu dienen. Danke für das Dauern der Zeit, dieses zu lesen und nach dem Werden sich zu reflektieren ein Brückenhersteller.

For some reason Macaulay's poem about Horatius at the bridge keeps running through my mind. The old Romans knew a thing or two about the strategic need to chop down a bridge once in a while to keep the enemy out of town.

Posted by: Connecticut Yankee at July 22, 2005 12:50 PM

The e-mail's author forgot to append:

"... unless you're white, male, Christian, or conservative. Then you stick that bridge right where the sun don't shine."

Posted by: Cap'n Yoaz at July 22, 2005 1:28 PM

He's right you know. Those same sentiments are written in stone on the facade of the Ministry of Truth.

Posted by: Winston at July 22, 2005 8:07 PM
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