Yesterday was Father’s Day. It always elicits a plethora of feelings, some that are self-condemning, while others involve pride. Generically, Father’s Day has always been a little different than Mother’s Day. I think that Mother’s, generally speaking, deserve the adulation a bit more than Father’s. However, that may be just my experience. These ponderings has led to this posting.
I am a firm believer in the importance of humanity in business. I believe that business has the power to create positive social change, and the organization is the place where humanity can be expressed in meaningful ways. In other words, there are boundaries that control how we interact with each other. Social Media has no such boundaries, which leads to dysfunctional events. The reason I am thinking about this is threefold: the visit of Bishop Curry to Vancouver, WA, Jonathan Haidt’s organization Heterodox Academy, and the weaponization of children at the border. I know this is a bit removed from the purpose of this blog, but I think the discussion is important.
The Columbian, our local newspaper, reported that Bishop Curry, the person who presided over the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, was in Vancouver preaching at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The heading of the article was “Bishop Curry: Love is the Cure.” A quote they attribute to Curry was, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God. Period.” As I read that article I was troubled. The uneasiness I was feeling was also a result of a conversation I had yesterday about the children being removed from their parents at the border, which I think is completely wrong. What is it that troubles me about these events?
As I was reading my Bible this morning 2 Corinthians chapter 4 helped clarify why I was troubled. The last verse of chapter four states, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The newspaper was not giving the whole story when it reported on Curry. I was not at the meeting, but having watched his sermon at the wedding, I can assume that he does not separate this love from the person of Jesus Christ. Love of neighbor is critical, but I am not loving just for love’s sake, I am loving because Christ’s love compels me to do this very thing. Sometimes I worry about the youth of the church because it seems like they are separating this love from Jesus and attaching it to a political movement. However, who am I to judge their motives?
The second part of my ruminations this morning was a result of learning about the Heterodox Academy. In the article “A Movement Rises to Take Back Higher Education,” Emily Esfahani Smith describes how Jonathan Haidt, who wrote “The Righteous Mind, Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion,” feels that “current collegians are more apt to be threatened by words and ideas. . . These students, many of whose parents protected them from the ordinary adversities of daily life, [are] psychologically fragile and unprepared for the challenges of a college education.” This has led to “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces,” and “speech codes” on campuses around the United States. Smith describes this using a Crimson poll which stated, “The censorious climate of higher education has predictably created a culture of self-censorship. Two-thirds of this year’s graduating seniors at Harvard said, ‘they had at some point chosen not to express an opinion in an academic setting during their time at Harvard out of fear that it would offend others.”
As a result of this unhealthy environment, the Heterodox Academy was created. It is “an organization founded in 2015 to promote viewpoint diversity on campus.” Its members include 2,000 professors and graduate students in the United States and around the world. They are in favor of free speech and inquiry. They believe “that the purpose of a university is to teach students how to think, which entails disturbing their psychological equilibrium from time to time by exposing them to ideas that contradict their current beliefs.”
I think this is why I am concerned for our country right now. There is a move to demonize the other. If you don’t agree with the current understanding of reality and culture, then you are a hater, homophobic, or some other horrendous thing. In this type of environment an “exchange of ideas” becomes impossible. This is my concern for our country.
This leads me to my last point, the weaponization of various events in our society, specifically the children at the border. Laura Bush wrote about this today. She stated, “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.” There is no doubt that our immigration system is broken. It is time to fix it. She argued, “I moved away from Washington almost a decade ago, but I know there are good people at all levels of government who can do better to fix this.” I agree!
I will not argue for American exceptionalism, and I will not argue that America is a God chosen country, and I will not argue that we have always chosen the higher path. But I agree with Bush when she states, “Americans pride themselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”
I do think that part of the problem is identity politics, “the tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc. to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.” If we don’t change our mentality we will continue to hate the other. As Ms. Smith ably ends her article with, “there’s a more fundamental shift that needs to take place – a rethinking of identity politics. ‘Rather than promoting a common-enemy identity politics that admonishes white people and others with privilege,’ Mr Haidt said Friday, ‘professors and administrators should embrace a common humanity identity politics.”
I think this “common-enemy identity politics” is what occurs in the workspace. All of us have boundaries that keep us from hating out loud. It is my opinion that Bishop Curry was trying to take us back to the social boundaries once created by our Judeo-Christian moral foundations, not its imperfections, but its boundaries. Although organizations wouldn’t describe their boundaries in this way, it is similar. There needs to be external rules for us to operate well, it is time to reclaim them.
What are weapons of human destruction? They are those elements of our interaction used to demonize the other, while looking past them. It is time to see one another, listen, and thrive. Can we do it? That is a subject for another posting.
And that is my thought for the day!