You may remember I was involved in a car crash back in April. Tomorrow I'm likely to need to go to court to testify against the young man who caused the crash.
To be honest, on one hand I hope I'm not required (the Police said they may have enough witnesses). Courts are such shaming places and the guy was really young — we've all done stupid stuff at his age.
I had about 30 seconds of doubt but, after applying an essentialist principle — if it isn’t a definite Yes it’s a definite No — I decided not to go to the Pride Parade last night. Waking up to a barrage of outrage on social media about the assault that took place, I'm doubly glad — I have real concerns about the organisers’ response to what happened and I would have hated the crowds.
Win win, for me anyway.
What I gather went down was this: A small group of people (three it seems) were protesting peacefully about the treatment of transgender prison inmates. According to GayNZ.com:
There's been a lot of talk, both for and against, David Cunliffe's recent public confession that he is sorry to be a man. While I admire his intent, I think his choice of words let him down and weakened his message, for several reasons.
Firstly, personalising the message made it all about him and took the focus off women, for whom he was trying to advocate. He would have come across more genuinely had he apologised, on behalf of men, for the violence and abuse women endure from men.
Secondly, Cunliffe's apology for who he is — a man — indicates shame. Researcher Brené Brown is very clear, in her discourse on shame, that shame inhibits change. You simply cannot change your behaviour if you feel bad about who you are. The antidote for shame is the admission of vulnerability. Men, in particular, are nurtured to be invulnerable — which of course they aren't — and so many if not most men feel shame about their vulnerability.
I attended one event at this year’s Auckland Pride Festival. That was the Big Gay Out. I didn’t enjoy it much. Part freak show, part dance party, part concert, part excuse to be young and drunk in the middle of the day.
After four hours, I ended up positioned seemingly exactly between the Caluzzi dance tent and the main stage occupied by Goodshirt (sadly most people were too young to remember them but they had a good go). Suddenly I just had to go. As a young guy did the YouTube drunk stagger past me, I realised I had no idea why I was there.
Shortly afterwards a friend recommended I read “The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World” by Alan Downs. Downs is a Dialectical Behaviour Therapist, a discipline to which I don’t wholeheartedly subscribe.
If you are, you're very likely to get it wrong.
Organisations that build cultures that require people to do the right thing in regards to culture, gender, sexuality, function (disability) etc, create behaviours governed by fear. People will avoid engagement in order to stay safe, because they'll be scared of getting it wrong.
How outraged the nation has been, apart from female friends who have spoken out in support of them, saying they are just good boys being teenagers.
Last Saturday I was working with a group and the word entitlement was uttered a couple of times. As I've written before, I believe no one is entitled to anything. I think that a culture of entitlement is destructive and inhibits an environment of positive change.
The second time I heard the word, I raised it with the group: Entitlement is demanding, it's self-serving and it's disempowering. If you have a sense of entitlement, you are most likely to be left feeling let down, ripped off and disappointed.
Then someone else said this: "Perhaps we are confusing entitlement with worthiness."
A commenter on my last post rightly pointed out that, in some situations, "confrontation is likely to result in ... someone vulnerable, usually the person offering the critique, however justifiable, getting a knuckle sandwich." Hopefully, things will rarely get that physical but, it's true, negative feedback, however carefully prepared for and framed, isn't always taken positively.
As I replied, I had planned a follow-up post about things going wrong for sometime in the future, but given the comment I thought I'd write it sooner than later.
First up, I failed to clarify that, for the last post and this one, I am writing from a leadership perspective. I am assuming that, as someone in a leadership role, I am giving feedback to a subordinate (excuse the authoritarian term), a colleague or someone senior to me but who respects me in my role.
Show me someone who has never been told they got it wrong, or someone who hasn't had to break the news to someone else, and you'll show me a liar. Let's face it, we've all stuffed up and we've all been pulled up for doing so.
The question is, how was it communicated? I'd say 95% percent of the time, it was by punishing or being punished, shaming or being shamed, losing it or being bawled out.
It doesn't have to be that way. Nor is it useful. It causes ill-will, arguments, bad relationships, violence and worse.
Today at brunch with a friend was the first time I've discussed last week's Connecticut school shooting. In itself I found that disconcerting – have I become so immune to US massacres that I no longer feel the need to voice my sadness and amazement?
But while I may have only just voiced them I haven't been without thoughts on the matter. Obama himself concurred that such incidents have been too many this year and the mainstream press has, in its usual clumsy way, begun to bring back into focus the gun debate.
What seems obviously different to me with this shooting is that pro-gun lobbyists, who have done so in response to previous incidents, particularly the the Colorado cinema attack, can't argue that more gun ownership would have stopped this one. To do so would be to suggest arming children for self-defence.