Commentary

Love In The Workplace

Feb 14, 2017

For so many of us who work, love really is the answer.

I stumbled upon a lovely post from a man named Bob Morse, who sits on the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC), in Ashland, Oregon. The peace commission says their central goal is that their small city comes to "identify itself" as a culture of peace—which is very on brand for Ashland if you’ve ever been there. It’s also somehow karmically necessary since Oregon was founded to be a white utopia.

Morse had been inspired by Ashland’s mayor, John Stromberg, who recently mused that ‘agape’ or an unselfish form of love for all people, might be the antidote for the divisiveness many people are feeling. Since then, Morse has been asking other peace ambassadors for their take on the matter.

From his quest:

'Love is believing that everyone's perspective adds to the betterment of all, especially if I strongly disagree with some of those perspectives,' explained Rich Schaeff, one of several fellow peace ambassadors who responded to my query about the look of love in a culture of peace. 'Love is reaching out to understand those different than I in pursuit of strengthening the bond between all people.'

Like all good peace commissions, they seem to be walking the talk. “The Ashland Culture of Peace Commission has made a practice of ‘pressing pause’ on agenda items when emotions or contentions arise within meetings,” writes Morse, “temporarily shifting priority to hearing diverse perspectives or examining perceived lack of belonging.”

This is exactly what chief diversity officers have been doing, according to a must-read story in today’s Wall Street Journal. John Simons spoke with several high-ranking diversity chiefs and found them scrambling to reassess their efforts in the light of a new administration that has vowed to undo many of the priorities of the previous one. By hitting pause, they’re finding ways to be sure that white men are truly included in the work.

From the piece:

Executives say they are looking critically at how they go about their work, 'hearing from white men the same way you’d hear from a woman or someone who’s LGBT,' especially if they feel they’re missing out on career development or other workplace opportunities, says Janese Murray, vice president of diversity and inclusion at energy giant Exelon Corp.

Rather than simply instructing white male middle managers on the proper ways to conduct themselves in a diverse workplace, Ms. Murray suggests inviting them to round-table discussions with women and minorities and encouraging them to air concerns.

Data overwhelmingly suggests that including white men as diversity partners is the winning strategy from a bottom line point of view, so the business case is there.

But it’s the agape case that really gets my Ashland flowing. It's not hard to imagine what it feels like for people to have their work and existence reaffirmed by their leaders, and to be allowed to fully emerge from behind the protections of a privilege they may not feel.

So, on Valentine’s Day, I’ll leave you with this quote from lawyer, filmmaker, and interfaith leader, Valerie Kauer. She's one of Morse's favorites:

"Love is not a passing feeling; it is an act of will. It is the choice to extend our will for the flourishing of others and ourselves. When we pour love in places where there is fear and rage, we can transform an encounter, a relationship, a culture, a country. Love becomes revolutionary."

Have an agape filled Valentine’s Day.

On Point

Why we can't ignore hate groups

Daniel Köhler, the director of the German Institute for Radicalization and Deradicalization Studies in Germany, and Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a professor of education and sociology at American University, have written an essential opinion piece that breaks down exactly why the Trump administration's decision to have white supremacist groups removed from the U.S. government’s countering violent extremist (CVE) programs is so terrifying. These groups are a far greater threat to our safety than Islamic terrorism. “Right-wing nationalists and white supremacists will continue to feel sanctioned and energized in the face of national leadership that validates their hate and fear and fails to unequivocally condemn hate-based violence,” they write.

Fortune

U.S. Tennis Association accidentally played a Nazi anthem for the German Fed Cup team

It was extremely upsetting to the players and fans who were there to watch the opening day of the Fed Cup matches. "I thought it was the epitome of ignorance, and I've never felt more disrespected in my whole life,” said German player Andrea Petkovic. The anthem, which was performed live, was an outdated version of the song used during Adolph Hitler’s regime, and contains verses that are associated with Nazi ideology. The USTA issued an immediate apology, though didn’t explain how the mistake happened.

CNN

New Jersey Klan members distributed recruitment propaganda disguised as a Valentine greeting

The residents of Cinnaminson, N.J. were first delighted than alarmed by the fliers which began appearing around their town over the weekend. The printed notes from the “Loyal White Knights” were printed with hearts and the messages “Love your own race!” and “Stop homosexuality and race mixing” inside them. The incident is being called a hate crime by a local NAACP chapter and the police are investigating, evidently by calling the number on the flyer.

CBS Philadelphia

Disney cuts ties with YouTube phenom PewDiePie over anti-semitic videos

PewDiePie, aka Sweden’s Felix Kjellberg, was dumped by Disney after videos with anti-Semitic content were found on his YouTube channel. The videos, which tested the “joke” that you could pay anyone on the internet to do anything, included men who had been hired by Kjellberg to hold a sign that said “Death to All Jews.” Disney had partnered with Kjellberg to create Scare PewDiePie, a 10-episode series for YouTube Red, Google’s premium streaming service; they’ve canceled season two. This part is no joke: In 2014 alone, Kjellberg earned $7.4 million for his videos.

Fortune

Judge denies request to halt Dakota Access pipeline

A federal judge denied a request to stop construction on the remaining section of the Dakota Access pipeline yesterday. The construction is progressing faster than anticipated and the pipeline could be operational in less than a month. The judge has agreed to another hearing on Feb. 27, which has given tribal leaders hope that they still may prevail.

AP

Turning Octavia Butler’s “Kindred” into a graphic novel

It’s a dream assignment that’s also fraught with peril, say artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, who feel the weight of adapting the beloved novel—considered to be one of the best in the speculative fiction field. "She was literally a genius,” says Jennings. “The way that she would use metaphor and allegory and how she tackled some of the most horrific things about human existence through science fiction and fantasy?” Butler, who died in 2006 was the first science fiction writer to receive a MacArthur “Genius” grant.

NPR

The Woke Leader

On “protest porn,” image-making, and the true power of diversity

Tasbeeh Herwees has written an excellent piece on the risks of further marginalizing marginalized people through “protest porn” or the new practice of taking selfies or photos with, say, women wearing headscarves to prove one’s liberal bona fides. Though she focuses her critique primarily on the recent spate of activism, her observations are important for anyone who wants to work productively with a diverse group of people who have a real stake in an outcome. “The voices of marginalized folks should be prioritized, and they should be trusted to lead chants and direct the crowds—not utilized as diverse window dressing.”

Good

A performance artist once shook the hands of 8,500 sanitation workers to thank them

I’ve long enjoyed the idea of Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s work, which has been described as “a process of participatory democracy that unites people in open dialogue.” It’s a mix of writing, performance, and sculpture, much of which was in service to the idea that valuing the people who maintain our society would be a radical act. Her 1969 Manifesto for Maintenance Art was “a world vision and a call for revolution for the workers of survival who could, if organized, reshape the world.” Then, starting in 1979, she traveled across NYC for a piece called Touch Sanitation, to shake the hands of 8,500 sanitation workers as an acknowledgment of their essential role in the world. She later became an honorary Teamster and an artist-in-residence at the Department of Sanitation.

Broken City Lab

When things go missing

It’s a condition that’s so intersectional that it barely even registers as a category of humanness, and yet this essay about people who lose thing—keys, wallets, laptops on planes, their parked car—is equal parts hilarious and poignant. Kathryn Schulz will surely win an award for this charming deep dive into the moment she suddenly became a person who lost things, the science behind forgetfulness, and the many tricks people use to try to keep a handle on their essential objects. No doubt, however, she will misplace the award, and will be left instead with the vague notion that she has gained more than she has lost.

New Yorker

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