June 4, 2020

Today is June 4, National Cheese Day, an homage to fromage all day long! (So…I guess…that means…you know…it is also a day to cut the fromage?)

Tianemen Square to Lafayette Square

Today is also the 31st anniversary of what is known in China as the June Fourth Incident. Here in the U.S. we know it as the Tianamen Square Massacre.

At this moment we have a stand off between Federal forces and protesters in LaFayette Square in Washington, DC. Frankly, it is a bit difficult to tell the two apart. Take a look at the two pictures below. The first is Tianamen Square. Your clue is that this is now an iconic photo from that standoff which you’ve likely seen before. Of course, if more mature leadership doesn’t prevail in the White House, the second, from just outside LaFayette Square, could also become iconic.

Source: Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/126732527; Photo by Jeff Widener
Source: Retrieved from Bloomberg.com, June 4, 2020

As the protests at Tianamen Square were building in the Spring of 1989 I was getting ready for summer camp. In June I was at camp. No, not as a camper but as the director of the summer youth camping program. It was a Quaker camp and, as Quakers tend to be, we were very conscious of what was happening in the world, even while we were retreating from it at summer camp. Of course, in 1989 we didn’t have Smartphones nor did we have much access to the internet so we couldn’t stay connected 24/7/365. We did, however, have access to the daily news. We followed the protests and standoff in China with grave interest. Our interest turned to horror as the massacre began on June 4th.

It touched all of us – directors, counselors, staff, and youth. To process what we had witnessed, we decided to have an activity in which counselors and youth together would create posters and artwork to symbolized our care and concern for the protesters and solidarity with them.

I wonder…would any of us then ever have believed we’d be at a place today, in 2020, when we are holding our breath and hoping we don’t have our own LaFayette Square massacre? I wonder, too, what will we remember and memoralize about this day on future June Fourths?


View the Webinar: Tenacity, Humility, and Collaborative Leadership

On June 2nd I joined Liz Weaver for a conversation in a Tamarack Institute webinar. If you were not able to be a part of the webinar live (it was over subscribed!), you can still view it here. Be sure to check out the other webinar resources from Tamarack Institute. Co-CEOs Liz Weaver, Paul Born, and their staff have been terrific partners with Tenacious Change LLC over the past few years and I feel honored to have been able to do this webinar with them. I love their work and their thinking! If you haven’t met them before, now is the time!


stories of covid-19

Hope Crenshaw, PhD leads Teen Health Mississippi in Jackson. On March 13 & 14, as the country was beginning to go into “lockdown” because of COVID-19, I was with Hope, her Board of Directors, and staff in Jackson and we were working on a new strategy plan for the organization. As we met we had no idea how severely COVID-19 would impact everyone and everything.

One of the things that leaders do in the midst in crisis is consider how their mission fits with the need of the moment. As Hope and her team saw COVID-19 roll into Mississippi they began to think about the needs of the youth they serve and develop a plan to help.

They quickly recognized that the impact of the pandemic on youth was not a priority for planners. Yet they knew that closures would mean that many youth would lose their seasonal and part-time jobs. For these young people the jobs meant they could save for college, help out their family, or even just simply eat. Though Teen Health Mississippi is an organization with the mission to provide youth with full, complete, and honest sex education, they knew the lack of income might also put some young people at sexual risk.

In response Teen Health Mississippi started the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for youth. Their goal is to award at least $100,000 in emergency relief to Mississippi youth. To date they have received nearly 4,000 applications for help and they’ve awarded over $7,000 in assistance to 125 of the neediest youth. As they consider the applications, here is what they are learning about the youth who are applying:

  • 63% are experiencing food insecurty
  • 41% are experiencing homelessess
  • 32% lack the proper technology for distance learning to stay in school

I know the needs are great at this time everywhere. You may already be doing a lot in your community to help meet the needs created by COVID-19 and to help right the wrongs of racial injustice. Still, I ask that you consider helping Teen Health Mississippi if you are able. In 2020 the State of Mississippi remains the poorest of these United States. For this reason, their need may be even greater than the rest of the country.

I have had the honor of working with Hope, her staff, and her board for over 2 years now. I know them very well. I can recommend them and this cause to you without reservation. Clemencia and I are planning to make a contribution to this fund to help them get to their $100,000 goal. It won’t be as much as we’d like to do, but it will be something and it will help. Thank you for your consideration.

To learn more about Teen Health Mississippi, visit its website, of course, but also learn more about the fund:


A clarification

A few weeks back I invited you and other readers to this blog with the promise that it would not be a partisan space. It may not always seem that way because I have been pretty outspoken, especially in the midst of the protests, against the presidency of Donald Trump. Let me explain: I do not consider criticizing Trump to be a partisan act, even though he identifies as a Republican (well, at least right now…he has changed his party affiliation five times since 1987).

There is a big difference in speaking out against the presidency of Trump and against or for any political party. History is going to report that Trump was not a Republican but a self-absorbed demogogue who would align himself with any party so long as he thought there was a personal benefit. He’d be a Democrat today if he thought it would have a greater benefit to him.

The realization that Trump is not a Republican is a fact that many Republicans are coming to, such as those in the Lincoln Project and Republicans Voters Against Trump, which launched its first national ad last week.

Why do I speak harshly about Trump at all? Why not just ignore him? Well, I’ve tried doing that. Unfortunately my conscience won’t let me. The line I use to describe my consultancy, Tenacious Change LLC, is this: Animating people, organizations, and communities to lead change for the greater good. This is a mission anchored in a clear ethical and moral understanding of our purpose in this world. It is to work for the greater good of all and that also requires us to stand for the greater good. To do anything less is to live an incongruent, divided life. Therefore, when I see the lawlessness of the president and the harm that is being done to so many by Trump, it is no longer ethical or moral for me to remain silent.

I mentioned in a blog last week that I have a diverse group of friends and, yes, that means politically as well. In my circle of friends, colleagues, clients, and collaborators most identify as either Republicans or Democrats but some have different political leanings from these. I hold ideas and viewpoints in common with each of them and I care about each person. I must confess though that I care a bit more for my Republican friends at this moment because I believe many of them are suffering deeply over Trump.

To be clear, when I write about Trump, I’m not writing about all Republicans. I know the differences among the Republicans. I know there are those who are just as appalled and disgusted by Trump as I am. I know there are those who follow him because he is an accomplished liar and they’ve been truly deceived into following. I know there are those who mistakenly yet truly believe he represents Republican values. I know there are those which are merely his “toadies” and who are following him to get whatever promises he has made to them. I know there are those who feign followership because they know they can use his inexperience and incompetence to their advantage.

I also know all of this may seem like splitting hairs to some of my readers. However, I can see a clear distinction and will do my best to continue to make that distinction in this space.


Chickenman – Episode 48

Uh, oh, Chickenman struggles to regain his memory after a big bump on the head. Even worse, the Police Commissioner is trying to help him. If it seems that only Ms. Helfinger has a clue about anyting in this series, you are right.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing you mask, and keep justice, peace, and health in your heart.

Tom

June 3, 2020

Today is Wednesday, June 3 and this is Repeat Day. Today is Wednesday, June 3 and this is Repeat Day.

other voices

Today I’m bringing other voices into The Daily Drivel. However, what they have to say is not drivelous. I appreciate their thinking, the clarity of their speech, the beauty of their voices, and their prespectives.

The first voice is that of my son, Jake. Yesterday, at exactly the same time I was writing my blog about him, he was writing in Facebook. I reached out to him early yesterday evening to review my blog before I posted it. He approved of what I had written and, as you will see below, it was aligned with what he also had written. I have also asked and received his permission to share his posting to Facebook. Here’s what he wrote:

The second voice is that of Stephen Colbert, the host of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS. Colbert stands in the long, honored tradition of the court jester who could deliver bad news to the king with impunity. The mantle of the jester rests today on the shoulders of many stand up comedians, including Colbert. Colbert’s monologue on Monday, June 1st was speaking truth to power in a more serious way than is typical for him. It is 12 minutes worth watching if you haven’t seen it.

The next voices are musical. I have selected them because they are songs that I have always associated with healing, compassion, love, and unity. All are in short supply at the moment, but we can’t blame the pandemic on that.

I will forever appreciate the performance delivered by John Legend in the Easter 2018 live performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. It was one of the most powerful and beautiful performances on any stage I’ve ever seen. If you’ve not seen it before, take time to find it and watch it now. It is relevant to these times. However, the voice of John Legend comes with a different message today. His rendition of the Simon & Garfunkel song Bridge Over Troubled Water is like a healing balm. You hear it in his voice and in the voices of the audience who join him on the chorus.

At the risk of redundancy, the next voice is Chris Mann singing the same tune. Mann’s COVID-19 song parodies have been featured here already but this is no parody. It is a beautiful a capella version which appears to have been posted just today by Mann. Don’t be distracted by the (too many) images of Mann in this video because the music is incredible. Just listen, you don’t have to watch.

The day after Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States I was at Dulles International Airport to catch a flight. There were throngs of people there who were going back home after having attended that historic event.

I joined a long line of people trying to buy coffee and so did a small woman who was right behind me. I knew it was going to be a while so I decided to do what I always do: strike up a conversation. The two people ahead of me were friends and already chatting. I didn’t want to interrupt. The woman behind me appeared to be alone and she smiled back when I smiled at her. I remember it seemed to me she was dressed too casually for an older woman – sweat pants, sweatshirt, and a baseball cap – who exuded a certain fine dignity and style. Still, she seemed a likely candidate so I started a conversation with her.

We talked for about five minutes and then I realized something was familiar about her. When she realized that I was recognizing her she stopped the conversation. She leaned toward me, fixed her eyes on mine, and said, “Yes, you know me.” I leaned toward her and said, in barely a whisper (in case I was wrong), “Dionne Warwick?” She nodded. For the next 25 minutes we had the most wonderful conversation.

The next musical voice is that of Ms. Dionne Warwick. This video was filmed in March 29, 2019, ten years after that serendipitous conversation at Dulles. She is older now but her music is timeless. This is one of my favorites from her songbook. When the song was written in the early 60’s it was first offered to her by the songwriters, but she turned it down. Eventually she did record it twice though. First on an album. Then, in 1996, she recorded it as a single.

It is also a timely song. Some may feel the sentiment may be a little sappy but remember that it was originally recorded in the midst of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. Those were not sappy times.

Marvin Gaye‘s is the next voice singing Abraham, Martin, & John, a song that was made famous by Dion in 1968. It is a tribute to the memory and work of Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and Bobby Kennedy and Gaye’s rendition is powerful. These men had a powerful impact on our country. They were each imperfect people – a fact which Mr. Trump should take comfort in – but they usually were still able to put the country and the greater good before themselves – a fact Mr. Trump should allow to convict to his soul.

The final voice belongs to that of Pete Seeger, the legendary folk singer. Though Seeger did not write This Land is Your Land (it was written by his contemporary Woody Guthrie) he probably did as much to popularize it. A little known fact about Seeger, except in Quaker circles, is that he was good friends with Friends and we, therefore, lay a bit of claim to him.

There are two things I really like about this song. First, it’s origin story. Guthrie wrote it as a critical response to Irving Berlin’s nationalistic anthem, God Bless America. You’ve got to wonder what he might have written had he had to endure endless renditions of God Bless the U.S.A.

Second, its possibilities. Frankly, I am not a fan of the musicality of our national anthem. It is hard to sing and the music is lousy. Seriously, can you ever think of any rendition of the Star Spangled Banner that didn’t make you want to check your phone or go to the kitchen for more salsa? I didn’t think so. Me neither. (Do you know how risky it is to hold this view and live so close to Baltimore where it was penned?) However, This Land is Your Land is a wonderful candidate to be our national anthem. The music is fun and it is immensely singable, right? Maybe that is why it is one of the first songs taught in grade school music class. The only thing standing in the song’s way of being our national anthem is it’s aspirational message of unity and inclusion. Uh oh. That could be a problem, huh?

This Land is Your Land is also in the long, proud tradition of protest songs. Maybe it is a good option for today’s protesters who still want to raise their voices. Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie would be proud!

(P.S. If you aren’t really sure this is a protest song, be sure to read Woody Guthrie’s original 1940 lyrics in Wikipedia. Actually, this version incorporate a number of those original lyrics. Listen carefully to Seeger’s call and response, you didn’t learn this version in grade school!

Chickenman – Episode 47

The final voice belongs to Chickenman but not because he has anything important to say. Besides, today he has amnesia and can’t remember what to say. It’s because we still need to find reasons to smile and laugh in the midst of everything else that is happening.

Take time and care to laugh as well as cry; pray for hope as well as justice; speak in whispers as well as shouts; listen to music as well as speeches; and sit in peace as well as march for peace. All are okay. The balance keeps us healthy, it keeps us sane in an insane world.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep remembering to stay in balance.

Tom

June 1, 2020

Welcome to The Daily Drivel!

Today is not only June 1st, it is Dare Day! Here’s a fun and interesting dare for any day – I dare you to think about somebody you’d like to know better and then ask them this question: “Tell me one story from your life that helps me understand better who you are today and how you got here.”


another leadership moment lost

We all need to be ready for those moments when our leadership is on the line and the fate or fortune of others depends on what we do.

…I take leadership to signify the act of making a difference.

Michael Useem, The Leadership Moment (1998)

Last night we watched another leadership moment come…and go…again. We were watching our local 11:00 PM news as it covered the protests and riots outside the White House, barely 20 miles from our home. We saw protesters and police, fires and rioters in an area of Washington we know well, only blocks from where I used to commute into work each day.

Posted on Facebook by MKW

The protests in Washington, as those in New York City, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angelese, Miami, and a many other cities were against the brutal inhumanity that murdered George Floyd (be sure to watch this video of the timeline of Mr. Floyd’s death compiled from security and cell phone video). George Floyd died on May 25th – one week ago – at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Early that same day, the day Mr. Floyd died, I wrote an open letter to the President of the United States. In that letter, with reference to the pandemic, I asked him to be his best self for the sake of the country. It would not be fair to say he ignored me because I’m quite sure he never saw my letter. I would have been pleased if he had but I my expectations are realistic. However, sometimes things just need to be said.

At the same time, I did not expect the brutal death of Mr. Floyd and the extraordinary crisis upon extraordinary crisis in which we are now living. If any President were ever a real leader, these crises were leadership moments which could not be allowed to pass. But they did pass the current President of the United States.

The President has not only ignored or been unhelpful in healing the country wracked with the deaths of over 100,000+ people from COVID-19, he has done the same in the death of George Floyd. He has played golf on one of his golf courses, traveled to Florida to watch a rocket launch, and he has hidden in his underground bunker, he has berated governors for not “dominating” the protesters, and he has preened for a photo opportunity in front of a church he rarely attends, holding up a Bible so new looking one wonders if it has ever been opened or read. The church, a block from the White House, had to be cleared of protesters by Federal authories usings rubber bullets and tear gas to make a path for the President to have his photo op. However, he has not tried bringing people together, he has not tried comforting the grieving, he has not tried binding the wounds, and he has not tried to put out the fires of the pandemic and the racism he has fueled. He has missed, again and again, the leadership moment. He has failed and he continues to fail.


What’s Your Message Now?

CBS Sunday Morning had a very interesting segment on advertising this last Sunday. Many nonprofits do not actually “advertise” but they do “promote” their services. This segment looked at the ways advertising has changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I found this to be a relevant and thought-provoking segment to recommend to nonprofit leaders and their organizations. Give it a look!


truth be told with winthrop dykstra-Baum

Winthrop Dykstra-Baum here with “Truth Be Told.” Today I’m interviewing, again, Tom Klaus.

  • Me: Could you move away from me just a bit, Winthrop? When I agreed to do this interview with you, you said you’d be wearing a mask and keeping at least six feet from me.
  • Winthrop: Yes, but that was before I started taking hydroxycholriquine and now there is no danger.
  • Me: Um, that’s not true, Winthrop. You could still be a carrier and, besides, the best science says that hydroxycholoriquine could be dangerous for you.
  • Winthrop: Well, this is my show and I can do what I like.
  • Me: It might be your show, Winthrop, but if you aren’t going to mask up and keep a safe distance, I’m going to ask you to leave.
  • Winthrop: Fine! (Frustratedly putting on a mask). Happy now?
  • Me: Yes, now if you’ll take about two steps back, please.
  • Winthrop (stepping back): Satisfied?
  • Me: Yes, much better. Now, go ahead.
  • Winthrop: I’ll try but I can hardly breathe under this ridiculous mask. (Pause) I understand you are no longer writing “Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place.” Is that right?
  • Me: Yes, that is true, Winnie.
  • Winthrop: That would be, “Winthrop,” please.
  • Me: My apologies…yes, that is true Winthrop. I’ll still be including some stories of COVID-19 but I’m changing the focus a bit of the new blog, The Daily Drivel.
  • Winthrop: The Daily Drivel?” Already it sounds more realistic and accurate.
  • Me: I’m not sure how you mean that, Winthrop.
  • Winthrop: I mean that “Stories of COVID-19,” frankly, from a journalistic perspective, was pretty lousy. At least this blog says that right up front. What guarantee do we have that this new blog is going to uphold the highest journalistic standards, like I do?
  • Me: It isn’t journalism, Winthrop. It is more like a personal journal and you and others are invited to read it. I don’t make any claims to be a journalist. I like to write, I have a sense of humor, I have a life, I have opinions, and I like to write about them in this blog.
  • Winthrop: So it isn’t journalism, yet you still expect people to take it seriously?
  • Me: Well, you claim to be a journalist, Winthrop, but not everybody takes you seriously. I mean, seriously, any decent journalist knows you don’t take hyroxycholoriquine to prevent COVID-19. There is just no science to back it up.
  • Winthrop: This isn’t about me, you are the interview subject. You can stop dodging my question anytime you like.
  • Me: I’m not dodging your question. In fact I’ll answer it right now. I expect people to take The Daily Drivel for what it is…a place to begin or end the day, to hang out, get a smile, read a rant or two, and, on occasion, even learn something new.
  • Winthrop: “Even learn something new.” There it is, Truth Be Told! You expect people to learn something new hence you are covertly trying to pass this off as real journalism!
  • Me: Really, Winthrop, is that what you think? I’m making no claims of real journalism – just real drivel. You see things when they aren’t there, Winthrop, just to be able to shout “Truth Be Told!” in people’s faces. Are you sure the hydroxychoriquine isn’t getting to you?
  • Winthrop: No, I’m fine, but, wait…I need to wrap this…it is time for my next dose.

Chickenman – episode 45

Chickenman enjoys a dinner at one of his favorite Midland City restaurants.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and keep wearing your mask.

Tom

Day 72 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

At about noon there was a knock on our door. I looked through the peephole and didn’t see anyone. I assumed it was a delivery left in front of the door as it is usually done these days. I opened the door and there they were – Bert and Ernie sitting there looking up at me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 Live to Blog from the Laundry Room

Keeping Social Separation
Keeping Social Separation in the Time of COVID-19 – #alonetogether

Thank you for allowing me to stray from the drivel track yesterday. I had to get it off my chest. I’ve been thinking a lot about character and ethics recently – for reasons I’ll explain below. Now, back to the drivel.


Idiocy Abounds!

When we last heard from Bert Left and Ernie Right, they were refusing to come in off the deck. There has already been so much loss and sadness in our world that I had been waiting for the right moment to tell you that Bert and Ernie had been lost. Last Friday morning I went to the deck to try to coax them back onto my feet but they were gone. There had been a strong breeze all Thursday and well into the night. I assumed they had been blown off the deck and were lying about somewhere in the Maryland National Memorial Cemetery, about a 100 yards from our house. I didn’t want to trespass over the holiday weekend but decided I’d go hunting for them today.

But I didn’t have to. At about noon there was a knock on our door. I looked through the peephole and didn’t see anyone. I assumed it was a delivery left in front of the door as it is usually done these days. I opened the door and there they were – Bert and Ernie sitting there looking up at me.

  • Ernie: Hey, bonehead! It’s about time you opened the door.
  • Me: Bert! Ernie! I thought you had been lost! How’d you get here?
  • Ernie: Nah, we ain’t lost. We know exactly where we are.
  • Bert: The Uber driver dropped us up here. Nice lady! But you should give us a key, you know.
  • Me: Uber driver?!? What were you doing in an Uber?
  • Bert: We had a little trip.
  • Ernie: Yeah, we got tired of just hanging on the deck and we definitely did not want to get back on your smelly feet.
  • Bert: So we went on a little trip.
  • Me: Oh really? How’d you get off the deck?
  • Bert: We just wiggled out of the clips and the wind carried us gently to the ground. Then we called an Uber.
  • Ernie: And the Uber took us to Ocean City, baby!
  • Me: Wait…you’re telling me you went to Ocean City? To be the beach? When did this happen?
  • Ernie: Real early Friday morning. We had all weekend at Ocean City!
  • Bert: Yeah, all weekend, bonehead, and it was great. You should’ve seen all the gorgeous yoga and tennis socks over there! Hey, Ernie, what was that cute little striped number’s name again?
  • Ernie: You mean Chloe? Or was that Maria? No, wait, it was Keisha, yeah, that’s right…Keisha! Oh man, she was somethin’ bonehead, but she wasn’t your type, you like wool socks.
  • Me: Are you guys telling me you spent the whole weekend on the beach?
  • Bert: Yeah, what’s it to you, bonehead?
  • Me: What’s it to me? You’ve got to be kidding! What’s it to me? Tell me something, did either of you geniuses wear masks and keep six feet apart from people?
  • Ernie (giggles): Hey, Bert, did you wear a mask and keep your distance from Keisha?
  • Bert (giggles back): Oh, yeah, Ernie I stayed just as far away from her as you stayed from Yvette.
  • Bert and Ernie erupt in laughter.
  • Me: Okay, I get it. So you did the same thing alot of other Stupid People did over the holiday right?
  • Bert: C’mon man, you’re really too uptight about this thing. I mean, jeez, it’s not a big deal. Look Mr. Trump doesn’t wear a mask and he’s always getting close to people.
  • Me: I really don’t care what Mr. Trump does because he doesn’t live here. You do. And now you can’t come back in the house until you quarantine for 14 days.
  • Ernie: What? What are you talking about? Where are we going to stay?
  • Me: I don’t know, but I can’t bring you into the house just to take you to the deck. You’d probably just wiggle free again.
  • Bert: Hey, that’s not fair!
  • Me: You know, I’m getting really tired of you two complaining that things aren’t fair for you. What’s fair for me and Clemencia? We are doing everything we can to stay safe and avoid infection. Then you two pull this crazy stunt. You are no different than some of our neighbors who don’t wear masks. You are the same as all those other people we saw in the news who went to parties and the beaches who didn’t wear masks and didn’t keep a distance. You are selfish and self-centered. And now, you leave me no choice.
  • Ernie: What do you mean no choice?
  • Me (lowering a plastic bag to the floor): Get in the bag. You’ve ruined it. I have not choice now but to wash you.
  • Bert: No you can’t do that! We are living beings! We are you!
  • Me: No, you aren’t me. I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier but I’m not stupid. You were safe here. You blew it. Get in the bag.
  • Ernie: No way! You can’t do this!
  • Me: Yes, I can and I will. You now pose a risk to us. In the bag. And if you don’t get in it willingly, I’ll nudge you in with my shoe.

By 1:00 PM Bert Left and Ernie Right were transported from the washing machine to the dryer. They were good friends to me and I miss them already. I’m very sad, though, for their stupidity. They were, too, in the end, apologizing profusely to me. Still, they had to be washed and disinfected. To be clear, I did not spray them with Lysol nor soak them in Clorox. They just needed a good washing. In fact, I think they appreciated it. I swear I heard Ernie say to Bert during the wash, “Hey, Bert, this ain’t so bad. In fact, it is little bit like that roller coaster we rode on last Saturday.”

If the opportunity arises for them to return, they’ve promised me they will. The next time, though, I hope they will be a little nicer to me and bit more humble. But we’ll see. For now, rest in peace in the sock drawer, Bert and Ernie – March 16, 2020 to May 26, 2020. Aged -I mean really aged! – 72 days. They will be missed but their stench – and attitudes – will not.


Pondering Character

Character and ethics have been on my mind a lot during the pandemic. I’ve been reading a couple of books and finishing up a long-over due project, which probably explains why.

One book I’m reading is a textbook entitled Ethical Leadership: A Primer. It is a college level book that examines and compares a variety of ethical theories. It is not the light reading I do at night before bed…but it is very interesting.

The other book I’ve been reading in a rather meditative way is David Brooks’ The Road to Character. It is a great book for reflective reading because the book is a reflection by Brooks on what he has learned about character. Brooks is a New York Times bestselling author, a writer for the New York Times, and a regular commentator on the PBS News Hours on Fridays. When I attend Quaker Meeting I sometimes need meditative reading material to help focus my mind and quiet my spirit. The Road to Character has been very good for this purpose.

The other thing that has been causing me to ponder character and ethics is work I’ve done recently to finish a project I started over two years ago. It was the WWJD Redux Project. I decided to self-fund a study to understand more clearly how people view the leadership of Donald Trump in light of the ethical and moral lapses he has been accused of. The study was accepted for presentation at the 20th Global Conference of the International Leadership Association meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida in October of that year. I had promised, as I was doing the study, that I would send the results to everyone who participated. However, that promise got away from me in the busyness and business of life. Over the past few weeks I shot a video of that presentation and am now am making good on the promise. This link, WWJD Redux Project, and the one above, take you to the project page on the Tenacious Change LLC website where you can find more information. If you are interested in watching the video presentation (its roughly 29 minutes in length), you can watch it on that page or below on the Tenacious Change LLC YouTube channel.

If you take time to watch the video and learn about the study, I’d be interested in hearing what you think. It is still relevant to our time…perhaps even more so in the midst of this pandemic.


A View of COVID-19

This image was taken from the website of the Johns Hopkins project that is tracking COVID-19. The view is of “Cumulative Confirmed Cases” worldwide. There is an old expression that seems appropriate here…let’s say it together: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”


The Adventures of Chickenman

Episode 40 – Chickenman has followed the Teddy Bear into a party in the hotel, only to discover he is at a costume party hosted by the Teddy Bear. The Teddy Bear is, in fact, Scarfce O’Banyon, a highly respected Midland City dentist. When it was time to unmask, though, Chickenman found himself in a difficult position. But could he just fly the coop? Or just fly?


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your face, keep wearing your mask, and, please keep being smarter than Bert and Ernie.

Tom

Day 61 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

In barely a month, during the worst days of the pandemic so far, there has been a 10% drop in the number of Americans who said they are likely to get the COVID-19 vaccination once it becomes available.

Friday, May 15, 2020 – Live to Blog Amidst of a Lot of Noise

Besides the political and societal noise about COVID-19, we are also dealing with a lot of actual noise today in our house. Rather than face thousands of dollars of repairs to keep our HVAC system limping along, we decided to take a deep breath and replace it. The installers are here today. They are making good progress and some great noise! All is normal.


Will a Vaccine Really Matter?

Tweets don’t usually disturb me. Until today. It disturbs me for two reasons. First, I tend to trust the source. Second, the content is frightening.

The tweet came from David Brooks, the New York Times columnist who is often identified as a conservative and a Republican. I first started following him on the PBS News Hour where he squares off each Friday with Mark Shields, a progressive Democrat. Over the years I have enjoyed their thoughtful and thought provoking debates. They remind me that civil discourse, and even agreement, is still possible if people are willing and able. Brooks’ The Road to Character is one of those books that I’m quick to recommend to people and, of course, I recommend it to you. When David Brooks speaks, I tend to pay attention. This morning I paid attention to his Tweet:

The graphic he shared is scary. Look at it closely. In barely a month, during the worst days of the pandemic so far, there has been a 10% drop in the number of Americans who said they are likely to get the COVID-19 vaccination once it becomes available. Responses to Brook’s Tweet included the usual rants and snarky comments but there was one that stood out to me because of its analysis.

What @lbbayer, and respondents, are revealing is the lack of trust many people have in “current leaders” generally and in Donald Trump specifically. No surprise there. Part of our great partisan divide in the U.S. is the lack, even absence, of trust that people in one party feel toward leaders put forth by the other. Regardless of who started the fight, in the end, all will lose. The leaders will lose because all will have drawn the ire of the people. The people will lose because of failed leadership.

There are two things our leaders do not understand, or, if they do, they don’t care about at all…which is even more frightening.

First, leadership is not about being ahead, or “the head,” of people. It is about walking alongside them without concern for what is in it for self. Consider what Lao Tzu wrote millenials ago:

Second, trust is fundamental in motivating people to embrace change. Stephen Covey wrote “Trust is the glue that holds everything together.” He is also credited with the concept that change happens at the speed of trust. In the midst of this pandemic, until American’s can trust their leaders to make decisions in the best interests of we the people as whole (and not special interests), communicate transparently and honestly, and act with integrity, we will not make much progress against COVID-19.

We not only have a pandemic of COVID-19, we have a pandemic of mistrust.

Recently I’ve heard economists, scientists, and public health people agree on a single point: the economy will not come back until we bring the virus under control. This is because most people are too afraid to go back to work, patronize restaurants, theaters, bars, shops, stores, and other businesses until they feel it is really safe to go out again. Though we remain under stay-at-home orders here in Prince George’s County until June 1, we expect to be avoiding public places for a very long time to come.

Our country and society has been dealt a devastating blow in terms of both health and economy. It is important right now that we be able to believe our leaders and trust them. Our capacity to recover depends on it. Unfortunately, our leaders do not appear to have the moral courage or capacity to do the one thing they must do: together sow truth to let the seeds of trust grow.


Why Wait? Have Heapin’ Bowlful of Some Good News!


The Adventures of Chickenman

Now that Chickenman has been completely dissolved by the Chicken Dissolver, what will it mean for crime in Midland City?


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep demanding the truth of fact and science.

Tom

Day 55 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Thanks to my sisters, I grew up with the music of Little Richard. I was born about 10 years after my youngest sister but all three were teenagers at either the beginning of his career or just as he was hitting his musical stride. In fact, I may have been able to say “a-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-wop-bam-boom” before I said much of anything else.

Saturday, May 9, 2020 – Live to Blog with my head filled with “a-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-wop-bam-boom”

Little Richard died today. To the best of my knowledge he did not die as a result of complications of COVID-19 as so many have recently. In 1955 Little Richard coined the phrase that is filling my head. Little Richard claimed to be the architect of rock and roll and his phrase became a part of rock’s musical history. It is the opening line of the song “Tutti Frutti.” In 2010 the Library of Congress added this Little Richard anthem to the National Recording Registry as one of its most culturally significant recordings. Since I can’t get the phrase out of my head, I may as well play it.

From 1956 – Little Richard’s screen test for the movie “The Girl Can’t Help It” starring Jayne Mansfield.

The Challenge of Personal Congruence

Thanks to my sisters, I grew up with the music of Little Richard. I was born about 10 years after my youngest sister but all three were teenagers at either the beginning of his career or just as he was hitting his musical stride. In fact, I may have been able to say “a-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-wop-bam-boom” before I said much of anything else.

Both the music and person of Little Richard have fascinated me. His music is so distinctive. From the opening notes of any of his hit songs, we know immediately it is Little Richard. As a person he was also distinctive, especially as a performer. His flamboyant costumes, hair, and make-up set him apart from so many other performers of his time…actually, any time.

What fascinated me about Little Richard was his very human struggle to be a congruent person. To be personally congruent is to know ourselves and to be ourselves…to be comfortable, as it were, in our own skins. Author Parker Palmer describes the opposite of congruence as “the divided life.”

Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other. In the process, we become separated from our own souls. We end up living divided lives, so far removed from the truth we hold within that we cannot know the “integrity that comes from being what you are.”

Parker J. Palmer, p. 4, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life

Little Richard lived out the challenge of personal congruence in a very public way. He tried to speak freely of that challenge at different times in his career. There are two times I remember seeing him do this on television. Once was with Pat Robertson on the 700 Club shortly after he had given up rock and roll in the 1970’s to become a Bible salesman and to be straight. It was interesting, but painful, to watch because Little Richard was so very divided at that time and was, in fact, in denial about himself. I remember he sat uncomfortably in the guest’s chair, unsmiling, and refusing, when invited by Robertson, to perform one of his famous songs. Little Richard asserted he didn’t do that kind of music anymore.

Some time later, in an interview with David Letterman in 1982, I saw a slightly more congruent Little Richard but he was still divided between who he thought he should be and who he was. The following clip is the whole of that interview, including a gospel song from Little Richard at the end. It is fascinating to watch because Letterman is an outstanding interviewer and he helped Little Richard open up with more of his story.

Not long after this interview with David Letterman, Little Richard would once again return to the world of rock and roll. Little Richard’s love/hate relationship with his own sexuality and rock and roll, and his on-again/off-again relationship with evangelical Christian faith is well documented. In 2017 Little Richard gave one of his last interviews on a religious broadcasting network. In that interview he again denounced homosexuality and transgender identity.

I loved the rock and roll music of Little Richard. I was on the Mall in Washington, DC on the 4th of July in 2011 and so was Little Richard. Well, not in the exact same place I was. He was rehearsing to perform that evening on A Capital Fourth, the PBS live 4th of July celebraton broadcast. That was a close as I ever got to Little Richard.

There is, however, something about Little Richard’s struggle to achieve personal congruence that resonates with any of us who are trying to be fully human. In his struggle we saw reflections of our own. In a day when masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are in such short supply, it is ironic that we are all born with a plentiful supply of life masks. Throughout our lifetimes we try them on one-by-one to see which one fits us best. We hope we eventually find one that fits us, is comfortable to wear, and represents us more or less accurately. In acheiving the congruence of the undivided life we finally realize, though, there are no masks that actually fit us. We are who we are.

Early in his career, Little Richard made a gospel album. On that album he sings “Peace in the Valley” and it is one of the most beautiful renditions of the song I’ve ever heard. Today I hope Little Richard Penniman has been freed of his last mask and finally found the peace he sought. Rest in true peace, Little Richard.

Little Richard singing “Peace in the Valley.” A most beautiful rendition.

The Challenge of Public Congruence

Personal congruence is a struggle and, for most people, so is public congruence. To be congruent publicly is to let your life speak in a way that is consistent with your words. Parker Palmer also wrote a book about that. It is one that I required students to read in an MBA course I taught at Eastern University.

Public congruence is an expression of our personal ethics. To be congruent is to be an example. To be incongruent is to live by the ethic of “do as I say, not as I do.” Public congruence is something we tend to expect of leaders. I have to admit that today I’m struggling with the incongruence I’m seeing in Washington, DC at the moment.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence refuse to wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, even when they know this is the recommendation of public health officials. In fact, Mr. Trump may have exposed very elderly veterans to coronavirus during a remembrance of the end of World War II this week. Now both Trump, Pence, and Ivanka Trump each have members of their staffs who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Rather than take the prevention steps which have been recommended for weeks, Trump and his staff (which likely includes Pence, Ms. Trump, and their staffs) will be tested daily. There is still no evidence they intend to be like the rest of us who take the prevention protocols seriously.

So, let me get this straight: at a time when many communities in the U.S. are begging for tests, Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence, and their staffs will now be tested daily because they refuse to follow the basic prevention protocols many of us are following?

Why is it that a famous Marie Antoinette quote comes to my mind when I read about the incongruent behavioir of this Administration?


The Adventures of Chickenman

You know, I’ve just got to hear from someone who is more congruent. Here is Episode 23 in which Chickenman flames out over a request.


The View from Jeff

Jeff explains: I am afraid that I may lose my ability to understand body language once we get back to face-to-face interaction. Zoom/Skype/Wimba/Collaborate/BlueJeans/MS Teams…I won’t be able to figure out who’s talking without a glowing frame around them.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep striving for the undivided life.

Tom

Day 14 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Sunday, March 29, 2020 Live to Blog from A Social Distance

The term “social distancing” seems to really bother Clemencia. After walking the Girls (our miniature schnauzers) today we returned to the lobby of our building, punched the elevator button with an elbow, and waited for the doors to open. At about that same moment, the son of one of our 3rd floor neighbors was coming into the building carrying a box which, apparently, he was delivering to his parent.

Hilarious Colombian Hand Gestures #3: The Mucha Gueva Face
mantarayatravel.com/blog
  • Clemencia said, “Let’s give him the elevator so we can keep the distance.”
  • “Fine,” I said, “but I did take a gigantic risk of exposure to the Coronavirus by pushing the button with my elbow and now you’re asking me to take that risk again.”
  • “You didn’t push the button, mi amor,” she responded. “That was my elbow.”
  • Oh,” I said, but not wanting to lose the point, immediately retorted, “Yeah, but, somebody will have to push it again and it will probably be me and I could get exposed.”
  • At this point she gave me one of those looks that Colombian’s are famous for and even verbalized it for me, “Mucha gueva!” (Loosely translated it means, “What an idiot!”)

Putting my elbow in harm’s way nonetheless, I pushed the elevator button. When the elevator arrived, we stepped in, and Clemencia used her elbow to push the 4th floor button. Then, she turned to me and said, with a slightly indignant voice of authority, “It should never have been called ‘social distancing’ because that’s not accurate. It should be ‘physical distancing.'” Ever the scientist seeking precision of meaning and expression, the term social distancing apparently had been bothering her for some time. Having trained and worked as a therapist at one point in my career I thought this was an invitation to explore this with her. “So, how do you feel about that?,” I asked. Before she could give me the Mucha Gueva Face again, the door opened onto the 4th floor and the dogs pulled us out.

We shared dessert with good friends from Kansas over Zoom after dinner. Why not share dinner, you wonder? Because we are people of a certain age who don’t eat heavy dinners anymore, we eat early, and we eat what Clemencia calls “personal food.” (No, this is not another Colombian thing, as far as I can tell. It is a Clemencia thing but I’ve adopted it.) “Personal food” are those things we love to eat that may not hold an appeal to anyone else or that are exceedingly messy. For me, fried or whole rotisserie chicken and most pastas are “personal food.” I make such a mess with them that I don’t want to be seen eating them in public, so the only time I eat them is at home. Liver and onions and chicken gizzards are also my “personal foods”…not because they are messy but because Clemencia…and most other people I know…cannot stomach them. All things considered, and our tendency to eat more “personal foods” during sheltering-in-place, it seemed a good idea to simply focus on dessert (ice cream, brownies, and pie, by the way).

We had a wonderful time! We laughed, reminded one another of stupid jokes we had learned from each other years ago, got caught up on our kids and families, and, of course, ate dessert. Naturally we had to spend some time on COVID-19. Though we are now entering Week #3 of sheltering-in-place here, only yesterday the Kansas governor gave shut-down orders to non-essential businesses and people began to seriously shelter-in-place. I guess it makes sense that Kansans are only now doing this. If you notice on the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Dashboard, the virus is clearly, slowly, and continuously moving West across the country. Rural states like Kansas, and my home state of Iowa, are only now really beginning to see the exponential growth of it.

In Reality. No, wait, did I just write, “I guess it makes sense that Kansans are only now” sheltering in place? That’s NOT right…NONE of it makes ANY sense…not for the Kansans…not for any of us.

  • It doesn’t make any sense at all…given we have known pandemics start slow and, before we know it, they are overwhelming us. It took us 41 days (January 21 to March 2) to go from the first case to 100 cases. It took only 2 days (March 2 to March 4) for the next 100. In less than a month (March 4 to March 29), we are over 124,000 cases. No, that’s not because we have so much more testing going on…because we are STILL far behind on it.
  • It doesn’t make any sense that this Administration, or any administration, would ignore the National Security Council’s “playbook” for preparing for pandemics. (Yes, a summary of this playbook is now in the public domain and you can read it here.)
  • It doesn’t make any sense that our leaders would be warned in early January, and again in February, about the pandemic and the need to take steps then to curb the spread of the virus, but chose to wait weeks, until mid-March, to take any substantive action.
  • It doesn’t make any sense that any Administration would delay invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure needed medical supplies for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
  • It doesn’t make any sense that the United States, with a population of 328+ million would have 124,000+ confirmed cases of Coronavirus when China, with a population four times that of the U.S. (1.4 billion), have only 82,000+ confirmed cases (Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Dashboard at the writing of this blog). Even if, as some suggest, the Chinese have not been honest in reporting, the disparity is still staggering.

This disparity between the U.S. and China only makes sense is when you consider that the four previous statements don’t make any sense but are stunningly true.

Our country’s response to the Coronavirus was too slow, it is now too little, and it may be too late. Overall, it has been a mind-boggling failure of our leaders to trust expertise, possess an imagination for the worst case scenario, and to perform their ultimate duty to protect and serve the people of this country.

The couple we had dessert with last night have been in my life since I was a teenager. We grew up together in rural Iowa, attended rival high schools, became friends through an extracurricular youth program, and have been fast friends ever since. Their youngest daughter and my son were born in the same year. I performed her wedding and they attended his last Fall. Through the two darkest periods of my life, they remained fast friends. They found a way to still believe in me and extend grace to me when I could do neither for myself. I consider them to be my most trusted friends. I have often regretted that we live so far apart at this stage of our lives but, as we are all discovering in the past few days, video conferencing allows us to bridge the distances. In reality, they and we are all in that highest risk group for contracting, and dying, from Coronavirus. We are boomers, but we are not keen on being removed quite yet.

In this blog I mentioned a friend had told me of a new term for the Coronavirus – the boomer remover, which is definitely a thing. This weekend Clemencia found a thoughtful response to it from a Pulitzer Prize winning commentator, COVID-19 as “Boomer Remover?” Let’s Talk About That. I hope you will take time to read it, whether you are a Boomer, a Gen Xer, or a Millennial.

Thursday, April 2nd BYON Virtual Coffee Break/Happy Hour: Regardless of your generation, you are welcome to join in. See the connection information below.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, and keep washing your hands, keep sheltering-in-place, and keep remembering we are all in this together – regardless of our politics, our age, our gender, our race, our ethnicity, our faith, or our generation.

Tom

A Word to the Wise & a Caution to Fools

Lao-Tzu, in his ancient wisdom, describes the kind of leaders we want to follow.

lao-tzu-bronzeToday is Thursday, November 8, 2018. The Mid-Term Elections in the U.S. came and went two days ago. (Woo Hoo!) Of course, there are winners and losers. To the winners – those who have been elected to lead us at the community, county, state, and national levels – remember that ancient wisdom is often the best advice. So consider the words of Lao-Tzu about leadership from the Tao-Te Ching:

To lead people, walk beside them…

As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.

The next best, the people honor and praise.

The next, the people fear;

and the next, the people hate…

When the best leader’s work is done the people say,

We did it ourselves!

 

And so I ask you…whether you won election this time or are planning already for your next run…what kind of leader do you plan to be? 

I hope you will…be greater, do good, everyday, and always change forward!

Tom

An Invitation to the WWJD Redux Project

The WWJD Redux Project: One year into the presidency of Donald Trump, how are people answering?

Uh…oh…my inner researcher has been awakened!!! You are invited to participate in the WWJD Redux Project.  

In addition to my consulting work at Tenacioius Change, I also do occasional research on topics related to leadership. The WWJD Redux Project is a new project related to the topic of ethical and moral leadership. I am conducting this informal study for a possible article or other publication.

If you have a clear memory of the 1990s (though there was much to forget), you may remember that the initials “WWJD” referred to the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” It entered American pop culture and “went viral” as a way to motivate Evangelical Christians, particularly youth, to “do the right thing” which was, in general, to demonstrate the love of Jesus through their actions and behaviors. As most things that make their way into American pop culture, the question became hackneyed, cliched, and even parodied. Still, it came to represent an acknowledgment of the need for a higher ethical and moral standard for people. You can find a brief, interesting article on the origins of the term here.

The WWJD Redux Project seeks to learn how people are answering that question with regard to President Donald Trump.

You can participate in four simple steps.

Decide to participate. Anyone with an opinion can participate. Feel free to share this invitation with anyone else you like. (For your convenience, use the social media 

Read John Pavlovitz’s brief blog titled, “White Evangelicals, This is Why People are Through With You.

Reflect on these two questions:

  1. After reading and thinking about Pavlovitz’s blog, where are you at in this moment?
  2. Still thinking about Pavlovitz’s blog, what WOULD Jesus do in this time?   

Respond. You have two ways to respond. You can make a private response or enter into a public dialogue with others. Of course, you can do both, if you like. 

  • To make a Private Response: Follow this link to a private response form in my Survey Monkey account.
  • To engage in Public Dialogue: Go to my posts on the Tenacious Change Facebook page (if needed search for the post titled “WWJD Redux Project Dialogue”). Then reply to the post there. If you participate in the public dialogue, please be civil and respectful. This means no cussin’, no spittin’, no name callin’, no wedgies, and no noogies – virtual or real. If you do choose the public dialogue option,  at the start of your post, please tell us how you religiously self-identify using one of these four options: 1) Evangelical Christian; 2) Christian; 3) No identification; and, 4) Other – then explain what the other is.

Finally, thanks to my friend and colleague, Mark Holmgren who inspired this project with a link to John Pavlovitz on Facebook. 

I hope you take a few minutes to read Pavlovitz’s blog and participate. 

Thanks for your consideration and remember to be greater, by doing good, everyday. Change forward!

Tom Klaus

The (Mostly) Certitudes of Change

Change is inevitable, regardless of how we feel about it. This is beyond being a mostly certitude of change…it is a certitude. We only deceive ourselves if we think change will not occur simply because we do not want it.

All things considered, I prefer sameness in my personal life. Okay, actually I more than prefer it. I really like the comfort of my personal routine when I am at home. 

I get up and go to bed at the same times everyday; I eat the same breakfast each morning (baked oatmeal – be sure to ask me for my recipe); I have used the same bar soap, shampoo, and other personal products for years; I have had the same haircut for years (of course, having little hair poses certain limitations); I walk our dogs at the same times every day; when my clothes wear out, I replace them with the same brands in as close to the same style as I can find; and my work day follows the same pattern as much as possible when I’m not traveling for work – I do research and writing in the morning, meetings and calls in the afternoon.

Despite this love of routine, I have come to appreciate there are many facets of change, whether it is personal or group change.

Both have been and continue to be areas of focus in my work – from developing leaders, to organizational change to community development. In recent months I found myself thinking nearly nonstop about change as I was coming up with a name for a new initiative I started piloting and rolling out at the first of this year – Tenacious Change Approach℠.

One mostly certitude of change is that even when we say “yes” to change with our mouths and bests intentions, we can say “no” to it with our hearts. We outwardly go along with it and yet we may inwardly resist the change. At the personal level, even when we know a change would be good and we decide to do it, the change does not automatically happen. For many years I weighed at least 75 pounds more than was healthy for me. I knew I needed to lose weight and made several decisions to do so. However, it was not until I had a crisis with weight induced sleep apnea that my internal “no” became a “yes” and I made the change.

In a group setting, whether it is a team, organization, or community-wide change initiative, we outwardly comply with the change – maybe even enthusiastically support it – but, then, we can work quietly behind the scenes to slow the change or even prevent it. We can even be unaware of our own passive resistance.

Resistance to change, whether merely passive or passive aggressive, is frustrating though it is not a form of evil. It is a characteristic of humanity.

Let’s be honest…what do we humans really love about change? That’s right, pretty much nothing. I know…we act like we love it, especially in our professional worlds. Why? Because we want to appear innovative, original, experimental, inventive, cutting-edge, forward-looking, state-of-the-art, trend-setting, pioneering, Bohemian, groundbreaking, trailblazing, revolutionary, unorthodox, unconventional, offbeat, cool, avant garde…yada, yada, yada. Yet, when we peel away all of that feigned love of change we are human creatures of habit. This is another one of the mostly certitudes of change.

Change is inevitable, regardless of how we feel about it. This is beyond being a mostly certitude of change…it is a certitude. We cannot stop change or, as one of my favorite musicals puts it, “you can’t stop the beat.” We only deceive ourselves if we think change will not occur simply because we do not want it.


If change is inevitable, what choices remain? We can choose to do nothing and let the change unfold without our participation. In that case, we will likely be swept along in whatever direction the change moves things – for good or for ill. If we do not like the change, we can complain about it but that will be too little, too late, and quite annoying to everyone around us.

We can choose to respond pro-actively to change. This choice opens other choices to us. First, we can choose the type of change we want. Our basic choices are evolution (gradual developmental advancement) or devolution (gradual degeneration of advances). Then, we can choose to anticipate it, facilitate it, manage it, and prepare for it to happen again.

To anticipate change is to do some forecasting to imagine what the future holds and then decide what change is most needed. To facilitate it is to take an active role, often in collaboration with others, in deciding the strategies and tactics that will initiate change and move it forward. To manage it is to institutionalize the change which occurs to prevent things from slipping back to the way they were before the change. To prepare for it to happen again is to begin the process all over again. Why? Because change is continuous, which is a another certitude of change.  

Change is inevitable and it is constant, regardless of how strongly we resist it. Our role lies in choosing the type of change that occurs and in how we assist it.

To be a Change Agent is to be an active participant in change. Even though I like routine in my daily life, my spirituality and ethic compels me to be a Change Agent to make our world a better place for all. As we close out 2017 and prepare to boldly begin a new year, I have a wish for all of us. I wish for us to be active participants in changing our worlds – whether neighborhoods, communities, states, or whole countries – to be places where everyone, can feel welcome, accepted, heard, respected, cared for, and loved. 

Be greater. Do Good. Everyday. Change Forward!

Tom