ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Monday, April 14, 2008

Losing our National Identity

Listening to a speech about European countries losing therir national identity - and Islamic fundamentalism taking over in many of these countries, I got to thinking...

We love being a mosaic, melting pot, multicultural country - but are we at risk for also going too far? Is the reluctance we have to ask people to Americanize losing our core values, our edge, our "Americaness"?

My grandpzrents and their peers came to this country from all over Europe - from Russia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, etc. They proud with them proud national heritages AND the strong desire to beome Americans (without losing their love or pride in their original nationalities. They learned the language. They learned the laws. They learned the culture. They learned the way of dressing. They went to American schools. They took citizenship classes and proudly became citizens of these United States.

What has happeend? What can we do about it?

In Israel, newcomers planning to tlive there are invited into half way houses to leran the language, rules of the road, culture, laws, etc. Once they are able to be citizens and working (or school going) members of the community, they leave the protection of the half way house and go on to create their own lives and professions at Israelis.

We'd like to think we are all independent free thinking people who are quite capable of creating our own culture and rules - indeed some of my friends are anarchists, believing that there is no reason for laws or centralized government at all.

I disagree. I am firmly convincedf that most people need to fit into an externally created structure. That's why religion is so popular around the world. When the structure is not readily available to them they seek it out and become easy prey for cults (we've all seen it happen) and extremist strident views - such as radical islamic fundamentalists.

So, what are our core values? How can we once again re-introduce them into our culture - while at the same time respecting the differences of other people?

What are your ideas?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

People are chess pieces, not checkers

You cannot fit the person to the job - you must fit the job to the person.

Case in point: My bank was purchased by Wells Fargo and they absorbed many of the old bank's employees into their branches BUT - they treated people like checker pieces instead of chess pieces.

For example, the former bank manager, a warm, friendly, patient and outgoing woman was given a back-room supervisory position instead of putting her out front as a branch manager where she excelled.

A woman who:
- didn't speak English well
- had limited comprehension
- could not multi-taks
- learned new things very slowly
Was put on a Business Services desk which requires a wide range of knowledge, flexibility and excellent communication skills.

Assuming that years of service was the criterion, people were not evaluated for personality, solf-skills, or the ability to handle different types of situations.

I find this lack of consideration is all too common - the most important variables in considering where to place a person if often overlooked because they are being evaluated on
- years of experience
- academic degree
- typing speed
- # of computer programs they've learne, etc.

We need to look at people as chess pieces and see how they move before placing them randomly on the board.

Liberty - for all

I recently attended a political event. The keynote speaker emphasized that we were the party of liberty - libertarian - republican - Lincoln - free the slaves - equality for all - free choice - "In liberty and justice for all."

Prior to the keynote speech, someone came up and asked the audience to sign a petition. He was adament in his belief that we should stop any possibility of gay marriage. In his strident and repeated talk, he talked about being a good Christian - with Christian values. I always thought Christian values included tolerance and kindness.

I was offended for several reasons, not the least of which is because the speaker was Jewish, there were many Jews (including me) in the audience and this guy kept talking about "Christian values".

Doesn't the notion of liberty for all mean tolerance and acceptance of people who believe differently from us? Doesn't that include a gay couple's right to marry?

I can understand the church, temple, or mosque refusing to marry anyone they don't choose to marry. That's ok...but the government?

The legal status of marriage is for the protection of health, insurance, financial rights, right to inherit, etc. It's a business contract for heaven's sakes. Why deny gays this right?

Didn't our ancestors take the same offense position about inter-religion and inter-racial marriage? Haven't we gone far beyond this????

While he was spouting forth his beliefs - I found myself wondering why he, and others signing his petiion, were so afraid. It takes a lot of fear and energy to actually create and promote a petition. It's one thing to have a private opinion - but to go these lenghts? What's the fear?