should we care about the auto strike?

So if automotive manufacturing workers are striking — and I’m not an automotive manufacturing worker — should I care?

Excellent question. Let’s get to that question shortly.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) has decreased in size over the years, now a union with more retirees (580,000) than active members (400,000), residing in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. They went on strike well over a week ago. They are striking against the “Detroit Three,” which is comprised of GM, Ford and Stellantis (the latter of which is the Fiat-Chrysler merger). 

Taking zero sides, let’s acknowledge the dispute. Note the list of demands the union leader revealed several weeks ago. The following are included (accompanied by some added insight or information): 

◾ Eliminating wage tiers. (The Big Three employ a two-tiered wage structure in which those who joined the company in 2007 or earlier, are grandfathered in, earning a rough average of $33 per hour plus have defined benefit pensions; those hired thereafter are the lower tier, earning significantly less, ineligible for the pension, and less generous healthcare).  

◾ A 46% wage increase over the life of the contract —21% immediately and then a 5% additional raise each year of the four year contract. (Stellantis offered a 21% wage increase with 10% immediately; the union summarily rejected that offer, calling the number a “no-go.”)

◾ Restoring the cost-of-living allowance adjustments to counteract inflation. (These were discontinued in 2007 when GM and Chrysler were rapidly moving toward bankruptcy and a federal bailout; CNN Business said for GM alone, taxpayers were out more than $10 billion.)

◾ Defined benefit pension for all workers. (This, too, was eliminated for new hires when bankruptcy and bailouts were imminent. Now that bankruptcy is not imminent and the companies are making significant profit, the union wants pensions back. A great question to discern is what role — if any — the collective pensions played in the bankruptcy and bailouts.)

◾ The right to strike over plant closures. (According to the UAW website, “The Big Three have closed 65 plants over the last 20 years. That’s devastated our hometowns. We must have the right to defend our communities.” Another excellent economic question would be who gets to choose whether a plant closes.)

◾ A reduced work week and more paid time off. (The union wants a four-day, 32 hour workweek.)

◾ Limiting the use of temporary workers. (The union labels this as unfair treatment or potential abuse. Also a factor is that in said situation there would be no opportunity for increased union membership.)

◾ Increased benefits to current retirees. (The UAW wants back the guaranteed lifetime pension payments and retiree medical care they gave up during the 2008 automotive industry crisis, in addition to a significant increase to current retiree pensions. Note the current makeup of the union, with 59.2% of current members being retirees.)

So back to the aforementioned, excellent question — and a brief foray into the question of care…

An auto workers strike means fewer laborers. Fewer laborers means fewer cars. Fewer cars means a decreased national supply. Assuming comparable demand, a decreased supply means an increase in cost once current inventory leaves the lot. Note, too, if there’s any surge in panic purchases — meaning consumers believe there will soon be a shortage, so they rush en masse to the dealer — such would also drive up demand. Driving up demand on a limited supply will also prompt an increase, potentially instantaneously.

We don’t want that to happen.  We want the workers working. Hence, why not just pay the workers more? 

Indeed, another excellent question. Let’s be even more concise in our response… well, with one more question, if you will..

If the workers are paid substantially more — 46% — and work fewer hours — 32 — (and please, allow me to toss a bit of a softball question here) — what would you predict happens to the cost of a new car?


Not an easy solve. 



know your blindspot?

“We all have blind spots in our knowledge and opinions. The bad news is that they can leave us blind to our blindness, which gives us false confidence in our judgment and prevents us from rethinking. The good news is that with the right kind of confidence, we can learn to see ourselves more clearly and update our views. In driver’s training we were taught to identify our visual blind spots and eliminate them with the help of mirrors and sensors. In life, since our minds don’t come equipped with those tools, we need to learn to recognize our cognitive blind spots and revise our thinking accordingly.” ― Adam M. Grant in “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know”

One of the challenges of current day culture is the ease we feel in identifying the blindspots of other people while simultaneously being comfortably oblivious of our own. 

A blindspot, put as simply as possible, is an area unable to be seen.

The inconvenient truth is that we all have them. Even though, yes, oft comfortably oblivious. 

I appreciated the written words last week by self-described progressive, Nicholas Kristof. Kristof is an influential columnist for The New York Times, a frequent CNN contributor, and a one-time, would-be, Oregon gubernatorial candidate. He typically articulates his opinions respectfully.

Last week Kristof wrote a column last about poverty and inequality — two issues he is notably passionate about. The column was entitled “The One Privilege Liberals Ignore.” Let us not fall prey to throwing stones in regard to who ignores what; let’s examine Kristof’s main point: “We can’t have a serious conversation about poverty and inequality without contemplating the breakdown of marriage and family.”

The breakdown is the blindspot.

“We are often reluctant to acknowledge one of the significant drivers of child poverty — the widespread breakdown of family — for fear that to do so would be patronizing or racist.”

Substantiating his point, Kristof continued: “It’s an issue largely for working-class Whites, Blacks and Hispanics, albeit most prevalent among African Americans. But just as you can’t have a serious conversation about poverty without discussing race, you also can’t engage unless you consider single-parent households… Families headed by single mothers are five times as likely to live in poverty as married-couple families. Children in single-mother homes are less likely to graduate from high school or earn a college degree. They are more likely to become single parents themselves, perpetuating the cycle.”

Citing the research of University of Maryland economist Melissa Kearney, Kristof averred, “Two-parent families are beneficial for children. Places that have more two-parent families have higher rates of upward mobility. Not talking about these facts is counterproductive.”

Friends, let there be no judgment for the ones who circumstances are different than the two-parent traditional household. None whatsoever. Some of my hardest-working, most diligent friends are single moms. Without a doubt, such person’s families can still thrive and survive. The data simply shows the clear benefit of the family staying in tact. My primary point today is that marriage and family matter. Significantly.

My secondary point is the acknowledgement of blindspot — how there are things we simply can’t see. Again, no need to pick on progressives; conservatives too comfortably take their routine turn. The blindspot cited by Kristof is the unwillingness to even acknowledge the impact the breakdown of family has on poverty and inequality. “Even today there is a deep discomfort in liberal circles about acknowledging these realities.” Kristof then references an upcoming report by the Institute for Family Studies noting that “only 30 percent of college-educated liberals agree” that children are better off having married parents.

We all have blindspots, friends… areas that we simply cannot see. Hence, perhaps the bigger question is: why?

What blinds us?

Our passion? Conviction? What is it?

And why do we ignore what’s true? How is it that we don’t even know we’re ignoring it?

Three years ago Kristof penned a different piece, albeit also about watching our blindspots. Near the end of his submission, he wrote this: “As a liberal, I mostly write about conservative blind spots. But on the left as well as the right, we can get so caught up in our narratives that we lose perspective; nobody has a monopoly on truth.”

That’s the challenge; is it not?

Our blindspots diminish the validity of our perspective. We then miss what may be true.



the playbook

The most successful teams have the best playbook. The most successful teams stick to their playbook, as it gives them time to boost profit and maximize outcome. According to Accenture, the largest consulting firm in the world, “A playbook reflects a plan — an approach or strategy defining predetermined responses worked out ahead of time.” The “play,” so to speak, equates to a workflow shaped by cultural values prompting a consistent response. Note the consistent response from America’s foremost political “teams”:

  • “This has the potential to be the beginning of a serious political problem and devastating legal one.”
  • “The danger persists. The risk is real. Our democracy is at peril.”
  • “It is a political revenge tour that lacks any factual or constitutional basis.”
  • “The American people expect us to do the right thing for the right reasons. It should never be a political issue where you try to taint a political candidate.”
  • “This is an assault on America.”
  • “Today’s announcement is a pretty transparent attempt to distract people from the fact that Congress[persons] have done absolutely nothing to address the issues Americans care about.” 
  • “This is the culmination of three years of [their] stated goal: to impeach and remove this president from office.” 
  • “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.”
  • “What a disgrace. Americans deserve better.”
  • “But you know what they have done? They have cheapened the impeachment process.”

Note that the aforementioned collective, consistent response reflects equal numbers of statements from Team Biden and Team Trump, in response to being a target of impeachment.

Bear with me; take a deep breath. Withhold any preconditioned prompt to (semi-)respectfully pounce. Let us insert an immediate caveat. Today’s post is not an admonition nor abutment of either so-called team nor their questionable QB; today is an examination of the playbook, and why a watching world reacts the way we do. For as much as we may passionately like/dislike one or another (think Yankees/Red Sox, Army/Navy, or Ohio State/Michigan — go Bucks), there is no denying the existence of a playbook… and in this case, how eerily similar they are.   

In the current situation, the back of the book’s vocab section references the following: “weak,” “absurd,” “illegitimate,” “baseless,” “political theater,” a “hoax,” a “witch hunt,” “a joke,” “a pathetic political mission,” “a scam,” “plain old payback,” a “nakedly partisan investigation,” “facially and substantively flawed,” “unconstitutional,” “the fleeting politics of the moment,” and “pure political cowardice.” (Or from one non-actual-team member, even a “kerfuffle” — thank you, former British prime minister, Boris Johnson).

Without a doubt, as Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig wrote 4 years ago, “Impeachment is a profoundly disruptive event”… “When Republicans impeached Andrew Johnson for obstructing Reconstruction in 1868, there was no broadcasting. There was no polling, at least not in the scientific sense of today. ‘Media’ in America meant newspapers, which were largely partisan, but whose effect on the public was hard for politicians to gauge. The trial of Johnson was thus conducted by a relatively small political elite that, because they focused on the crisis, at least understood the facts.

The impeachment of Richard Nixon a century later was critically different, in part, at least, because the technology of culture had become importantly different. Democracy had become what [Princeton professor] Markus Prior calls ‘broadcast democracy,’ with an astonishing 85 percent of Americans tuning into at least part of the impeachment hearings via the three major broadcast networks and PBS. And the public had become persistently polled, meaning that politicians in Washington knew what voters were thinking. As the Watergate hearings progressed, Americans weren’t just focused on the story: They were focused on the same story.”

That’s not the case in current day America. We’re not focused on the same story. Both parties — as evidenced above — believe the pursuit of impeachment of the other is politically motivated. Look at the identical playbooks.

It was recently said here — granted, a little in jest — that I think “the two primary established political parties currently take turns being totally whacked.” I actually believe each gets some things right. And wrong. But as evidenced by the immediate refutes, Teflon denials, and yes, eeriness of parallel playbooks, neither team is all healthy, good nor looking out for us all. It’s too partisan. Too divisive. Especially when they know we aren’t focused on the same story.

Impeachment of Biden and impeachment of Trump are not clear cut. I am not suggesting either did nothing wrong; I’m instead acknowledging the profound national disruption. And it is sadly true that neither of the accusing teams are beyond reproach. That’s scary. As one congressperson said (again with their party affiliation interchangeable),”We know how this partisan process will end… but what happens tomorrow?”

In other words, how will they react next? Who will justify the next potentially politically motivated action? And who will attempt to tell us that their actions are lawful and pure while the other is wholly not?

That’s the scary part. We can’t tell. And it’s right there in the playbook.



too old?

Two weeks ago 81-year old Sen. Mitch McConnell was asked at a press conference about running for reelection in 2026. He seemed to start to answer the question and then totally freezes, staring blankly, lips pursed, going suddenly silent for multiple, notably awkward seconds. An aide comes to his side to re-state the question. With a clear inability to respond intelligibly, he’s led from the scene. This is the second time in less than two months this has happened to the Senator. For the record, should he be elected to another term, he would be 84 at time of election and 90 at term’s end. 

90-year old Sen. Diane Feinstein continues to represent the people of California. She is the oldest sitting US senator and the longest-tenured female senator in history. Note that the Senator has said she will not be seeking reelection in 2024 at age 91. However, she has been treated for multiple significant health ailments in 2023, absent for many months, and this summer she mistakenly started reading a statement during a routine Senate vote and was quietly corrected by colleagues multiple times how she should actually vote. She has also ceded power of attorney to her daughter.

President Biden is only 80. He’s the first octogenarian in the Oval Office. He, too, seems to have had multiple moments of significant question or confusion. Granted, his team has given us a plethora of explanations as to the totally logical reasons why, comparable to McConnell’s spokespersons suggesting his freezing was due to dehydration and Feinstein’s team suggesting the transferring of POA was so she could more thoroughly focus on her congressional work.

Let me, no less, regardless of reason, respectfully stick up for them all. 

I think we’re making a mistake.

We’re making a mistake by focusing on age itself.

Allow me a rather entertaining example… the Rolling Stones are set to release a brand new original album next month — “Hackney Diamonds” — created by iconic band members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood. Jagger is 80. Richards, 79. and Wood, 76. It goes without saying that “moves like Jagger” still exist with significant agility and style.

In other words, it’s not about the age.

The problem is acuity.

Clearly, there is something off with each of the above. 

Let me be clear. I mean no disrespect. None whatsoever. But it takes zero anything-close-to-rocket-science to discern that the sharpness and keenness of thought is not there. I am not suggesting dementia; we’re too removed to know. I am also not suggesting that the persons have nothing to give nor are absent of value. I do question, however, if those mentioned above still have the qualities necessary to function in a way that significantly benefits those they are elected to serve.

That’s it. Who are they serving? Why do they stay?

And what does power have to do with it?

Great questions, no doubt. And questions I don’t believe we’re able to definitively answer absent increased proximity. Why do the McConnell’s, Feinsteins, and Biden’s, etc. of the world think we need them not just to stay in office, but at least in McConnell and Biden’s case, to actually run again?

CNN and The Wall Street Journal each chimed in with relevant polling data last week. 60% of registered voters believe Biden is not “mentally up for the job of president.” 73% believe he is “too old.” I would expect the results on McConnell and Feinstein to be similar.

This is not a partisan issue, friends. There are others who can run. There are others who can serve.

There are others for whom their acuity is not in question.



why we do what we do

Maybe we should acknowledge what we actually do…

But first…

Let’s acknowledge our plethora of articulate guest writers… Well done!

What an insightful, diverse, eloquent group! While as said that the authors did not speak for me, as persons committed to respectful dialogue, I welcome their sharing. Agreement of perspective is unnecessary.

Let’s go there for a minute. 

Ever since our inception 15 years ago, The Intramuralist has been known as “a respectful dialogue of current events.” I continue, however, to observe our collective lack of understanding as to what exactly respectful dialogue is, as there are far too many times each of us justifies the slight or the silencing.

To be respectful means to hold in high regard — to be intentional in our humble consideration of one another. That means no slight. No thought that insult is ever an appropriate means of response.

A dialogue implies interaction — at least a two way flow in which all elements of a conversation take place — asking, informing, listening and thinking. That means no silencing. No thought that another doesn’t even deserve to be heard.

I get the temptation. There are times when we absolutely, vehemently disagree. We can’t believe another person could even think that way! And our passion can get so worked up, that we conclude the other person’s opinion is dangerous to even be held! We try to stop them. We try to obstruct their behavior, any sharing of their opinion.

I contend that the obstruction attempts are disrespectful and even more so, ineffective. Behavior modification will always be secondary to heart transformation. Get to know another. Walk a mile in their shoes. Ask questions. Work to understand. Understand why the different think and act the way they do.

The reason we do what we do at The Intramuralist is not to make everyone think like me. Oh, my… please no! I have so many places where my head isn’t on straight, I don’t even know it, and I have no desire to change my perspective at this time! … pickles should be outlawed… Pete Rose is my hero… and the two primary established political parties currently take turns being totally whacked!

I say all that not to say “think like me.” I say it acknowledging that each of us has places and perspectives in which we need to grow, and the slight or silencing doesn’t aid in prompting any of that growth.

The goal of respectful dialogue — honest and thoughtful conversation — is to better understand one another. The more we seek to understand, the more heart transformation can take place — potentially prompting increased wisdom in each of our perspectives.

That’s the beauty of our annual Guest Writers Series. While it provides time and space for intentional rest and reflection for this semi-humble blogger, it also gives us opportunity to practice what we preach. It is good to hear from diverse voices. It is good to learn from them, to have our own perspectives respectfully challenged. Regardless, yes, of agreement.

So that said, friends, we have things to talk about!

So much has happened in recent weeks… there were the awful flames that tore through Lahaina… continued conflict in Ukraine… a new COVID variant… the downgrading of the US’s bond credit rating from AAA to AA+… Burger King getting sued over the size of the Whopper… the first [sigh] 2024 Presidential debate… Twitter now identifying as a new letter of the alphabet… a bunch of seemingly too old of people feeling like they need to forever serve in elected office… Trump and Hunter still in the news… many wanting to turn the news off… not to mention the late summer cinematic hits of “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie.”

Oh, there’s so much to talk about!

So talk we will. 

We will ask, inform and listen, too.

For the record, we do so for a reason.

Respectfully… and so gleeful to be back!


this is for you

So we’ve come to the end of our annual Guest Writer Series, and our final post features a young man who asked to again join us and share his thoughts. It was he who came up with the topic, the title, and he asked me to interview him, recording his answers to the questions.

Meet my son, Josh, a 21 year old, articulate and talented young man…

Josh, how would you describe yourself?

“You know me. Isn’t’ it obvious? I’m chill, cool… I like being the life of the party. I like hip hop, fun stuff like parties… I like to play cards… sports — but no baseball, tennis or soccer. I like to play video games, especially GTA, WWE and 2K NBA 2023.”

Anything else our readers should know about you?

“Yeah. Some of you don’t know I have Down syndrome and what Downs means. It means when someone’s really special, they get diagnosed with having a specific gift that God has for them. Having Down syndrome, it can be hard sometimes. But I know my Father has good plans for me.

I don’t want to offend anyone. I’m sorry if I do. I care about your opinion. 

But the main thing here today is that it’s ok to have Downs. It’s ok to be different.”

What does it mean to you to be different?

“Being different is hard to know. It’s like twins; you can’t tell them apart. So you can’t always tell that you’re different. Some people can’t tell that people who have Downs are different.”

Do you feel different?



“I just came with a special heart. I know God created me this way and He doesn’t make mistakes.”

Do you think the rest of the world understands that?


What do you think we don’t always get?

“That God’s real and that He can bless the different.”

Do you feel blessed?

“Yes. I have great gifts, like being active, having a job with dogs — that’s been new for me. I have a great family. I care about my family. And I’ve got some really good friends (a shout out to Karen and Mark, Birthday Buddy, Steve and Barbara and my bros).”

Do you think each of us is blessed?

“Yes, although some things that happen to us are bad.”

What helps you when experience things that are bad?

“I listen to music. It calms me down. It cools down my vibe.”

What else?

“I talk to God. I listen to opinions from my homies as to how God can change things, change lives, and make things better.”

Have you ever talked to God about being different? If so, what did He say?

“He said ‘I know it’s hard to be different, Josh, but you can always come to me. You’re my child, and you are a special person — a special person who’s really a masterpiece.’

If anyone doesn’t feel like a masterpiece, they’re really missing out on how God feels about them.”

How does it feel to be a masterpiece?

[He immediately grins from ear to ear…] “It’s better than good. It’s even better than amazing.”

Thanks, Josh.


AR for Josh

simply existent no more

We’re almost to the end of our annual Guest Writer Series, yet today will take a different tack. It’s a serious topic. So instead of having today’s author share her story behind the strokes of the keyboard, we sat down and had a conversation. This is the heartfelt story of the mother of a transgender child.

Before we share her account, let me encourage you to listen closely. Please don’t hear this as any fodder or fuel; it’s not. This is not meant to weaponize any side of any political argument; it’s not a political argument nor societal debate. If there’s one thing I learned from my dear friend, Dee, it’s that this isn’t easy. For those who simplify the response and whittle down proposed parental wisdom to a mere “accept it” or “put your foot down,” they don’t really understand what it’s like; they don’t understand Dee’s story. Allow me to share more…

Oh, how I enjoy Dee. I asked her to begin by describing herself to our readers. She led with being an empath, compassionate, funny and an optimist. I love when a person knows they’re funny! Such is indeed true. I would add engaging, discerning, and genuine. Dee is a highly intelligent woman who cares deeply. It is an absolute joy to spend time with her.

She’s been married for near 25 years and had 2 daughters, 2 years apart. The whole family was close. They had a solid upbringing, active in school, sports and the community. Dee was especially close to her youngest, Jaymie.

Dee raved about her relationship with Jaymie. “We were kindred spirits!” And the glee and pride was immediately obvious. When asked to describe Jaymie, there was no shortage of words… Jaymie was also an empath — very sensitive. “She would cry over an ant getting hurt!… Teachers always said she was delightful — so happy… She loved Webkinz, playing house, and all sorts of animals. She was incredibly nurturing. Cuddly. Just a very sweet soul.”

Notice how the description is entirely in past tense. Such is key to Dee’s story.

At age 15, there was no announcement nor bold proclamation. No big social media reveal. In less than a matter of 3 months, Jaymie went from proudly donning bikinis and a more stereotypical feminine attire to a vividly more masculine appearance, dramatically cutting off her long locks of hair, and shifting demonstrably, dramatically emotionally. Detecting something was off with their kid as she was obviously rattled, Dee and her husband lovingly prodded their daughter in hopes of discerning what was wrong. In the midst of the moment, Jaymie shyly uttered that “I feel like I want to be a boy.”

To say Dee and her hub were shocked is an understatement. They didn’t even know what the word “transgender” meant.

They stayed present with their daughter — meaning they vowed to help her be healthy — whatever that looks like. They love their kid! But what happened immediately next is the foundation of the hard. This empathetic, sensitive, delightful, happy, cuddly kid immediately became not empathetic, not sensitive, not delightful nor happy nor cuddly in any kind of way. As Dee soberly articulates, “It’s as if she felt if she was going to be a man, she couldn’t be all those other things any more.” She couldn’t be who she actually had always been.

It’s a weird feeling. Here’s your kid. You love her so. You want what’s best for her. But all of a sudden this being that came out of your body years ago decides to change everything about themself. Note: it’s not just the physical; that they could deal with. For Jaymie, it’s the emotional, spiritual and relational, too. The one-time kindred spirits were extinguished in an instant. Simply existent no more.

“I don’t trust her any more.” We stayed on that angle for a while. The grief felt heavy. “We were so close…”

For 5 years now, Dee has been grieving the death of the relationship with her daughter. She has been mourning the loss of a child… a child who is still in front of her daily. Let me be very clear. The heart of Dee’s grief isn’t contained solely in her daughter’s desire for a change in gender. The heart of the grief is that the daughter no longer believes in the unique sweetness of the mother/daughter/offspring relationship. Jaymie — now Jay — felt that must change. Men don’t do that. Men don’t show emotion. They don’t have close relationships with their parents. Hence, Jay is distant. Jay is no longer emotionally invested in the family, even though Jay chooses to live at home.

It’s hard to hear Dee speak of doing life this way. Jay will always be welcome. But there is little to no relationship.

“I’m embarrassed… what do I say to those who ask, ‘How’s the family? How are your daughters? Or even how many kids do you have?” The simple questions aren’t so simple anymore. It makes a person think what we routinely ask of others, having no idea what their daily hard is like.

Not one for comparison, Dee does acknowledge she routinely wonders what those who know think of her. “I think people think I’m a bad parent. That we did something to cause this… I don’t want people’s pity either. You never want to be the parent in which people quietly say inside, ‘I’m glad I’m not her.’ You don’t know where people are coming from. You have no idea.” Such has prompted Dee to become notably more private, although thankfully, she has a small circle of friends with whom she can escape and be real with. “Don’t do this alone,” she says. “Don’t make it your whole life either.”

It’s notable that Dee has multiple picture frames up in her home, but the store-bought stock photo often remains inserted. She can’t put a photo of her family in it, as noting what she’s lost, she’s not sure she’ll ever feel good about this. She doesn’t recognize her family any more. “You have this constant internal monologue that your whole life has been a lie. It never goes away.” And then she thinks about the future. Will they ever be ok? Quietly, soberly, Dee adds, “How can you make sense of the future, when you don’t even know how you got here?”

Sitting with Dee was indeed insightful. My heart hurt for her. She deeply loves her family. Her life is sadder now. It’s hard.

For her, every day.


AR for Dee

us vs. them

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #13.]

Let’s start today’s discussion with a few definitions (which I looked up as I was writing).

endorsement: the act of giving one’s public approval or support to someone or something.

morals: a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do.

backlash: a strong and adverse reaction by a large number of people, especially to a social or political development.

During my lifetime there have been various instances of consumer backlash due to a company’s or organization’s endorsement of a principle or a social cause. This has been happening since the Florida gay rights activists boycotted orange juice in 1977. The most recent example wasn’t even an endorsement of a cause, but the acknowledgement of what a high-ranking marketing executive considered an accomplishment and an opportunity to promote how inclusive their brand is. OOPS… this case may end up being the biggest financial backfire… ever.

Endorsements, regardless of whether they are implied or explicit, are the double-edged sword corporations must take into account. Publicly traded companies cannot lose sight of their brand’s customer base when considering ANY promotion or collaboration. In light of the recent brewery incident, I’ve been ruminating over several questions surrounding the situation. Maybe you have had similar thoughts.

  • Should companies publicly endorse potentially controversial issues?
  • Can a company “safely” support one tenet and be sensitive to the opposite viewpoint?  If so, how?
  • If a corporation chooses to promote a cause, does it matter if it is backed by stockholders?  Should it?
  • Should I/my family/society look to corporations as our moral compass?
  • Should corporations simply concentrate on making the best widgets possible?

There are probably other questions I haven’t even considered. Feel free to add them to the “respectful dialogue.”

Inevitably, I started thinking about my beliefs and the “causes” I stand for… 

I am for America! I believe in free speech. I favor the traditional family — parents staying together. I respect the flag. I love God!  … and I love people… all people! … no matter what causes they are for.

If a person/company “stands” for a cause, does it preclude them from being loving/accepting of anything outside of that? For people, I humbly suggest that we can and should respect everyone…period.  However, I also believe that just because I love you as a human being, it does not mean I must also agree with your viewpoint or that I must embrace your belief. Inclusivity is a sticky subject and a difficult mine field to navigate.  I don’t have all the answers, but I think our society could greatly benefit if everyone was more willing to genuinely talk with someone who challenges their beliefs.

I’m sure you have witnessed or maybe experienced the staunch polarization between people who are on opposite sides of the current political spectrum. Heck, you can hardly watch or read the news without seeing something where the 2 sides are pitted against one another or 1 position is highlighted. Why can’t we have conversations with our neighbors, friends, family who do not share the exact same beliefs or convictions as we do? Didn’t we used to do so?

Over the past few years, a good friend of mine and I have had many exchanges about the current political climate. He and I are on opposite sides of the spectrum. We have come to the consensus that the majority of the US population is likely in the center — 40-60% of the scale — and, more significantly, that those at the extreme ends of each side (and the media) negatively influence our country’s ability to engage in dialogue. The tone typically takes on a us vs. them posture with very little opportunity for seeking understanding, expressing empathy, or extending comfort with our fellow humans.  In my humble opinion, it discourages communication, participation and relationship.

If each and every person would consider the possibility that personal perspective matters, we might endeavor to connect, instead of shouting in dissension, “I am right, you are wrong!” The old phrase “walk a mile in my shoes” comes to mind. 

I have heard it said before, so I’m going to leave you with this thought. If we would genuinely desire to get to “know one another,” I have no doubt that we would come to recognize that we have more in common than not.



resilience, renewal & the questions we ask

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #12.]

The relationship between resilience and renewal intrigues me as the United States transitions through controversial change. We are living through a time with definite opinions on a wide range of topics like inclusive history, COVID protocols, book banning, global warming, BIPOC equity, separation of church and state, LGTBQ+ rights, issues regarding our bodies, and much more. Determining how these issues fit into our lives causes varying degrees of stress. Stress categorizes into three forms: mild/annoying, acute, and traumatic. It can be both positive and negative. How we process change differs based on our levels of resiliency,  perceived levels of control, and our ability to renew.

Resilient individuals possess coping skills when dealing with challenges, understanding they may need professional assistance if the situation is traumatic. Those who are not resilient often have extreme self-regulation issues or their reactions are not in proportion to the circumstances even with just mild or annoying stressors. To them, it is always someone else’s fault. Resilient individuals contemplate how situations impact others in ways they had not imagined before. They take responsibility for their actions and reactions. Over time they learn how patience and resilience are companions. Learning self-regulation and renewal may come through gardening, artistic projects, fishing, watching sports, or doing yoga. Travel, watching UK murder mysteries, swimming, and walking my dogs does it for me. Everyone must find what works for them.

Can these skills be learned as an adult, if not learned in childhood? The answer is “yes.” Resiliency requires interaction, engagement, perseverance, and learning from one’s mistakes. It also takes an internal belief that you can survive your situation and taking responsibility for your actions. Renewal is an important part of developing resiliency because it allows you to disengage and then re-engage. Recognizing there are times you need to “take time for yourself” permits your brain to reset and see things in a more reflective way. The more resilient you are, the more likely you are to be able to understand what others are trying to communicate. This is particularly important in times of rapid change. Just surviving a tumultuous time does not equate to being resilient. 

If you are a child who has an adult in your life who provides structure, consistent reactions, and a belief in your very being, you are more likely to have resilient behaviors that will carry you for years. Faith is often a strong component in this developmental process. The good news is that if you did not, you can learn these skills, but it takes intentionality to do so. In short you retrain your brain.

Resilient people may not be recognized by others until circumstances present themselves that reveal their high-level of coping skills. Individually, we do not always appreciate challenging circumstances, but to our surprise we later realize when we are away from the situation, we gained insightful life lessons about ourselves and others. We understand the skills we learned over time helped us self-regulate as we navigated. Although exhausted, we still sufficiently coped. Kenny Rogers had a point…knowing when to hold ‘em,  when to fold ‘em, knowing when to walk away, and knowing when to run.

Resilient people recognize resiliency in others. Deep thinkers are sometimes misjudged as not being interested or regarded as snobs when in fact they may be carefully observing  prior to engagement making sure they are strategic in their approach. Those on the spectrum approach challenges differently every day. Their gifts are not always recognized until we need the specific talent they possess. Sometimes what we think is an unconventional way of coping is a healthy adaptation to the immediate environment. As the outside observer we do not realize individuals are utilizing skills that make them even more resilient in future circumstances. Instead, our lack of experience allows us to discount their coping mechanisms.

Our backgrounds, past relationships, surroundings, and life events provide others with one image but not always one we see in ourselves. As we move forward as a country of collective individuals, we need to make sure we are taking time to reflect, renew our spirits and ask questions. No matter how self-aware or resilient we think we are, there is always need for further reflection. We need to understand our impact on others. We need to ask ourselves, “Do our actions have unintended consequences?”

I had always wanted to travel to the Alps to listen to the cow bells echoing off the mountains. Finally hearing the bells in person on the mountainside was more magical than I had imagined, my perception changed with one question, “Did you know this causes the cows discomfort and stress?”

What? It had never occurred to me it hurt the cows because the sound met my need, my perceived reality. I had never asked myself how the cows were hurt by the bells. I had considered the weight of the bell, but not the negative impact of the ringing. I never considered the stress was continual for the cow, nor realized their powerlessness to do something about it until the person causing the stress recognized it. This disturbing reality haunted me. This led me to observe the cows more. I admired the way they had adapted to the bad decisions of others who either never thought about it or decided the benefit outweighed the stress it caused.

Recognizing the cows’ ability to cope and continue through generations made me think more deeply about how our own country is divided. We sometimes unknowingly discount those different than us by making assumptions without proper questioning. In our personal journey of resilience and renewal, maybe we should take the opportunity to do a better job of asking ourselves the advantages of accepting a more inclusive society. Just maybe.



to mask or not to mask? that is the question

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #11.]

When we think of our favorite super heroes, names like Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Spider-Man, and Deadpool usually come to mind. Those super heroes were regular folks that lived amongst us mere mortals and needed a mask to hide their identities in their “super” roles. Surely if we knew Bruce Wayne was Batman, Wayne Enterprises couldn’t have him on the board as Chairman. So how do we explain the remnant in our society that is still wearing masks in public after the height of Covid is seemingly passed?

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 1,134,170 deaths in the U.S. at the time of this writing. The United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO) estimates approximately 15 million worldwide died from this past pandemic; clearly, therefore, those are reasons to still fear the virus that took out so many and made countless others sick.

I continue to travel extensively for my job primarily by air. I like the recent message that I have been hearing on the airports and airlines announcement systems. They are saying something like, “If a person decides to wear a mask or not on or off board the aircraft, let us respect either option chosen.” Most flight are mask free, but there are still some passengers as well as crew members who don their masks proudly. So it is with the premise of respecting everyone that I go forward in my thoughts on this subject. 

Historically speaking, the COVID-19 virus and its various mutations were not the first time mask wearing reached critical mass. The Spanish Flu or the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 was the first time mask wearing was used as a method to curb a virus in our society. The people used crude masks with as little protection as a handkerchief to protect themselves. They didn’t have the sophistication of our recent KN95 mask that was the preferred item for our past pandemic. Medical or others who needed extra protection needed the N95 type in order to work. Some professionals even used double masking in order to feel secure.

Not widely published or heard about is the fact that the US Department of Health and Human Services officially ended the Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023. Unlike the major announcement to start the PHE in March of 2020, which caused a major rippling effect in our entire society, this announcement was very quiet. I remember very vividly packing up the contents of my office desk to work from home at a time where none of us knew how this would end. Among the most significant steps to combat the virus in that directive was limiting how many people could meet in person as well as the wearing of masks in public places. Transportation methods such as airplanes, trains and buses made mask wearing mandatory. Any place where there was a medical facility was of course mandatory as well. I remember walking into the local bank with my mask and thinking how different the reaction to me would have been if I was to have done that in the fall of 2019. I’m sure security or the police would have been called if the time was different. 

Also not widely published is the fact that WHO has declared “an end to COVID-19 as a public health emergency.” So it seems the rest of the world has followed the same path on ending emergency measures for COVID as we have in the US. So why am I still seeing people with masks on in public places and in some cases outside as well? Well, the only way I can logically explain it is residual fear. The pandemic was horrible, and governments and other entities including the media stoked additional fears that scared us so that we are still concerned about this virus. The entire debate about whether masks actually helped or prolonged the epidemic will forever be argued without resolve. Some believe a herd immunity to be effective, which means society naturally develops immunity over a period of time to any and all viruses. I am not here to argue those points whether right or wrong. I am using this solely as an observation on society. 

The overwhelming answer from those who are still wearing a mask from my own, independent, non-scientific survey is that they fear having underlining conditions and wouldn’t fare well should they get the virus. Most are elderly, but some are seemingly young, vibrant people who appear to be just risk-adverse. There are some elderly people in my church I see weekly but have thus forgotten what they look like. I do miss seeing their smiles. To me one of the best parts of going to church is the fellowship. Not seeing faces diminishes the fellowship part. 

Also, I admit… Getting on a plane where some are still in masks makes me a little nervous. Ever since the events of 9/11, I have boarded every plane with the notion that I would not be a victim should there be a threat from any passenger on the plane. I do a sweep of faces to see if I think that anyone could be a possible threat. I don’t consider it to be profiling, but instead intelligent survival skills. Not seeing all faces on a plane makes me continually more vigil to watch my fellow passengers, especially those who are still masked. 

During the height of the pandemic, we were equal in our masks, but in the summer of 2023, those who are still wearing them stick out like a bit of a proverbial sore thumb. I live in the US Southwest, where temperatures currently range from 105-117. To compound the heat with a mask seems rather like self inflicted torture. 

I remember, no less, the summers of 2020 and 2021 when those masks added to my own personal heat index. I was glad when they were relaxed in 2022. I look forward to the day when we can all look each other in the face (the whole face) and greet each other. I also hope we have all learned more about hygiene and healthcare over the past 3 years. Most of all I hope we have learned how each of us is valuable and how we should continue to respect everyone.

To mask or not to mask? That is the question.