Business Ethics, Further Abstracted

Previously I wrote a little on business ethics. Not all of you are business people, and I apologize for boring you with more. Some of it might be interesting, though.

The previous piece dealt more with the ethical considerations of small businesses who were just starting out, or trying to get their feet under them. Although most behave like newborn horses trying to deal with the notion of having legs, it is in this formative period that ethical foundations are most firmly established. It is very difficult changing ethical foundations down the road, and the difficulty is not just a matter of old habits dying hard. The difficulty is, unethical behaviour becomes ingrained within the culture of business. And if the head of the business is unethical, in all likelihood the business will be, too, and so too the employees. In fact, if employees are not willing to compromise their ethics they will be labeled a non-team player and removed. Of course, not all non-team players are necessarily ethical.

Eventually a business owner is forced to bring in other forces besides himself to offer wider perspectives and a more diversified skill set. As businesses grow or decide to expand, the landscape of the directorship changes as the playing fields widen. Many owners experience great difficulty releasing their grip. Even owners who believe they do not have a firm grip, letting the company operate at a distance, find that the importance of maintaining tight control in the directorship is a difficult thing to relinquish to what they feel is pure speculation, through trust in other visions.

It is wise to be cautious, particularly where trust in another is concerned. It is an unfortunate truth that very few people, even those of us who consider ourselves absolutely trustworthy, actually are trustworthy. Nobody can claim they are trustworthy until they have been tested, and tested by fire. The wise business owners know this, even if they have not, themselves, been so tested.

Any person hired at a directorship level faces challenges. They may not know the business, yet they must claim to be completely at one with the company’s best interests. How they approach this conundrum is a telling thing about their character. Is it more truly that their own ego and best interests are dominant, or do they have the capacity to put their ego aside? If they do put their ego aside, are they willing to compromise their own ethical principles if they run against the company’s? Is the company better off, or worse off, if they do so?

Different owners will tell you different things. I believe that any company’s strength arises from the character of the people who comprise it. The unethical owner will be willing to remove any director that is not willing to compromise their principles for the good of the company, which really means, only the owner can say what is good for the company, and anyone unwilling to do as they are told, despite any ethical conflicts, is bad for the health of the company. And that translates once again into, you will do bad things if I tell you to.

On this level, however, business owners have become more saavy. Such things are never put in such gross terminology. Instead they will say, this is policy. Or, more subtly, this is fiduciary responsibility. And those things are like law. Interestingly, unethical business owners will use this pseudo-law in both ways, to keep things they do not want from happening, and also to justify something they want. However, the directorship level will not be able to make those determinations. Only the owner can interpret a given thing to be fiducially responsible, or the true meaning of a policy. And it is here that we see how whatever ethics the company began with begins to move out from the individual and into the very fabric of the organization, with the final level of interpretive power, at the top.

Directors, and through them, the employees, can either accept this, or reject this. More often than not, they will “work” it, much like an unethical owner themselves, to their own benefit rather than the company’s. And here we experience the next internal crisis stage of a growing business, the qualities of loyalty, not necesssarily to a person, but to an abstraction, pitted against a sense of personal honor and sometimes ego.

Owner might believe that once their business reaches this stage, very little can bring it down. But the ethics of the business, which is directly tied to employee happiness and loyalty, can very easily cause things to fly apart. In larger businesses such ethical considerations are mitigated by the sheer size of the workforce and departmental separation. But the medium-sized business has no such buffer.

It is also during this phase that businesses begin to develop real internal politics. Business owners, from the beginning, question why employees are being nice to them, or doing certain things. But as the business grows, political maneuvering for position, power and influence become real factors. It is a sad reality, and I have always worked against it, because people appear pathetic like this, and I cannot imagine their true strengths can shine in such an environment. But almost all businesses develop this. It stems from a lack of creativity and imagination.

This politics can become even more pronounced if influences outside the business proper are brought in. Consultants, normally imbued with great influence by owners, can cause havoc in political structures. So can new investors. But businesses who adopt a board of directors, which is a wonderful way to expand the scope and reach of any business, may find that it has a tranquilizing effect upon internal company politics, when the organizational size is small to medium. The employees will feel squelched down, not even considering the possibility of influence for themselves at a board level, and becoming more content within the sphere they inhabit. Larger businesses, however, have plenty of room for politics and the machinations that arise, beneath the board.

But I am more concerned with the ethical considerations that are an influence on the world external from the organzation, and not the internal. The board of directors is rife with such considerations, but we’ll hold off on that level of business for a while.

When there is not board of directors, the ethical heart of the business is a manifestation of the company’s owners own ethical hearts. Even when a business reach a size large enough to warrant subordinate directorships, it is a rare thing indeed that ethics originate from these directorships. But the heart of a business’s ethics will normally be occluded, even at medium size, by policy and procedure, and a formative notion of fiduciary responsibility. Unethical business owners will work to hide their true nature with a smiling veil of customer service, and claiming to orient all actions to the “good” of the customers, while at the same time doing things behind the scenes like using shoddy or misrepresented parts, taking shortcuts on offerings, or luring and trapping, all the while with a beneficent smile.

However, at the medium size, the business owner has be removed far enough away that only the employees are in contact with the customers. Their old tricks of feigning shock at a revalation the customer makes is no longer possible. Their hard line approach of blaming the customer with the customer’s own ignorance or lack of foresight is no longer possible. Instead, company policy, or law, takes it place. This has the effect of maintaining the viability of an unethical business while at the same time giving the front line employees an “out”. After all, they are just people, like the customer, donig their job by following the policies and procedures. This makes it much harder to question the ethics of a company. After all, policies posess an air of legitimacy.

How do you question the ethics of a law? Without breaking it? Barring an angry mob with pitchforks and torches, there are few ways. And here we see how business begin to rise up, away from the normal folk. For they are the game, and we are the willing participants.

Boards and strategic partnerships will be next. It’s where all the good meat is. For better, or worse.

In the Shadow of Science

The FoolThis is The Fool. He lives within us all. He is card zero, the first card in the Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana are various smaller cards, in four suits, from Ace to King. This is the origin of our playing cards.

Generally, people consider Tarot cards to be steeped in the occult. I consider them to be like poetry. Each speaks a world of a story in very little space. These stories line up, they juxtapose, and their meanings take on dimensionality.

Here is The Fool, the first card after the minor leagues. He is leaving home with his traveling bag over his shoulder, having passed through the minor leagues and eager to discover what awaits him in the world. He is the first card in the Major Arcana, the first step into the wider world — the step that only a fool would dare make.

Everybody loves The Fool, even the little dog. They are in many ways kindred spirits. He is brightly dressed, enjoying the beauty of a flower in his hand, walking away from familiar places under the sun, completely unperturbed by the cliff he is about to willingly step off. Like I said, he is the first card in the majors, after the minor leagues. Doesn’t it take a fool to trust in fate enough to step off that cliff?

There are a couple stores nearby I frequent. One is the Jack In the Box, with my love of spicy chicken sandwiches and breakfast jacks. The other is the gas station with cigarettes. It began with the gas station, and the young, burly, tattooed, no-nonsense man who works behind the counter. He always calls me “sir”, and that irritates me. A few months ago I told him, “you will address me as Your Majesty.” I had never seen his eyes go wide before, from his dull, habitual movements. He looked at me and laughed. But I didn’t waiver. “I am not sir,” I said. “It is Your Majesty.” He gave me a mischievous grin and said, “well, thank you Your Majesty.” And I graciously answered, “you’re welcome,” and left.

The next time I came in, he called me “sir” again, and I just stood there unmoving, staring at him until he looked up at me in the eye. “Peasant!” I said. He stomped his feet while taking a couple steps back, laughing and bowed with his arms outstretched. “Forgive me… Your Majesty.” I nodded my head slightly to him, smiling, saying “that’s better. Thank you.”

Now, whenever I enter the store, before I even get to the counter, no matter what customers might be present, I am greeted with a loud “hello Your Majesty!” and a grin. Sometimes when the customers stare at me afterward I tell them, “yes, it’s true.”

The same is true now at Jack in the Box, where big woman and a scrawny man both greet me with my more appropriate title. Once I was even bowed to and addressed properly at Fred Meyer by someone who must have been a customer of the gas station and had learned their lessons well. Perhaps it is only a matter of time until I ascend to my rightful throne atop Covington City Hall from which my beneficence might reign upon all. Or maybe a few people will have some grins over their dinner. I hope it is the latter.

towerThis is The Tower. It sits atop a mountain and reaches up into the clouds. The tower is strong, with foundations rooted and strong as the rock upon which it rises. It is crowned in gold, the symbols of wealth and power.

The Tower is unreachable by most. The Tower exists at our very foundations. It is the place that nobody else knows about. It is the place so deep within us that we often don’t know about it. And from that foundation, we build up all things about ourselves. We create our own regalia; our own nobility.

The Tower is the 16th card of the Major Arcana, long down the journey which began with The Fool. And here, the very foundations we have built, are struck from out of the sky, crumbling in ruin.

All that we have laid down for ourselves and all the definitions we have adopted are laid waste by a bolt from above. It does not matter who you are, or what you believe. It does not matter how powerful or weak you are, how high, or how low. The very foundations have been destroyed.

I think words are different from our bodies, but I don’t want them to be. I wish I could write a love poem but half of me fell out somewhere. I think it might have evaporated and went up into rainclouds that make people stay home or bites their face with cold drops that make your eyes feel more awake.

I think you are just curious and will let me dig my own grave so you can leave flowers on it and then I can pull them down one at a time when I need to eat. I was hoping if you do that you would come back every few months to jab me with a shovel but I think I would have fell to the center of the earth by then and got crushed and burnt and came back as a blade of grass every mile or so. And you could blame yourself but I would be happier and try to tell you even though grass can’t talk. But you would suspect.

Or I could just pound you until you felt like everything that wasn’t there was, because every time you looked I’d be there pounding on you again and again until you knew you were just me pounding on you like you need. And then we could get pizza. And you could cry I would tell you that you are safe and loved and you could hate me so I can pound you some more until the night is done and in the morning we can go to the store and buy Captain Crunch with the people in line.

I am feeling like there is nothing left inside me. I wish I could give it to you. I want you to tell me how stupid I am because I might believe you and then I would feel free. I am full of myself for no good reason.

If you were a stranger on the street who told me you could make me feel better I would know who you are and I would not run away but I would feel bad for you because I would love your socks more than you do and it would eventually kill you. but really I don’t know.

I would cry if you punched me a few times in the face and not because it hurt. Then maybe you could put me on a couch somewhere and let me sleep even through a fire. I would want you to rub my ashes on your body like talcum powder and maybe when you closed your eyes you would find yourself everywhere.

DeathMost people think that death is bad. But it isn’t always. Some people suffer a lot and death might be good. Other people may cause a lot of suffering to other people and death would be a welcome ally.

Death does not care who we are. It doesn’t matter if you are a king, a pope, a virgin or a child. It doesn’t matter if you are just you. Death does not discriminate. Death cannot be bargained with. Death comes when he comes, and he make everyone and everything equal.

Sometimes Death does not kill us, though. Sometimes Death just kills some part of us. Maybe it is a lie we made up for ourselves. Maybe it is something we hold dear. Death will take what it will, when it wants it.

But if we manage to live on, what has died has left a large, empty space. It is an emptiness within us that has made room for something else. Perhaps it will be something more, or something better. Perhaps it will just remain empty. That is more up to us, once Death has come. Death is the end. And sometimes, Death is the beginning. Of just a part of ourselves, or sometimes, even, the beginning of an entirely new life.

I never was able to tell you, because we had both been driven mad by tiny sounds, just how much your scribbles, left for me on the kitchen counter each morning, shaped what thoughtfulness meant. The little crumbs you left, and your subsequent returns, expecting everything.

I had not realized that love, devoted to some, merely draws out nutriment, to feed what can never be sated. A drain, that pulls forth in the most beautiful ways, exactly what is expected, until all that is left is expectation. And then, no longer even knowing.

You would be happy knowing I still have your scribbles. I still have all the promises and dreams, tucked in a footlocker, under the stairs. They are a reminder, not of you, but of the real and the unreal. Like your paintings in the strange blue hues that remind me how wide imagination can penetrate.

Four of CupsThis is the Four of Cups. It is part of the Minor Arcana. The four suits are cups, swords, pentacles and wands. Pentacles represent earthly things, like money, endeavors, family and stability. Wands represent power or energy, direction and purpose. Swords represent intellect, reason clarity, and things of the mind. Cups represent the heart, or emotion and fulfillment.

Three is a very stable number and contented almost to boredom. Four is much the same, but the extra one brings something almost hidden or unforeseen.

Here, from out of the blue, is not a lightning bolt, but rather a cup, being handed to the dreamer. You have to wonder, will he see it, on such a lazy day. Will it be something he takes, for his own?

Perhaps it might make us wonder, out there in the world, what cups might be there, just floating in the air. Or what cups we might conjure, in all such sleepiness. He hasn’t gone along far enough yet to be The Fool. Or maybe he has. And this is exactly what he needed.

I’ll leave it to you, to decide. Along with The Magician. And The Sun.

The Magician The Sun

I’m ok, You’re ok

hangedIt’s never easy penetrating a person’s thick head. Especially when they have their jaw muscles gripped tightly down on something they refuse to let go. Because at that point, nothing matters. They’re just going to keep that ball firmly in their teeth no matter what. Science is thrown out the window. Reason is trampled down and warped. And our old more pagan, animal nature, rooted in aggression and superstition, rises up to dominate.

This is exactly how a scientist can believe that something which exists within the universe is unnatural. And it is how any of us can continue holding on to beliefs or feelings despite the evidence of our senses that point undeniably to the contrary. It is how we people, who otherwise hold truth in high regard, can be led into deception, both of others and, by the very fact that we purposefully ignore our own true sensibilities, deception of ourselves.

There are many reasons for doing such things to ourselves and to others, but most of them are weak, and most of those, downright pathetic. But that’s alright. Everyone has weaknesses, and everyone has screw-ups. It is what we choose to do after knowing about them that shapes and defines us. It is our ticket out, or our ticket home. And the cost can be steep, or completely free. But the trip is always worth it. These are usually our most important life lessons to be learned. And they’re a bitch. And a blessing.

I spend a lot of time talking about science and how it can produce a somewhat dehumanizing effect upon us by narrowing our field of vision to only the empirical. But here is an example where science can accomplish the opposite effect, by cutting through the obfuscating clouds we create for ourselves, for whatever individually mad reasons, and instead bringing light to an exceedingly messy human thing.

We care about other people. We care about other people to different degrees and for various reasons, and sometimes, perhaps, for no reasons at all. What an astonishing reality it is, when we can step back and look at it, that other human life; that their very existence matters to us. Sometimes that other being matters simply because it is another being, as alive in this strange reality we inhabit, as we are ourselves. But sometimes another being matters much more to us than any other. Sometimes that being matters as much to us as ourselves. Or even more. This is insanity. It is also, perhaps, our greatest and most profound strength as a species.

We like to enjoy ourselves and to feel good. After all, we enjoy ourselves when we enjoy ourselves, and it feels good to feel good. And how good do we feel when someone we care about is near to us, and a part of our lives? What profound interactions of growth and mutual support are possible? And not only that, it also feels very nice just knowing that someone else cares about you. Someone that you can count on, despite anything.

Now don’t let any irrational notions of propriety throw off your thinking here. We’re scientists right now. Humans have bodies with nerves and muscles, and we’re just all fleshy and gooey. We enjoy feeling pleasure. We like sexual stimulation, with other beings, or even just by ourselves, however we might. This isn’t caring. This is an enjoyment of our physicality. It’s good fun.

Sex is not a mystical and special thing. It is our love and trust in another person that is a mystical and special thing. When that love and trust is broken by the one we care about, that is what hurts. That is what matters. It could be them having sex with another person. It could be them kissing another. It could be them spending too much time with another. It could be simply that they told us a lie. Certainly sex can help people become more intimate with each other, but it is that intimacy and trust that is the big thing, not the sex.

Sex is not spiritual. It is biological. Pleasuring yourself is great. So is pleasuring another, and it can also lead to greater intimacy between you. That intimacy and trust, whether it comes through sex or not, is the more spiritual thing. It is the truly important bit.

Unfortunately, many people consider sex itself to be something spiritual, except, of course, when “cheating” is involved, in which case, they consider the sex, or whatever betrayal, to be nothing meaningful all of a sudden, instead. It meant nothing, right? Well, to the one feeling the pain of betrayal, it meant something significant. But it’s not the physical act that causes the pain. It’s the betrayal of the spiritual “contract” between you. This contract can also be broken without any sex being involved.

This contract, however, means different things to different people. I suppose that is why communication is important. For example, some few people like any contract to mean complete and utter ownership over another, or their own feeling of being completely owned. Others may have more lax contracts, where each can spend time doing whatever they like, within reason. The contracts vary wildly from person to person, and usually they are never communicated. Some people will even feel betrayed by their object of love spending time at work, or having a very close friend. And this is a betrayal to them as certainly as any other, even sexual.

It is also possible, when people are willing to discuss exactly what the spiritual contract between them represents, to reach other more broadly defined constraints, which work in the interests of everyone to keep any betrayal from happening. Perhaps it’s okay to spend two nights a week out with your best friend, and the person who loves you will not feel like you are being taken from them. Or, perhaps it’s okay for you to kiss someone else from time to time, since you are particularly physical and affectionate. Or maybe you can have sex with someone else, as long as your partner meets them first and knows about everything, and you will always come home at night to sleep. These are the details people can work out together, if they are willing to communicate and be honest and accommodating.

Personally, I adhere to one person when I care. I think it because I very much enjoy exploring the intimacy and trust possible between people. I look at all this other wandering around that some people do as distractions – an attempt to make up for something that they do not find with each other. Perhaps they will find it. Perhaps they will find a way to live happily enough with each other, never having found it. I don’t know. I may be prejudiced.

But the interesting thing is that these qualities exist between people regardless of their race, their gender or their purported sexual identity. These same things are true whether you are straight, gay or bisexual. The sexual act does not matter. It is the human intimacy and trust that is the more important and spiritual aspect. It is that closeness, that kinship, and that knowing that someone is there for you, that can be felt between beings, that matters. It is probably the most beautiful and powerful thing we all have. It can make our lives worth living. It helps us create a better world for all.

Sadly, there are still people, even in our younger generations, who still believe sex is what is important and defines us, and not our capacity to love. There are still people who believe that physical pleasure can be wrong and represent a diseased mind or body, even when nobody else is hurt, and even when other people are helped or made to feel happier. There are still scientists who believe that something can exist which is not natural.

Invariably, these beliefs which fly in the face of reason, are usually founded in uninformed religious teaching, and certainly not science. It can take a very long time for people to become more fully aware of the reality they inhabit, particularly when that reality is not the reality portrayed to them by their parents, friends and their society at large. It can take a very long time for people to accept truth, despite science. Even though we live in what we consider a more “modern” and “enlightened” world.

Science tells us that homosexuality and bisexuality are not, in any way, disorders. Nor are they, in any way, aberrant. Nor are they even “unhealthy”. No mainstream scientific organization or studies support this thinking. In fact, they support the contrary. The American Psychological Association has this to say:

“Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding. Therefore, these mainstream organizations long ago abandoned classifications of homosexuality as a mental disorder.”

Considering the incredible mysteries of human bonding, the persistence of such unfounded stereotypes is strange, indeed. It points to something deeper. Let’s see if we might shed some light upon what might be behind this inexplicable persistence.

First, we must accept that our sexuality is more fluid than we might be comfortable admitting. This discomfort itself is something telling. However, as Lisa Diamond discovered in her 10-year longitudinal study, “some people believe that sexual orientation is innate and fixed; however, sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime. Individuals may become aware at different points in their lives that they are heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual.” Again, it is the personally intimate nature we can experience with another being that is the truly important thing, and this experience between beings is not limited by gender or race. Our ability to know each other, feel kinship for each other, and to love each other, is far greater. Our feelings of sexual attraction that often accompany this must be accepted, or harm will most certainly result, both to the person that matters, and to ourselves. And any tragic circumstance of non-acceptance will only help those stereotypes persist.

The profoundly unreasonable belief permeating our culture would have us feel that homosexuality and bisexuality is wrong. Thankfully it is on the decline. It would have us feel wrong, even when we might be reasonable enough to think that homosexuality is, perhaps, okay for other people. It would have us feel wrong in that any feelings for someone of our same gender is certainly not okay for us. This creates a great deal of inner conflict within most of us when we must confront our larger nature, for our larger nature encompasses many things. Those whose sexuality leans more toward homosexuality can often overcome these unfounded biases. However, those whose sexuality leans more toward bisexuality, which is the vast majority, usually never overcome these unfounded biases. For them, it is a relatively simple matter just to choose to label themselves completely heterosexual.

This does not fix their perceived problems, however. Inevitably, we are confronted with issues of our sexuality throughout our lives. What is unresolved or repressed is destined to surface again, and often in increasingly bizarre and destructive ways.

It is no accident that the people who most adamantly consider homosexuality an aberration, abomination or a disease are the same people who struggle with those same issues within themselves. The psychological term is disassociation, and these people go to great lengths to disassociate themselves with homosexuality both internally to themselves and externally, as proof to others of their disease-free state.

Sullivan’s 1956 theories on disassociation demonstrate how our sexuality can be made completely separate and other from our own sense of our personality. For example, as Jack Drescher says:

“[…] selective inattention is a common, non-pathological process, akin to tuning out the background noise on a busy street. In more intense dissociative mechanisms, double lives are lived yet not acknowledged. One sees clinical presentations of closeted gay people lying somewhere between selective inattention, most commonly seen in the case of homosexually self-aware patients thinking about “the possibility” that they might be gay, to more severe dissociation – in which any hit of same-sex feelings resides out of conscious awareness.”

This disassociation, where the feelings are actually moved outside of conscious awareness, is recognized to be very similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And this, actually, is the real disease, not any homosexual feelings.

Vivienne Cass’s famous 1979 Homosexuality Identity Formation Model also recognizes these characteristics within the first stage of people coming to terms with the fact that they may have some homosexual feelings. This stage is called identity confusion, and it is often quite volatile. As paraphrased by Joe Kort:

“Those who begin to acknowledge their attraction to other members of the same sex may not see themselves as even remotely gay. This isn’t pretending; they still honestly identify themselves as heterosexual. At this stage, their homosexual feelings are completely unacceptable to them. They are looking for anyone who might tell them they are not gay.

Once individuals recognize that a homosexual nature does exist within them, they often become very sensitive, highly anxious, and self-conscious. This is the beginning of re-experiencing their PTSD symptoms. Pushing them too far in this stage can cause too much psychological discomfort and potentially keep them from moving on to the next stage.

They are also vulnerable to getting married heterosexually, genuinely hoping for the best.”

The disassociation exhibited by people who unreasonably rail against the homosexual nature that nearly all of us embody is glaringly obvious to those people who have come to terms with the more fluid nature of their own sexuality. Look at our Senators and religious leaders who rabidly fight for legislation that condemns homosexuality, while at the same time have clandestine homosexual rendezvous. They condemn homosexual feelings to others in a cowardly attempt to disassociate themselves from their own homosexual feelings. It is the same with straight boys in a crowd.

This also is confirmed by science, through many studies. There is even a 1996 empirical study by Henry Adams where he measured the arousal level of straight men being shown images of men and women, where one group of men were homophobic and the other group of men was not. The study demonstrated that the homophobic men were almost always sexually aroused by images of men, while the non-homophobic men were not. Both were equally aroused by women and lesbian images, which supports the case for bisexual identity repression. But the homophobic men got excited.

Drescher, amongst a great preponderance of psychologists and psychiatrists, also confirms this. “Interpersonally, strong anti-homosexual feelings may represent an effort to control perceptions of a [man’s] own sexual identity. If they attack gay people, others will not think of them as gay.” Even those psychiatrists following a psychoanalytic approach agree. “Various psychoanalytic theories explain homophobia as a threat to an individual’s own same-sex impulses, whether those impulses are imminent or merely hypothetical. This threat causes repression, denial or reaction formation.” (DJ West, 1977).

Want some Wikipedia? How about “by distancing themselves from gay people, they are reaffirming their role as a heterosexual in a heteronormative culture, thereby attempting to prevent themselves from being labeled and treated as a gay person.”

spoonage103

Hopefully, this will help clear the air a little on our sexuality, and people’s reactions to the subject matter of sexuality. But clearing the air only allows us to see more clearly. It does not help us to live our lives any better.

Even when we can accept a certain degree of homosexuality within ourselves, that does not mean everything is great. However, it is far better than before! Oftentimes people who manage to get past complete disassociation settle upon compartmentalization instead. As Kort and Cass say:

“Some clients may accept their behavior as gay or bisexual while still rejecting homosexuality as their core identity. Or they might accept a homosexual identity but, paradoxically, inhibit their gay behavior by, for example, deciding to heterosexually marry and have anonymous “no strings” sexual hookups. Of course, this kind of compartmentalization – a fracturing of behavior and identity – leads to problems later on.

Some lesbian and gay clients may attempt to embrace a heterosexual identity out of internalized shame and guilt. These clients are particularly vulnerable to the promises of reparative therapy. Because of their self-hate and hope for a “cure,” they are eager to be rid of these unwelcome thoughts and feelings.”

But honestly, there is nothing to repair. We’re crazy creatures, remember? We’re wide and wonderful. There is no mainstream discipline or organization that supports any “repair” of our sexuality. In fact, they all condemn such things as harmful. Even the US Surgeon General David Satcher, a military man, officially stated “there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed” in a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2001. My God! We’re stuck with each other! In all our wild diversity, our beautiful human surprises, and the all wonders of impossible places…

If you fight against these scientific truths, invariably you will harm other people, and you will harm yourself. You will also be a force within the world that strengthens the very stereotypes that we cannot believe still exist. If you fight against these truths, it can cause all manner of harm, in all manner of seemingly unrelated directions. This is true for kids, adults both young and old, parents, teachers, clergy, lawmakers, and you. We really need to find some bravery and stand up, and get past this nonsense. We have to make it so that young men struggling with these issues are not 13 times more likely to kill themselves. We have to do this by making the issue become a non-issue, for all of us.

What these studies do not go into is the acts of deception, both outwardly and inwardly, that people struggling with sexuality exhibit. In order to disassociate, deception is the key. And this begins to permeate deeper within them, even to unrelated areas, and it begins to permeate outwardly into the world. Sexuality is a fundamental force within us all – it is very powerful and it drives us almost always, even subtly. When we mix in deception at this core level, it is a mixture that can lead to truly terrible things in time. We can become adept at deception of all type because, with our practice over time, every day, we become masterful, and deception becomes second-nature to us.

But it’s a whole different view from above it all. From above, you will notice the guys who you see getting excited around you, then have to run off to call their girlfriends or wives, or if they have none, go watch some lesbian pornography or guy/girl porn, but no looking at penises. It is the poor man’s version of reparative therapy. Also, you can watch them turn their sexuality instead into aggression so they might feel reassured by some masculine identity that somehow arises from fear. You can watch them, when you push them to the limit, if you’re lucky, break down and tell you it’s something they’ve always hated about themselves, then deny they ever said it. Yes, you can watch all manner of people struggle with themselves, from on high. For years and years, until you wonder how it is that people can be so deceptive and destructive over such simple, unimportant things. These facts exist, whether or not you have ever met a gay or bisexual person before (which you most certainly have). They also exist despite any beliefs you might hold. It is a great truth that we are just starting to come to terms with.

But what we do physically with our bodies is not important. It is how we honor that incredibly beautiful accident that is another human being. It is how we offer ourselves truly to another, in trust, in admiration, in honesty, and in our commitment to their, and our, mutual well-being. And in this, the religious people have much to learn. They should stop harming people. Especially their children, if nobody else.

“Sexual orientation is not synonymous with sexual activity.

The idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the emergence of same-sex attraction and orientation is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy has no support among any mainstream health and mental health professional organizations.” (APA)

Now, go suck on that!

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Business and Ethics

Knight of SwordsMy piece To Potential Business Clients elicited some nice responses, and even got me a new client from out of the blue. Isn’t it odd how so many businesses try to play up the image game, with all their sayings and promises that everyone else already knows are largely vacuous? The even stranger thing is, when businesses decide they don’t want to play this game, and instead be completely honest, they have no clue how to go about being honest and straight-forward.

Businesses reflect the people who shape and direct them, and to a lesser degree, the employees and contractors who represent them. If a person is more conscience of their image than their substance, this is what the business will be. If the person is accustomed to maneuvering and making excuses for bad things, this is what the business will be. If the person is honest with all their strengths and their shortcomings, this is what the business will be. Judging by the responses I received, the latter is what people prefer.

When you misrepresent yourself, you participate in willful manipulation. As a rule, people do not appreciate being manipulated. People do not appreciate it when someone seeks to control their perception. In fact, it is an act of evil. It is an act of evil because the person with the access to truth seeks to hide and alter that truth into something else that plays toward their own benefit. And doing this removes any potential for choice that another person might have, replacing that choice with the will of the deceiver. People rarely think this through, but it is why people do not like misrepresentation. We posses an innate instinct about being wronged in this way. Yet most of us are perfectly comfortable taking choices away from others like this. We want to look good, even when we know that we are not.

This presents a large problem for businesses, since the majority of people themselves never truly are who they seem to be. With this, how can any business be considered trust worthy? How can you know for certain if they truly care about anything other than what they want? Of course, they will tell you that you, the customer, are their top priority, and that they are trustworthy. But when your access to knowledge and truth is also controlled by them, what is the reality of who they are? And how will this effect you?

Businesses will rationalize as well, just like people, any of their wrongdoings. For example, it’s okay to manipulate these people with the truth hidden, because really, we are good, and they will be better off with us, even though we are not who we appear to be. In this, they absolve themselves by changing their act of evil into an act of good, performed upon those people within their control. In other words, by removing another’s awareness and choice, and causing them to do what you want, you have done them a favor.

If a business realizes they are committing this evil, the next level of rationalization is to reassure themselves that it is not, actually, an act of evil because everyone else is doing the same thing to others. In other words, an act of evil is not evil if a lot of people are doing it.

And finally, if the person or business is discovered in their deception, the retreat is most often to hostility and anger that is projected instead upon the client, rather than themselves. That is, the last refuge of the liar is hostility toward those to whom he lies. It is either this, or a sudden and utter disregard for their victims, so that they might carry on their own business as usual.

It’s a fascinating exploration between business and human personality. So often we hear that business must be kept separate from the personal, but as we see, they are already intimately intertwined at the most fundamental level. And this is the challenge businesses face as they present themselves to the world: how can they appear trustworthy, dependable, and even at all good, when the people shaping the business bring so much of their own personalities along them?

The answer is simple. Appearance does not matter. The people themselves who shape the business must confront the very issues of their own character for the sake of their business. These factors are also mutually reinforcing. Those who, in their personal life, subscribe to deception, will find it increasingly easy to justify further deception in their lives, and out into the realm of their customers. The converse is also true, those who are willing and curageous enough to represent themselves truly, standing upright beside their purported ideals, will find their personal life far more attuned to the more honorable and noble. And this will improve not only their own life, but also set a potent example of what is possible to others.

Sales is the slippery slope. These are the purported masters of representation and human influence. Few professions have so many people who are utter shams or despots, yet walk and talk the good line. Guns for hire, with all the throw-away benefits, and all the dangers of backstabbing in the night. Their purpose is the influence of people and businesses send them out in droves, with only the thinnest ropes. If they perform well at what they do, their influence grows within the business, until such time that appearances are the driving force instead, at the very least on par with real products or services. This point is the second ethical milestone a business reaches, and it is very much like the first.

I love watching businesses come together, take off and grow. It truly is people flying only by the seats of their pants, and it’s a joy. You see so many different struggles met and matched, along with a share of bloody noses and defeats. But it is the good fight I like. The just and honorable cause. And best of all, the vision of something truly greater for us all. These are beyond the ken of most business people. This is because they become trapped, struggling more against themselves and their self-made failings than building something truly wonderful. When you are out for the true betterment of others, any deception is anathema. They will forever fall short, even if they happen to become monetarily successful. And that is a sad story.

So to you business people who believe you are true, look deeply and honestly at yourself. If you can still say that you are, look at the other people and forces in your life, and what they cause you to do. Do they cause you to lie or waste resources? Do they encourage you compromise unwisely? Do they challenge you to become more, or cause you to sink into being less? Do you feel good and fulfilled by your endeavor? Or do you find reasons and make excuses? Can you lie with dignity, honor and conviction? Or do you face your challenges head-on, whole, and become more?

Each step reinforces us, one way or another. Yet still, it is never too late. And if I ever meet you out there in the wild, I would be honored to be at your side, fighting the good fight.

Splitting Wood

i.

I am tired of speaking
to the cleft whose head
points down to stars
as if stones were light
to be picked up, thrown
landing as they must in
that dome which contains me

A caricature drawn of itself
written of its own bones, dust
etched on a stone wall in shapes
whose colors dim to discovery

It is the language of surfaces
that smears the fullness of truth
the ox, the spear, the feigned lunge
and the secrets of the failed hunt

It is the language of rudiments
bent plastic magnets stuck on
the ice box in a disarray of letters
colored wildly as habit denies it

And all this grown to clockwork
where gears drive the hand back
in an empty circle that does not
know beginnings from any end

The left side cleft straight in purpose
while the right staggers at the gap
and in the middle, nothing but empty
distances wanting to be worked like stone

So I will mend this with a lie, for now
I have become a shape frozen in rock:
how true the left half stamps forward
fixed solidly on stars beneath its feet

For that dome, cleft in war, not hunts,
shakes its parts like a formed rattle
bawling to see the deep void of space
which already sliced through half unseen.

I am tired of speaking at nothingness
rigged with bent wire into pinwheels
that flutter like meaning in blown air,
up through the cleft that severs thought
into the left flowering empty in designs
while the right flooded by all that falls
prays tomorrow might arrive whole

As Pharisees wrapping a God in law
who made squirrels that leap random,
and the night where rote soothed little
out past the chill of air on clear glass

Here is the second lie; a formula 
to embrace like it must know you
locked in measurements as desired
subdued to your own reflection
that happily commits perfect contours

The slow drain of water past the cleft;
I see you now on gray rock surrounded
pulling down all that rises in panic:
dimensions surrounded by wildflowers
whose tiny colors pierce gray rock
in that multitude, on the right behind

This was the hour that called for
the great fall past the cleft of lies
that comforts your face each morning
packed on, in the perfect mirror
where no thing outside the frame
touches what falls beneath your feet

The small frame hanging on the wall
transfixed in tight record, of how
the same might be arranged into more
without needing that frightful step
away from the face that lingers on
staring fixed so frightfully cool

ii.

Yes, I have seen what little is seen
indulging circles always turned within
where the snake eating from its own tail
eventually sees itself eye to mouth

They are old stories larger than equations taught
by wrote chanting flicked beads madly to and fro

iii.

This is why:
You are everything that I can ever be
far outside the mirror
in the lake, deep with blue
a sky touching smooth surfaces
the wet mud bed below
with strange fish swimming

And that face fixed in traps
cleft down to the bottom gate
shattered out the top
looking like photographs
posed in black and white

Manipulator of perception
where truth is imagined
to close a deal with oneself
simply to appear what isn't

Unaware each shadow kills
what is most important

iv.

Poor me. No, poor me.
Yes, poor me. Poor me. Oh,
poor me. Poor. No. Me. Me.
Poor me.

v.

Clink. I insert card 89. Revv
Tink! In the gear turn seven
rooound... yes!

click clock, click clock,
click clock...

vi.

Of course it's me
how could it be
anyone different

I built this
as it was meant
to be me

Not like some
wildflower weed
sprouting unforeseen
like it might

But rather me
as I truly am
when I say so
and not seem

And yes I am
perfectly aware
when I lie

You think that
says something
different about
who am I?

vii.

When everyone says the same thing
I wander through the tall trees
draped with wet moss in between
all that will never be said unseen

Through fungus on the crackled sticks
flickers of light passing through boughs
and the scent that raises up fresh heights
across a face lifted in the space of thick growth

And these little square machines picking cubes
from thin air to shine like adornments
a toaster dressed to please the fridge
or the oven to show the stove who's who

Ask me, whose bare feet are wet from walking
on the cold, slimy rocks of the fast, deep creek
to fold my limbs up in the shape of geometry
just to please a box whose metal fears to breathe?

Alright, for a time in the interests of wading
through echoes off flat walls that only repeat
what almost always is never true yet somehow
needing what I cannot bring to wholly undo

That is up to you my friend, to find your legs
anew. A cup. A mirror. A shattered chest, with
pounds and pounds of glue. A twig, caught
in my sleeve. Or here, a handful of moss
I saved for you still damp in my front pocket

I saved it for you, this clod of earth,
to hand you in the mirror. I know
it is not much considering but it is
everything deserved

Find me amidst the trees some day
when the lines within you fall,
or the mirror fades to just a dream
where the rest of us might go

I'll show you bugs beneath the stones
while lilies float in view and paths
through densely nettled walls
to clearings known to few – centipedes
with a million legs, visiting blue jays,
the rap-tap message of woodpeckers
passed through the towering trees 
on the great sphere that binds you

Hurling through the deepest cleft
a unison of all halves merged
our little dreams as wide as night
that bursts like rain from clouds