Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Back to Whose Roots?

Here in Oregon, we are having heated debates about removal of dams on our rivers. Recently it was ranchers (anti-removal) vs. indigenous tribes (pro-removal). A Klamath Tribe member said in a recent article that a rancher told him that,"All of us Indians needed to be rounded up and put on a train and shipped back to Oklahoma again."

Let's use a role reversal to hone in on how ridiculous such a statement is.

"All of those white people needed to be rounded up and put on a boat and shipped back to Europe again." Of course since the Klamath tribe has always been here, they really have no where to be shipped.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hierarchies Hurt Everybody

Why do good people act badly?

Many people have asked, “How could a revered person like Joe Paterno participate in such a horrible cover-up?” Thirty years ago, an identical quandary led us to decades of research on dismantling harmful hierarchies:

Why do good people do such bad things?

Paterno showed recognizable outward signs of a patriarch – a person in the sacred role of a father with unquestionable authority. The hierarchy that he ruled showed the same thirty-two consistent and predictable characteristics that we find in any hierarchy, no matter if based on race, religion, and yes, in sports. Here’s four examples:

1. Maintaining the hierarchy is the highest priority and the primary responsibility of those at the top. To the administrators and coaches at Penn State, it was important to preserve the wealth and prestige of the football program by avoiding a scandal.

2. People at the top are not held accountable for the effects on lower groups. Penn State administrators and coaches did not stop Sandusky from continuing to abuse children.

3. We live with constant lies, deceptions, and secrecy. Penn State kept the cover-up going for years.

4. People at the top become so isolated that they lose their vision of the realities of the world outside their fiefdom. When Paterno announced his retirement at the end of the season, he appeared clueless that his power base had collapsed underneath him.

The Penn State situation shows us that we have more reasons to work to eliminate hierarchical attitudes and behaviors than to lessen inequality and discrimination – even though that’s important too. When we are following the rules and roles of hierarchies, there are winners, sure, but there are many, many losers, and often they are just as innocent and victimized as the young boys that were ignored by the administrators and coaches at Penn State.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pet Project

As animal lovers, we are happy that almost daily, we see news articles that show we are constantly break down the human/other animals hierarchy. This week, we read that the majority of people in the United States who have pets will buy them presents this holiday season, and they will spend an average of $46 on toys, treats, bedding, clothing, leashes, collars, or grooming products.

Then we read that West Hollywood, California has just approved an ordinance that bans the sale of fur clothing made from skin or pelt of animals with hair, wool, or fur.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sexist Succession

When David Cameron announced Britain's intention to scrap centuries-old laws requiring older sisters to defer to younger brothers in inheriting the British throne, he called the practice "sexist."

As veterans of the 1970's women's movement that coined that word, we are glad to hear a powerful male acknowledge and use that term in an important international speech.

The equality of men and women has come a long way. Sexism does still exist, of course, and the more we call it what it is, the faster true fairness will be realized.