What This Blog is About

A long time mentor and friend, Cicely Berry, often says: "all we do comes from our need to survive".

Cis is the Voice Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company. Her profound work and deep appreciation of the human spirit has affected diverse communities all over the world.

Will take you to my current work.

This blog is dedicated to the belief that the overall health of a community or organization is a clear reflection of their ability to communicate.

"Cada cabeza es un mundo" - Cuban proverb

"Every head is a world"

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Language & Creating Distance

This is a very serious subject and one that takes time to discuss.

However, we are currently being hit with a number of influences/explanations that seem to approach such a critical discussion with a limited and perhaps, purposeful set of visions.

Closed or private languages can be both exclusionary by design and liberating by experience.

Just as we hear an argument right now in the "Infotainment" world about Hip Hop language vs. the style of Talk Show hosts, and what represents freedom of speech vs. abusive behavior, it seems to me, that a fundamental point is being missed.

The pointing of one supposed offense vs. another is camouflage.

Language, like living communities can morph into "Gated Communities". Places where ideas, behaviors and exclusionary activities separate people. In these places, the antithesis of freedom of speech exists because freedom of thought is reduced by the power of exclusionary beliefs and consequential activities.

Sometimes, these beliefs are seemingly justified because of a need to survive by demonstrating the realities and pain of long time exclusion.

Sometimes, beliefs can be built by fear alone that is unfounded. When there is no true balance for vision (and here, I mean the word vision as the ability to see what is in front of us), danger is indeed, possible. We have all lived with that danger and understand much of it. Discussing it however, seems difficult for us.

The philosopher
Ludwig Wittgenstein said that "pain is a private language". Artists give us a glimpse into that privacy, which is an extraordinary experience and a very human one. That is one reason that censorship is not even a debate. If it were, we could never have allowed Shakespeare to have written the volumes of work he accomplished with his irreverent and volatile language.

Language can create distance. And, we can drive agendas to cover our own accountability in the work place by describing what others say.

One of the most revealing words we tend to hear is the simple, but dangerous word -- "they". Nothing is more declarative in these so called debates then when I here: "they say" or, "why can they say etc. etc."

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Safety In The Work Place

I cannot join the crowd and try to say something meaningful about the Virginia Tech tragedy this week.

However, I can say that this terror touched my own family. My wife's family, has several students at Virginia Tech and also two recent graduates who remain closely networked. They are safe today. My wife's niece speaks clearly about her ongoing appreciation of the culture, community and leadership that her school represents to her. And, how odd she finds the questions she sees being positioned in the news.

It is not for me posture or try to publicly understand a complicated and deeply disturbing scenario of one person who has affected so many people.

So, what I will say and what I will continue to try and focus on in my work, is very simple. The ability of an organization or a community to communicate is a true indicator of the overall health of that community. This includes, the drivers, physical, mental and fiscal health of the community or organization.

While it's hard to argue with this kind of statement. I am not certain, that it's so easy to recognize without understanding more deeply, the fundamental realities of communication.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Diversity & Freedom of Speech In the Work Place

A great deal of talk this week in America, about freedom of speech.

How this freedom is used and the ramifications when people are offended by remarks made by radio or television workers. They may be "celebrities", but they are indeed, workers. And so, the issue develops quickly, as to firing or punishing the offender for the remarks.

Here's a perspective:

1. Freedom of speech is not only about the ability to say what you choose. In an open society, freedom of speech represents the ability to carry on conversations that share knowledge, question the status quo and enlighten opinion.

Consequently, languishing in adolescent like apologies and self serving constructs for what one has said, are useless. Looking at, and confronting what gives credence to an underlying atmosphere of divisiveness and bias as acceptable, instead of tasteless and damaging to everyone, is far more valuable.

2. Diversity in the work place really does allow us all to understand different perspectives. It's astounding in this day and age, to see just how non-diverse radio, newspaper and television infrastructures and their broadcast facing personnel organizations remain out of date.

Consider this definition of Diversity in The Work Place. Diversity Represents the Removal of Anything That Inhibits the Professional and Personal Development of People at Work.

Now, place that definition against what you are hearing this week about remarks regarding racial and gender statements and what people are suggesting should be done. Firing, censoring etc. are actually symptom based solutions. Perhaps, appropriate for consideration and perhaps, not really appropriate in terms of freedom issues.

What if, we reject hearing the next pathetic apology and start getting to what really makes this such a continuing story in America right now. And, anywhere in the world?

By using this definition of Diversity in the Work Place perhaps, we can see if there are not better alternatives to using Free Speech and reach more meaningful and relevant points of understanding than statements like "I am a good person who said a bad thing".

  • What are the accepted languages of separation and why?
  • What makes for a growing history of disdain as entertainment?
  • How dangerous is Infotainment when people cannot place it in context for real decision making?

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