Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Fallen Generals…And Our Own Private Truths

Reading about General Petraeus’ affair with Paula Broadwell and General Allen’s voluminous correspondence with Jill Kelley – and their ignominious fall from grace – brings to mind the Egyptian myth, Osiris. He was killed and dismembered, and each of the 14 pieces of his body was buried in a different place. His wife Isis found all the parts and put them back together. Then Osiris came back to life, and they conceived a child together.

Later, I’ll explain what this myth can teach us about this latest “sex and power” scandal, which signifies more than just different views about affairs and adultery among high-profile people. One the one hand, some contend that adultery among military personnel is a personal matter, as foreign policy and military analyst Thomas Ricks said in a recent interview. In fact, Ricks argues in The Gamble that the significant issue for the military is the failure and decline of leadership. But others are morally offended by what they see as personal character flaws behind the sex scandal, and that such behavior indicates poor judgment on the part of leaders, as well.

But step back: I think this scandal is just a more extreme, titillating version of deceptions and lies that many people maintain in their public behavior, at the expense of private truths. For some, the chasm between public lies and private truths is driven by Continue reading

Share

Why Shifting Your Thinking Can Make You More Politically Moderate

Some new research has found that people tend to become more moderate in their views about otherwise polarizing issues, when they answer three “why” questions. This study, reported in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science,  asked people to think broadly, more abstractly, about an issue, by asking them “why” rather than “how.” The research indicates that engaging in abstract thinking generated more open-mindedness with respect to political beliefs. Here’s the summary of the findings from Science Daily:

Partisans beware! Some of your most cherished political attitudes may be malleable! Researchers report that simply answering three “why” questions on an innocuous topic leads people to be more moderate in their views on an otherwise polarizing political issue.

The research, described in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, explored attitudes toward what some people refer to as the ground zero mosque, an Islamic community center and mosque built two blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City. Continue reading

Share

Understanding The Disappointment Of “Red America”

It’s crucial for our own personal growth and development to be able to step outside ourselves, our own perspectives, and experience the world through the eyes of those who see it differently. Seeing and understanding through the lens of others – especially those with whom we disagree — builds empathy and compassion. And that’s vital for strengthening that which is shared, and for working towards common goals – beyond differences. Bill Clinton is a master at conveying understanding to those who feel scared and angry about changes occurring in our country. And Eli Saslow’s recent portrayal of the disappointment felt by Romney supporters in the Washington Post does a good job at that, as well. He writes:

She arrived early to take apart the campaign office piece by piece, just as she felt so many other things about her life were being dismantled. Beth Cox wore a Mitt Romney T-shirt, a cross around her neck and fresh eyeliner, even though she had been crying on and off and knew her makeup was likely to run….Her calendar read “Victory Day!!” and she had planned to celebrate in the office by hosting a dance party and selling Romney souvenirs. But instead she was packing those souvenirs into boxes…Here in the heart of Red America, Cox and many others spent last week grieving not only for themselves and their candidate but also for a country they now believe has gone wildly off track.

For the complete article, click here.

Share

Why We May See the Return of Mainstream Republicans

A few decades ago I asked my father why he had voted for Eisenhower in both the ’52 and ’56 elections. It puzzled me because my father was a lifelong Roosevelt-New-Dealer Democrat who had founded and led for many years the labor union local at his factory. There, the management regularly accused him of being a Communist and sometimes threatened his life. Not a person you’d expect to support a Republican, he fought for worker’s rights and benefits. That included, humorously, distributing readings to workers by Spinoza, Freud and Aristotle. The company decreed that to be subversive activity and tried to ban it. But he brought the case to the NLRB — and won a celebrated victory.

So why did he support Eisenhower, a Republican? His answer was short and simple: “Because he beat the Nazis.” To his thinking, that trumped politics, period.

I’m reminded of that perspective as I reflect on the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. I’m wondering if we might start to see a swing of the pendulum Continue reading

Share

What Prevents Unethical Behavior In The Workplace?

A business school professor has argued that there’s a gap between business students’ description of ethical behavior in business and the traits they report in themselves. Thomas A. Wright, at Kansas State University, contends that there is a moral decline in higher education, which affects those entering the business world. “Many citizens are increasingly seeing the potentially grave consequences of dishonest and fraudulent actions by our business and political leaders,” he says.

Wright’s study examined student character strength on a number of dimensions including valor, hope, zest, honesty, critical thinking, kindness and gratitude. This is where the students exhibited gaps between their own qualities and those they value for ethical business. For example, MBA students listed honesty as one of their top five strengths. However, Wright found that 88 percent of the students reported that they have cheated in school, with many students reporting they had cheated 100 or more times. Wright said that students who cheat in school are not only more likely to cheat in graduate and professional school, but they also are more likely to engage in unethical business practices. And that this provides all the more reason for why higher education institutions should include ethical and character development. The study was reported in a news release from Kansas State, and summarized in Science Daily here:

 A Kansas State University professor’s research is showing a gap between the character traits that business students say make a good executive and the traits they describe having themselves.Thomas A. Wright, the Jon Wefald Leadership Chair in Business Administration, said business schools need to close that gap by continuously discussing ethics and character in the classroom. Continue reading

Share