Monday, June 29, 2015

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Innocence can be more powerful than experience. - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

We've let the blade of our innocence dull over time, and it's only in innocence that you find any kind of magic, any kind of courage. - Sean Penn

Speak the truth even if your voice shakes. - Maggie Kuhn

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …

Applause erupted from the crowd as the President of the United States stepped into view on the stage, flanked by a number of community and organization leaders.

Waving to the expectant crowd of men, women and children, he stepped up onto the dais, beaming to the jubilant crowd before him.  He extended his arms up high before him and addressed the room.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you”, he said in slow, measured tones, the smile never leaving his face.

The applause grew louder and he stepped back for a moment as he took in the energy being shared with him.

He paused, stepped up to the microphone again, extended his arms and gestured slightly with his hands as if gently asking for quiet.

“Thank you”, he said again.  “My friends, today is a historic day.  After months of difficult negotiation with many of the fine men and women you see before you, I am pleased to be able to announce a number of initiatives that will make this country stronger and better prepared for its great future.”

The crowd went silent in expectation, hanging on his every word.

“My friends”, the President continued, “Today I am proud to make the following announcements.  In recognition of the great strides we have made with our LGBTQ community and in conjunction with the great strides we have made together with the Supreme Court, I am proud to announce a significant revision to the 16th Amendment of our Constitution.  This revision will allow LGBTQ couples who were prevented for years from marrying to retroactively claim benefits they should have been able to claim on their income tax.  The benefits are being calculated now and payments are expected to be rolled out within three months.  In order to make up for lost opportunities and past discrimination, we will also be passing a law providing for preferential hiring practices that will be mandatory for all companies and our government to abide by when hiring LGBTQ citizens moving forward.”

He paused as the room exploded in applause.

The President paused for a moment and smiled before holding up his hands again to quiet the crowd.

“In addition”, he continued, “We are working with a number of groups such as the NAACP and others to finally rid our great nation from some of the negative parts of our past.  Effective immediately, all references to slavery in the past as well as racial oppression will be removed from our landscape.  Congress is preparing a resolution to make all references to the Confederate Flag illegal in our great nation.  The Secretary of Education has committed to removing all references to the civil war that ripped our nation in two from our history books and within 5 years, that terrible part of our history will never again be taught to our children.  Representatives from Hollywood, television media and other groups have committed to never again making or showing movies that reference the civil war.  And finally, the Jefferson Memorial, statues of leaders from the South and other monuments will also be torn down and we will soon be free to forget the scourge of our past that was racial oppression.  We are also working on a series of reparation payments to be made to all of the citizens of this nation who have, through themselves or their ancestors, ever been a victim of racial prejudice.”

The crowd applauded again although this time there were a few cries of dissent amongst the applause.

The President cleared his throat and continued to speak.  “Working with our religious leaders”, he said, “We also recognize that references to God and religion within government, whether it be on public buildings, within the wording of our Constitution, the Declaration of Independence or other works, are offensive to those of different faiths or of no faith and will be removed effectively immediately.  We may take other action in this area as we see fit moving forward.”

The applause that followed was much more diminished as people began to look at each other with some concern.

“Effective immediately, we will also reduce the penalties for soft drug usage, recognizing that lighter drugs such as marijuana and similar drugs pose no threat to the safety of our nation and that our citizens should be allowed to relax in ways that pose no threat to others.”

A rumble started to manifest within the crowd amidst a few hoots of support.

“And finally”, said the President, “We recognize that our immigration laws and polices are far too strict and are preventing many great people from entering a nation that was built by immigrants.  Pursuant to this, I am asking Congress to remove the need for any background checks for anyone wishing to come to our great nation.  I am asking that this amnesty policy be limited to a trial period of five years as we welcome people from around the world to our great nation.  If Congress is unwilling to provide this as I requested, I will invoke executive privilege to make it happen.”

Light applause greeted the announcement.

“We have always been a great nation”, concluded the President, “And I believe that these initiatives and others will make us stronger and will help us to be less divisive as a people moving forward.”

Silence filled the room for a moment but was broken by a small voice near the front of the room.

“Excuse me, Mr. President”, the small voice said.

The President looked into the crowd before identifying the source of the polite request, a young girl of maybe seven or eight years of age, with her clear blue eyes staring up at him earnestly.

“The young lady in the front has a question”, the President said to the audience, “Please come up and ask me anything you want, young lady.”

Secret Service agents found the young child and escorted her up to the stage.

“What’s your name?”, the President asked gently.

“Sarah”, she replied quietly, suddenly overwhelmed as she stared at the hundreds of people before her who looked up at her in silence.

“And what would you like to ask me, Sarah?”, the President asked as he smiled.

“Well”, she said, suddenly becoming shy and looking nervously at her feet.  “My mommy and daddy have been without a real job for a few years and I was wondering what you are doing to help them.  My daddy fought overseas and he struggles a lot with stuff that happened over there.  He tells mommy that what we did overseas puts us in more danger at home from people who want to hurt us.  Mommy works for an electric company and I heard her tell someone that bad people can use the Internet to make our electricity stop working and then we would all be in danger.  We also studied in school that countries are in trouble around the world because they can’t pay borrowed money back and if they can’t pay their money back, bad things might happen to the whole world.  Plus we learned that a lot of countries are building bigger bombs that could blow everything up.”

She paused nervously.

“I guess what I am asking is that while all of the things you are talking about are very good for some people, I am very afraid of the future for my mommy and daddy and me.  Can you tell me why we shouldn’t be afraid for our future?”

She paused as tears began to well up in her clear blue eyes.  “Who will take care of us, Mr. President?”, she asked quietly.

The President paused and the room was deathly silent in anticipation of a response from him.

“You are a very smart young girl”, the President said, smiling as he patted her on the head, “Your parents must be very proud of you.”

He gestured to Secret Service agents to take her back to her parents.

As they approached her, she turned to the crowd who stared at her in silence.

“Can anyone answer my question?”, she asked quietly.

No answer was offered as she was escorted off the stage.

To be continued.

© 2015 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved


All of the scenarios described in this fictional account have actually been suggested or recommended by different groups (with the exception of new nuclear weapons development which is already under way).  I thought the confluence of a few of these things would make an interesting story as perceived from the viewpoint of the young girl.  There are many things I could have added – I named a few for the sake of brevity.

Guaranteeing equal rights under the law is important as is the need to make right the mistakes of our past but let’s not lose sight of the many other important things that need to be addressed at the same time.  Failure to address them will impact all of us no matter what rights we have earned or have been bequeathed and regardless of any affronts that have been corrected.

The media and politicians seem singular in focus when it comes to things that are easily solved.

I think the things that are not so easily solved are equally important.

What do you think?

Series Origin

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Connecting the Dots in Our Life

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them. - Dalai Lama

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. - Albert Schweitzer

I have long been fascinated with the notion of significant people / events in our lives, how they come to be, whether we choose them or they are chosen for us, how we measure their effect / influence, what their cumulative effect is, whether the order that they appear in our lives is significant, etc.

I have mused about such things many times and in many ways in my blog, including but not limited to the following popular posts:

With this idea in mind, I drew a series of mind maps to express some thoughts around the significant “dots” in our lives.  I am publishing these mind maps for others to comment on, criticize or make additions to.  The content is copyright the author as noted unless otherwise indicated.

The Connect the Dots mind map series can be found on my primary site and on my mobile site.

I invite people who may have thoughts on these diagrams to email me at and I will give them consideration for future releases.  I may consider a wiki as well if the traffic is significant.

Many thanks for your interest and to all of my many readers over the years, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I am a better person for my interaction with thousands of you over the years.

In service and servanthood,


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Gay or Straight–Moving Away From Labels

The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. - Chief Joseph

I'm not an activist; I don't look for controversy. I'm not a political person, but I'm a person with compassion. I care passionately about equal rights. I care about human rights. I care about animal rights. - Ellen DeGeneres

Some years ago, I had a secretary who had an annoying habit of taking work that was error-free and filling it with errors before sending it on to clients.  I asked her often why she did this and her response constantly was an excuse of “the spell checker is wrong”, “I thought I could do it better”, etc. and I had noted warnings to her (and in her HR file) that this behavior could not continue.

She was also routinely late completing mundane tasks and so one day out of curiosity, I checked the Internet access logs for the company and found that she surfed porn sites for an average of 20-30 hours per week from her office computer.  As someone who doesn’t like to censor access to information, I had mistakenly assumed that my team could self-regulate in regards to the use of office equipment during company time – she was the only one in all my years who violated that assumption.

One Monday morning when I came into the office, I noticed that a lot of our servers had been dismantled and left as they were.  Going to the building security office and reviewing logs and security video, we were able to ascertain that she had signed into the building with a false name and had people accompanying her for reasons that were never explained to me.  These were the people who had dismantled our servers (also for reasons unknown to me).

This was the last straw and I arranged to have her employment terminated.  I also mistakenly assumed that this was the end of the matter even though she protested during the termination process that the previously noted concerns were not sufficient for termination.

So imagine my surprise a few days later when an attorney contacted me to make arrangements for the out-of-court settlement which I was told I would be forced to sign.

“After all”, the attorney said, “my client represents many minorities.  She is African American, a woman, a single mom and gay.  You are also violating her freedom of expression by telling her that surfing porn sites during business hours is not permitted.”

After he had finished his spiel, I calmly said “Look – I fired her for the reasons I explained to her.  I don’t care about her physical attributes, her orientation or anything else.  I pay her to use her abilities to fill a need in the company and to stretch and grow as a person.  If she has no interest or ability to do that, she can’t work here.”

We had a testy exchange, after which I told him to go ahead and file a lawsuit against us and I would bring her performance (or lack of) data against his sensationalist, unrelated, opportunistic agenda.  I went on to tell him that I believed that he was leveraging her minority status for his own gain and that he didn’t give a s*&^ about her as a human being.

I never heard from him or his client again.

Today I saw the Department of the Interior invite the LGBTQ community on Facebook to tweet photos of themselves in US parks with the hash tag #ImOUTdoors, promoting their sexual orientation.

Department of Interior Photo

The invitation took me back to the woman who I had fired many years before, where the reason for her termination (poor performance) took a backseat to other attributes of the individual that had no bearing on the job that she attempted to perform.

And then I thought about humanity and the challenges we face globally today.

I wonder if we spent more time celebrating each human as a miracle, individually and collectively, instead of focusing on why we are so different, then we could move on to the greater things that we can and must accomplish together.  We should also focus on the things that matter within our respective mandates so that such focus produces a result commensurate with our mandate and potential.  For the Department of the Interior’s promotion, sexual orientation appears to be the prominent theme, with the beauty of nature playing a secondary role.  However, according to Wikipedia, their primary role is stated as follows:

The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) is the United States federal executive department of the U.S. government responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, territorial affairs, and insular areas of the United States.

I think this promotion strays from their mandate.  As I poked them today on Twitter, I didn’t see a similar promotion for Black History Month.  How would it read, I wonder.  Would it be viewed as a racist promotion?   Probably.

The Bottom Line

The uniqueness of humanity is truly a miracle. We must make sure that the rights of everyone are protected morally, ethically and legally.

When we strive to work together, with our uniqueness protected in these ways, then there is no limit to what we can create together.

However, when we focus instead on our individual specialness for no reason that moves us forward as a species or when we promote a specific subset of humanity as “special and unique” beyond that which is necessary to protect their rights, then we set ourselves up in little camps and fiefdoms.

And once we have done that, I think divisions and cracks appear in humanity, weakening our ability to tackle the real challenges that we face in the world together in the areas of the economy, the ecology, war, disease, hunger, poverty and other key areas. 

Many who claim to be oppressed should look at people who are really oppressed and then maybe they would find a new cause to embrace that furthers humanity.

LGBTQ or straight, white, black or any other color, Christian, Muslim, atheist or other belief, male or female and other labels we like to apply to ourselves are often used to either claim victimhood or claim superiority over others.

Neither approach, victimhood or superiority, helps us to be better as individuals or as a society.

I think we need to focus more on what we can achieve together while we make sure that our rights as individuals are protected and not be used as exclusionary promotions that promote specific people.

I also think that in our hurry and blindness to be politically correct and socially sensitive, I wonder if we realize that our haste to promote one group as “special” always slights other groups, creating an irony of reinforcing differences that we are trying to get rid of.  To that point, the more we try to highlight everybody’s uniqueness, the more uniqueness will surface demanding to be recognized and we will never catch up.

This is exacerbated by some people like the attorney I mentioned, the media, politicians or opportunists like the divisive Al Sharpton and others who use such divisionary “stuff” to serve their own needs under the guise of serving someone else’s, oftentimes using venomous, confrontational, divisive, bullying language to accomplish their alleged task of bringing people together.

As my gay cousin and friend Paul said today:

“Most of us do not care and we think those other protests are stupid. I want to tell them to shut up and go be mature. Those are only the vocal ones. They don't speak for all of us, just like no one person or group can speak for all the straight people.”

We are a miracle and the things we create are nothing short of miraculous when we apply ourselves appropriately and collaboratively, celebrating and leveraging our uniqueness and protecting the rights of others while not exploiting our uniqueness to diminish others or promote ourselves at the expense of others.

How about we celebrate and embrace that more?

What do you think?

In service and servanthood,


Addendum – The Necessity For Calm, Respectful Dialog

Some people are offended by my personal policy of always asking for respectful dialog that embraces everyone.  Those people who are offended by a call for calm, respectful, data-centric dialog often carry agendas other than or in addition to the one that they are promoting and should be examined closely before being embraced as a “voice” of any specific community.

Calm, respectful dialog often carries the day quicker, more effectively and more fairly, something that is sometimes secondary in priority for those with ulterior motives.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When Social Media Reveals Our Character … Or Our Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you're moral, saying your moral is not the same as acting morally. - Alan Dershowitz

The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy. - William Hazlitt

Back in December of 2013, a then member of the public communication team (which in the modern era means social media team) for then Premier of Alberta Alison Redford had an interesting response to a simple question from a member of the public.

The “public communications expert” tweeted this to the citizen:

"You are a truly disgusting human being #ableg"

As a member of the same political party to which this “expert” belonged, I thought this and other tweets attributed to the team he was a member of were terribly impolite and unprofessional to citizens merely asking for accountability and so I demanded from the Premier that we choose our words more carefully when addressing the public at large.

Curiously enough, I didn’t give this individual much thought after that until last week when I was making some comments (politely as I usually do) in a political forum and the same individual surfaced again with these observations directed at me:

So yes, I can speak about good government. I was given a first hand lesson by voters. One you apparently have opted not to learn. Care to address the issue or do you just want to attack the PC's?

There was the same attitude again, confrontational and insulting, to someone merely asking questions.  When I challenged the author of the statements as to why he continued to be so insulting to people on social media, he wrapped up a reply with these words.

Do you know that after the "terrible human being" tweet I cried for hours in my office and offered my resignation three times for the disgrace I caused? For the cruelty I showed towards Michael. That it was on my suggestion that I should apologize personally because I felt it was the right thing to do?

Followed later by ….

None of this belongs on Facebook Harry, I would welcome the chance to actually sit down and have a friendly conversation with you.

And with those words, I thought “Fair enough – the guy indicated he was remorseful for that foul event in the past and had sought to make amends for his error.”

I accepted his Facebook request with an eye toward fruitful dialog, after which he then chastised me again in private.

So much for remorse.  It reminded me of this poster of people who cannot rationally discuss pretty much anything.

Arrogance: The best leaders inspire by example.  When that's not an option, brute intimidation works pretty well too.

Arrogance: The best leaders inspire by example.  When that's not an option, brute intimidation works pretty well too.

I don’t dwell on such stuff and so I moved on until it was revealed this week that an executive of the PC Party made an inappropriate jab at the weight of the new Health Minister of Alberta as noted in McIver to investigate after PC executive mocks weight of Alberta Health minister (the executive has since apologized when he noted on Twitter – “I recognize I made a dumb comment. I apologize to Sarah Hoffman and all who read it for my insensitive remark. Once again, I'm sorry”).

Now I could make an observation that good people should never think such things, let alone say them, but given that none of us are perfect, I let the original mistake go since we are supposed to accept apologies and move on.

However, I was surprised by the public reappearance of the afore mentioned former member of the Premier’s communication staff who made this statement on social media in response to the PC executive’s faux pas (click on the image for a larger copy – *warning* harsh language).

mitchell 2

While much can be suggested or inferred from such a response including the need for a more positive view of himself, it is also clear that while this individual demands forgiveness for his mistakes, he is quick to judge the mistakes of others.  It is also interesting to note that when paid by the PC Party, he attacked others ruthlessly but once released from the employ of the Party, he now takes offense at others who do the same for the same Party.

Even his Twitter bio reveals some hypocrisy:

Many of us are blessed with either time or money. Please use them to help your community! :}

He falls into the classic trap of social media – the notion of feeling empowered to say something that:

  1. We wouldn’t have the courage to say to someone’s face
  2. We wouldn’t want said to us if we made a mistake
  3. May not be a reflection of who we really are (good or bad)
  4. Oftentimes is made before we have taken a moment to rationally think the statement through instead of letting anger carry the day.

It reminds me of the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant from Matthew 18:21-34:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him.  Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’  The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.

But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’, he demanded.

His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.”

The Bottom Line

The PC Executive’s disparaging remarks against the Health Minister were not professional, ethical or fair (and not very intelligent, to be honest).

However, when we see something that needs to be fixed, how we call out the person who made the error and how we choose to address the issue reveals much about our character – possibly more than the character that we choose to criticize in others.

Demanding a higher standard is not enough.

We must live it.

Do you live to a higher standard or merely demand it of others?

Are you sure?

How do you know?

In service and servanthood,



I didn’t share his Twitter or Facebook profiles because while I believe he serves as an example of what not to do in social media, I didn’t want to make this post about him personally.

When I pointed out to the individual in question about his inconsistency between how he expects forgiveness for himself but gives none to others, he blocked me on social media.  It is unfortunate when “blocking” is used as a shield to hide one’s ignorance, hypocrisy or lack of authenticity instead of recognizing that they had an opportunity to make things right as they expected it to be made right for them in the past.

It’s also a shame when people don’t realize that “blocking” doesn’t really block anything nor does it prevent their rants from becoming public.

But sometimes when we allow anger to be our guide, lucid, rational, respectful, solution-focused thinking takes a backseat to pretty much anything and oftentimes reveals our true character.

For those who are vehemently defending his current actions, perhaps they should review his past, lest they be corralled into something else moving forward. 

We are, after all,  the company that we keep … or “like” …. or “retweet”.