NO MORE BS: CHANGE! – Let me Explain

Bird of PreyAs a fourteen-year-old, I was wandering around an office supply store in Belfast, Maine, and came across a bookmark I thought had an interesting statement on it:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I thought that saying was pretty neat, and it helped me begin a process in my own life of learning how to learn and challenging change.  Over time, I began to suspect something out of place in the pattern that quote/prayer was claiming; I do not believe there are things I cannot change!  I know that if a person refuses to change, I can do nothing until that person chooses to change.  But, I remain convinced that there is nothing man has made that cannot be changed.Leadership Cartoon

As a building contractor, I learned that the same tools I am using to destruct a building are the same tools I will employ to construct a building.  An important point where change is concerned, structures can come down, structures can be built, but the human element rests upon their own decision to change or not.  However, many times the structures can influence the individual to change.

Detective 4In the US Army, I noticed something powerful; when living in a Korean War-built Quonset hut, my fellow soldiers and I had moral problems, experienced depression, and struggled.  But,  when we moved into new barracks, many of these problems ceased almost immediately.  Thus cementing a lesson, the environment plays a role in personal feelings and influences desires to change.  In the US Navy, this was more poignantly learned.  I slept in Crew Berthing Three, the rest of the engineering department slept in Crew Berthing Two, and I hated going in there.  Between the smell, the lackadaisical attitude towards maintenance, and the general disorderliness of the compartment always left me feeling depressed.  So, even though I slept in the same berthing as Deck Department, which included the Boatswains mates, the berthing spaces were neater, cleaner, and better all around.  Environment matters and influences personal desire to change or not to change.

As my injuries have worsened with age, my ability to rebuild engines, build or destruct structures, and operate heavy equipment has been reduced dramatically.  But, the lessons taught have remained, there are people I cannot change, but there is nothing that I cannot change.  My wife asks me all the time why do I write articles for a blog.  My answer is rooted in the Serenity Prayer quoted above; there is nothing I cannot influence to change.

Andragogy - LEARNToolsThere are people who I have met who will never change.  One comes readily to mind, I was homeless on the streets of Auburn, Washington, after leaving the US Army in S. Korea.  I had a job but no place to stay.  One night while wandering to keep warm, I met a homeless man who refused to change.  He was homeless by choice, not because of any drinking or drug problem, not because he was not smart enough to get a job and improve his living conditions, but because he chose to be homeless.  He said, “I am who I am, and I refuse to change just to please society.”  A very intriguing thought occurred to me then and has repeated often, am I choosing to be homeless, or am I choosing to grow?

I choose to be a lifelong learner; this commitment sprang from this conversation with this homeless man in Auburn, Washington.  I committed to several principles knowing that I could more greatly influence my environment as I changed myself.

      1. Be Curious
      2. Focus on Active Looking
      3. Review and Redraft
      4. Improve memory and recall
      5. Change your perception

Because there is nothing I cannot change, I know the power of small pebbles in a landslide.  I know the power of tiny snowflakes in an avalanche.  I understand how a small rudder can turn an enormous ship for good or ill.  Nothing man has made that man cannot unmake, remake, fix, correct, or influence change.  There are people no one will ever influence due to moral agency, individual perception, and the valuation of consequences.  But, the environment around that person can be changed, and opportunities provided to encourage a different mindset.

GearsCase in point, an engineering shipmate of mine, was kicked out of Crew Berthing Two for smelly feet, which led to smelly shoes, which upset a lot of people in Crew 2.  He was forced to come live in Crew Berthing Three.  Why did he have stinky feet, a fungus was growing on his feet, and he had never been taught how to care for his feet.  He could wash them 100 times a day, but because he did not know how to care properly for his feet, nothing would change, and his feet would stink.  When my shipmate chose to change, we taught him about foot care, he went to medical and got some fungal cream, and he purchased new shoes and socks.  Why were his feet not a problem in Crew Three; we had better, and took better care, of the ventilation system than Crew two.Courage

Those engineers in Crew Two could not understand that the environment influences behavior, and the influence of behavior led to negative consequences.  The move to Crew Three changed the environment physically and led to an eventual change in mindset for the person.  Could Crew Two have had better ventilation; absolutely, if the members living there desired it.  Since they individually decided not to have better ventilation, the consequence was a smellier and more nasty berthing space.  Environment plays a role in behavior and influences people for good or ill.  We can affect the environment, but we cannot force change upon people who refuse to change.Behavior-Change

Leading to the final thought, why do we need “wisdom to know the difference?”  I  can change the environment around me.  I can change me.  I cannot change other people, but I can change other things and influence the people after changing those things in the environment, causing problems.  Let us examine this from the viewpoint of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The administrators (people) are causing moral issues and distress in the employees.  Some of the employees like being morally repugnant. Others are ethically obtuse because of job security. Others remain true to themselves and stay in the system to help affect change.

Life ValuedHow does a person change a system built by man; start with the environment, which in this situation are the processes, procedures, and methods of conducting work.  A leader arrives and begins influencing people through how they perform their work.  Then begins the fundamental operations of training to new standards, including ethical, moral, and logical processes and procedures written down.  Then, that leader begins holding people, not written processes, accountable for their actions.  Shortly every person will be faced with a choice, change or leave.  Hence, cleaning and correction become a natural function of the environment, and change is made where many have claimed; change will never happen.

Knowledge Check!As an industrial and organizational psychologist, I know this is the path forward as I have applied these lessons in my own life.  Changing people, like destructing and constructing buildings, does not occur magically.  Plans are made, planning is carried out, and fundamental change occurs through the environment.  Use the pattern:

      1. Be Curious
      2. Focus on Active Looking
      3. Review and Redraft
      4. Improve memory and recall
      5. Change your perception

Watch what happens!  It is amazing to see and possible to change.  Nothing cannot be changed; only people choosing not to change cannot be changed.  But people are not the environment, and the environment can influence people!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Some People Change

Bird of PreyMontgomery Gentry sings one of my all-time favorite songs, “Some People Change.”  If you pay attention to the song’s lyrics, you hear about people who make a conscious decision about how they will live in the future.  Leaving me with the question, how am I doing?

As a fourteen-year-old kid, I remember standing at the bus stop, in the February cold of Morrill, Maine, shortly after my birthday, and committing to leading a life where the chains of abuse and the history of violence in my family stopped with me.  From that day to this, almost 40-years, I can say I have failed and succeeded, but I am still in the fight.

Mother Teresa is a person I look up to.  Kindness personified, even in the midst of the most desperate of human circumstances, she kept emptying the ocean one teaspoon of kindness at a time.  There are times when I hope to be as kind as Mother Teresa, and then I realize that will require a lot more work.  Mother Teresa has several quotes that I enjoy that apply to our times:

      • Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
      • Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
      • Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

Finest HourMy mother-in-law was a scrapper; born to an alcoholic and abusive father who stole her wages for the ability to drink; my mother-in-law came into this world fighting mad and swinging.  A knuckle-busting, streetfighting, hell on heels kind of gal.  I swear my mother-in-law could have scared Kitty Leroy into being an honest woman!

In her late 80s, she had a run-in with a high school football player who a grocery store employed; the player cried after getting her tongue lashing.  Their relationship improved over time.  When my mother-in-law passed from this mortal plane, she was kind, considerate, and angelic.  Her last five years or so were spent being 100% helpless from a fall where she broke a bone near her hip.  When I hear Montgomery Gentry sing their song, I thank the powers that be for having witnessed such a tremendous change in such an incredible woman.

Let me tell a story about my mother-in-law and her fighting spirit.  As a kid, my wife and about 14 of her classmates caught polio.  My wife was headed for split leg muscles, an iron lung, and a reduced lifespan.  My mother-in-law fought the doctors, did a lot of research, and through her convincing ways, 14 of those classmates, including my wife, walk today, had families, had long productive lives, and have experienced joy-filled lives post-polio.  The one classmate whose parents were convinced by medical professionals suffered greatly for her short life.Foghorn Leghorn - Medication

When I think of some people who change, President Abraham Lincoln comes readily to mind.  While he might not have made the dramatic changes my mother-in-law made, the changes he made were more fundamental and led America through some tough times.  Consider President Lincoln’s most famous executive order, “The Emancipation Proclamation.”  One of the few times in American Presidential history where I agree with the use of executive orders to make fundamental social change.  A true shame is that the Congress of the United States refuses to make this part of official law in America.  Like Mother Teresa, President Lincoln has said some things which I enjoy and motivate me.

      • Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
      • Whatever you are, be a good one.”
      • America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
      • I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me, and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”

I often quote my experiences with Miss Murphy, Principal of Governor Anderson Elementary School, SAD 34, Belfast, Maine.  I am who I am today because Miss Murphy influenced me in a primary manner that changed my life.  Two people had a tremendous impact on my life, Miss Murphy and a family friend who became my best friend.  Two people from paradoxical backgrounds chose to invest in me as a person, above and beyond the typical call of duty.  Miss Murphy had a poster in her office, it was of a forest of pine trees, with a path that wandered into the background, but the caption on this poster has stayed with me since the first time I saw it:

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

I did not know why, the first time I saw that poster, I liked it.  But, after enough years of thoughtful consideration, I understand why I love that poster.  How many times have we wanted a friend but got a follower or a person who wanted to lead; I do not know about you, but this has happened too many times.Friends Quote

To the bigots ignorant of history, please keep your yap shut!  Another person I recognize as a great leader, amazing person, and someone who personified the saying, “Some people change,” is General Robert E. Lee.  A man known to walk through his Arlington fields where Confederate and Union soldiers were laid to rest who prayed for those entombed.  The US Congress thought to punish General Robert E. Lee by seizing his fields for a National Cemetery, but in the end, the seizure was not the punishment the US Congress thought; that is the character of the man.  General Lee makes several points the world would be wiser to heed.

      • We failed, but in the good providence of God, apparent failure often proves a blessing.
      • I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.
      • Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character.
      • The education of a man is never completed until he dies.
      • Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or to keep one.

A “Liberty FIRST Culture” recognizes that truth comes when people change.  People can choose to change, and in changing their minds, change the world.  Never give up on people!

Dont Tread On MeThanks to the brave!  Some people change!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Literacy – Putting the “Art” in Literature Arts

Beauty of LiteratureMy high school experience included eight different high schools in four years.  Seven high schools on the Wasatch Front in Utah, finally graduating from Camden-Rockport High School, Camden, Maine.  During my high school career, I was unfortunate enough to be placed into several classes called “Language Arts,” “Literature Arts,” or something similar, plastic words covering the fact that I needed more English credits to graduate.  In my first “Literature Arts” experience, I was hoping to explore books, literature, and as a young bibliophile (book nerd) I was excited to study literature.

Freedom's LightShortly reality would snuff out the excitement.  Shakespeare is not the only author of note in the Renaissance period, and those other authors are easier and more fun to read.  Poems and poetry are not the same things.  Forcing high school kids to spend an entire semester on Emily Dickins and Edgar Allen Poe’s writings is sufficient to make suicidal depression seem like a jolly good time!  Not a single literature arts class covered Kipling!  Not a single class ever covered Aesop.  None of the lessons put the art in literature arts, which made the classes boring.

It has only been recently that I understood why these classes were designed this way.  I am still struggling with having my time and mental energies wasted in such a grotesque fashion.  Worse, being a young bibliophile, I had already been exposed to Emily Brontë, Hemmingway, Kipling (poems and stories), the Greek and Roman Myths, and so much more.

Love ReadingIn Junior High School, Crosby Junior High School, Belfast, Maine.  The school was ancient, used to be the high school until the district built a new high school.  Crosby Junior High was a gothic building, very imposing, but it had the coolest library.  On my first day in Junior High, I bet the librarians that before leaving, I would have checked out all the books, read them, and returned them.  I might not have gotten them all, but I explored every inch of that library, supplemented my reading from the Belfast Maine Library, and read books!  Lots and Lots of Books!

By this point, I bet most of those who will read, or glance through this post, are thinking, BORING!

Bear with me, please.

Where is the art in Literature Arts?

Reading - A JourneyBelieve it or not, you bring the art to literary arts.  Sure, authors will cast the story, set the stage, and prepare well to inspire you, but you bring the art.  For example, I can give you a paint set, a charcoal set, pencils, paper, canvas, and every other art supply available, but you have to wield the brushes, pencils, tools to create the masterpiece.  The fact that you, the student, are the art bringer to literature arts, should be the first lesson taught, but it is never mentioned.  It is sad that many people have been turned off by something that should have turned them on.  Worse, the second lesson in literature arts is the requirement for time with the materials to understand the meaning, grasp intent, and apply to a life of living.

Good TimberFor example, take the poem of Joseph Malins, “The Ambulance Down in the Valley.”  A political poem about how well-intentioned, people come together about a problem and perform an illogical action.  This poem has always left me laughing at the silliness of people in government.  Only lately have the townspeople’s hysterical treatment of the fence supporter been represented in real life, and the poem has lost some of the humor.

Three favorite childhood poems, the authors are listed with links to the poems, Ernest Lawrence Thayer, Grantland Rice, and Clarence P. McDonald, all deal with Casey’s singular topic at the bat.  A baseball series of poems that comforted me during my first horrendous year at little league baseball.  I couldn’t hit, I failed at catching, and only because my mother paid in full was I stuck playing an entire season of little league baseball.  That first awful year of baseball was nothing short of embarrassing!  The second year, I had improved, challenged, and won the position of catcher, and learned how to hit, after a ton of frozen fingers playing ball in the snows of a Maine winter.  I can honestly say, an aluminum bat in a Maine winter is no fun to grab!  But during those long hours remembering my first year of Little League, the poems about Casey at the Bat were always there, and that made all the difference.

Literary AttitudesWhen I was eleven, January, turning twelve in February, a person I admired introduced me to a poem that has defined, taught, and corrected me since that January day.  The poem “Good Timber” by Douglas Malloch.  Before this period and this poem, I never could tell the difference between a poem and poetry.  A poem changes your life; poetry paints pretty pictures.  The first poem, that first mental chord struck in life, what an experience.  How grateful I am to the man who introduced me to this poem, a potential meaning, and taught a young man how to feel.

I would bet dollars to doughnuts, for I love good apple fritters, that everyone has heard of the author Rudyard Kipling and probably have heard his poem, “If.”  When you bring the art to literary arts, this poem moves from poetry to poetic power.  As a kid, I never could understand some parts of this poem, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster – And treat those two impostors just the same.” I could not imagine triumph as an impostor, then I witnessed lottery winners, athletes, and Hollywood people, and the waste that occurs, and understood.

Why are literature arts hard?

Literay ArtsThere are three reasons.  One, literature arts is not just reading, but also writing, imagining, exploring the art inside you; but it is rarely taught in this manner.  Two, the age of the mind during literature arts is unprepared for drawing lessons from materials for application to life through reflection on experiences.  Reflection must be taught, and too often, reflection is refused as a topic in a classroom.It has taken a lot for me to find the poetic power in Kipling’s poem “Pharaoh and the Sergeant.”  In fact, I had to serve in the US Army and then enlist in the US Navy, to have sufficient life experience to understand.  As a side note, I wish England had said to France, “I must make a man of you; That will stand upon his feet and play the game; That will Maxim his oppressor as a Christian ought to do.” The world would have lost fewer people in WWI and WWII.

PenmanshipMy penmanship is deplorable, but penmanship is rarely taught anymore, considered a wasted subject, but in killing penmanship, the art in literature arts dies just a little more.  But what is penmanship, really?  Some will erroneously claim, penmanship is writing cursive.  Detestable ignorant blaggards!  Penmanship is the science of writing the symbols of language neatly, precisely, cleanly, and writing in a manner that is interesting to read.  As a K-12 student, penmanship meant cursive, and cursive meant I was going to suck!  Why isn’t penmanship a daily practical lesson for K-12 students?  Mainly because of the third and final reason literature arts is being murdered.  Three, reducing literacy through abusing literature arts was a design characteristic in K-12 Education since the 1860s and John Dewey; for he looked upon literate people and loathed them, and children have struggled ever since.

Literary FiendWe, the inheritors of intentionally designed poor education, must wake up, put on the work boots, and go to work learning literacy and literary arts. We are then responsible for teaching these lessons to our children so freedom and liberty can flourish and prosper again in America.  Literacy and literature arts is a fight we cannot afford to lose!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the photos displayed.

America – Let’s Elect a Few More Bastards

Non est vivere sed valere in vobis …. merentur melius quam tu tibi semper sit.

Finest HourPersonally, I am tired of soft speakers who speak platitudes and inwardly are ravening wolves.  Pres. Obama spoke softly, carried no sticks, drew red lines without consequences, and America is far worse for having had him as a president.  President Clinton also spoke well; but, severely lacked morals, courage, a sense of honor, and America suffered.  Both President’s Bush spoke well but lacked intestinal fortitude, grit, backbone, and ultimately were bad presidents for America.  President Reagan had grit, spoke eloquently, was respected, and was a bastard whose enemies honored him and feared him.  President Trump for all his good qualities is plain and abrupt.  But, inwardly he has a spine of iron, and demands accountability first from himself, and then from those around him.  Recently, I heard President Trump referred to as a “Bastard of a Bully!”  I think we need to elect a few more bastards.  People with grit in their teeth, iron in their spines, tongues that can lash and whip, and hands with calluses from doing actual work.

Anthony Liccione is quoted as saying, “A company of wolves, is better than a company of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”  For too long America has been electing legions of wolves in sheep’s clothing.  People who can utter pleasing words, but lack a spine, morals, convictions, and calluses from doing hard work.  We have elected the political poison we currently suffer because they make a good speech.  I remember an election, in fact, it is the only time I ever voted for Senator John McCain.  His opponent was lackluster, the race was a non-presidential year, and I had heard a couple of speeches and thought Senator McCain was worthy of my vote.  Not two days after McCain’s victory, I witnessed how spineless and useless McCain truly was and my eyes opened.  McCain was a traitor to America, and unfortunately, he had excellent company in the long-term emplaced members of Congress on both sides of the political aisle.  I am glad to say, I never made the mistake of voting for McCain ever again.

Grit is a MarathonAs an independent thinker, armchair historian, and a morally upright citizen, I have been doing more work every election to scrape the shield of whipping cream off the crap sundae the electorate is handed, and know who is being offered for election.  The more I scrape, the more worthless those running for office appear.  Terry Pratchet is quoted as saying, “He was the sort of person who stood on mountaintops during thunderstorms in wet copper armour shouting ‘All the Gods are bastards.’”  That is the type of person America needs in political office.  Not the namby-pamby, wishy-washy, flim-flam artists, but people who insist that the government needs to be smaller, thus consequentially more flexible in crisis.  We need people who have suffered under the rule of bureaucrats and beat the hell out of them to achieve, despite the bureaucracy.  We need more grit!

Grit - DefinedWhat is “Grit” you might ask; well, since America has not seen a lot of grit, please allow me the opportunity to describe this precious commodity. Grit is a positive, cognitive trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a specific long-term goal or end state.  At least, that is what the academics call grit.  Of all the people America remembers who have had a positive and long-lasting influence upon American culture, John Wayne is near the top, and if anyone embodied grit, it was John Wayne who is quoted thusly, “True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done.  No moral man can have peace of mind if he leaves undone what he knows they should have done.”  In understanding grit, I have oft called upon T. S. Eliot, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

As a child, I once watched the Boston Marathon, it was as interesting to me as watching a dandelion grow, only the finish line really mattered.  As an adult, I saw nonedited pictures of runners during a marathon and understood that which I could not see as a child.  I saw men and women who had bowel movements, torn large pieces of skin away and were bleeding copiously, or thrown up on themselves and still kept running, and I came to understand why grit involves the mindset of living life as a marathon and not a sprint.  Marathon runners are not pretty at the finish line, they know about heartache, failure, blisters, torn muscles, dog bites, shoes failing, weather changes, and so much more.  The marathon is effort incarnate, planning that fails, sorrow, misery, and a finish line.  A marathon is grit embodied, sticking to a plan day in and day out, not for a small period of time days/weeks/months, but months/years/decades, because the goal is worth the effort.

On the Maine coastline, just south of Belfast, is a marina called Bayside.  As a child, I spent time delivering the Bangor Daily News to Bayside homes and got the honor to meet and talk to several of the lobstermen who came and went through Bayside’s docks.  I never expected to see professional lobstermen and fishermen in Bayside.  I was told Bayside was where the rich Boston people had summer homes and playboats.  One very senior lobsterman taught me a lesson one day about grit that I never forgot, “Without grit, pearls are impossible.”  He talked about how small amounts of grit wore down large rocks, that lobsters used grit to clean, and how grit polished.  My grandfather a few summers later taught me how to polish steel until it shined using grit.  I look at President Trump, and for all his faults, I can also see how grit has polished him until he shines.  Maybe a little more grit, that comes with 4-more years as President, can soften more of his abrasive character; but, when I see the growth that the first 4-years has brought, I cheer for President Trump!

PatriotismAmerica, I think it is time we learned a valuable lesson where the selection of politicians is concerned, “Be a good enough person to forgive the losers elected in the past, and smart enough to never trust them again with political office.”  America has lived the words of Soren Kierkegaard, “There are two ways to be fooled.  One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to accept what is true.”  It is true, at all levels of government, poor choices have been made, rotten and unintelligent boobs have been placed in power above their ability.  In the military, we called this “being promoted to a person’s maximum level of incompetence.”  Well, this is an election year, and we will have another next year and the year after.  We have been cheated and abused by the smooth-talkers long enough.  Let us elect some true bastards!

Let us elect people who buck the system, who take the bureaucrats on and win.  Let us elect some people who have grit, backbone, and knowledge from experience, not just a degree from a wealthy school and experience as a lobbyist.  We need police officers who know about laws, we need farmers who know about growing things, ranchers, and dairymen who know about long days and short pay because of taxes and dumb decisions made in capitals that kill their businesses.  We need manufacturers who make things, and we need people who do not want to live their lives in the capitals of America feeding off the work of others as a parasite, but who work while elected and long to return to doing what they love.

The Duty of AmericansGeneral George Patton was a bastard; but, he is remembered for being the biggest bastard of them all in WWII, and when the chips were down, he won by being the biggest, grittiest, most hated bastard America had ever sent to war.  I suggest ripping a few pages from General George Patton and Ayn Rand’s book, and electing people who have trod the gristmills of life with bloody feet and callused hands, who live the following: “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me!”

America, you are the superheroes in your own story, rise!

Thomas Watson said the following about friends, but it applies to politicians desiring to lead just as well, “Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with.  Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up!”  Politicians should be forcing us to leverage ourselves up, to rely upon ourselves, not the government, and the politicians America needs, know that government is a necessary evil and nothing else!

Lever Up

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

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Plasticization of Words and the American Political Left – Shifting the Paradigm

Non Sequitur - Plasticity of LanguageI love words; I was taught from a young age three invaluable lessons:

  1. Speak the King’s English with exactness.
  2. Correctly pronounce and enunciate your words.
  3. If you do not know what a word means, and misuse it, you are wrong and must correct your mistake immediately.

Growing up, these rules were inviolable.  You could use any word you knew the definition of; but, you had better pronounce that word, enunciate, and be able to defend yourself when asked.  Since 1990, I have become detested with two things the American Political Left has chosen to do that is atrocious and worthy of the vilest condemnation, racism, and the plasticization of words.

As a student of history, the American Political Left has, from the inception of political parties, been telling lies to hide political skullduggery and shenanigans, to obfuscate issues, and derail issues.  The plasticization of words has shamed many a person, has cast doubts that have ruined elections, and been exercised tirelessly to tear America apart.

Pentagon BureaucracyConsider a term oft used to describe the political left, “Social-Justice Warriors.”  Long have I asked my political left-leaning colleagues what this term means, how it applies, and the veracity of the term as a description of societal action.  Breaking down the term, we find three definitions taken from Dictionary.com:

Social: Adjective – relating to society and its organization; Noun – informal social gathering

Justice: Noun – just behavior or treatment; administration of law or authority

Warrior: Noun – an experienced soldier or fighter

Social Justice WarriorThus, to extrapolate meaning from the definitions, one would conclude a social justice warrior is “a person in society, looking for the social administration of law, who has experience fighting for the proper administration of law.”  Yet, the definition from the dictionary for this term is 180-degrees different and is termed derogatory, “a person who expresses or promotes socially progressive views.”  Those rioting and looting in the streets got there because a social justice warrior enraged the community on an issue that is racist, one-sided, and emotionally driven.  Lest it is forgotten, the term being applied to the people driven by emotion to launch protests that become mob violence is derogatory in nature, critically disrespectful of the person calling themselves a social justice warrior.  But, the social justice warrior carries this title as if it were a compliment and a badge of the highest esteem.

Thus, language is plasticized to confuse, interfere, and claim moral superiority, while at the same time damaging the basic fiber of America, destroying small businesses, and ruining commerce.  In reviewing the historical records of riots in America, the term social justice warrior appears to have cropped up as a neutral or possibly positive term in the 1990s, but by 2011 the term had gained its derogatory connotations with the rise of social media.  Many victims of social justice warriors claim they have been “thought policed,” “word policed,” attacked for not being appropriately centered on progressive politics.  The social justice warrior is often extremely biased, self-aggrandizing, sanctimonious, but first, last, and always puerilely unreasonable!

Social Just Warriors 5A recent attack by a social justice warrior regarded the inability of poor black people to have government-issued photo ID, and that without that photo ID, the poor black person would be disenfranchised in exercising voting rights.  My response was that holding any person down by race was racist, and the social just warrior preceded to become unhinged.  Let us be clear, anytime a person’s race is the sole reason that person, or group of people, cannot take part in something, is racism, and the person espousing that opinionated garbage is racist.

In fourth grade, shortly after the Christmas Break, Governor Anderson Elementary School, Belfast Maine.  The teacher is Mrs. Ohlund, I am repeating fourth grade because I was accused of being socially unprepared for fifth grade.  I express doubts about Martin Luther King and a negative opinion regarding “Black History Month.”  Then I am falsely accused, for the first of many times, of being racist.  I lost three recesses, had to write a paper by way of apology, and was forced to spend the rest of “Black History Month” not participating in the events planned and scheduled.

Social Justice Warriors 4From that day to this, I have been attacked for not seeing race, not being sensitive to the race of others, and refusing to allow a person’s race to be an excuse for poor performance, bad language, and infantile public and private behavior.  I remain unapologetic; I am not a racist!  I hold myself to the highest standards publicly and privately as my first obligation to society.  Without regard to race, color, creed, etc. I hold others to the same standards.  I am willing to teach and remain willing to learn as my second obligation to society.

Senior Chief Cloud (DCCS) gave me a tongue lashing in the US Navy because I could not understand the verbal interlocution of a second-class petty officer.  The second-class petty officer used “Ebonics,” while on duty as a form of speech, and I had no idea what he was saying.  Off-duty, this same second-class petty officer spoke differently and I was able to understand him, just fine.  I was accused of being racist, disrespectful, and obstinate for not understanding the intentional speech patterns of a higher-ranking person.

Social Justice Warrior 2I quickly learned that if any other race of person employed “Ebonics” they were told to speak properly, but there was a pass for black people.  When I pointed out this was racism, I was sent up on charges for being disrespectful to see the Commanding Officer.  In the US Army, I was the only white person in my squad in S. Korea.  I was never invited to squad parties, social get-togethers, or allowed into training.  I asked why I was being excluded and was told it was because the squad leader did not understand white people.  The command structure supported the exclusion, and I was left without support as a new soldier in the US Army.

When white people treat black people in a manner that segregates, separates, or allows lower standards based upon race, this is considered racism, and rightly so.  Yet, when black people reflect the exact same behaviors, the socially progressive elements in America rush to defend this behavior, and it is still racism.  The term racism sees no colors, understands no race, and cannot distinguish between people.  The term racism has been plasticized and forced into seeing colors and races, but only when directed in one direction towards black people; and, this is wrong!

In S. Korea, I met some of the most amazing people, gifted, talented, intellectually brilliant.  In S. Korea, I never felt I was a foreigner; the people accepted my small gestures to learn the language and were very kind.  Yet, in South Chicago, South Detroit, Bakersfield, Palisades, and other traditionally black neighborhoods, I am a foreigner, and the people not only treated me like scum on their blocks but insisted I did not belong.  How is it, I can feel more welcome in a foreign country, than on American soil, simply because of my race; this is racism!  The same is true when I visited Bahrain, and the Rock of Gibraltar, highly integrated societies, where I was the foreigner but was never treated as a foreigner or an outsider.  But, travel to Jersey City, Burlington, or Baychester and I was told to wear armor because I was going to be shot.  As a point of interest, Bruce Willis has this same problem in the movie Die Hard 3, and Hollywood treated that overt racism as a movie plot; this is wrong!

Social Justice Warrior 3In the name of racial equality, America has been taught since the early 1980s that words create problems, and some words cannot be used by “white people.”  This behavior is inherently racist and spreads the problems of race, not improving racial relationships.  During President Obama’s reign, America learned that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are racist.  Fluffernutter sandwiches are racist.  But, this is not so, they are sandwiches, food, and delicious.  Yet, through plasticization and a social justice warrior, suddenly, a staple of millions of people is now “off-limits” and cannot be consumed.  My local sandwich shop had to stop selling a peanut butter honey spread on bagels as a sandwich option because the owners feared being picketed.

It is time for Americans to stand together against the tyranny of plastic words.  Terms see no race, color, creed, and can do nothing but form expressions in communicating ideas.  People see colors, race, creeds, handicaps, and more, words do not.  The plastic words employed by the political left need to be called out every single time a new term arises, and the following are some suggestions for reducing plastic words.

  1. Get to know words and their definitions. It is okay to look up new words and use them in daily vocabulary.  It is okay to have a vocabulary to fall upon to describe, detail, and inform your communication.
  2. When in doubt, ask for clear definitions for terms. If this is the second or more instance, compare definitions from previous explanations, and every time the definitions do not match the intent, call that person out.
  3. Insist upon pronunciation and proper annunciation of words. The English language is beautiful when properly used, and the proper usage of language improves the world.  Be the speaker that makes flowers bloom in another person’s mind through language.
  4. Swearing, cursing, and vile imprecations do nothing but degrade the speaker and lower the speaker’s intelligence. Insist that speakers improve their language usage before speaking as a sign of respect.  I show my respect to you by guarding my tongue, you show your appreciation and respect to me by guarding your tongue, and communication advances both of us.
  5. Plastic words are a social disease and a tool of weak and untested minds. Remember, emotional outbursts are not tolerated by parents from children, and are even less tolerated by adults towards other adults.  Teenagers should be able to get away with back-talking and emotional hyperbole, why do we allow these same outbursts from adults?

Words DefinedImproving communication is all about knowing and using language succinctly and precisely, and then supporting proper social behaviors through courage and tenacity.  There is no reason the grocery store, the restaurant, and other social and community gatherings should be an atmosphere of foul deprecations, excuses for small minds to emotionally lose control, or for adults to imitate the worst childish behaviors.  Standards promote freedom, and the US Republic is all about personal freedom through responsibility and accountability for one’s self.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

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Honest Praise – Catch Your People Doing Good!

My professional library has many books, from many authorities, regarding how to lead, leading in change, crisis leadership, and more.  Except that none of these books ever discusses the most critical tool in a leader’s toolbox, issuing honest, timely, and relevant praise.

I am one of those people who had to repeat a grade in school, and I am glad I did, for it provided an opportunity to meet Miss Murphy in the Governor Anderson Elementary School, Belfast, Maine.  Miss Murphy has a smiling face, but you know there is a stick hiding nearby if needed.  Miss Murphy laughed and smiled, and was the first principal I had witnessed behaving in this manner.  Miss Murphy had laser eyes that sparkled with mirth and could freeze rushing water.  Miss Murphy was a nun who went into the world to make the world better, especially for children.

As an energetic person, a person with problems with authority, and a guy, I spent an inordinate amount of time in the principal’s office in school.  Please note, I am not bragging here, just recognizing an “uncomfortable truth.”  Miss Murphy related a story to me, from her childhood, about how she had been called to be a student crossing guard, where she exercised her authority a little too much, and some kids cried, parents called the school, and complaints were issued.  Her school principal called her into his office, she could clearly see on his desk the complaint forms, but her principal spent more than 10-minutes praising her leadership ability, her genuine care for smaller kids, and other observations where her good personality had been witnessed.  Miss Murphy claimed she left his office forever changed.

The day Miss Murphy related this story to me, she praised me.  I knew that she knew, I had heckled a teacher mercilessly in an unwarranted manner.  I knew that she knew, I had committed several other offenses needing her judgment and punishment.  Yet, she provided honest praise, where she had observed quietly, and she concluded this visit to her office with the words, “From these observations, I know there is good inside you.”  I can honestly say, this was the worst chewing out I ever had in a school principal’s office.  I left her office that day, feeling small and insignificant like never before, but also feeling like a million bucks and dedicated to being caught more often doing good.  More to the point, I had discovered what a leader is and made a friend that I wanted, desired, and hoped I could receive more praise from.

To the leaders in business, I would make the plea, “Catch your people doing good.”  Catch them regularly, praise them honestly, issue the praise promptly, and you will shortly see new behaviors, attitudes, and cultures in your workplace.  I have published this plea previously and been asked some questions, below are the questions and some examples to get started.

  1. Isn’t all praise honest?
    • No, all praise is not honest. A pernicious lie has been passed around that criticism can be constructive; this fallacy needs squashed forever and cast upon the bad ideas from history.  You cannot build people by criticizing them.  There is never anything “constructive” in criticism!
    • Honest praise is precisely that, honest and sincere. You mean what you say, and say what you mean.  Hence, when you feel thank you is insufficient, leave a note in a distinctive color praising the efforts observed.
    • For example, I witnessed a leader who used praise to help ease the pain of failure. A subordinate had worked hard to make a satisfy a customer and fix a problem caused by the company.  The customer refused the apology and swore revenge, making the efforts of this customer agent useless.  The leader recognized the efforts and issued praise for trying, for being a generally successful customer advocate, and for going above and beyond.  The customer agent never realized someone beyond their team leader had observed their efforts, and the employee broke down in tears of gratitude for the honest praise issued.  I personally witnessed renewed dedication from this employee, and the impetus for change was the note of praise.
  2. Timely praise; why does praise need to be timely?
    • Timely praise is all about recognizing and issuing praise while the events are still fresh, and when the praise issued has a real chance at affecting an individual’s future efforts. Timely is all about being engaged in that exact moment and stopping to recognize, through praise, the efforts, trials, and experiences of others.
    • I worked at a company for three years, in what became my last quarter, I was issued praise for actions taken during my first month on the job. Honestly, that praise was useless to me, and while I didn’t fully spurn the efforts at recognition, I certainly was not swayed, inspired, or even influenced by the praise issued.  However, other incidents where praise was issued timelier has been more influential; thus, the need for timely praise.
    • The employee mentioned above, the effort expended occupied time Monday through the disastrous conclusion on Thursday. The employee came in to find praise and recognition on Friday Morning.  Timely, honest appreciation, proved to be what was needed and changed a life.
  3. Why should praise be offered regularly?
    • Let’s be honest, issuing praise adds work to your day. You have to make observations, then you have to issue praise, and this is a generally thankless effort; especially when you have to “Wash, Rinse, and Repeat” countless times to visualize a return on your time and effort investment.  I guarantee this effort will not last, no changes will be realized, and this attitude will be observed to cause more problems, not less.
    • Let’s be honest, issuing praise is fun. Witnessing a person who has been caught doing good provides excitement to replicate.  Catching a person doing good provides me a pleasure valve release from the stress of meetings, monthly and quarterly reports, and the hassles of leading an organization.  Issuing praise allows me to get out of my office, make human contact, and enjoy the people side of my job.  I guarantee this effort will last, that deep life-altering impact will be felt by those working for this leader, and employee problems will reduce to the lowest common denominator.
    • Regular praise issuance means you are fully committed to giving praise, and this effort will be reciprocated in a manner unexpected. Like the contagious smile, issuing honest, timely, regular praise, will catch fire and the contagion will spread and permeate throughout the office like wildfire.  Your customers will even catch the disease of issuing praise.
  4. Isn’t issuing praise just “puffery” or building snowflakes?
    • No! A thousand times; NO!  Honest praise, timely issued, and regularly provided is not “puffery,” but a direct extension of how you feel towards another person.  A child brings their mother a dandelion.  Does the mother squash the flower as just messy, or takes the flower and doesn’t issue thanks to the child; no.  Why should workplace praise and gratitude be any different than the child and their mother?
    • Issuing praise and showing gratitude is treating others how you prefer to be treated. Do you like seeing your efforts recognized; then recognize others.  Do you like being provided expressions of gratitude; then pass out gratitude.  People take cues from their leaders’ actions more than their words; issuing praise and recognition is an action with monumental power.
    • Myron Tribus asked a question about the purpose of a business essentially asking, “Is the purpose of your business to be a cash spigot or to improve the world?” If cash spigot, you would never issue praise or gratitude, and the money is the only focus.  In this scenario, expect high employee churn, higher employee stress, and poor employee morale.  If the purpose is to build the world, why not start by building the internal customer?  Do you issue thank you’s to your customers; why not issue gratitude first to your internal customer, the employee?
  5. Do adults, and working professionals really need all this praise?
    • Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Yes; working professionals do need to be praised.  However, because they are adults, false praise, criticism couched as praise, and fake praise is easily detected, and the resulting consequences are terrible to witness.
    • While serving in the US Navy, I experienced a Chief Engineering Officer who faked praise, criticized through praise thinking he was constructive, and his efforts turned the Engineering Department’s morale from high to depressing in less than seven days. The Engineering Department went from winning awards and recognition to absolute failure in inspections, drills, and daily activities in less than two-weeks.  The recovery of the Engineering Department’s morale never occurred in the remaining two-years I had in my US Navy contract and featured a big reason why I left the US Navy.
    • Thus, to reiterate; YES! Yes, adults need honest, timely, and regular praise.  Yes, praise is a tool that can be wielded to effect significant positive change or can be wielded to decimate and destroy.  Choose wisely!

 

© 2019 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain, this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.