Leadership Series:  Juran’s Rule and the Call Center

We have a problem, speaking plainly and simply; this problem is that a truth has been bent to escape responsibility.  Tribus (n.d.) was plain and stated:

WARNING: In presenting the reasons for change, the leader should accept the responsibility for whatever is wrong.  Remember Juran’s rule:
WHENEVER THERE IS A PROBLEM 85% OF THE TIME, IT IS IN THE SYSTEM, ONLY 15% OF THE TIME WILL IT BE THE WORKER [emphasis in original].”

Please allow me to note that I have regularly advocated that Juran underestimated and personally have found that 90-95% of the time, the problem is the process, not the workers.  This is my opinion, and I am not here to convince you but merely to help clarify Juran’s rule and provide some clarity on the writings of Tribus (n.d.) as well as build foundational understanding.

The Situation

A client company has a problem where managers are not holding their people to productivity standards.  Deep diving into the situation, we find several fundamental issues, in no particular order:

    • Human Resources tells operations what production goals can be.
    • No production goal can be set where 75% of the workers cannot easily meet the goals set.
    • Goals cannot be changed without HR approval, a lengthy research process, and a legal team review.
    • No productivity goal is published. Feeder metrics, KPIs, and so forth are not communicated or standardized.
    • No standard work crosses from one geographic location to another.
    • Facility leaders might receive training in other facilities, but the training is broken and disjointed, and the regional managers charged with holding leaders to a standard lack standards and feeder metrics to hold facility leadership accountable across regional areas.
    • Currently, no region or facility is meeting any goal regularly or uses a process that can be replicated.

Interestingly, this situation has existed for more than 15 years, and none in higher management remember a time when this situation was different.  But, every manager will quote a version of Juran’s rule to explain why they are hunting for operational processes to review and change.

Conflict vs. Contention

At its most fundamental level, conflict is about helping spur growth and development and bringing about change in an organized and logical manner.  However, I cannot stress this enough; conflict is NOT contention.  Conflict is not born of pride and a desire to feel better about yourself through violence.  Conflict can be observed in a disagreement or difference in opinion, but conflict does not include emotional hyperbole (pride).  Conflict should be about mental disturbances spurred by people seeking greater ideas and ideals, personal growth, or team development.  Does conflict lead to contention?  Yes, but only because pride entered into the disagreement, emotions were injected, and desires to be right at any cost dictated, it is time for violence.

Let me be perfectly frank, contention and conflict are not the same.  While the terms are close, they are distinct and tell different sides of the same story.  First, contention is an act of striving or an assertion.  Contention is a violent effort to obtain or protect something vehemently!  There is effort, struggle, and exertion in contention; there are violent efforts, and the core of contention is pride.  Pride breeds animosity, animosity breeds struggle, and struggle is contention, where pride demands that violence is acceptable to achieve the desired end goal.  When contending, “The ends justify the means.”

Contention is animosity personified into action, effort, and desires become evident as contention unfolds.  We cannot forget these facts about contention.  Consider the following; I went to work in a hostile atmosphere; due to a contract signed, I could not quit and find a new job, and reassignment was not going to happen.  Jealousy and pride entered because I was very good at my job, and violence followed like the sun rising after a moonless night.  Contention was born and festered, violence was perpetrated against me, and the violence was acceptable to the organizational leaders as it gave them feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.

The violence was justified because I was “too good” at my job, made “decisions above my paygrade,” and “I needed to be taught humility.”  The result was four disastrous years of struggle, incredible stress levels, and mental torture, with physical acts of violence thrown in to spice up the environment.  I am not bemoaning my fate nor holding myself up as an example of anything, merely hoping to convey that contention stunted organizational growth in everyone unlucky enough to experience this organization during this period.  Contention is pride expressed through violence and justified to fit the individual’s desires.

Conflict is a tool; like all tools, it can build, enhance, strengthen, and create when used appropriately.  If the tool is improperly used, destruction, damage, and chaos are spawned.  Conflict happens; what a person chooses to do with that conflict and how that person considers conflicting occurrences is how the labels “good,” “bad,” “valuable,” “beneficial,” etc., are applied.  McShane and Von Gilnow (2004, p. 390) postulated, “conflict as beneficial [when] intergroup conflict improves team dynamics, increase cohesiveness, and task orientation.  [C]onditions of moderate conflict, motivates team members to work more efficiently toward goals increasing productivity.”  The sentiment regarding conflict as a tool and beneficial is echoed throughout the research of Jehn (1995).  Jehn (1995) reflected that the groups researched labeled the conflict as beneficial, good, bad, etc.  Based on the group’s dynamics and the conflicts faced and settled, the groups formed an integrated model for organizational conflict.  Essentially, how the conflict is approached and used by the team members individually and collectively dictates how beneficial the conflict is for the team and the organization.

Rao (2017) built upon previous researchers’ shoulders, perceiving conflict being a tool, and provided vital strategies for leaders to employ conflict.  Rao (2017) provided that conflict builds character, whereas crisis defines character” [p. 93].  Rao (2017) recognized that conflict labels are an individual choice.  In organizational conflict, one team could label the conflict as valuable and beneficial, while another department could label that same conflict as damaging and horrible.  When the conflict in an organization has disparate labels, understanding why conflict is disparately evaluated remains more important than changing the label.  Important to note, conflict is not competition, although occasionally used synonymously, there are important and distinct differences, important enough for a different article.

Thompson (2008) raised significant points regarding conflict, beginning with a real-life example of how conflict spurred organizational change and growth for the H. J. Heinz Co.  Thompson (2008) calls those who actively work to avoid conflict as those taking “trips to Abilene;” included in those making trips to Abilene are those who take conflict personally and choose to become offended, as well as those who choose not to see conflict as a method of ignoring conflict.  Thomas (1992) again captured how individual choices about the valuation of conflict open or close the door to the productive use of conflict.  Ignoring conflict, avoiding conflict, and other strategies of not facing conflict form the most dangerous people to be around, for when conflict grows beyond a point where it can no longer be ignored or avoided, that conflict that can destroy people, places, and things.

Thomas (1992) echoes Jehn (1995), Lencioni (2002), and Thompson (2008) in declaring the distinction between conflict as a process and the structure in which the conflict process occurred is critical to how beneficial the conflict will be for the team, business, or society.  Consider, for a moment the structure of the organizational environment.  Conflict is the mental thinking, adherence to operating procedures, and individuals working who become the instigating factor, which threatens what is known or done at the current time.  Hence, Thomas (1992) provided a keen insight into conflict as a tool, purposeful initiation of a process (conflict) to improve a structure (organizational environment).

When people recognize the power of conflict and purposefully employ conflict, everyone receives the potential to improve through conflict (Lencioni, 2002).  Thus, conflict continues to be a tool, nothing more and nothing less.  The disparities between organizational conflict labels are critical to understanding the chasm between teams evaluating conflict as the process and business structure.  The gap in understanding conflict’s results can create inhibitions to future organizational conflict and create unnecessary additional conflict processes, all while undermining the organizational structure.

Tribus – Changing the Corporate Culture

Juran’s rule is prescient but based on several foundational situations underpinning their understanding; the following applies regardless of whether the organization is building a learning society or merely keeping the money tap flowing.

    1. Operations, and by extension, operational goals, productivity standards, and processes for producing a product or service, are the sole domain of operations personnel. Does this preclude Human Resources from having a seat at the operations table; NO!  Having HR dictate operational goals to operations is akin to having a bullet tell a shooter how to aim.
    2. Training is a process. Training requires standards to judge performance as a means to declare training exceeded.  However, the quality of training, and the proof of trained personnel, is not an HR function, nor is the trainer the sole person involved in judging the efficacy of producing trained personnel.
    3. Organizational hierarchies are a process, the business culture is a process, learning is not training, and both learning and training are processes but have two different controlling entities; accountability and responsibility are a cultural extension of the process of organizing people into a functioning business organization.

Consider the fibers of an interwoven rope.  Each fiber is twisted with other fibers, then these twists of fibers are turned into more twists, repeated until eventually building a finished rope.  The same goes for these preceding foundational aspects.  Operational principles make, like many fibers twist, into a rope that can secure a multiple hundred-ton ship to a pier.  How the ropes are used is an operational process, but the core of the ropes are these essential aspects.Cut Rope with Rope - The Prepared Page

Some have argued, to their demise, that too many companies with this mindset are suffering from silo-mentality; when the obverse is true.  Each department of a functioning business organization relies upon processes similar to these foundational fibers.  Operations managers should not go into another business unit and expect to use the same tools from successful operations in those different business units.

For example, while I have been a successful operations manager, the tools I use in leading software teams are decidedly not the same tools I would employ on a production floor, even though both business units are expected to produce a product.  The people are different, their approaches to problems are different, and the environments conducive to product delivery are dynamically opposed.  Similarly, the tools HR would use to solve production issues are not opposed but definitely not employed similarly to those used in troubleshooting a problem in legal or accounting.

Juran understood these foundational situations, Tribus understood these foundational situations, and the best corporate leaders understand these foundational situations.  However, Tribus made clear something dynamic, leadership is not management, and management never achieves anything.  The dichotomies between leadership and management could not be more explicit in today’s business operations.Leadership versus Management - Entrepreneur Caribbean

Tribus (n.d.) calls upon the words of Homer Sarasohn, stating [emphasis in original]:

“THE LEADER MUST, HIMSELF, BE AN EXAMPLE OF THE CHARACTERISTICS HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN HIS FOLLOWERS.”

“Managers must practice what they preach.”

“DON’T SAY, “FOLLOW ME; I’M BEHIND YOU ALL THE WAY”
(IT MAKES EVERYONE GO IN CIRCLES).”

Application

What do we find in my client; managers who first do not know the work their operational employees do.  Managers who are disconnected by good jobs to the point they never engage in the better and best jobs their positions of trust demand.  The managers are not led but are managed and never were trained for their current positions.  These three items are why the client company is a dumpster fire of potential (blue money), where the bottom line evaporates, and nobody can explain why.  However, like in the Shakespearian play, “Much Ado About Nothing,” a lot of noise is made but goes nowhere fast!

Unfortunately, the much ado about nothing is worsened, not improved, by Kaizen, Six Sigma, Agile, and Lean efforts at process improvement.  The core problems are considered “untouchable,” “too dynamic,” or “too extensive” ever to be improved upon, and the new manager settles to change an operational process instead of core problems.  Essentially proclaiming, “Follow me, I’m behind you all the way,” the operational employees keep circling the drain.

What is the solution?

Solution generation for my client company begins with understanding the compelling evidence there is a problem.  Right now, the client thinks, “We are big enough to absorb these insignificant issues in the name of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”  This is where every business begins its failure; no business can long survive dumpster fires of potential (blue money).  People leave, and this has a high replacement cost.  People work slowly or below their potential, which is a tremendous cost in green (cash) money and potential (blue money).  Operational costs increase, increasing customer costs and the loss of customers is a dynamic cost to the business.Estimating Startup Costs

After admitting a problem, the next step is envisioning an end state.  Since I began to lead men and women, I have advocated a lesson I learned as a teenager, “Never take your body where your brain has not already traveled.”  If you cannot envision the result, do not start trying to make changes until you have envisioned an end state.  I sliced my fingers badly with a knife while cutting onions.  Why did I slice my fingers and not the onion?  I did not understand the end state and assumed I could start cutting and reach an acceptable end state (diced onion).  I should never have started cutting; between the loss of the onion and the damage to my fingers, the lesson was not “Never cut onions again,” but “never begin something without a clear end state (goal) in mind.”

The third preparatory step to building a solution is START!  The client has this problem of always wanting clear instructions, plans, and supplies on hand before beginning.  The speed of business requires action, not plans and instructions.  Take the first logical step and begin!  Tribus (n.d.) makes this clear with the assurance, “There is a sensible first step,” take that step!  I will reiterate a point Tribus (n.d.) makes, employees work IN a system of processes, and the manager should work ON the system of processes, with the employee’s help.  A manager should be analogous to a mentor, who, like a leader, after understanding the vision, looks sideways and builds people to meet their level before taking that next logical step into the darkness.

Conclusion

The simple truth is that Juran’s rule has been used as an excuse to dodge responsibility in too many operations, businesses, and organizations.  Like my client, the good news is that change is possible with the people you have right now.  My client is not a bad company; your company is not inherently bad.  People are intrinsically good, and when we better understand the fibers that help tie Juran’s rule to reality, we can employ reframing to shut down the noise and move from much ado about nothing to effective management and leadership.  How do we reframe:

    1. Establish legitimacy and shift from passive to active.
    2. Bring outsiders into the discussion, but do not shift responsibility for developing the solution or owning the goals.
    3. Get the stakeholder’s definitions in writing – Common words, AREN’T. Common understanding; is a goal to strive towards.
    4. Ask what is missing
    5. Consider multiple categories, seek out those subject matter experts, and add them to the discussion as equals
    6. Analyze positive and negative data equally without bias
    7. Question the objectives, focus on the future and keep moving forward.

As we, the leaders of call centers, strive to change our understanding, realize our roles, and build people, we will build people, not processes, to meet the future.  The first step is committing to the decision framed in the question, “Is your company a money tap or a service to the greater good of society?”

References:

The references are included if you want to further research conflict as beneficial.

Amason, A. C. (1996).  Distinguishing the effects of functional and dysfunctional conflict on strategic decision making: Resolving a paradox for top management teams.  Academy of Management Journal, 39(1), 123-148.  doi:http://dx.doi.org.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/10.2307/256633

Baron, R. A. (1991).  Positive Effects of Conflict: A Cognitive Perspective.  Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal, 4(1), 25-36.

Brazzel, M. (2003).  Chapter XIII: Diversity conflict and diversity conflict management.  In D. L. Plummer (Ed.), Handbook of diversity management: Beyond awareness to competency based learning (pp. 363-406).  Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc.

Du, F., Erkens, D. H., & Xu, K. (2018).  How trust in subordinates affects service quality: Evidence from a large property management firm.  Business.Illinois.edu. Retrieved from https://business.illinois.edu/accountancy/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2018/03/Managerial-Symposium-2018-Session-IV-Du-Erkens-and-Xu.pdf

Jehn, K. A. (1995).  A multi-method exanimation of the benefits and detriments of intragroup conflict.  Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 256-282.

Lencioni, P. (2002).  The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable.  Hoboken, NJ.  John Wiley & Sons.

Lumineau, F., Eckerd, S., & Handley, S. (2015).  Inter-organizational conflicts.  Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation, 1(1), 42-64.  doi:10.1177/2055563614568493

McShane, S. L., & Von Gilnow, M. A. (2004). Organizational Behavior, Third Edition.  Boston: McGraw-Hill Companies.

Moeller, C., & Kwantes, C. T. (2015).  Too Much of a Good Thing?  Emotional Intelligence and Interpersonal Conflict Behaviors.  Journal of Social Psychology, 155(4), 314-324.  doi:10.1080/00224545.2015.1007029

Rao, M. (2017).  Tools and techniques to resolve organizational conflicts amicably.  Industrial and Commercial Training, 49(2), 93-97.  doi:10.1108/ict-05-2016-0030

Thomas, K. W. (1992).  Conflict and conflict management: Reflections and update.  Journal of Organizational Behavior, 13(3), 265-274.

Thompson, L. L. (2008).  Chapter 8: Conflict in teams – Leveraging differences to create opportunity.  In Making the team: A guide for managers (3rd ed., pp. 201-220).  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

© Copyright 2022 – 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 images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Flashes – The Law of the Harvest

Exclamation MarkConsider a well-known truth that never appears to be fully understood, does a man sow thistles and reap strawberries?  Leo J. Muir’s book, “Flashes from the Eternal Semaphore,” lists this as the fifth semaphore, and of the six semaphores, this one is probably my favorite to discuss.  Not because I am sowing rocks and reaping corn and beans, but because I often sow rancid vegetables and reap garbage, then wonder why I cannot improve my harvest.  As the writings on flash four stated, “Thy speech betrayeth thee,” I am a slow learned and generally only really grasp things after experiencing some consequences that would kill others.  As we discuss the Law of the Harvest, please note I am not here to convince or convert, merely to help myself.  If you find value in this topic, join me, teach me, that we may both then learn more perfectly.

The law of the harvest is straightforward; many farmers know this law cold, “You reap what you sow.”  If you sow lima beans, you do not raise grapes.  If you are sowing carrots, you cannot harvest apples.  No matter how many times you plant them, Cheerios do not sprout a doughnut tree; I know as I planted a LOT of Cheerios.  Bubble gum, when planted, never grows into a bubble gum tree; my mother lied!

Yet, with this mindset, many people, myself included, become depressed, disconnected from reality, and mentally unstable.  Thinking, oh, I can sow gossip and truth, and equity and justice will be shown to me.  I can tell lies, cheat, steal, then become rich, famous, and never have any negative consequences.  I can take and plant some cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, etc., in my body and remain healthy, strong, active, and never suffer mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.  The law of the harvest doesn’t work like this, yet, this remains the greatest living lie.Quotes About Reaping What You Sow. QuotesGram

From the eternal semaphore comes the following:

Be NOT Deceived!  [emphasis mine]”

Now, consider how many people drink alcohol and expect not to suffer a hangover.  Consider the people consuming vast amounts of sugar, in all its various forms, who think they will never suffer diabetes, become overweight, or suffer any consequences from all that sugar.  My aunt is a great woman, fantastic artist, amazingly kind and generous person, and a chocoholic.  She never thought about the consequences of consuming chocolate because the research shows chocolate is healthy; she never could overcome the mental illness she suffered from that the chocolate was a comforting influence.  Her family mourns her passing!

The law of the harvest is a stern warning and an incredible promise.

He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

The pattern is evident for those struggling who sow goodness, kindness, and happiness.  Hold on; your harvest WILL come, and it will be glorious.  In the same breath, those sowing hate, envy, strife, malice, greed, and so much more, your harvest is also coming, and I feel awful for what your harvest will be.  For the law of the harvest comes with a profound sentiment:

God will not be mocked.”Frederick William Robertson Quote: "You reap what you sow - not something else, but that. An act ...

I promise, there is a God, an atonement IS available through His Son, and the Holy Ghost is real and powerful.  The enclosed sentiment in the Law of the Harvest remains my comfort when harvesting the bitter fruits my heart grows.  Yes, many times, I quake for the thought that I desperately need to find a way to raise a better crop on the stony ground of my heart.  Long have I prayed for a change of heart, for a line from Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” rings forever in my mind:

The soil of a man’s heart is stony ground.  A man grows what he can, and he tends it.  ‘Cause, what you buy is what you own.  And what you own… always comes home to you.”

If you get nothing more out of this flash than the need to change fertilizers and seeds, all with an eye to improving your harvest, I have accomplished my goal.  Confucius is quoted as saying, “Our headstrong passions shut the doors of our souls against God.”  What great counsel, our passions are the seeds, the consequences are the fruit, and the law of the harvest governs whether we will have a harvest to enjoy or curse, and we choose how to value that harvest.

Bear with me a moment; I might have lost a few of you.  Let me explain.  As a kid, we often had gardens, and I was regularly on the working end of a hoe killing weeds.  I cursed those weeds; I despised every second I wielded that hoe in the garden.  My cherub-like demeanor was nowhere to be found working those garden rows!  Then came the endless days of harvesting, canning, storing, and eating that which could not be stored; I still was NOT a happy person.  Ever eat zucchini for weeks on end because that horrible stuff reproduces like rabbits in perpetual heat whose water is full of Viagra?You reap what you sow. #bible #liveBigly #life #affiliate #quote #inspiration #message #world # ...

That is the point; when the harvest comes, and a harvest always comes, we choose how we value that which is being harvested.  My father tried hard to teach me this lesson, but all I ever saw were the endless hours sweating in a kitchen preparing jars for canning, the blisters from hoeing the weeds, and the time spent doing that which we would eventually purchase in cans as winter dragged on and on.  I could not see any value in gardening, so the blessings of the harvest were lost on me.  Headstrong passions blinded my eyes to the blessings of the harvest, and I cursed the day I was conceived.  Confucius is correct, and I have witnessed the problems with headstrong passions interfering with the Law of the Harvest many times since.

I am also experiencing the truth from Cicero:

A youth of sensuality and intemperance delivers over to old age a worn-out body.”

I would add, an intemperate youth also yields a worn-out mind!  Having observed this as a youth, I thought I could escape the problems of being intemperate, and I can honestly proclaim, I was wrong!  Since my youth, I lifted objects heavier than practical; I gloried in the strength of my body and pushed it to the absolute limit many times.  What am I reaping; I was disabled by the time I was 30.  I am now older but not wiser.  I still want to push my boundaries without regard for consequences and wind up on the floor, in hospital, or mentally unable to think properly for weeks on end.  As a kid, when my parents were told of one of their kids being punished (a not infrequent occurrence), they regularly said, “Well, he brought that on himself.”  To quote Ray Stevens, “Yeah, I Did!”  I did bring on myself the harvest of intemperance and am delivering a worn-out body and mind to old-age.  There are lots of seeds we plant and many different types of harvests we reap.  When valuing the harvest, choose wisely how you evaluate the crop.#everything #you #do #say #choice #soon #later #quote #lessons #learned #life | Lessons learned ...

Pliny, more famously known as Gaius Plinius Secundus, also known as Pliny, the Elder,” was a Roman author, naturalist, philosopher, and naval and army commander.  He is quoted as saying:

Lust is an enemy to the purse, a foe to the person, [a] canker to the mind, a corrosive to the conscience, a weakness of the wit, a besotter of the senses, and finally a mortal bane to all of the body.”

Lust is regularly only thought of as an intense sexual desire.  This type of lust definitely fits what Pliny is warning about; however, lust is also an overwhelming craving, unassailable desire, and intense eagerness or enthusiasm.  Yet, many might not fully grasp the semaphore Pliny is flashing; Henry Wordsworth Longfellow might be easier to understand:

The blossoms of passion, gay and luxuriant flowers, are bright and full of fragrance, but they beguile us and lead us astray, and their odor is deadly.”

Henry Giles and John Howe are both flashing the same message, trying to capture our attention and teach the same lesson:

The passions are at once tempters and chastisers.  As tempters, they come with garlands of flowers on brows of youth; as chastisers, they appear with wreaths of snakes on the forehead of deformity.  They are angels of light in their delusions; they are fiends of torment in their afflictions.”

Sensual delights soon end in loathing, quickly bring a glutting surfeit, and degenerate into torment.”

What do you regret from your youth as the first tastes of passion’s deadly fruits?  Let me speak plainer; of course, you remember your first time in love, the rush of passions start, and the heartbreak of closure.  Do you see the seeds of passion and the harvested fruits as beneficial or deadly?  I know my answers to this question and understand more fully why modesty, chastity, and virtue are to be honored, respected, and cherished.  You choose how you evaluate your experiences.You reap what you sow | Everyday quotes, Peace quotes, One word inspiration

I currently work with a person who curses their ex-wife in the vilest language imaginable, yet, they praise their child in the same breath and bless the day they came into their life.  What seeds are being planted in the child, the co-workers, and society?  Will the bitter fruit be understood and evaluated as good?  Time will tell.  Byron summed this semaphore perfectly:

Vice digs her own voluptuous tomb.”

Of all the advice given, I wish I had observed the following more perfectly, and while I do not know the author, many have semaphored the following message in one form or another:

Shun the obscene!”

A long time back, exactly when escaped me, I watched a comedian who told some off-color stories for the audience’s amusement.  Those seeds bore some of the most pernicious weeds in my mind, choking out life and pleasure, goodness, and all things clean and kind.  Killing those weeds is a constant exercise, some would classify as futile.  But, I have chosen differently and fought those weeds desiring something better, and the fight continues.  I do not find swearing, debauchery, lewdness, immorality, perversion, and such amusing anymore.  When I came to myself, I cleaned out a LOT of entertainment, removing books, magazines, music, movies, and more in an effort to cling to the good and shun the obscene.  I had to re-learn lessons from childhood.

Now I look back on those mistakes, those seeds planted carelessly, and the bitter and thorny weeds I now fight and wish I could help others understand the same lesson I learned.  Not shunning the obscene leads to problems immeasurable.  In the US Navy, I had a good acquaintance who went to a party, was slipped a mickey, and woke up having been raped by another female.  I counseled my friend to report this event and get tested.  My friend declined because she “did not know if she liked it or not.”  I mourned my friend that day and many days after as she experienced what happened after not shunning the obscene.  Before she revealed her true self, her rapist was a person I respected and who was removed from military service for other actions.  But the crime of rape went unreported, a sad commentary indeed!  John Howe was absolutely correct:

Sensual delights soon end in loathing, quickly bring a glutting surfeit, and degenerate into torment.”

Quotes You Reap What You SowMy friend’s experience in the US Navy always brings a poem to mind courtesy of Alexander Pope:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
as to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace
.”

The truth of the matter remains permanently etched upon our souls or consciousness, “You reap what you sow.”  We inherently know this truth, and then become sidetracked by temptation, which comes in the forms of misery, depression, beauty, emotions, and more; wrapped in shiny foil, the fruit inside is always bitter, but the first bite is a temptation that over time becomes that which we would have died to avoid.  Robert Southey, the English poet, semaphored this message thusly:

They who engage in iniquitous designs deceive themselves into thinking that they will go so far and no farther.  One fault begets another; one crime makes another necessary.  Thus downward they go into the depths of guilt, which at the commencement of their career they would have died rather than incurred.”

QuestionCan you relate to your experiences with planting and harvesting?  What are you teaching and semaphoring?  Dr. Johnson adds a comment worth remembering: “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  While Dr. Johnson is correct, there is a “Balm in Gilead,” there are chain cutters available through repentance and a path back.  There is a reason to hope!  Not speaking religiously, nor am I here to convert anyone to any religious flavor, merely to alert those needing it that there is a way to clean your mind and heart, that your future may produce a better harvest.  Even if you might have to harvest garbage for a while as the ground cleans itself of the impurities dumped into it.  Mr. Muir quotes Simons, a reference unknown, regarding the path:

Impure thoughts awaken impure feelings, lead to impure expressions, and beget impure actions, and these lead to imbecility both of body and of mind, and to the ruin of all that is noble and pure in character.”

We who have survived youthful transgressions understand this path perfectly.  Note, we live in an age of severe iconoclasm, where every day, we are bombarded by attacks on established beliefs by institutions built for the sole purpose of tearing down others.  Who cannot replace their depravity and destruction with anything wholesome, good, pure, or worthwhile.  Where beliefs of religion, societal norms, and institutions representing the living and breathing were destroyed for the wanton pleasure of the iconoclasts.  The age of the iconoclasts began with the 1960s, and nothing built since is worth the pain and suffering we are experiencing now.  Worse, those iconoclasts from the 1960s are now teachers and professors, elected leaders, and their legacy of destruction stares them in the face while they laugh and take pleasure at your suffering.Quotes About Reaping What You Sow. QuotesGram

With each successive generation of iconoclastic behavior, the succeeding generations are a factor of 10 worse than their parents.  Think of how many generations have come and multiplied this abhorrent behavior into society.  Is it any wonder as a society we are in the mess we are in, where criminals get off, the victims are repeatedly punished, good is heralded as evil and evil for good.  But, I promise there is a “Balm in Gilead,” there is a path forward that leads back to life, growth, happiness, goodness, and a morally upright society.  Shunning the obscene is the first step!

Knowledge Check!We must be the generation that begins the repair job from the iconoclast’s destruction.  The ravages inflicted upon us will require re-learning, embracing hope, building faith, and acting charitably through faith and hope to act charitably first to ourselves, then to our families and friends, and then to the broader societies we all live in.  Whether you embrace a religious community or not, the imperative to “Shun the obscene:” the need to sow better crops to reap a more desirable harvest valued by others is universal.  Not to create fervor and fanaticism, but to create a people dedicated to improving ourselves and after improving ourselves to improve the world around us.

May we all enjoy a better harvest is my hope!

© Copyright 2022 – 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 images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.