Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

Male leaders who proclaim women are too emotional to be fit leaders are beginning to show that they, too, have emotions that sometimes get out of control.

Forget the womanizing group for now and focus on the incident during President Barack Obama’s address to the joint session of Congress. Congressman Joe Wilson (Rep. S.C.) openly admits that “I let my emotions get the best of me” when he shouted out “You lie!” to Obama’s comments on illegal immigrant health care.

Wilson at least recognizes human nature for what it is and does not claim male superiority over female emotions. This is not to say he was right to shout out at the president. What Wilson knows and admits is that he is actually a human being with all the weaknesses and faults of the species.

The curious thing about Wilson’s outburst is the telephone call to his wife after the incident. Roger Simon reported in Politico that Wilson’s wife asked, “Who’s the nut that hollered out?” When Wilson told her he was the “nut” she did not believe him. His wife’s lack of belief indicates it was an out-of-character moment for Wilson, but that is not something you will find in the media reports.

So far the dominant accusation has been that Wilson is a racist. President Obama disputes that judgment by saying he sees it as representative of the “coarsening of our political dialogue.” Who can say with accuracy what prompted Wilson to shout out at a U.S. President during a speech? Obama is more than likely correct that it is simply another example of the road America is now traveling.

There is another road and that is the one that our founding fathers would be traveling if they were here today. The founders certainly were not perfect by any means, and they had their share of womanizing members. However, they knew what the needs of a struggling young country are and set out to put aside personal disputes to achieve the perfection they sought in creating such a country.

No, America is not young any more. But we continue to struggle. We still have personal and political disputes. We still have racists, sexists, and intolerant people in some areas.

(Note: There were no women overtly involved in this country’s creation because they were kept behind the scenes. If women had been allowed representation as the other half of humanity, it is likely that the unaddressed issues of slavery, Native American oppression, and women’s rights would have been openly and energetically confronted even if not totally resolved.)

What we do not have, yet desperately need, are Real Leaders who, like the founders, put aside their personal differences to achieve the best for our people. These forefathers had experienced tyranny and repression under Britain. They knew that dividing people into factions of “us” and “them” never achieves a unified political foundation to withstand the future onslaught of miscreants.

Daily we hear horror stories about global warming. Where is the same concern about the political hothouse this country is living inside? Perhaps there are scientific ways to stop the global warming but the only way to put a halt to a political hothouse is by seeking out Real Leaders.

Real Leaders are not easily found in a world that gives respect and admiration to greedy and unethical practices in business and politics. If we have any Real Leaders, they are in hiding or reluctant to speak out in the hostile climate we live in.

What are Real Leaders?

Real Leaders know it is impossible to make everyone happy without lying.

Real Leaders have the capacity for self-doubt and humility, knowing these attributes will help keep them on track in times of trouble.

Real Leaders take their chances in the marketplace of ideas without threats of punishment and without attempting to control the process.

Real Leaders acknowledge mistakes openly and regretfully, and then set out to correct them and move on.

Real Leaders are what this country needs now.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Accountability to Women

“If any man asks why I support better accountability to women, this is my response:  because a government that answers to women will answer to you, too.”   United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, 2008.

             Global governments are failing in the promise of doing more for women, especially in the treatment of women in politics and health care: 

  • Every year more than 500,000 women die from childbirth complications.

  • Women parliamentarians (legislative bodies) have increased by only 8 percent since 1998 to a global average of 18.4%.

  • The “parity zone” for women in legislative bodies is between 40 and 60 percent of worldwide parliament seats, a zone that will not be reached until 2045, if we continue at the present rate.

              After women in America were given the franchise in 1920, legislative bodies nationwide began catering to them as voters, resulting in better public health services. Today there are women leaders nationwide who remember the plight of their pre-suffrage sisters who went to jail and starved to make a political statement.  These are the women leaders who are accountable to women and to the general welfare of the country. 

              The only way world governments can be more accountable to women is by putting women into leadership positions.  No woman has ever been allowed to accumulate the needed experience and credentials to serve as the leader of the free world.  Hillary Clinton has come closer to the ideal for a woman leader but could not manage to overcome her femaleness to win in 2008.

               In America, both major political parties are failing to recognize the changing political scene.  It is not just about racial change in the White House or party change in the Congress.

               It may be about gender change, however, because common sense, integrity and transparency are the buzzwords on blogs, letters to editors and in private forums. Women are known to possess those traits, yet they are routinely restrained from demonstrating those attributes in public endeavors.  Women are still under-represented at all levels of government nationwide.

                In a recent report by Linda Basch in the Christian Science Monitor, “groupthink” was labeled as the culprit for the economic crisis facing the world. Another woman leader called it a “one gender crash.”  The consensus seems to be that women are “more comprehensive thinkers and less attracted to excessive risk” than men.

                Even the Financial Times incited the outrage of readers by calling for a “gender quota for corporate boards.”  Reader (think male investor) outrage at gender quotas on corporate boards is not supported by the facts, but is instead encouraged by an attitude of male superiority. 

               The truth is that Fortune 500 boards with the largest percentage of women have equity returns 53% higher than those with the smallest number of women directors.

              Groupthink and one-gender-leadership may be the way of the world in history but times are changing.  Those few women who have been permitted to gain access to political and corporate power have demonstrated that the female gender is capable of changing the way things are done in business and in government. 

               Still not convinced?  Consider this little vignette from history:

               Sometime in the last half of the 19th century, some enterprising male invented the athletic cup to protect the private parts of sportsmen.  It was not until the first half of the 20th century that another invention, the football helmet, demonstrated that someone finally recognized the need to protect the brain as well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weeds Are On the Rise!

JULY has been an exciting month for women’s progress in the world.

First, SARAH PALIN removed herself as a target for hate groups by announcing her resignation as governor of Alaska. She will no longer cost Alaskans money to defend her against mythical ethics charges that must by law be investigated. So far, those complaints have amounted to nothing more than bills for taxpayers and the Palin family and a repudiation of the accusations.

By acting outside the politically acceptable behavior zone, Palin once again has shown that she does not necessarily abide by tradition, either political or cultural. Her choice to abandon her post in favor of her state’s right to have a governor spending time on state issues rather than her personal issues is a first.

The observer does not have to like Sarah Palin in order to admit this is an unusual action that deviates from the male norm. It remains to be seen if this is the proper course of action for both Palin and for Alaska.

The second stunning announcement came from former President JIMMY CARTER about his departure from the Southern Baptists because of their treatment of women. This is a major step forward for the restoration of females to their rightful place in the world as primary rather than secondary citizens. When any prominent male issues a challenge to his fellow compatriots as Carter has just done, it signals a change in the status of women on the horizon.

Carter says the subjugation of women is based on skewed biblical interpretations, and that there are biblical stories suggesting not only is slavery acceptable but even oppression of the populace by tyrants is permissible. Most people would not go along with either of those actions but they have yet to stop viewing women as inferior.

A careful reading of the story of Adam and Eve by male religious leaders (and they have been all male until the last few decades) results in an interpretation that Adam was tempted by the serpent through Eve and mankind fell from grace. That one story, and no proof has ever been found that it even happened, is the basis for the subjugation of women worldwide.

A lack of proof of biblical stories requires strong faith to believe they are accurate recitations of past events. What is shocking is that faith is required to believe that women are subservient to men.

It is painfully obvious that males wrote this story because Adam did not accept responsibility for his actions and Eve got blamed as an all-time temptress. This ancient metaphor is undoubtedly the forerunner to history’s judicial and religious placement of blame on the “temptress” female in rape cases. In the Middle East, the policy on rape is that the female who tempts the male always causes it. Looking at rape cases in the U.S., it is possible to see a version of this same policy in effect.

Carter cites a group he belongs to called The Elders, an independent organization of eminent global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela. This group works at building peace and addressing the causes of human suffering in an effort to promote the shared interests of humanity. The Elders have now published a statement that declares it is unacceptable to justify discrimination against females on the grounds of religion or tradition or even on the basis of a Higher Authority.

When THE ELDERS allow world women leaders to become a part of their group overseeing humanity’s problems, they will reach the epitome of perfection.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Judicial Appointments and Women

What is the desirability of having a majority of white males making all judicial decisions, both in the upper and lower courts, as has been the case since the founding of the country 233 years ago?

Have these courts always ruled judiciously with decisions that stood the test of time? Nope. Could any such body always rule judiciously with decisions that stand the test of time? Nope.

There is no way the Supreme Court can be diversified by quotas. Presidents must always look at the composition of the Court and fill in the gaps with qualified people where possible. The question of “qualifications” is the culprit: Women were allowed to vote only 89 years ago so how can they be qualified as compared to males?

It may come as a surprise or shock to some, but women have always been involved behind the scenes through the males in their lives. Learning by osmosis and trial-and-error is how the first women in public office achieved because they had no other way.

There is no difference today in the qualifications of women and men because women have 89 years of experience as openly contributing members of society. Those who prepare through education must be given equal opportunity to achieve political success whether male or female.

Women make up about 53% of the population in this country. It is time they were adequately represented in every branch of government on all levels.

No, women will not always be the best choice, make the right decisions, or avoid the controversies that plague males. Women deserve the opportunity to give it a try just as the other half of humanity has had that chance.

The problem remains: Cultural messages about women’s inferiority have blocked women from leadership in this country. It is time to end that bias.