When the incentives are such that it pushes you in the wrong direction, you can take a step back and say: "No this isn't right" and stop & change course. But when you see that many are being rewarded for complicity, it makes it all the more tougher the next time. That knaws at your conscience. Over time, diffusion of responsiblilty in a bureacratic environment makes it easy to rationalize doing something whether right/wrong/borderline. And that gives rise to such events as recent bank failures, malfeasance, oil spills, etc. Even so, many would agree that some bad actors got off scottfree and even rewarded with bonuses.
Yea, yea...Life's messed up...big deal... right?
Shirley Sherrod, stood before an audience and gave an honest assessment of her past experiences with racism, how it affected her, and how she overcame it. And her remarks were taken out of context resulting in a political whirlwind. She was, in short, being persecuted for her honesty. Just about everyone knows the story about how snap judgements were being made, etc... lack of due process... and on and on...
While all of this was going on a few things came to mind. They're disjointed thoughts that you can link yourself. Here they are:
1) When someone is being honest about something, take a moment to ensure you're not persecuting them for their honesty. There is a difference between a well meant shortcoming and blatant malfeasance. Also keep in mind, we make it too easy to lie & cheat vs stand tall and tell the truth. I have found that telling the truth is the most disarming way to diffuse a situation. In the end, we are humans continually striving for perfection and continually falling short of it.
2) Gone are the days when a Captain goes down with his ship. And his biggest care is against damage to the ship, cargo, & harm to his crew. Gone are the days... Today, one can run a ship aground, hurt some people in the process and walk off that ship and go to another job with minimal consequences to deal with... In my youth, that didn't exist even as a notion...at least that I was aware at the time.
3) When I was a Plebe at USNA, we used to read inspiring citation stories about brave warriors... you'd hear phrases like: "going above and beyond the call of duty," "reflecting good credit upon him/herself, unit, ...," and so many more! A few of my classmates exemplified this in Iraq & Afghanistan. Why can't we celebrate this more?! Why do we have to tear each other down and cast aspersions upon one another?! Why do we have to talk so much about all these negative stories?! Why?!
4) I've been exposed to many types of injustices. And I've been exposed to very, very, very, very, very, very mild forms of racism a couple of times. Of all the forms of injustices I've experienced, it is one of the most unhinging experiences. I lost all mental coherency and shut down. Don't do that to a person. It's undignified, manipulative, and unfair.
5) Until we alter the course, we'll keep heading straight for where we're going... DO YOU WANT THAT TO BE SO?