Tag: Cultural Awareness

The Whites

Over time, there have been a number of changes in North America for the correct term(s) for the various peoples who comprise our citizens..

All of us here either migrated from or are descended from someone who migrated from elsewhere.

Yet we insist on terms like Black, Brown, Red, White, Yellow to put us into somesort of category or other.

When I was quite young, negro seemed to be acceptable. Because of a southern a disparaging slangy corruption of that word, and very derogatory use, it has became not correct.

The term then became black. It was used by everyone and if my memory is correct, promoted by those to whom it referred. Remember “Black Power”.

However, black as means of identification has also became not correct and the term is now African American.

The term brown to describe people whose ancestors has evolved in a number of different places. A famous Canadian comedian has used this term for himself and his family. Is it “correct”. Not too sure. But, it sure is better than some of the more derogatory terms that have been used. The problem with brown is that it can be used for some very disparate people (middle east through south Asian to possibly Oceania).

Using red to describe people again encompasses a large variety of cultures.

We now use “first nations” or “native Americans”.

These terms; however, also tend to lump together people and together who can be quite different. Do the Inuit, Innu, Iroquoian, Cree, Dene, Siouan, Salish, Aztec all see themselves as the same.

The term “the yellow peril” was used to incite fear. Again, this is a term that encompasses a wide group of cultures.

People who have been lumped together as yellow have been very instrumental in building our country. In the wisdom of those who seem to decide these things, the term “Asian Americans” is in use.

We don’t use Black, Brown, Red, Yellow but the remaining group of people who have chosen to settle in North America are lumped together as White.

Whites are of predominantly of European descent but they to come from a vast array of cultures and backgrounds that include among others, Anglo, Slavic, Nordic, Germanic, Celtic, Saxon, Romance, Mediterranean (at least some) cultures.

Why is it OK to lump one group together by colour but not others? In the immortal words of the late George Carlin, “It’s a mystery”..

Should people be considered under any broad common identifier name?

Why do I have to be lumped together with a bunch of others I don’t know, might not like and probably disagree with just because I may sort of look like them?

Why can’t we all just be thought of where we live and our given name?
The Plaidneck (from the County)

(see also: Culturally inspired team names April 2012)

Entitlement – Part 2

Too often lately we’ve heard something like – I take obscene amounts of money from those who choose to trust the corporation that hired me because I have a “position” and am entitled – from people in positions of privilege.

Is this statement just greed or is it an inherent feeling of entitlement?

Not too long ago, I listened to a discussion of recently published research; “How Wealth Reduces Compassion” from Scientific American. It appears that the richer one is the less s/he cares about others (and when there is care, it’s a self aggrandising type of caring – buildings named after the donor, foundations carrying the donor’s name etc.). That the wealth is inherited or earned seems to make no difference.

The more the wealth the less the compassion.

At a seminar a few years back, a university professor said he once had a mixed class of engineering and business students. He held a discussion about ethics. The engineers debated what ethics should govern and when; the business students wondered what the fuss was all about. It seems that those who become successful in business don’t pick up compassionate ethics along the way

It has been recently reported that North American Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) earn 200 – 300 times the average worker’s pay. This has increased from about 25 times in 1964 with most of the increases occurring since 1990.

In the early 2000s I read a book “Barbarians at the Gate”. It dealt with the take over of Nabisco. Banks, lawyers and financiers lined up to make money from the take over. Greed by way of fees was taking over.

The value of the company changed not because of what they produced, but because of the competition to purchase it. In the end, probably the only person who came out with a bag of cash was the CEO – someone who was really only hired help.

During the recent Banking crisis in the US, CEOs used the fact that their bank got bail out money as reason to qualify themselves for bonuses basically saying “there’s money there and I’m entitled to a chunk of it.”.

A number of charities pay their CEOs well over $350,000. (One reported their compensation package 5 years ago was $2.7 million). People give to many of these charities to help those less fortunate, not to assist those who feel “entitled” because of a position.

CEOs are hired help. They are compensated in cash and stock (including options). The intent of stock options is to tie the CEOs compensation to performance. However, it has been argued (and I believe successfully) that they encourage short term blips vs long term company health.

Granted CEOs are highly intelligent people who exhibit wisdom in their decisions. They should be compensated. In Japan, the ratio is 16 time the average wage. It is probable that the 25-time ratio as in 1965 was and still is reasonable.

We probably all feel entitled to something, but should not that entitlement be tempered by compassion?

CEOs have benefited from education and wisdom collected and created by the many who came before. Although they work hard, it’s only work. Many below them in the corporate ladder work equally as hard. Earnings should be reasonable, not an entitlement because of position.

There are people who deserve to be better off than others. Basing a society on taking from those who perform and giving to those who don’t has been tried and did not succeed. However, entrusting our future to “entitled” “uncompassionate” people also is not a platform for success.

Surely, without selling the farm, modern society can devise a system of management that can assist those who need assistance and reward those who have earned the reward yet still maintain the harmony and compassion required for a functioning society. Maybe maybe ethics with less entitlement can be worked into the system again.

The Plaidneck

Stability ??

I recently had an interesting conversation with a Mohawk gentleman whose thoughts and observations I’ve come to appreciate. In that wide ranging conversation, he stated that the strength of their culture was/is strong women.

I already knew that the clan mothers were the voice of reason behind the Iroquois society and that families were built around these clans. The next step, independent women are the reason for their success took this conversation to gel.

Some observations:

1. In south Asia, where the mini loans were made famous, these loans were most often made to women. These women got a start, were for the most part successful, paid back the loans and brought prosperity and respect to their families.

2. In the poorer areas of Africa, it appears that true progress in raising the people from poverty occurs when women have enough wherewithal and say to adequately provide for their families.

3. In some of the more stable successful parts of western society (Germany, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries and possibly Great Britain for example), women have/have had great influence.

4. There is research on families that the most successful in rearing balanced children come from parents who shared family decisions equally.

Is it possible that we in the more patriarchic societies have it wrong. Women aren’t just a secondary part of society to be kept at home but are the key to success.

Do women bring a different view of how things fit together? I truly don’t know but their inclusion has to bring forth ideas/philosophies worth considering.

I have a slightly pessimistic cousin who say that people are only governed by self interest and greed. Hopefully including women in all parts of society doesn’t become just pitting male vs female in a contest of who is better won’t work

There are examples out there. We should/have to balance views from both sides of the gender divide.

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