Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Religious "right" the supporting cast(e) to the trump cult

In his most recent column in truthdig.com , Chris Hedges points out that removing trump from power would leave the “yearning of millions of people, many conditioned by the Christian right for a cult leader.” Let’s look at the evidence of a close and causal link between the Christian “right” and the trump cult, making no mistake that the followers of the current president comprise a full-blown cult.

The most obvious link is the massive and charismatic composition of the two leaders. Even with specific names (Swaggart et al) we can all point to times and places in our lives when such captivating public speakers held sway over crowds of almost literally mesmerized fans. In my own life, such an evangelist came to our little town from the Northern Ireland town of Balleymena, near Belfast. Evoking, and undoubtedly mimicking his own idol, Ian Paisley, this little man, clad in his black Nehru jacket framing his clergy collar and bands, filled the pews for several years in a previously modest, quiet, reflective, warm and friendly church with his homiletic rhetoric. Always outlined in three pivotal points, (evoking the Trinity to make what he said seem more holy), this man spewed venom against the Roman Catholic church, (just as Paisley did for decades in Northern Ireland), spurned make-up for women, dancing for adolescents, movies for all, and wine and alcohol for adults.

Impeccably combed neat grey-black curls lay on his rubric forehead, while “ten-dollar” words poured from his silver tongue, as he glided from behind the large pulpit raised on a six-foot dias elevated above another two-foot raised platform from which he served communion, first to his right in full view, and alternatively to his left. His five-foot frame was a commanding presence with a presentation style that vacuumed cheques from wallets and purses, clarion chimes from one affluent newcomer, fresh paint from a cadre of willing volunteers, dock-side fleets of cars for Sunday summer evening theatrics and testimonials. “Saved,” “born-again” and “turning your life over to Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour” were his three rallying cries….and the muscle and larynx he interjected into his conversion “calls” were intimidating to some, shaming to others, spiritual medication to others for the pain of “sin” in whatever form it had been committed.

Little did he know, or more tellingly, would he have cared, to learn that Roman Catholic adolescent boys hurled stones at the heads of the youth who attended his church as they swan at the town beach, so penetrating and denigrating was his religious bigotry, in the name of Jesus Christ, as he understood Him. It would have been impossible for anyone, young or old, living in the town at that time, mid-fifties to late sixties, not to be fully aware of the division this little martinet was sewing in our little town. He very quickly magnetized four men to his Session, the church council’s designation at the time, where they joined others, including my father, who had served for decades previously.

In the only incidence in memory in which my father ever uttered an unkind word about another person, I once heard him quietly strip the spiritual, holy garments from those four men, calling them, “The Four Just Men!” in his dry and biting ironic sarcasm. Who knows their motives for rallying around this cult leader, but clearly, church growth in both dollars and adherents had to be one of their primary impulses; all four were (are?) engaged in business in the little town and were building those empires as the cornerstones of their legacy. Others, also private businessmen, joined later, underlining the strong enmeshment between the business culture and the church model.

Charismatic leaders, no matter what they are peddling, are renowned for their magnetic presence before a crowd. And when they are peddling a theology of sin, fear, hate and a kind of righteousness that wreaks of superiority and perfectionism, setting the “Saved” apart and above the “unsaved,” they are dangerous not only to those “saved” but also to all the rest. “Cult” wears a few faces, all of them smelling of the abuse of power:
·        a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object
·        a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing, a cult of personality surrounding the leader(s)

The blurring of “veneration” for a saint, for example, with the excessive enmeshment (admiration, adulation, sycophancy) with another person illustrates the complexity and the ambiguity and the “cover” implicit in many words in our language. And it is to the elimination, avoidance, denial and betrayal of all ambiguities that this evangelist dedicated his professional ministry, all in the name of “saving” the heathens in our little town. At sixteen, after what I then considered his most odious homily (bigoted and narrow, without any supporting evidence from scripture) I departed, and never returned, except for a wedding to my first wife. (My parents had struggled to remain!)
Whether this decade-plus long experience when I was especially impressionable was designed to equip me for a later chapter inside the church or not, it clearly shaped my attitudes, perceptions, beliefs and practice of ministry. My “DNA” has been in a conflict with all of the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of Christian “born-again’s,” if for no other reason than I never have accepted the notion that God, in and through His Son, Jesus Christ Resurrected, never wanted, expected, demanded or rewarded a permanent infantilizing of those who choose to worship as disciples. Uncertainty, acceptance of ambiguity, puzzling over meanings, both textual and experiential, reading, praying, reflecting, conversing, singing, weeping, rejoicing, learning and growing in all of the ways that we are capable of developing…..these seem a more grounded, perplexing, challenging, and loving set of guideposts for anyone searching for God. And without any cognitive, atmospheric, metaphysic, philosophic, psychologic, political, historic or liturgical mapping to “point” the way into the mind and the heart of God, I prefer the process, and the accompanying humility and even desperation of the search in and through the dark nights of the soul, the dark caves of the Shadow, the dark wounds of inevitable, persistent and toxic enemies, and the unbelievable joys that surprise us at every turn in our pilgrimage to a relationship with the ineffable.

Jonestown, and the massacre there, was devoid of uncertainty, ambiguity, puzzling. Similarly, the trump iteration of “cult” is devoid of uncertainty, ambiguity, puzzling, reflection and collaboration, not to mention the humility that necessarily and inevitably accompanies the approaches the spring from such uncertainty. Similarly, a loud voice, perhaps charismatic to some, singularly ‘convicted’ of the righteousness of its pontifications, totally immune to and alienated from all sensibilities of others, especially those others who do not ‘drink the kool-aid’ being served, or who do not advance the “cause,” narcissistic in the extreme, of its high priest strides the globe like a colossus, exclusively in its own mind.

And for every cult, there is the essential component of a willing, compliant, child-like and ignorant (in the ignosco, I do not know, sense) army of followers. So easy and almost facile to depict a “cult” leader; the army of followers, on the other hand, is not so readily captured. Idealistic, aspiring, often angry, unconscious of their Shadow and its projection onto the leader, disdainful of all opponents who cannot and do not see the world “as we do” and therefore are almost to be pitied, certainly scorned, and often shown little more than contempt. How else could a cluster of alienated outsiders, willing to shed all vestiges of their scepticism, while burying themselves in their contempt for the “other,” manage to agree on membership in the cult? Requiring little if any “supportive” dogma, ideological pillars, or theological tenets, these people are more like moths to a lamp, effervescently eager to rush to the “light” whereupon they almost immediately “die” in the dark below. Their’s is not so much a conscious sacrifice as a blind devotion to an image. Like Tristan and Isolde, two lovers addicted to the idea of love, cult conscripts have fallen in “love” with the idea of the power they believe they have inherited through their joining. Not knowing of the concept of enmeshment, they are vulnerable to their own blindness and the magnetism of their chosen leader.

 Some might call them desperate, each in their unique and individual way for their own emptiness to be filled, they are satisfied by their coherence and membership, their shared activities, and their constant and repeated exposure to their leader who is above reproach, in their eyes.

Having lived in the shadow of their own self-loathing, they emerge into the light of the leader, believing that he (and history is almost, if not totally, devoid of female cult leaders) provides the missing light, hope, promise and deliverance they crave. The complex causes, reasons and cultural themes that put them in their own darkness remain outside both their understanding and their curiosity. Immediate gratification of the kind that collapses time in their search for a kind of panacea, or nirvana, is a compelling force that drives them into the fold of the cult. New recruits to a new movement, gang, group of specially saved or newly protective club, too, have a frenzy about their devotion to the cult. And they want to evangelize their friends and colleagues with an energy and an enthusiasm that overwhelms many of their prospective convert.

Ironically, given the feeling of strength and conviction of their membership in the cult, they are paradoxically anxious, insecure and defensive when they are challenged, and especially when their leader is defamed. It is as if the centrifuge of the criticism’s pull draws them even closer to the leader and to an even deeper and firmer commitment to the cult, unless and until…

Like the frog in the boiling water, unaware of the danger it faces, until it is too late, they often “come to their senses” in that they see how hollow are the cult culture and code and even the depth of character of their leader. And as history discloses, they eventually unravel, sometimes after prolonged propping by the leader and the resources he can command, also often quite prodigious, given the desire of benefactors to be part of something “big” and different and successful, at least on the surface.
Similar to a diet craze, there is an initial loss of weight, accompanied by exuberance, or in the case of the religious cult, an emotional high, a spiritual rebirth of sorts, leading to the “born-again” application and the commitment to recruit new converts. In the case of the trump cult, there is an entertaining fascination with how unscripted and out of the box his rhetoric, his defiance, his disdain for the establishment, the power of the his person and a kind of euphoria that seems to be “freeing”. And in the American context, where “freedom” is the license plate on every car, (although only New Hampshire’s reads, “Life Free or Die”), there is a desperate consuming aspiration (really an hollow emptiness) for throwing off all vestiges of constraint, government control, and hot-button words that epitomize such body-constraints like socialism, globalism, scientific evidence, and filing the void with a wild-west frontier-like lawlessness. And if the leader is prepared to appear to be promising an archetypal freeing from the “Egypt” of their enslavement (especially and ironically with the demographic numbers turning their white history into a brown future) millions are more than willing and eager to climb aboard the freedom train.

“Manifest Destiny” is one of the more notable memes in American history, needing both a new frontier and a willing army of seekers, whether it be to the west coast, originally, to the moon, or to the promised land, dependent on the latest Barnum and Bailey huckster. Just like that Balleymena evangelist, trump epitomizes the latest iteration of the huckster, propped up by a new band of “just men” (and a cadre of women) who need him as much or more then he needs them.

And unless and until their respective needs atrophy, dissipate morph into a new mature individuation, their enmeshment will only drag both leader and cult further into the slough of personal and, in this case, national, history.

The religious ‘right’ is ironically named, given its venal and heinous toxicity, in its own name and in its profound influence on the trump cult. It is not now, and never was ‘right’ in the righteous sense, except in its own mind. Pat Robertson’s recent prioritizing of the $110 billion immediately and $350 billion over ten years in arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the deliberate and premeditated murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi-defected opponent by the Saudi regime, is only the latest manifestation of the vacuity of their faith.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

RAGE unleashed and unbridled

If trump’s rage is the personification of his rampant ID, it has unleashed the individual and the collective ID upon a nation drowning in narcissistic RAGE.

Born in revolution, nurtured in civil war, fed a diet over-stuffed with competition, individualism, and the meme of success or failure in all conflicts, personal, athletic, corporate, academic, political, religious and moral/ethical, the United States is reaping the harvest of their own history. There is no putting this “toothpaste” back into the tube. It is a social, cultural, psychological and even religious substance that is designed to inflame all whose ears and eyes are confronted by its malignant toxicity. Violence, no matter how thickly “masked” in professional civility, legal debate decorum, lecture hall professionalism, has a deeply embedded tomb in the soul of the American history and culture.

While it is true that trump exceeds all previous presidents in his abandon of civility and his excessive reliance on blame and invective of anything and anyone who utters a whisper of criticism and

·        the nation itself tolerates hate speech, under the guise of liberty,
·        tolerates racism under the guise of free speech,
·        tolerates poverty in the guise of “pull up your socks and get with the program,”
·        tolerates and even endorses the largest and most heinous military killing machine in the history of the world under the guise of “protecting the national security of the nation and its people,”
·        tolerates and enhances the growing number of billionaires under the guise of the “American Dream” that shining beacon on a hill of private, for-profit cannibalism that “eats” all competitors weak enough to be victimized,
·        tolerates the charging, arresting, imprisoning and shooting of minority males at a rate exceeding the rate in all other countries combined, under the guise of “sending a message of warning and deterrence to other miscreants
·        tolerates a definition of human beings without wealth as “sad, unfortunate, misguided, unworthy, dismissive, and a monstrous toll on civic, state and national budgets”
·        tolerates the strategies and tactics of white supremacists, including the current president, under the guise of “free speech” and the unleashing of rage heretofore repressed under the previous neoliberal administrations of both parties.

It is rage that is the ubiquitous venom of the dragon viper haunting the psyches of each of us, ready to erupt and shower volcanic fire and ash on whatever perpetrator happens to provide a trigger. And a national history surrounded by the picket-fence of rifles, AK-47’s, cruise missiles, A and H-Bombs and the air and water-borne vehicles and vessels that launch them, emboldened by a narcissistic “bar” of “being special” and the pressures that come with that built-in parental expectation, and an ethic that calls “greed good”, is unlikely to move beyond that latest round of “ten” (at 10:00 a.m. EST, October 25/18) Improvised Explosive Devices designed, crafted and sent by American agent(s) either quickly or easily.

trump’s cult rages against all people who are concerned about the devastation of the planet
they rage against the nuanced “eunuch-like” approach of Obama to the use of chemical weapons by the leader of Syria
they rage against the consulate burning and loss of life under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s watch in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 in the midst of the Arab Spring
they rage against the regulations that impeded the profits of coal mines, and other mammoth polluters imposed by the Obama administration
they rage against the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) because it imposed a “government-controlled” “socialist” regime on personal health insurance and access
they rage against the Clinton ambition to write and to speak, for fees, and to fundraise for the Clinton Global Foundation, following their two respective terms of public service
they rage against the right to vote being extended to minority groups of blacks and Latino’s,
they rage against all forms of the social safety net, as a monster that impedes the freedom of the individual to “make it” on their own
they rage against the rise in undergraduate and graduate degrees that have been earned by students previously barred from access to higher education through their own poverty and family history
they rage against the loss of jobs under the devil, “globalization” that has resulted in labour, technology and income disparities, while also eliminating extreme poverty for millions around the world
they rage against the “snobbery” and the sophistication of “Harvard” (or Yale, of Columbia, or Princeton) educated politicians, presidents, writers, thinkers and leaders including Senators
they rage against the international agreements and treaties like the Medium Nuclear Treaty of 1989, NATO, World Bank, The International Criminal Court, the TPP, the former NAFTA, and all forms of “Foreign Aid”
they rage against the “caravan” of refugees and asylum-seekers crossing from Central America’s dangerous threats to family and life itself into Mexico as evidence of the march of terrorism from “Muslims” and MI-13 gangs

they rage…and they rage….and they rage….

And the primary megaphone of their rage is the very larynx of the occupant of the Oval Office on twitter, on the campaign trail, on Fox and when and wherever he can attract a network microphone and a camera.

And when the enemies of this rage, this ubiquitous rage, this vacuous rage, this haunting and savage rage, this uncivilized and uncivilizing rage speak out in their own chorus of protest, then the lives, families, and communities of these Democratic opponents are threatened with Improvised Explosive Devices reminiscent of the hundreds of American and allied soldiers who have lost life and limbs in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq/Syria/Libya/Yemen.

Destabilizing and deconstructing the “established order” as the state goal of the Breitbart gang, and their prophet, Bannon, now includes the violent threats to pillars of a former “Washington inside” political class. Ironically, the world was much more civilized, and moving toward a more just and equal sharing of the resources and rewards of a mixed economy under those perceived as “dangerous” by the most dangerous gang in the American history.

Projection explodes in any psyche(s) in denial, in a state of intoxication brought on by the aphrodisiac of political power….and the trump gang is the most vulnerable to and needy of that drug in memory.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

MASKS of money, faith, intellect and entitlement defame us individually and culturally

Chris Hedges writes a scathing indictment of the uber-rich in his latest column in truthdig.com. Referencing Aristotle, Hedges predicts that when the uber-rich gain control, either tyranny or revolution are the only options remaining.

Citing his experience as a scholarship student from the ages of ten through eighteen to a private New England school for the uber-rich, Hedges points to the blind insouciance of the ‘breed’ to the pain of any other, locked as they are in the bubble of their own narcissism. “What’s in it for me?” for them is not merely a selfish slogan, but a guiding principle in any and all relationships. Evidencing the trump administration’s gutting of all government programs than support and give hope to those in the ghetto’s, while padding the pockets of their uber-rich clones, Hedges convincingly trumpets the consciousness-raising cry for the rest of us to “wake up” before it is too late.

Excess wealth clearly does have a profound impact on the degree of entitlement that is the birthright of the uber-rich. Power, status, privilege and superiority are the traits emblazoned on their social and political DNA, and by inference, those incarnated traits render all others as worker drones in the service of this super class. This class does no wrong, in its own mind, as that would be incongruent  their in light of their impenetrable mask of perfection, a mask embedded in the consciousness of their families, their colleagues, and their inherited status.

And while Hedges’ critique is socially, politically, intellectually and culturally valid and appropriate, there is a wider application of the notion of superiority. Such self-applied diagnosis as special and superior is not applicable only to the uber-rich; it also applies to those who consider themselves “chosen by God” as the “saved” and thereby the exclusive inheritors of the ‘Kingdom of God” in their vision of a promised after-life. Of course, the marriage of the uber-rich and the ultra-righteous inflicts an almost unstoppable political force dedicated to the achievement of goals including the absolute control of the U.S. Supreme Court. And through that tactic, they will extend their control into the demise, whether incrementally or by a single axe-stroke, of Roe v Wade, the construction of a legal and impenetrable moat around the RNA’s power over the right to carry arms, to inflict arms on schools, public offices and even private pockets and glove boxes. They will also vote for all tax measures that build the nuclear arsenal of the United States, as their black-and-white perception of their own “morally superior and absolutely correct” vision of the universe inhabited by their “own kind” of superior species, and the rest of us. They will also chant choruses of laud and honour whenever their cult leader trump demonizes his political opponents as dangerous, morally corrupt, hypocritical, and a “mob”….the very description that they themselves can only find, of themselves, if they were ever to stoop so low as to peer into their own mirror.

“Projection” is an unconscious psychological phenomenon that paints the other with the brush and colour of the self that is so intolerable that they cannot bear its pain. If I hate myself, I project that self-loathing onto whomever I can find who seems to merit that self-loathing. If I lie and deceive, I project that trait onto my opponents in the faux belief, perception or conviction that I might thereby shed all responsibility for my own lies and deception.

The capacity to see ourselves fully, honestly and caringly is, if not thwarted, at least partially blocked by our own Shadow. And the mask we build, grow, learn, practice and permit others to see only impedes our capacity to be honest and open to our own darknesses. It is the degree to which we are open to investigating and accepting and then peeling off layers of our own Shadow that permits and enhances our growth and maturity into an authentic individual self. Social insults that cut deeply, with or without obvious intent on the part of the initiator, bring us face to face with our own Shadow. “Why does that statement, criticism, question hurt so much, when the person uttering it has not demonstrated such an attitude or belief previously?” “What is it about me that makes that “X” factor so toxic, debilitating, infuriating and provocative of anger, revenge and hurtfulness?”

In a world in which only a “perfect” Mask (Persona) is acceptable, of course, the power of the Shadow only grows exponentially, given the high degree of repression to which it is subjected. And when the Mask of the political theatre actors, on all sides, becomes the dominant voice, without tolerance for the pause and the self-reflection needed to peel the Shadow’s layers to expose what is really going on, then there is another iteration of a shouting match of the Mask. Masks, by their nature, serve to protect and to cover up the fears, insecurities and the blindnesses we all have. And whether those Masks are constructed of truck-loads of cash and dividends, an absolute conviction of faith in one’s own moral purity or perfection, some kind of “star” heroism and the concomitant adulation, or a belief in the superiority of one’s family, heritage, legacy and “identity”….they are all part of a psychological dynamic which, given the current cultural ethos in North America, demeans self-critical examination, acceptance of responsibility, collaboration and compassion in favour of narcissistic “transactionalism”. Nationalism, and infantilism, cover-ups and deceptions of everything that spells trouble and denials of painful reality are all exposed as willing symptoms of the obsession deference to the public appearance of perfection.

It is at the altar of absolute perfection (The MASK) that this cultural epoch is worshipping. And the high priests of the new religion are, at this moment, stampeding the trading floors in Wall Street, grabbing the microphones and cameras of the networks, pulling the political balance from the middle to the far right, closing the borders and the minds of their citizens to the plight of the truly endangered, sending dangerous packages to public figures as threats to their person, denying their complicity in the erosion of the planet’s climate norms, and busily counting their dividends in fossil fuel stocks.

The uber-rich need none of the supporting complicity of the religious right, the mega-corporations including the media, nor the elected political class. And the sooner the cabal of the current “power-addicts” is broken, (and only by ordinary people can or will that happen) the sooner will some semblance of accountability, integrity, authenticity and responsibility in the “public interest” return.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The struggle for truth in a tornado of dissembling...where are the Solzhenitsyn consciences?

The Counter Extremism Project reports today that convicted ISIS propagandist Anjem Choudary is to be released from a British prison. He was convicted and sentenced to five and a half years in 2016 after having pledged allegiance to ISIS and encouraging others to do the same. A British law that allows prisoners with non-life sentences to be released on probation after completing half of their sentence.

Neither Choudary’s propagandist activities nor his sentence are FAKE news! In fact, evidence of his success in recruiting innocents for ISIS flows in the ink of the British press. The CEP report states:

“Choudary is a founding member of extremist group al-Muhajiroun which was subsequently banned in the United Kingdom. Choudary has been linked to many extremists and multiple terrorist-related cases in the United Kingdom and Europe, including the 2017 London Bridge attack and the 2013 murder of British soldier Lee Rigby.”

Furthermore, according to the CEP, U.K. expert and CEP Advisor Ian Acheson, in a recent op-ed wrote: “It is likely that Choudary will continue to represent a serious threat to public safety and order when he is released. It seems inconceivable that any of the processes available to assist with the reintegration of offenders in he community will be applicable in his case.”

It is not a stretch to wonder out loud how long it will take for a public campaign of dissembling will erupt declaring all of this merely another of the lies propagated by the establishment. After all, to some, Choudary is an iconic hero, and propaganda machines are not the exclusive property and means of the establishments. Nor has propaganda been the exclusive invention and device of the trump administration although the extent to which it has been deployed by that administration seems to top the degree of deployment resorted to by previous administrations.

Today, Secretary of State Pompeo is in Riyadh allegedly on a mission from trump to learn the “facts” surrounding the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen living in the United States, contributing columnist to the Washington Post. Reputed to be a moderate critic of the Saudi royal family’s rule, and clearly not a revolutionary, Khashoggi, nevertheless, has not emerged from the Saudi Consulate in Ankara, Turkey, after being videoed while entering. Cooking up some story of an “interrogation gone wrong” as trump would have us think, only adds to the deceit and the growing distrust among ordinary people everywhere with how dictators regard the public and our capacity to discern truth behind the headlines.

Some of the more memorable quotes of propaganda from George Orwell’s novel, 1984 are worth repeating:
“Who controls the past controls the future”
“War is peace”
“The best books…are those that tell you what you know already”
“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself”
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”
Also, from the Orwellian lexicon, “doublethink” is the ability to hold two completely contradictory thoughts simultaneously while believing both of them to be true. “Doublespeak” is saying one thing and meaning another, usually its opposite. “thoughtcrime” is the criminal act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question Ingsoc, the ruling party.

And it is not only to Orwell that “fake news” and dissembling, and outright propaganda owes its roots. Writing in A Jew Today, Elie Wiesel notes in a 1977 essay entitled,  What did happen to the Six Million?:

“Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last” is the name of one brochure. Austin J,. App, former associate professor of English at LaSalle college, Philadelphia, spells it out: “The Six Million Swindle: blackmailing the German people for hard Marks with fabricated corpses.” French author Paul Rassinier, a pioneer of this revisionist approach, speaks of “The lie of Auschwitz,” Northwestern Professor Arthur Butz calls it “The hoax of the century.” If that is not enough, we recently hear a Nazi spokesman in California declare on national television that “all those stories about death camps and mass murder aren’t true, But…I wish they were.” (p. 51)

Wiesel goes on: Though obscene, this attempt to deprive the victims of their past is not new. Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl was termed a forgery by an ambassador at the United Nations. We find on monument for Jewish victims at Babi Yar, as there is none at Buchenwald. There were no Jews gassed anywhere, claims Sorbonne Professor Robert Faurisson. No Jew was ever burned in Auschwitz, says a former S.S. judge in a recently published book in Germany. The chimneys? Bakers, he explains, there were the chimneys of bakeries.

Enemies of the Jews, then and now, continue to utter such contemptible garbage. And, while silence is not the answer, refuting with evidence does not necessarily gag these purveyors of lies.

Just this past Sunday, John Dickerson, subbing for Margaret Brennan on CBS’s Face the Nation, noted that there is a new wrinkle in political propaganda: insert obviously untrue information into a story in order to extend the length of the story, through the enhanced efforts of “fact checkers”. So now, the official publications of the state, especially under this administration, are morphing into a hybrid version of the facts and the non-facts, as a way of injecting the steroids of longevity into a news/public relations/propaganda piece.

Does it seem timely and appropriate to reflect on the concept of “what is true” in light of the Kavanaugh/Blassy Ford Senate Confirmation Hearings? Public opinion polls from Kansas, where Democrat Claire McCaskill is locked in a tight race with Josh Howley, Republican, she has a substantial lead among women, while Howley has a similar substantial lead among men. Is one to conclude that women have placed more confidence and trust in Blassy-Ford, while men have given their confidence and trust to Kavanaugh-trump? Was Susan Collins duped by Kavanaugh into believing that he would not have the temper to commit an act of sexual assault? Or had she cast her commitment to the Kavanaugh nomination long before the hearing? Was Warren Hatch colouring Blassy-Ford as “mixed-up” because his version of reality and truth could not countenance Blassy-Ford’s testimony? trump himself declared, when questioned by Lesley Stahl on CBC’s 60 Minutes, about whether he mocked Blassy-Ford, “It doesn’t matter; we won!” So the end justifies the means, and winning is the ultimate “end” of his zero-sum transactional game.

Is donald trump’s life-long immersion in lies and deception a hold-over from the Holocaust-denier ghetto? Are men and women becoming enmeshed in a tug-of-war about the truth regarding the sexual encounters of specific men with choirs of women? Does this kind of “denial” of truth erupt in our daily conversations about work, about family history, about school grades, about medical diagnoses, about paternity or about the way we go about pushing back if and when we are “outed” on an injustice? Is credibility the new litmus test for all public figures, including corporate CEO’s, candidates for elected office, professionals of all stripes? Or, more likely, we have slid so far below that standard that whatever statements reach our consciousness in the public arena are so fraught with “spin” and “torqueing” that the truth is now no more than a mere residual precipitate in the bottom of a long-forgotten test-tube on the shelf of an abandoned chemistry lab.? Or have we become so careless and disengaged that we no longer require ourselves to be fact-checking, scrupulously uncovering motive from stated purpose? Or have we surrendered our power so unconsciously and so completely to those who depend on propaganda to survive in their own narcissism that we have made ourselves victims of our own insouciance?

A NASA plane flew over the Antarctic this week, and disclosed some frightening information. Just one example is that the ice sheets are shedding the equivalent of two Olympic swimming pools of water every second! That is not “fake news” either, although there are plenty of people, including trump himself, who doubt whether or not man is contributing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, suggesting that ‘nature’ may be simply doing its thing. Of course, such a truth and reality does not fit into trump’s military/industrial/transactional/sales equation of putting a price on everything (everything literally) and then counting only the sales, the profits and the dividends, without regard to the lost lives, families, reputation, ethics and morality and relationships that have sustained the nation and the world for nearly three quarters of a century.

If Elie Wiesel is right in this statement, then the world has to be joining his fear;
The world is indifferent to our (Jews) death, as, in fact, it is to its own. (p.47)

Confronting Holocaust deniers is only one of Wiesel’s commitments. However, that commitment, and our shame, responsibility and repentance for our direct and/or indirect participation in such crimes, then, previous to the Holocaust, or since and into the future, depends on our willingness, courage and openness to the facts. It also depends on a vociferous, steadfast and united rejection of all forms of propaganda, seduction and skirting of responsibility, in our own lives.

I recall, after reading a letter from my aunt, my father’s sister, learning that my grandfather became ill and attempted to take his own life. However, when I inquired of my father about the veracity of her report, he quickly and summarily denied it ever happened. Reminding us that we cannot tolerate too much reality, T.S. Eliot, nevertheless, keeps the issue at the front of our consciousness, in the hope that our capacity to accept the fullness of the truth, even and especially when that truth is less than friendly, will continue to expand, as will the number of us who continue to strive to mature in that way. Our individual and shared survival depends on that!

Are we like Solzhenitsyn in his Gulag Archipelago, another powerless witness, who (living) through the experience of shame and hopelessness, now want to be heard?
If that turns out to be true, the hope for humanity will not merely survive; it will endure! The poets, prophets and shamans voice could save us once again from ourselves!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Memo to Canada Post: Scarcity and fear will not grow a healthy corporate culture

Regardless of whether Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers reach an amical, mediated or arbitrated settlement, with or without a work stoppage, the deplorable culture of the corporation has to undergo a complete transformation.

Debating and voting and even striking, or enforcing a work stoppage based on the specifics of wage parity, dental plans for retirees, specific formulae for imbursement on the new substantially higher daily parcel deliveries for RSMC’s* or whatever specific clause that might motivate the vote of particular employees…
any or all of these will only serve to encrust the veneer of corporate respectability on a deeply dysfunctional corporate body that as recently as only a year or two ago called the company One of Canada’s Best 50 Companies.

After thirteen years of full-time employment with the company, and having retired within the last month, I write this from a perspective of sadness, and deep empathy for all Canada Post workers. They are caught in the web of a vortex whose origins date back decades to a time when the labour movement was both vibrant and, with the benefit of hindsight, could be legitimately targeted as “nuclear” and filled to the brim with some sort of labour-movement hormone/hubris far more powerful than testosterone.

Over the last several decades, however, that “labour” power has so shrivelled to what can now be termed “labour ED”. One can only imagine the scene at the current negotiating table; there are two competitors how have contempt for each other crawling around on the floor blindly grasping for scraps of “benefits” (or “cost cutting”) amid a tsunami of technological changes that have impacted retail and communications strategies and tactics of both domestic and corporate clients of the postal service. A minor ‘win’ here, a minor ‘loss’ there and both sides are trying to satisfy a different political “base’s” appetite from what the company portrays as a dry well an empty pantry and a red-ink-filled profit picture.

Trouble is.. the well and the pantry can be more appropriately and accurately ascribed to the shared culture in which both unions and corporation seek to continue to exist.
And that culture and its community, seen from both sides of the river that struggles to flow between their members is seen to be drying up. Scarcity of letter mail is part of the reality. However there is also, on the part of the company a scarcity of trust and confidence in the individual workers who, almost universally, are working their butts off in a diligent, careful and professional manner. Basing corporate management style on a premise that punitive interventions are the only kind workers will understand and “obey”, on a demonstrably failed “scientific management theory” that has long ago been eviscerated from most enlightened workplaces, Canada Post sabotages itself while it continues to insult every worker with whom “it” chooses to engage. The fact is that all face-to-face exchanges initiated by CP supervisors with front-line workers are from a critical parent perspective. Whether Customer Service has received a complaint or a supervisor has complained about a co—worker, a supervisor will be deployed to lay down the law. Phone calls, private appointments, or even “kangaroo courts” and suspensions without pay are some of the methods of enforcing the rules. This approach has been proven to be ineffectual by even the least tutored, trained and experienced supervisory research. And then, following some “crossing of the corporate line of acceptable behaviour” a new policy, caution, sanction or threat is implemented effectively painting all “innocent” workers with a new layer of corporate compliance, and a deepening of the alienation of all responsible, committed and professional workers. Focused on mistakes, and the immediate need for crushing these “insects” (workers who may or may not have deliberately erred), lays an obvious and predictable foundation of contempt, distrust and fear throughout the organization chart, at least from the perspective of the lowest level workers on that chart.

I have worked with others who literally quiver on the expectation of a phone call from a supervisor, so unnerved are they at the tone, attitude and reputation of the supervisor. Similarly, some hyper-critical customers also strike fear into an already repressed and nervous worker base. Heavy-handed critical parenting is a self-sabotage, whether implemented by parents of children, army generals, bishops or CEO’s. Such an approach also insults both the administrator and the recipient. Mature adulthood, including a full investigation of the truth, a premise of confidence and trust in all workers by all supervisors will obviously save dollars, result in enhanced worker loyalty, and enhanced evidence of “going beyond the basic job description if and when appropriate.

In this light, ironically, but apparently missing from the corporate culture of Canada Post is the established and often touted reputations of Canadians for hard work, responsible compliance with rules and regulation, as well as a universally joked about compliance to stand in line, peacefully, while waiting for the concert, or even the ticket to the concert of our dreams. We are also willing, able and committed to do exceptionally good work, regardless of our position on the hierarchic ladder of the corporate organization chart, providing we are demonstrably treated with respect, dignity and truth.

And yet, just an anecdote in passing, in all thirteen years, I waited in vain for a single professional compliment from a single supervisor. And I was not being targeted as undeserving of legitimate support and encouragement. No one, in my time at the company, was ever offered a complimentary note, comment or word of support. Of course, there were a few dollars for a Tim’s coffee and Christmas, along with a gift certificate to some clothing company which has no retail outlets within one hundred miles of the workplace. Tokenism, as a surrogate for authentic respect and value, has always failed. And the sooner supervisors learn that basic tenet of human relations, the sooner the company will begin to premise its cultural attitude and approach on “plenty”. Another form of tokenism comes in end of year reports from some CEO, offering both compliments for having survived the deluge of Christmas mail, along with the usual threats to the corporate balance sheet.

Human Resources claims that they are interested in encouraging their employees to develop new skills, and to take on increased and different responsibilities. And yet, if and when there was a situation in which new learnings were required of employees, those closest to supervisors, with or without competence in the skill needing to be taught, were chosen, in order to demonstrate the low-level nepotism that drifts like early morning smog through the offices, mail stations and likely corporate headquarters. Of course, no cognizance of such an “insignificant” deferral to favourites would register on the radar of those making the decisions or on senior management. We do not normally notice the plank in our own eye, while magnifying the speck in another’s.

Back in 1984, Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries and Danny Miller wrote a book entitled, The Neurotic Organization, in which they detail the characteristics of different dysfunctional organizations. One such organization, “paranoid” they describe in these words:

In the paranoid organization, managerial suspicions translate into a primary emphasis on organizational intelligence and controls. Management information systems are very sophisticated in their methods of scanning the environment and controlling internal processes. The environment is studied to identify threats and challenges that may be levelled by government, competitors and customers. Controls take the form of budgets, cost centers, profit centers, cost accounting procedures, and other methods of monitoring the performance of internal operations. Top managers are suspicious and wary about people and events both inside and outside the firm. The elaborate information-processing apparatus is a product of their desire for perpetual vigilance and preparedness for emergencies.
The paranoia of the top-management group also takes another form: It influences the decision-making behavior of executives. Frequently, key decision makers, instead of withholding information from one another as part of their defensive mobilization, decide that it may be safer to direct their distrust externally. To protect against competitors, they share information. Moreover, in order to ensure an adequate response to threats, a good deal of analysis accompanies decision making. Concerted efforts are made to discover organizational problems and to generate and select alternative solutions for dealing with them. Decision making also tends to eb consultative so that a large number of factors can be taken into consideration and thus many aspects of each problem or threat can be addressed. However, decision making can become overly consultative in that different people are asked for similar information. This “institutionalization of suspicion” ensures that the most accurate information will get to the top of the firm, but it may also lower organizational morale and trust (besides wasting valuable time and energy)
Another organizational characteristic that conforms to the paranoid style is the tendency to “centralize power” in the hands of those top executives and their consultants who design control and information systems. Those who feel threatened generally like to have a good deal of control over their subordinates. They use subordinates to find out what is going on, but they want to reserve the ultimate decision-making power for themselves. So the locus of power is high up in the organization….
The strategies of paranoid firms tend to be more reactive than proactive. External challenges “get through” to managers, who do their best to cope with them….But strategic paranoia carries with it a sizeable element of conservatism. Fear can take many guises, and it often entails being afraid to overinnovate, to overextend resources, or to take bold risks. So reactive strategy dominates…
A potential problem with the reactive orientation is that it can impede development of a concerted, integrated and consistent strategy. The firm’s direction is too much a function of external forces and not enough one of consistent goals, strategic plans, or unifying themes and traditions. A “muddling through” or “meandering strategy can result, under which no forceful, distinctive competences are developed….
Corporate paranoia may stem for a period of traumatic challenge. The environment may cause the firm to suddenly experience a crisis. A strong market might dry up, a powerful new competitor might enter the market, or a very damaging piece of legislation might be passed. The damage done by these forces may cause managers to become very distrustful and fearful, to lose their nerve, to recognize the need for better intelligence. (DeVries and Miller, pp.23-27)

Clearly, the dramatic surge of digital technology has imposed two equally dramatic demands, one positive, the other quite negative. On the positive side, based on potential revenue and profit, on-line shopping has grown to an extent that Canada Post’s pricing strategies have positioned the corporation as the most cost-effective of the many providers of parcel delivery to domestic and business clients. From an average of one-to-two dozen parcels on a daily basis, in my own route, the number of parcels grew to an average of two-to-three dozen or more, reaching a peak of 70 parcels/per day in the week before Christmas. Additionally, the weight limit, (pegged at 66 pounds previously, and more recently changed to anything over 50 pounds permitting a second person as helper) has quite literally ballooned to well over 70 pounds, and for individual carriers, there is no helper when one arrives at  the customer’s residence or business. Clearly, revenues from parcel delivery have risen dramatically, as has the pressure on carriers, in filling their vehicles, requiring return trips to the office if the vehicle cannot accommodate all parcels in the first load, and in the size, shape and weight of parcels having become larger than originally.

Another market threat, posed by at least one competitor which delivers to the door, prompted a policy change on April 23, 2018 by Canada Post. Now, all parcels, regardless of whether or not they require signatures, or collection, are delivered to the door of the customer. The convergence of increased numbers, sizes and shapes, with the new policy of “to the door” for all parcels has combined to generate considerable pressure on carriers, as well as potentially extending the length of the delivery day. Compensation, on the other hand, for these changes has been minimal, ‘while the impact of the changes is being monitored’.

On the negative side of the ledger, letter mail has dropped significantly, from what was once two full boxes, and often three, to one-to-two boxes of letters. Customers have increasingly grown comfortable with the use of the internet for paying bills, for invoicing, even for contracts through such on-line applications as e-SignLive, which permits one to sign legal documents in emails. It is true that there are still some customers, especially in rural areas, who either do not possess computer technology, or whose facility and trust of the new technology has not reached a level of comfort that they have shifted their personal and business communication from hard copy to digital.
With respect to volumes, at least from one perspective with a single rural route, the volume of magazines moving through Canada Post has risen, perhaps by a 10-20% rate. Ad mail, however, except for car dealers, furniture dealers, and corporations like steel buildings and steel roofing, along with rural internet providers, has shown no significant rise in popularity.

As a footnote to these changes in the mail/parcel delivery sector, Canada Post has, (belatedly, in comparison with other private-sector delivery corporations) accepted the new technology of scanning bar codes on parcels, replacing hand-written delivery documents. These PDT’s, shaped like a cell phone, although probably 50% thicker and heavier, usually work as expected, although probably a half-dozen times per month, a bar code will not scan, or the battery in the PDT fails. These minor incidents were not, however, a significant or troublesome aspect of adapting to new methods.

Training in the use of PDT was superficial, brief, even incomplete, at least in my own case. The capacity to scan the process of drop cards, those little cards that appear on the customer’s door knob, was never outlined in the two-hour orientation period, resulting in repeated glitches, until another “trainer” solved the puzzle. Of course, no one from the company ever inquired about how the process of integration of the new technology was going. No one asked about the level of training, except perhaps by a corporate paper questionnaire, which I never did fill out because I simply had no trust that my observations would find a pair of eyes, and a concentrated mind to evaluate them, in some faraway corporate office cubicle.

Nevertheless, the time, to the minute, and the location to the specific spot, of the delivery of parcels and “expresspost” or registered letters is compiled in real time, in some corporate memory bank, accessible instantly should the parcel not be in the hands of the customer at the time s/he expects, given the flagging by most shippers on the internet. The number of kilometers, down to 1/10 of a kilometer, for the route is documented by a route planner, who drives the new route configuration, on the same day s/he prepares the sort-panel into which letters are manually sorted at the beginning of each work day. As there are rarely insufficient compartments for all customers, the planner merges two or three customers into a single sort box, without consultation with the carrier as to which customers receive copious amounts of letter mail. When I remarked to a postmaster about this omission of the obvious courtesy of consultation with the carrier, the instant response was, “They simply do not care about your input to the design of the sort board!”

Paranoia, in an individual and also in an organization, is a cultural foundation for , and a result of the perception/belief in scarcity, and the fear of continuing scarcity, including potential undoing. Threatening sounds have been erupting from Canada Post’s headquarters for several years about declining profit levels, while the unions has been advocating for additional community services like banks, to be grafted onto the trunk of the original corporation, as has been successfully accomplished in other centres, including Great Britain, Israel, New Zealand. In the 2015 federal election, the parameters of delivery (direct to individual homes, as opposed to Community Mail Boxes) was one of the primary files in political debates.

Under the Harper Tories, Community Mail Boxes were being erected, sometimes in conflict with municipalities, particularly on the question of precise location and jurisdiction for the decision. The then Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, even took a jack hammer to a concrete pad that had already been constructed in that city, as an “attention-grabbing” publicity stunt to push back against the decision of Canada Post. The New Democrats, as part of their campaign in 2015, committed to continue individual home delivery; the Liberals, as expected, proposed a “study” to determine the details of their approach. So far, that study, although begun, has received little if any public reporting, without any announcement of the current government’s final position on the issue.

Scarcity, however, colours all corporate thinking and communication, in the form of ‘cost-cutting’ that disease that has generated an epidemic in many corporations since the 1990’s when the Anderson Consulting group were contracted by several major corporations to gut the labour costs, thereby enhancing profits and dividends for executives and investors, respectively. Trickling down even to the “kindergarten” memo’s on safety, lifting, climate-appropriate clothing and footwear, and even how to avoid the colds and flu of transitional seasons, the corporation begins with the notion that all employees “on the front line” (actually delivering letters and parcels directly to customers) are either stupid or so careless and unaware that, in order to minimize the cost of disability insurance payments, or more seriously, law suits, treat those thousands of workers with a insulting patronizing. Covering their back-sides, writing in some cubicle, complying with the input of accountants and lawyers, as well as “Employee Assistant Programs” these bureaucratic drones serve as a battalion of cost-cutting, cost-preventing, infantilizing of front-line workers.

Corporate fixation on cost-cutting, has also driven the implementation of policies so short-sighted and so patently defective as to render the decision-makers quite literally incompetent. So out of touch with the physical dimensions of the job of the Rural and Suburban Mail Couriers are decision-makers that, only a few years back, they introduced what they called “the stick”. Championed as a device designed by an active RSMC (therefore who among the 6,500 RSMC’s could object?) this arm ranging from 45-53 inches in length, with a claw into which the letter/flyer mail was inserted, was then lifted by a driver seated in the left seat of the cab, and projected out the window on the right side of the vehicle, then hooked onto the door of the mail-box and inserted into the box where the mail was released. Naturally, the simply physics of gravitational force on the “mail” at the end of the stick produces a significant pressure on the arm and shoulder of the RSMC from the insertion to the extension of the stick was significant. Many RSMC’s have suffered significant and long-enduring pain and discomfort from having been required to implement this “equipment”. In my own case, the initial injury occurred some five years ago, and although I have complied with Physiotherapy directions and exercises, the pain in the shoulder remains as a chronic symptom.

Saving money by implementing the “stick” followed the elimination of the “Ergo” helper, a second person sitting in the passenger seat and inserting the mail/parcel into the rural mail box. Cost-cutting of a meagre, benefit-deprived, additional person, who also provided a second pair of eyes and ears to the day’s encounters, further demonstrated the corporation’s values, and vacuity of the actual conditions on the rural routes. Complaints from customers, completely unjustified, about the driver’s actions, were corroborated as invalid, in my own case, by the “ergo” helper, who was interviewed privately and separately from the “hearing” to which I was subjected. The community “service” provided, anecdotally, by the RSMC in communities in which there are no public security officers, of course, is ignored by the cost-benefit analyses done at headquarters, especially when the kind of lens used to evaluate both costs and benefits is so narrow, shrunk by the mind-set of scarcity, paranoia and fear. Some of the many observations that come naturally to the RSMC in a rural setting include:
·        livestock wandering outside their pens,
·        visitors lost on rural roads,
·        professional delivery services looking for an un-mapped road or street (we never provide the directions to a customer’s address!),
·        a broken hydro/phone pole following an ice storm,
·        deep unplowed snow drifts as heads-up for local road crews and school buses
·        a flooded road following a severe rain storm,
·        fallen trees after a wind storm,
·        a friendly inquiry to a driver of a “stalled” vehicle, to check on a need for help
Of course, none of these “things” are included as part of the basic mail-‘man’s’ “job” description. They are merely the things that come along without notice, to which any RSMC would respond. It is also not incidental that the “ergo” helper provided “companionship” that reduced the loneliness and the potential danger that can emerge at any moment. (Significantly, a law-enforcement friend asked recently, “ How secure are you and your RSMC colleagues going to be, when marijuana is legalized and flowing freely and liberally through the mail?” Even though the parcels have to be “smell-proof” those who seek to acquire such parcels will quickly learn what they are looking for.

Fear, scarcity, paranoia are qualities that profoundly influence both the decisions made by senior executives and the manner in which those decisions are made. Conditions at the bottom of the food chain in the organization rarely if ever seep into the consciousness of those executives. And the quality of the workplace (inside the office and on the road) in which they operate is literally irrelevant to their perceptions and attitudes. Are there costs to such an equation? Of course! Some are more incidental than others. Some penetrate into the attitudes of the RSMC, while others can be shrugged off as “corporate insensitivity and insensibility”.

Unfortunately, it is not only paranoia that characterizes much of Canada Post’s culture. Kets de Vries and Miller detail what they call the “depressive organization”.

Inactivity, lack of confidence, extreme conservatism and a bureaucratically motivated insularity characterize the depressive organization. There is an atmosphere of extreme passivity and purposelessness. Whatever gets done is that which has been programmed and routinized and requires no special initiative. The organization thus acquires a character of automaticity. (P.34) …The sense of aimlessness, purposelessness and apathy among top managers seems to preclude any attempts to give the firm any clear direction, orientation or goals. Strategic issues are never explicitly considered, so meaningful change does not occur. The   general outlook is one of pessimism….Managers are focused inward. …Most of their time is spent working out minor details and handling routine operative matters…Any outside observer would say that they firm seems to be in a catatonic state. (p. 36-7)

The history of at least four (not a typo) different unions to which the workers  belong  plus a history of a rigid military-model on which the corporation is based, along with having to serve different political masters in a fluctuating political environment…these are conditions which rarely if ever see the light of day in any formal corporate “critical” evaluation. Nevertheless, the implications of these imperial parameters, however, extend to the rigidity, the fear, the depression and the depressive culture of the corporation, at least at the bottom end of the operation.

No contract negotiations, focusing on the kind of “demands” that attempt to magnetize union memberships, immediately bankable, and immediately shifting the balance of spreading the revenues more equitably (a highly worthy objective) among all levels of the organization chart, are likely to address the more abstract, more subjective and less easily quantifiable aspects of corporate culture. Stability, the consciousness that no government would dare to pull the plug on this public corporation without a volcanic political fight, can and does cut two ways. It may give executives and employees some sense of security that they are engaged in a venture considered by some as a necessary public service. On the other hand, that “stability” may tend to curb or even preclude any creative adjustments, including the basic premises of the hierarchy on which the corporation has relied for longer than a century.

Paranoid bureaucracies tend, by definition, to incarnate isolated power, alienated from the street truths of their operation, obsessed with the daily balance sheet, including the number of specific mistakes accounted for by multiple monitoring persons and devices. They are not premised on a kind of mature, respectful, optimistic and supportive attitudes that seek out the talents and the ambitions of their employees. Words that proudly trumpet corporate interest in and commitment to the career growth and advancement of their workers, without a concomitant evidence of specific actions that would read resumes, conversations face to face with workers to seek out their unique talents and skills even applying those to the specific goals of the corporation, with or without new titles and offices only depict a hollowness of authenticity, integrity and trust between workers and executives.

Of course, the mail must be delivered. And there is literally no excuse for a failed delivery on each and every piece entrusted to Canada Post for delivery, in the most efficient and effective manner feasible. And the fact that very few Canada Post workers would even consider defaulting on such a noble responsibility defies the attitude of Canada Post as “critical parent” and school principal and officious supervisor. Those archetypes, paradoxically, do not grow trust, loyalty and the kind of worker attitude that naturally leads to customers who are more than merely OK with their mail delivery. Customers who genuinely appreciate the work of Canada Post delivery personnel appreciate the ‘go-beyond’ the bare minimum of their task. However, if the corporation is fixed on the minimum in the incarnation of their professional attitudes, both individually and collectively, minimum based on scarcity, fear, depression and a kind of negative stasis, going beyond the minimal will not become the norm.

For the decade-plus during which I worker for Canada Post, I resisted the notion widely expressed in public media, that Canada Post has to be privatized, sold to a for-profit organization, or sold on the for-profit share and stock market to private share and stock-holders. Given the numerous and growing numbers of screw-ups in the public service, epitomized in neon lights by the Phoenix debacle in the pay-system for the public service, highlighting what the Auditor General calls a refusal to bring “truth to power” by those who knew this mess was going to happen, long before the system was implemented, my criticisms of Canada Post will of course languish in the shadows of both insouciance and pimples, compared to the tumors that shout out regularly from various government departments.

However, a healthy mail service, whether owned and operated by the federal government, or owned by private investors as a for-profit entity, with or with labour union(s), needs to move into the twenty-first century in the manner in which in operates, on the human side of the enterprise.

That argument, so silenced in a period of corporate greed, and insouciance, in which millions of workers have no health benefits, no pensions, no maternity or paternity leave, needs an active, healthy robust and determined advocate at the corporate level. Executives interact between and among diverse corporations. Cultures evolve out of the vortex of such exchanges. Leadership at the upper echelons, that respects and works toward a highly visible commitment to balancing the needs of the balance sheet with the needs of the workers, is needed more today than at any time in the last three quarters of a century.

Canada Post is in a unique position to provide such leadership, in the manner in which it addresses the current realities of both the exterior environment and the interior environment. Electric vehicles, for example, that are safe and equipped for dramatic weather changes, ‘ergo’ workers, banking facilities, as well as pharmaceutical deliveries where no pharmacy exists in the communities, even offering shares to employees, to engage those workers in the details of the operation….these are just a few minimal ideas for active consideration when digital technology has become a tidal wave of opportunity. And it has to be seen as opportunity and not merely threat. Is that too radical for this muddling corporation and country?

*Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers