Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword - Part 2 - "What's In A Name?"

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By Any Other Name would smell as sweet"
~ Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

And how true this is about roses, but unfortunately roses and humans are far different.

Although living, a rose does not have free will and is incapable of making choices and changing its nature when it becomes necessary for survival.

Humans can, and will, adjust any aspects of themselves that they are able, when they realize that happiness and success depend upon that change.

A human will further their training and education. A human will seek professional help for a problem. A human will stop their substance abuse. A human will reform themself.

Unfortunately, there are aspects of being human that a person cannot change. Skin color, age, visible disabilities, these are all aspects that are difficult to alter.

Yet not only are these visible aspects of humanity used to make snap judgements, people use other information to also discriminate against their fellow human beings.

This human behavior is systemic and institutionalized, and even ingrained into our society at every level, and has been going on for decades.

Don't believe me? When is the last time that you filled out any type of "official" paperwork when you weren't asked to indicate your gender and racial background?

Just as the human race encompasses a broad spectrum of descriptors (race, gender, religion, political affiliation, social background), so does the discrimination.

Making laws and rules to "correct" the issue is not only unsuccessful, it causes the development of additional problems. (University of California v Bakke is just one of many examples.)

For the record, I don't believe that there is "reverse discrimination". I do believe that discrimination occurs when any member of a group treats an individual differently based on not belonging to that group.

When you attempt to advance one group for opportunities and reduce the availability for others as a result, you are contributing to the problem.

Yet government agencies, educational institutions, and employers chest thump and give each other "attaboys" for on-boarding easily identifiable "minorities", as long as those minorities aren't a potential problem.

Ever wonder why we have a serious problem with homelessness, addiction, and criminal recidivism in this country?

Those populations constitute individuals that transcend any visible or societal quantifiers, and they are discriminated against at a far higher rate than any other "group" you could name.

The homeless are unable to get housing because they don't have "references" or a current address. They are often unable to gain/maintain employment because of their lack of a stable living situation.

Addiction is considered a disabling condition, and just as a diabetic has that condition for life, so does an addict. Addicts (as opposed to casual drug users) are covered under the ADA, and are therefore not subject to discrimination in hiring practices when reasonable accommodations allow their employment.

Most employers won't hire someone they know is an recovering addict, even when that individual will agree to random testing and lengthened probationary periods. I know of one company CEO/President that did just that despite positive interviews, references and recommendations from multiple individuals within the company. (Ironically enough, in that instance the company has a number of government contracts.)

Individuals with a criminal record? Not only can't they find employment and housing, they are unable to escape their poor decisions from the past. Despite our society claiming that they are willing to "let bygones be bygones", anyone with a criminal record, even just a misdemeanor, is often denied on a rental application and a job application. (Unless you are rich or a social media cause celebre - then you find offers falling into your lap.)

Small wonder that many individuals in these three populations "relapse". They are unable to secure simple things (home, work, stability) that most of us take for granted.

Even in their daily social interactions, the instant an individual is suspected or identified as being homeless, an addict, or having a criminal record, they are ostracized or treated differently (and not in a positive uplifting way).

It is impossible to finger point any one group in our society as discriminatory offenders, just as it is impossible to define any one group as the victims.

Anyone can change their social media profile for an hour or a day. Anyone can brag about the "efforts" they make that last an hour, a day, a week, or (rarely) a month. This is not new behavior. Most of these individuals will be on to the next cause within a short period of time.

Instead, point the finger at yourself. Ask yourself what you can do to change your practices and beliefs. Ask yourself what you can do to help the least of these. Ask yourself how you can lead others to make a change.

Life Matters! Truth Matters! Behavior Matters!

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