Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Vera Wang 1997, the Barbie with my face!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Ashamed of Belonging

There are times in our lives in which, for leisure or professional reasons, we join communities and/or groups (tightly or loosely led), online and/or off-line. And there are times in which belonging to such communities is a source of deep shame.

This happens whenever a member of such communities takes an either/or stand (Kierkegaard would be fond of such an aut-aut approach... but I am with Hegel, so I like the et-et one!).

Some examples...

In a beauty forum, the moderator (a little not balanced enough) censors positive comments on cosmetic brands that test on animals, valuing respect for animals more than respect for humans. In the same forum, the interest for beauty products goes along with prejudices and false myths, fuelling the "blonde" stereotype.

A professional category like Volunteer Management doesn't fly simply because it's (almost) all about "warm and fuzzy feelings", like Jayne Cravens defined them in her Topic of the Months at Merrill's, with no or few managerial skills, yet calling themselves "managers".

Among online professionals ("techies"), most are as intuitive, empathetic and warm as a piece of iron at the North Pole.

Then, my favourite topic, politics. I belong to a political side, the Left, whose interest in valuing people's feelings, fears and sentiments in general (save few spare enlightened persons here and there) is below zero. And when I come out and say which side I belong to, I am afraid of being taken for one of those rabid idealists willing to sacrifice anything and anybody to animals, plants, a sterile principle or anything else inanimated, trying to convert you to their own unrelenting self-punishments.

If I say "Hey I am Roman Catholic" I am afraid of being taken for those fanatics trying to impose their legitimate life choice onto others, forgetting how religion is an individual choice, or rabidly rallying against people needing a Mosque to pray "another G*d".

If I say I am Italian, I get ashamed of being exchanged for a fan of Oriana Fallaci's, whose shameful book is more full of hate and resentment toward Muslims, than 10,000 Osama speeches against Westerners. If the poor woman would get more concerned about improving herself (for example by accepting that feedback that she has been refusing for over 10 yrs -- she doesn't read what people think of her --- pooh oooh---- betraying a huge ego and its lack of capability to correct herself) and more loving toward humankind, she might get some chance to beat that cancer that is eating her alive (and that won't abandon her, since "similia similibus facillime congregantur", which equals to "birds of a feather flock together").

Even my belonginess to the bipolar legacy creates me some problems, cause very many of us use the illness as an excuse (and I did it myself!), "helped" in that by both the medical model ("it's all your genes' fault") and the sociological one ("it's all society's fault") to think "there is nothing I can do about it". WRONG.

So, how do I reconcile my respect for human freedom, for animal dignity, for people's feelings and for online communications? Sometimes it's really hard.

I don't want to "take a side" that is useless to be taken. I don't want to choose between a person and an animal. a Christian and a Muslim, an Italian and a citizen of another nation, a bipolar and a "normie", an animal over a plant, etc. I do have the guts to take a stand, but I won't take ANY stand that isn't needed to be taken. Why do I have to sacrifice one side over the other? It is just plain stupid.

Sometimes I am ashamed of being taken for one of "those", sometimes I am discouraged, sometimes I am just plain mad.

Like right now.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Let's say it clearly: I am p*ssed. So this will probably be a ramble with links, rathen than a blog entry, anyway...

I hear over and over again the word ethics blabbed around by coaches as well as nonprofit guys and gals, to name a few. And I say blabbed cause none of these persons show any real, factual, knowledge of what ethics means.

In the most optimistic case, they take ethics as "observance of laws", missing how you can be observant of the law and STILL a completely unethical person. In the more pessimist stances, ethics becomes a matter of appearing (ie: as caring persons, better ones, etc etc) and you hear the disgusting words: "I don't want to SOUND unethical".

Do you want to understand what ethics is?

And yes, I said "you" cause I am European, thank G*d, and I live in a land in which even if you don't go to Medical School, most prestigious High Schools (Liceo Scientifico and Liceo Classico) force you through three year of studies in Philosophy. In short: when we speak of something, we usual know where it came from, we don't suppose it's sooo coooool what we have just invented! And THIS is what is happening in the US and Canada with ethics: they don't know where it comes from, they don't know what it is, but they shove their rendition down your throat cause they think it's them who invented yet another cooool toooool.

Let's start with this, ethics is a branch of philosophy. Both words come from ancient greek language:

  1. Philosophy: from "phileo" (=love) and "sophia" (=knowledge), in other words "love for knowledge".
  2. Ethics: is the study of human conduct

There are several kinds of ethics:

This being said, you will certainly understand why I am so p*ssed.

What people get out of the word ethics is about either prohibiting/getting rid of something prudish (see poor Millard Fuller, whose life is being jeopardized by persons that not even in 10 lifetimes could do as much as he did, in name of a supposed ethics that NOTHING has to do with real ethics) or about an accountant-like concept of ethics, "accountability" (meaning: MONEY, the f*ck with all the rest).

All of this, very typically, is North American: denial of sexual impulses (and any other "bad" impulse) in the workplace (but not only... it sounds like being INTO Brave New World or 1984, even if originally written as a satyr to Communism) and major preoccupation with money money money. So being ethical becomes being a frigid person, stuffing desires inside, being afraid of complimenting a person (cuz you know saying "your blouse matches your complexion and look so good on you" is claimed to be sexual harrassment --- GIVE ME A BREAK!!!) and replacing vital energy with things you need money for. And btw also avoiding malpractice is not really about avoiding to harm the poor/weak/innocent person, it's about avoiding to loose money to malpractice lawsuits.

Not that consumer/clients suing are better! Who are they suing? Philip Morris, the Red Cross, or some wealthy professionals. For sure they won't sue the shaman giving them an intoxicating potion, they sue the doctor giving them a medication they are allergic to. These both are mistakes, but how is that the doctor gets sued while the shaman doesn't? Cause the shaman doesn't have the money and people are not interested in justice, they want the MONEY. Equally unethical to whom covers his/her *ss in fear of loosing money.

Ethics is the preoccupation to think about our conduct, when it is right, when it is wrong, and why.

In short, we (generic) should think about ethics WHETHER OR NOT there is the actual possibility of a lawsuit.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Nonprofit Corporate Blogging

Though I am not working full force, I still read and browse full force and I have 3 juicy links for you today....

I won't assume you know what a blog is (even though you are actually reading one!), because too often we do things we are not aware of, or we don't know enough about, so here it is the definition.

Up to a couple of months ago, I stayed away from blogging. Mainly because I thought it to be a narcissistic exercise... blurting out all my thoughts as if people really cared about reading them! Fact is, I found out there was somebody that cared to, so I decided to go for it.

Apparently, blogs are very appealing to people. I understand how appealing they are to their authors... it's like standing at a corner of the street screaming "Repent! The End of the World is coming..!". You actually feel important.

What escapes my capability of comprehension still, is why should another person want to hear my screams at the corner of the street? As I said, I still don't know, but I'm working on a better understanding.

I am more attracted to wikis, for what that matters. Probably because, like in Star Trek, my social/egalitarian nature led me to have a special affection toward Borgs:

"According to themselves, the Borg only seek to "improve the quality of life in the universe" and add to their own perfection. To this end, they travel the galaxy, improving their numbers and advancing by "assimilating" other species and technologies, and forcing captured individuals under the control of the Hive mind by injecting them with nanoprobes. They harbor no ill will to anyone; they merely fulfill their biological or programmatic imperative to assimilate. As they say, "You will be assimilated – resistance is futile." They make good on that threat by their ability to quickly adapt to any attack to render it harmless. "

I happened to stumble in a Beginners' Guide to Corporate Blogging, from
Fredrik Wackå, Sweden, explaining:
  1. what a blog is (not just the definition)
  2. what a corporate blog is
  3. reasons for having a corporate blog
  4. types of corporate blogs (from page 8 on, it's very interesting, and stimulates some reflections on how to use blogs in a nonprofit environment and - why not - in volunteer management)
  5. steps to a business blog

Once you decide you want a blog, you can get some nice hints on the how-tos from Mike Rundle. Those are, basically, tips on writing for corporate bloggers.

Finally, e-CIVICUS divulges the news that Citizen Lab offers free weblogs to all people in civil society using their civiblog service.

I started thinking of using blogs for keeping real contact with donors, getting input from citizens and clients, branding, but especially the hyper-used word... ENGAGING....

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Million Dollar Baby and Respect

I am really pleased that Million Dollar Baby won 4 Oscars, and so important.

I know, I know. A persons with disability (PWD) should b*tch about it instead, but I frankly don't understand why. To me such b*tching is a nonsense, for several reasons.

Whenever this movie is taken to interpret that somebody is advocating the mass-killing of PWDs, I wonder if they didn't watch a nazi-movie instead, cause this interpretation is pure science fiction. The movie is all about a person, a "normal" person, becoming disabled and deciding to die.

That's it. You won't see any laws about killing all PWDs, any train sending them all to Bergen-Belsen, any californian mass-sterilization, and such. None of that sh*t. Just a girl that breaks her neck and wants to die as a result of it.

It's a matter of feelings. The way a person without disability can not, possibly, understand how having a disability feels like, we can not, possibly, understand how they feel in loosing "all", unless we became disabled ourselves and have been "normal" at some point of our lives we remember of.

I've heard of many persons taking their lives after a car accident in which they became paraplegic, so I suppose this feeling to be quite common in similar situations. It's no screenplay. We can't deny it does indeed exist and it is indeed common just because that shakes the way we chose to live our values and our lives. That is called denial.

We can't distort such human, personal feelings about one's own situation and generalize their portrait to mean that "a life with disability is not worth being lived". That is our own sense of prosecution and our own fears of the past to be back that blind us. What a person contemplating suicide in those settings thinks is very likely to be: "MY life with disability is not worth being lived by ME". Sorry, it's not about us. It's about THAT person, HER/HIS pain, HER/HIS decisions. Let's leave our egos out of it.

We may agree with him/her, we may disagree. We may decide to help him/her finding a meaning in it, or to help him/her fight for legally achieving her/his right to die, rather than those persons having to resort to painful, degradating, sub-human ways to take their lives. For sure we can not tell him/her that his/her feelings are wrong, just because OUR choices are the opposite to what his/hers is being. We also can not, possibly, forget how that it is a personal reaction of a suffering human being. We, the disabled, can NOT deny, step on, or victimize any other person's sufference just because our big egos make us think we should be involved in deciding what somebody else wants.

It's a matter of choice. We find our lives with disabilities worth living, WE. We can help them finding their lives worthy, if THEY choose to. BOTH options are choices, and ALL choices deserve respect. In NO CASE WHATSOEVER we have the right to trumpet an ideology on a suffering person, nor to impose it.

WE cannot tell another person, just because s/he is disabled, that yet another person will decide for him/her, keeping him/her in a life that, to HIM/HER, has no meaning and satisfaction. It is the same reason for we don't want somebody else to decide to unplug the machine for us and decide that we "have to go" without our own consent.

It's matter of respect. The debate about physician-assisted suicide is very similar to the one about abortion. There are pro-life people, there are pro-choice people. But, they all are people and NONE of them have (or should have) the power of impose their choice on another person, because they have no right to. NONE of us should impose a person with disability to live on, or not to live any more. It is a PERSONAL choice, PERIOD.

And when we are bothered by the right of choice of somebody else and think it is ok to restrict it, I feel we should look inside and ask to ourselves:

1) why we feel the need to impose our views on others,

2) why we have double standards in thinking others shouldn't impose their views on us but we for some reasons are allowed to, and

3) how we think we could be able to respect ourselves, if we can't even respect others.