By Bob Williams
President Obama recently suggested that someone should "write a manual" for people so that they would not keep repeating the errors of the past! Some might suggest that the "manual" is already written.
There is a discrimination that pervades all cultural, racial, sex and/or sexual preference, marriage status, economic or job status, education, special needs, fat, skinny or any other of the most commonly pilloried differences in the human condition. It may be the final chapter in the "manual" President Obama suggests... or maybe the core text of Discrimination U?
Some might even claim it is the most virulent form of discrimination because it has no hype, no symbol to burn or ban, no marches (who has time?), few understated, subtle protests, no fire bombs, no sensationalism or even a hint of the enormity coming through the evening news nauseam! It sneaks up on you. It has no mercy and is growing in our corporations. It is the most commonly accepted, promoted and openly discussed discrimination - even in cultures with strong histories of respect and value for experience - hungry lawyers, usually after fat corporate targets, will recommend against litigation because... well, chances are remote that anyone will win, or even care...
Ignored by governments and media alike, there is a discrimination that cannot be more pervasive and condoned than the last chapter of the Human Manual! Some artists write and sing about it respectfully, intelligently and yes, emotionally as the dread and inevitability, like a problem in logistics, always appears. Like logistics, there is always a price we will pay for NOT listening to those who have gone before us...
"It is the doom of man, that he forgets", Merlin declared, and many brilliant people have spoken tirelessly about our inability to learn from our mistakes. You would think that the business of business would demand that we learn from our mistakes. Wise men tell us that failure should TEACH us more than the petty emotions on which we want to dwell, and that we should stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us in order to avoid the same pitfalls. All good to say, but when we come to the end of the day, we all have to read the "last chapter".
So, respect falls to the wayside. Honorable and driven people are ignored or worse, forced to leave the teams they lead and even create. People who WOULD choose to retire and do nothing until they die are cheated out of that avenue as well way too often. As always, there are exceptions and inspired enclaves that want to have the benefits of learning from each other - how novel - instead of the continual one dimensional perspective of constant derogation.
Unfortunately, that does not cripple or even slow the onslaught on the largest group of victims in the world. There are companies discovering that cutting costs by ditching seniority is actually VERY costly, but they are rare - VW, Cisco, Whole Foods and a few other entrepreneurs come to mind - graduates of Discrimination U? Cannot think of any in shipping, so if you know any, please share via comments on line?!?!
In the end, and make no mistake that IS what we are talking about, all of the hustlers will find that not having the respect, caring, creativity, honesty, intelligence, curiosity and integrity to learn from the seniors who are not too embittered to share (very few), will have serious and long term consequences. EVERYONE gets there, sooner or later, and the "manual" that the American President suggested is already well published in the minds, hearts and souls of anyone who has lived through three or four generations. All we have to do, is learn how to read it...