Sunday, November 4, 2018
Eleven people died this week at the hands of another person who never knew them, but identified them by their religious beliefs, their religious practices and their heritage. As he awaits his processing in our legal system, one could debate about the moral response to his actions. What is justice?
No clever words of mine could ever reason away the pain of the families in that Pittsburgh community. In my world, a small world seemingly distant from theirs, I could only give them my participation in the reverence of those lives lost.
I am unsure of the exact time of the presidential order to lower the flags. During my forty-five minute commute, the radio news announced the reminder to lower flags to half-mast through sunset on Halloween. I am working a short stint on the overnight shift, along with a crew of employees from my own store as well as a half dozen from the nearby area stores and a corporate planner, to remodel our apparel departments. Arriving that night, I received the informal update on the day’s store happenings as I exchanged with the other manager, our need to lower the flag. He remarked that the daytime assistant had been given the responsibility for the lowering. Since I saw it at night, it now became mine.
Our maintenance crew lowered the flag to half-mast.
One of my former employers did not lower their flag. It’s should be a bit of a detail, but in a small midwest town, the absence of action becomes more than a detail. My mother, a feisty, softening, part Jewish mother, saw it. She shared this observation with me during our almost daily phone conversation amid the buffet of topics as the latest gossip involving my brother, past gossip about distant family members, local news, elections, politics, our shared memories of my father, and any medical and/or dental concerns du jour. My hear dropped when she told me. This former employer is a non-profit institution which years ago showed me the same disrespect for my heritage in a Bible study required for staff members. To keep my job as a teacher, saddened and fearful, I sat there. Quietly.
Shame on me.
Have your own words ever sneaked back to to haunt you? I had reasoned with one of my current employees, after she had exchanged words with another, by posing this question, “What would it be like, to witness people punished for the wrong they have done to you? Further I asked, “How would you feel, witnessing their punishment, to repeat what has been done to you, now being done to them?”
(Please note, this is not an argument for or against capital punishment.) Would it change what they have done? Would it change you? Should it? In the long run, after the rush of revenge enacted and justice served, what then? After teaching for the institution, I had worked for a health insurance company which contracted with the Veterans’ Administration. During the onboarding process, I had cried when human resources personnel covered the topics of EEOC and no tolerance for harassment. It is federal law. I would perform my job tasks and adjust claims. I had no right to harass anyone and no one had a right to judge, harass or hurt me. I was safe.
As I began my career at the store (the largest retail employer), tears – softer tears, diversity and equal employment opportunity were drilled into us management trainees. I had silently vowed I would never allow the same behavior I had experienced. But there are so many things to learn, not the least of all is the learning to lead. I had approached all personnel matters with positivity and inclusion and with emphasis upon task management and shared responsibility.
I had been learning, I told myself.
Until this week. Eleven Jewish human beings died because they are Jewish. In my world, I have employees to protect and to serve. I lead, therefore I serve. I had paused in those overnight hours of remodeling, watching my crew and wondering at my own words. Would an apology from the past, from those people in my past….well, the same circular reasoning encamped its own beginning question, a boomerang of emotion and morality and now, responsibility as a leader.
I had always prayed about my past experiences with that nonprofit organization. I had forgiven them because, as those words of no greater truth demands, I am forgiven. When my mother, with all her Polish Jewish Bohemian Belgian heritage told me calmly of the flag, we had a chance to share in the memories of my past experiences. We relived them together. Together. Then we cried at the crude disrespect. But we were not surprised.
I think that is the telling moment…
Of buildings and Winds Paradox.
I had swallowed my pride a number of times. In an equal amount of times I have but to only thank G~d for saving me from certain disasters. In an equal share of experience, I thank G~d for my numerous lessons and Blessings. I have been Blessed. My latest ‘duh’ moment of entrepreneurial savvy is the filing of Winds Paradox as a corporation. Sounds simple, right? It is. I am fast learning that, if I find a task too complicated, it is not a reflection upon my intellect. Nope. Ninety percent of the time complication signals to me that I am creating complication. But, in a wisecrack, half-hearted justification, there are many entities “out there” to help one “overcomplicate”.
Creating a business? Please, you do not need one of those legal sites who charge hundreds of dollars to do so. Please research. Please take time. File for your federal employer identification number, also known as a FEIN, EIN, or TIN. Go to your state’s government website. Could be you need to do nothing. But check. File with your state’s department of financial institutions to register your entity. (I thought I was pretty wily filing to form as an S Corporation. I was. But there is more). I did all that. What had not been done – and I freely admit to the thinking that I believed it to be done for me – ew – was file with my state’s department of revenue.
So, my lovely business was officially and unofficially a business. Yikes. While I still scratch my head in wonderment that I could file taxes and sign legal documents, yet the company status with the state had not been verified. Not even by me. Owner. Founder. Dumbbell. Laughable. Nosedive.
Learned a lesson. Swallow hard, Steph. Pick yourself up. Fix it. Go on. You have dreams you are fighting for, living for.
Life Beauty Moments.
We all gathered, my family – my mother, my son, my ex-husband and I, to celebrate my son’s visit home from college. It would have been my father’s eighty-fourth birthday. I believe this is why I write, for those moments. My family is the weirdest group of people who really should not get along, but we do. We live in a world with horrific, nerve-rattling moments. Eleven human beings. I pray not to belittle them with my words here. I pray not to condense their lives into a moment of horror, but I pray for the strength to become a better leader. I pray for the silence of kindness and steadiness of intent and the grace bestowed with knowledge.
Please turn back your clock on Sunday, November 4, 2018. Please vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.
Thank you for your time here today. I wish you many Blessings and infinite amounts of love. (Neither are pie, you know?)
And a kiss for the road.