Above all things, be humble. A good friend of mine told me this. He mentioned this advice after I reported a downfall of someone who was part of a role that was uncomfortable in my life.
Be fully mindful that all things can, do and will change. For as the saying goes, “What goes around, comes around.”
They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. They also say, which is biblical, and for the moment, I ask that you please excuse the reference but in any case; they say, “He among you who is without sin; let him be the one to cast the first stone.”
This is no different from the saying that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. For the record, I don’t know anyone who is able to cast the first stone. But if I was to ever place a wager, I’d bet there’s a long line for the person who casts the second.
For the record, I’ve seen people in glass houses throwing stones. I’ve watched the pot call the kettle black. I’ve seen the gossip mills and the rumor factories go to work.
I had to take this all into consideration because, yes, I admit it. I admit that I have fallen to the spell of temporary popularity. I admit to being part of the gossiping committee. I also admit to the humbling experience of falling from the bright lights to the darkness of the bottom.
In some cases, the spotlight is not the right light. I can say this was certainly true for me. Instead, the shared light is the best light— and I learned this the hard way. I learned this after a life altering experience. I learned that office politics and the act of “Othering” are nothing short of destructive. This is when people or groups are labeled as different or not worthy and less than.
This is no different than the “Cool kids” table in high school, which is amazing to me when we see this in the workplace. One would think that people mature. One would think that childish games and mental or emotional warfare would be left to children. But no. This is still real.
I have seen othering in the corporate structure. I have seen the need to have a scapegoat. I have seen jealousy and insecurity in the boardrooms; and as a result, I have watched the slander campaigns become literally no different than the writing on the bathroom walls in middle school. This is why there is a need for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officers. This is not to point out the flaws of one specific item but instead, this is a movement to create fairness and justice at a system-wide level.
I have seen patterns of exclusion and the need to push identities to be ostracized as different from the norm. I’ve seen the movements turn like unnoticeable gears that churn in a machine-like fashion. This is not only towards culture; this is to keep people down and prevent them from being included or stop someone from becoming relevant. I’ve seen this and yet, what do you do?
No one wants this fight. No one wants to be the outsider and no one wants to be the person who is punished. Yet, this happens just for the sake of punishment—so this way, others can breathe easier and feel better about their lives. This way, the opposition can be silenced. I’ve seen this happen after sales meetings. I’ve seen this happen in different work atmospheres and yet, no matter which environment this is; this is still painfully real.
I have seen this and with regret, I admit that I can see places in my history where I was guilty of the same thing. However, I learned from this. I learned the difference between friends and opportunists. I saw what happens when the popular are exposed and then suddenly, I have seen how fast the social piranhas come along and pick them to the bone.
By the way, this is real. This is also why I’ve made certain changes in my personal politics. This is why I understand that anything you say, can and will be used against you; especially in the wrong crowds. Additionally, this is why I started to learn more about myself.
Where does this come from?
Is othering no different than grade school bullying? Is this a way to cancel a person or group so that another person or group can stay relative or “Be cool?”
In the aftermath of a personal fall, I found the need to question myself. I wanted to understand where my motivations came from. I wanted to understand how my actions honored me, (because they didn’t) and as someone who experienced bullying and “Othering” in my personal life, why did I find myself in the bosom of the same beast?
I wanted to learn more about our social pathology. Is othering a simple measure of wanting to fit or be included? Is this more about competition to be on top, like King (or Queen) of the Mountain — or, is this the fear that people are unable to compete on a fair basis? Hence, since people cannot compete on an even playing field, they turn to the slander campaigns. They hit the rumor factories.
I have to say this: Be assured that bullying is alive and well and that unfortunately, this exists at any age. I see the young people who enter the working world. I see their smiles and my heart beats for them. I smile and hope that they make a better future for themselves. My hope for them is a better level of interpersonal tolerance, kindness, patience and understanding. My hope is that they learn from our mistakes and make a brighter future.
Years back, I heard the poet Saul Williams quote a line from Henry David Theroux.
“What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”
I heard this before; however, I heard this quote differently when Mr. Williams said it
This quote is something that opened my eyes to my own behavior. I offer this here to you because this helped me to understand the pathology of my own reactions.
By now, you are noticing a theme in my entries about working for a living. I explain this because in fact, I am a real person. I have flaws and defects the same as anyone else. I have thoughts and feelings. I have emotions and passions and fears that can be difficult to see through. I have the desire to improve and achieve. I am like you or anyone else in the world. At the same time, exactly like you in the sense that I am perfectly unique.
I have my own thoughts, my own views and my own vision. However, I do want to see this world become a better place; — and as a person who works in this world and as someone with social anxieties, challenges and personal discomforts, I enter my thoughts here with hopes to create an internal disruption.
I write this to be an advocate for change—and not just for a change in me. I write this for those who are like me, who have felt what it means to be an outsider.
I write this so that they may find a springboard of motivation and leap to learn for themselves. I write this to inspire and to be sure that we are heard, included and to empower us all to seek the equity we so greatly deserve.
On your mark, get set . . .