No More Them.

I don’t like Them.

“It’s a time for choosing sides,” a wise person said to me recently. Not for staying neutral but for taking action. I agree. I’m going to get rid of Them.

How do I plan to remove Them from society, silence their voices and abolish their very existence? Non-violently. My goal is to exterminate the concept of Them.

Them are the Others. Could be Them are big business. Bad government. Men. Women. The Management. Some other group identified culturally, spiritually, by physical features, or an attitude or life choices or just about anything, like having big dogs, a certain model of car or coat.

Them are a group we build an imaginary fence around to distinguish them from Us. Them are often unsavoury because they have an agenda that’s different from ours, hard to understand, out of our control, oppressive, and we feel powerless to act against it. What’s not to fear and loathe?

That is definitely the Them I want to eliminate. No one needs Them.

We all have our ‘Them’s – groups we don’t understand who say or do things we disagree with. It is human nature to seek out those we connect with easily. Those who are Us. How do we get rid of our Thems?

The trick is to accept there is no Them. They are a group of people, like Us, but the differences stand out, rather than the similarities. Probably to both them and us. The fundamental premise for eradicating Them is that people are mostly the same. The key is seeing them as individuals that you have something in common with. Maybe it’s raising young children, an illness, a fear of flying, or love of Renaissance paintings. We’re all connected somehow.

How to see the connection?

This is a triskele, a symbol used by various cultures and groups over thousands of years. This version is celtic and said to represent unity of three disparate things: land, sea, and sky. As different and incompatible as these elements are, together they create the richness of the earth, flowers and trees and food for all of us.

For me, the triskele reflects what I do, bringing together groups or individuals that suspect they are different from each other but need each other. In my professional life, I’ve united investment bankers and scientists,1 academics and administrators, lawyers and inventors, investors and entrepreneurs, capitalists and socialists, scientists and the general public.

You’ll notice these are groups of two. But the triskele has three arms. What does the third arm represent? Someone who understands both sides of the situation and can explain it to the others in terms that make sense to them. There’s no Them when you realize what you share with the other people.

Any two people, or groups of people, regardless of how they want to group themselves, can find common ground if they understand each other’s motives and interests. This doesn’t mean everyone needs to agree on everything, or buy into all that everyone else thinks. If our lives intersect, there’s a way we can work together. The third arm, the connection, is key.

Join me. Help stomp out Them. Be a connector for two groups to understand each other. Make it personal. It won’t always end happily ever after, some times there will be agreement to disagree. But understanding where people are coming from is different from disliking a faceless group with incomprehensible ideas2.

If we’re all connected, there’s no Them.

I’ve chosen a side. I choose to side with Everyone. I’m living for the fundamental interconnectedness of Us.

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1 A simplified, hypothetical example: when the investment bankers see that an abstract invention, like say an internal combustion engine, has value because it can create a whole new, oat-free means of transportation that people will love for the convenience, scientists love it because their invention is useful, appreciated, and makes them some money so they can go on inventing new things, like self-driving cars.

2  Sort of like the difference between disagreeing with your sister over home schooling vs. disliking government policy on grade 3 curriculum. While you probably understand your sister, They definitely make the rules about public schools. But there are people who have made and institute the rules, people who are trying to deliver an educational system that balances costs, modern theories of education, keeping their jobs, and get the best for everyone’s kids. Disagree with the outcome if you must, not the people who are involved.

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Good Friday News

This post is a little more casual than a business blog but since it’s a holiday, I’m exercising a little artistic license.

Good Friday News

On a lazy holiday Friday1, I peruse the news. I’m struck by how many stories there are about emerging technology, even scientific findings, and how they might effect our lives.

So, first, kudos to the CBC for a front page that I think is full of interesting, innovative stories. There’s home DNA tests, Facebook following everyone, Apple getting a patent on using a selfie as a password and full moon myths. Where to start – perhaps with this scientist’s favourite.

In this article, Howling at the Moon and at Scientific Myths, I particularly like the theme and could hug Bob McDonald, the author, for the statement ‘But I haven’t done that experiment, which is exactly the point.’ That is one of the points I try to make in my opinion piece Comic Book Science. Proving things, like the influence of the full moon on human behaviour is BORING. Urban myths are more entertaining. But so too is experiencing an awesome natural phenomena, like the blood moon. No theorems, laws of man or media hype can equal goosebumps thrilling down the back of my neck as I watch a wonder like an eclipse or full moon.

How many posts will there be on Facebook and other social media of tonight’s resplendent moon? The story that Facebook is tracking people who don’t even have Facebook accounts doesn’t surprise me. I find the internet is becoming creepy. All sorts of apps and software want to store my documents, photos and everything else in their cloud. Why? Am I a cynic for thinking it’s not an altruistic desire to help me out? There must be an agenda.

And speaking of access to personal information, this article asks if it’s appropriate for an insurer or employer to ask about your genetic makeup. There are kits now available to individual consumers to identify their genetic traits. I could write books about what these might mean (but not today, it is a lazy day). But it is another point to ponder at the intersection of business and biology.

The story about the Apple patent is interesting because it is a thing as old as Homo sapiens (that is how we decided who we’d let into the cave and sleep beside – by looking at their face and recognizing them), but figuring out how to get a machine (iPhone) to do it is not trivial.

Thanks to the news, my brain’s been politely woken from my mid morning slumber, nudged into gratitude for living in such thought provoking times and still able to experience the wonder of our earth, governed by natural laws, which we can only study and appreciate, not alter.

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1. Despite my lack of observance of Christian religious dates, I harbour a lingering ‘feel’ for them. Good Friday is solemn day, not meant for the exuberant hoopla of say, May 24 (pronounced two-four) weekend.

 

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