Monday, March 22, 2010

An Apology from a Pope

The Problem

During the past 50 years people have complained about priests sexually abusing them. The current pope has offered an apology. The wronged party is not satisfied with the apology. Neither am I.

First, the apology focuses upon Ireland. What about the abuses done in Canada, the United States, Australia, Brazil, need I go on with all the other countries? Seems like a trend and nothing is being done to address this issue nor to acknowledge that it is a huge problem. If the apology sticks with one country it may distract from the bigger problem. Afraid of showing dirty laundry to the public? Apologizing for the one dirty linen found on the ground by the public and hoping the basket full of dirty clothes goes unnoticed?

Second, I believe there are two crimes that were done here, the abuse itself being crime 1 and the denial of any wrongdoing up until recently being crime 2. What is the most frustrating thing for a victim than to be disbelieved and then attempting to describe the crime in its graphic details to then be ignored and shunned by the leadership of the church because the story is just not believed?

Claimant-->You have dirty clothes in your laundry basket.
Reluctant Apologizer-->We wear clean clothes.
Claimant-->I saw Criminal A put one dirty sock in that closed basket.
Reluctant Apologizer-->Please describe this dirty sock.
Claimant-->It was red, its easy to find, just open the basket and you will see it.
Reluctant Apologizer-->Did anyone else see Criminal A put this red sock in the basket?
Claimant-->I have no idea and I don't care, look in the basket and you will see for yourself.
Reluctant Apologizer-->Well Criminal A denies having put his red sock in the basket. Are you sure that it was our basket? You may be confused. Are you sure it was his sock and not someone else's sock, maybe your own?
Claimant-->Look in the bloody basket, the one with the initials of your organization and find the red sock with the initials of its owner on the sock and you will see.
Reluctant Apologizer-->Well it may take time to go through all of our baskets and all of the clothes found therein, we will get back to you.

months go by and Claimant meets Frustrated who shares his story of having seen Criminal A put his green dirty shirt in the laundry basket and that Reluctant Apologizer took down his statement and never got back. Both decide to ask around and see if anyone else has seen anything and they both discover that several have had similar experiences, it goes public.

Reluctant Apologizer-->Well we have concluded our investigation and we wish to apologize for the red sock and the green shirt, not to worry Criminal A will no longer have access to that particular laundry basket.
Claimant-->What else was in the laundry basket? Why is it still hidden? Why are you only acknowledging the red sock and the green shirt?
Frustrated-->Yes, and also what about the fact that you ignored and disbelieved us until we took matters into our own hands and began to organize? Lastly, why is Criminal A only being blocked on one laundry basket.... shouldn't he be blocked from all of your other ones as well?
Reluctant Apologizer-->Well we will offer Criminal A to an outside justice system so that we do not need to answer your other concerns, would that be acceptable?
Claimant-->That may be nice, but what about Criminal B? One of my friends saw him put dirty pants in some other laundry basket.
Reluctant Apologizer-->If your friend comes in, I will be happy to ignore her details and repeat the same nonsense I did with you two and then we will apologize for Criminal B's behavior once we can no longer stall and hide.

What should be done

The leadership spent a lot of resources to hide the crime and to discourage the victims from receiving any comfort. I can understand being cautiously skeptical and investigating any allegation but when you see a phenomenon that crosses national borders and that unrelated people all seem to be giving identical details about a crime you border on the ridiculous if you stall in your investigation and tell the victim that the aggressor denies the allegations.

Does the Roman Catholic Church really believe that admission of a crime is the first instinct of a criminal? I can understand that dirty laundry is preferable to be kept in one's family but we are talking about burnt clothing not about some priest who doodles on a notepad while hearing someone's confession. We are talking about a priest who takes advantage of his trustworthy position to satisfy himself sexually not about some priest who thinks people on welfare should work in hard labor camps and occasionally writes about his opinions to his peers.

Dirty laundry is normal, burnt laundry is not. The leadership who stalled and ignored the problem should apologize for trying to hide the crime and then resign from their positions of leadership. Forgiving does not imply ignoring the crime, forgiveness is acknowledging the crime and still having a relationship with the criminal. A parent who sees his child stealing from a store owner won't ignore it but will have his child face responsibility of his actions and still be there as a parent. A parent who sees that his child steals and then tries to hide this fact from the victim is not doing his family name any favors nor is he helping his child.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Art, Humanities and Business

Ways of Seeing

No generic criticism in this blog, just a comparison on ways of seeing the world. Neither of the three ways of seeing the world should replace the others although perhaps some are a bit more noble than the others. Looking at an elephant from the front with a telescope at 100 yards may be better than seeing the same elephant while on his back with a magnifying glass. But the telescope won't give you the details that the close-up look will give you and the magnifying glass dude won't realize that he's on the back of an elephant until its too late. Of course these 3 ways of seeing this metaphorical elephant are not the only ways to see either. I will just limit myself to three in this blog.

The problem that I often encounter is that the telescope guy thinks he is superior to the magnifying glass dude and vice versa and they don't bother sharing what they have discovered to each other. Secondly, sometimes they attempt to impose their way of doing things to the rest of us as if their way of seeing is the only true way of seeing. There really is only one way of seeing something, but the magnifying glass alone won't cut it, neither will the telescope alone. It has to be these ways combined and a bit of judgment to determine the true object of one's study.

The telescope guy may be convinced that he is looking at a horse while the magnifying glass dude is convinced that he is on top of a tiger. Combine both pieces of information and a bit of judgment and you see what it truly is: a zebra. Unfortunately we don't really do any of this because our capitalist mindset encourages us to specialize into distinct areas of knowledge. Specialization does have its benefits but as in the above example, having some generalists who see the whole picture can also have its benefits. I just find it sad that we go to the extreme of what capitalism teaches when it is self-evident that capitalism at an extreme is quite flawed at best and just plainly wrong at worst.

I now want to show hypothetical examples of how the disciplines of art, humanities and business present a certain set of information onto a public. It is encouraging when each distinct view has equal access to the public eye even if the generalist view is not presented; but unfortunately, some distinct views get more airtime than others. The topic is how to be more understanding of blind people and to allow better services for them as part of government or charitable expenses. How does the film arts scholar present the info, how does the communications scholar present the info and lastly, how does the marketing scholar present the info.

Fine Arts

"Its all about art baby!", this is the mantra of the arts guy. So we want to have people understand about blind people and what they go through? No problem, we will make a five minute film in blackness with the sounds of walking all over the place, but with no visuals, just a black screen! The audience will be disoriented as they hear all sorts of sounds of traffic and walking and see a completely black screen during the entire 5 minutes! Art!!! yeah!

Communication Studies

"What is the message?", this is the question that the humanities guy asks himself. Ok so we want to have an individual walking with his cane on the street as cars pass by and have someone come up to him speaking about directions of how to get to a place using visual cues. We then switch to a point of view shot where the audience is seeing the person speaking and pointing to different locations but we hear no sounds, then we switch to a black screen and hearing the person explaining about visual cues and saying things like: "just go down there where I am pointing and...." then we switch back to a 3rd person viewpoint and have a written statement explaining that the blind person is missing one of his senses and could not even be reading this text and that we should realize this instead of continuing in our usual ways of doing things. That would convey the message we want to give.


"We all know that sex sells.", this is the down-to-earth statement for the business guy. Alright, some guy with a cane is walking down the street and is tripped by some handsome looking guy. A sexy looking lady comes out and yells at the handsome guy for being a child and the sexy looking lady dressed in revealing clothing bends down to help the blind guy up and says that he can see her heart so he is better than the handsome guy. 30 seconds and we saved money because we shot on video instead of expensive film for 5 minutes. Make sure that we use the remaining money in our budget to saturate the television channels with our commercial.


Which of the above three is the best way to transmit the info? Neither is better than the other, we need all three. If one of the above methods replaces any of the other two or both, then we are in danger of seeing life in only one way and that won't help us get to the truth of anything. Once truth is in danger, lies will be easier to manipulate our democratic population.

For democratic society to be preserved, we need to guarantee that market forces won't dictate that the easy message will have precedence over the sophisticated message. We need to make sure that the specialist is not the only one to speak nor is one specialist favored over any other. We need to encourage generalists, those who have an over-arching view of things.