Category Archives: Language

The Many Hats of Good Leadership

“A leader is a dealer in hope.”  Napoleondealer-in-hope

I’ve also heard it said that a leader “must be everything, to everyone” and a “person for every season.” A leader must “wear many hats” and takes on the responsibility of a constituency that expects many things from her or him. A leader is responsible for rational decision making and creating strategies.

The leader must also know when to re-evaluate, and when to reward.  They must be open, and able to negotiate with. They must show consistency amidst change, and possess charisma to navigate the personalities they serve. The leader is a politician, influencing people to a goal, at the same time, a spokesperson for the advocacy, agency, or role they represent. A good leader produces and inspires.

“A leader is a person who has the ability to take charge of a situation and bring it to a proper closing, with the help of others.” I believe that a leader does indeed ‘take charge’–the leader is the one that makes a decision to lead. I believe that the leader is a manager who makes the decision to implement HIS/HER vision by working WELL with others. The person in command may be a manager, but not necessarily a leader. Leadership requires extra effort.

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Braschi – Experimental Spanglish Poet

giaGiannina Braschi is the author of the experimental bilingual novel YO-YO BOING! and the poetry trilogy EMPIRE OF DREAMS.

Born in Puerto Rico but based out of New York, her work chronicles the experiences of Latin American immigrants in the United States.

YO-YO BOING!, written in half-Spanish and half-English, using the daily language of millions of Latinos in the United States, is considered the first “Spanglish” novel.

“For decades, Puerto Rican authors have carried out a linguistic revolution, and,” noted The Boston Globe, “her novel testifies to it.” Her work is “a synergetic fusion that marks in a determinant fashion, the lived experiences of U. S. Hispanics,” said the late American essayist and novelist David Foster Wallace.

Following a childhood in which she was the top ranked tennis player in Puerto Rico, she would go on to become a student of literature in Madrid, Rome, Paris, and London.  In Europe, Braschi would discover the dramatic and philosophical works of French, German, Polish, Irish, and Russian authors. Her later works would exemplify “experimental” style and format, celebrating foreign influences.

She settled in New York City and obtained a PhD in Hispanic Literatures at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1980.  A leader of the Nuyorican (New York/Puerto Rican) poetry scene, her first collection of Spanish prose poetry, Asalto al Tiempo, debuted in Barcelona in 1980.

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Class-Based Industrial Manchester

Manchester England, 1850

Manchester England, 1850

Manchester could be considered a class-based society for the fact that the Upper Bourgeoisie enjoyed great separation from the lowest segments of society. The rich were on the outskirts, located in suburbs of garden villas and scenic vistas, whereas the working class lived in crowded “grimy” quarters.  Also, by mode of travel; the thoroughfares leading to the CBD were lined with Middle and Upper Bourgeoisie establishments, “claimed” in order to insulate the bourgeoisie traveling between the periphery and CBD from the poor/working class.

The working class of Manchester lived among abandoned and inhabited ruined buildings. It was not an orderly or planned arrangement. The public space consisted of narrow alleys and small nooks among the buildings.  Most dwellings had ill-fitting doors and windows, and most lacked a wooden or stone floor. There was trash everywhere from lack of collection.  In some cases, homes were little more than shacks or cattle sheds. And the smell…

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Genocide: An Inexacting Buzz Word

France Rwanda Genocide

Genocide is: Killing members of a group or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.  It can also be describe inflicting conditions on a group to bring about their destruction, as well as preventing births within the group and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Not to belittle the term, or those who experienced violent and barbaric equivalencies as mentioned above, but by those definitions, genocide occurs here, in our own country, first, and still, with the Indian population and shortly afterwards, the black population.  These demographics have consistently, since the inception of this country, have been subject killing and bodily harm by state sanctioned or popularly led actions; though the brutality of such grievous treatment is in remission, elements of hatred based on race still exist. Genocide prerequisites such as “mental harm” to the group are evidenced in land appropriations, forced relocations and legal codes meant to stifle and isolate. The lack of reparations is obvious; the United States still exists: there is no Iroquois Confederacy or Cherokee nation or a sovereign Lakota territory within American borders.

I say this because the term fails.  Its non-usage in the face of obvious atrocities, such as those in Bosnia or Rwanda, almost shows that the term is only applicable so long as the victim is white, Jewish or a popular form of Christianity.  Inaction almost wiped out the Jews and Armenians, and UN idleness in the last few instances that fit the genocide definition, almost resulted in the same for their respective peoples.  The use of the label is inexact, although, I’m sure, a sincere attempt to redress what could just be simply put: barbarism. I say we forget about the nomenclature, and work to stamp out barbarism in our own society and others we are in league with, rather than deliberating incessantly over the term ‘genocide’ and when and if each situation deserves to be legally defined as such.

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Challenge Yourself: Don’t Just Follow


What do you say to a group which claims to represent us all? What happens when the suggested policies of that group stands against our interests, and taints the validity of our cause?  It will continue, interminably, if we wait for a SINGLE leader to arise. In such a case, we will merely be elevating a singular person. We should all become leaders.

Our responsibility should not be delegated. If we, ourselves, do not rise up to that which must be faced, it will only prolong the tribulation.

WW1: “Over the Top” Determination

British soldiers going over the top, Western Front 1918.

British soldiers going over the top, Western Front 1918.

Most of the Allied force in that battle consisted of eager British volunteers. In one of the bloodiest battles in history, the fact that men kept “going over the top” to a coin toss chance of death against entrenched German forces.

To re-take French land, no less.

This a testament to determination and commitment to what they were fighting for. The Allied troops had poor equipment, little experience, dismal leadership, and clearly lacked the strength and resources had by their enemy…yet they kept going in the face of death, persevered, and changed the tide of WW1.

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Political Inquisitions & Dubious Charges

Some of the Inquisitions charges were laughable.

ex: Joan d’Arc’s official charge of heresy was a for a ‘relapse’…in wearing pants.

tndHG5e_Jan_Hus_executionThe inquisitions were just as much a political issue as they were religious issues. I noticed as much in my study of Jan Hus, a priest and philosopher who was executed by burning in 1415. During the time of the Great Schism, when there was more than one claim to the papacy, Hus was jailed for speaking out against indulgences and claiming that Jesus Christ, instead of the pope, was the “supreme judge.” This was at a time when the Papacy was extremely corrupt. Antipope John XXIII (a claimant to the position) ordered an investigation, and eventually a trial occurred, considered unfair for its time. He was sentenced and burned for heresy, even though he made a compelling and rational case for himself. His death wasn’t so much about the supremacy of Christianity: If he hadn’t questioned the indulgence system, or the legitimacy of the pope, the trial may not have ever occurred.

Elite Guided Revolution of Third Estate


Liberty Leading the People

Even thought the third estate was comprised of shopkeepers, lawyers, etc. their political responsibilities encompassed that of the French peasants. I found it an unfortunate failure of the Revolution that they “represented the outlook of the elite” at the Estates General in 1789.

Had power not been claimed by the bourgeoisie (in the interests of the nobility), but for the whole of the People, many of the tensions that continued might have been quelled instead of the free-for-all that took place.

Instead, we are left another historical example of revolution stopped cold by the self focused usurpations of the middle class (ex: more land, more money, more power)…revolution presents opportunity. The question is, can you get that many people to behave rationally?

Relationships Hold Power Over You


& The Power They Hold In Your Life

Every relationship or encounter involves a balance of power of one individual over another.  Sometimes it can be benign and to the extreme, malicious; regardless, there are a near infinite amount of intentions that can be displayed (or masked) that represent one persons control over the other.  “Types” of power are more narrowly defined, and are the result of our roles in a relationship, relative to the other person.  Sometimes we may have more power with certain individuals, and other times, we are powerless.  This is the result of our standing in a relationship and what level of control, be it from expertise, reverence, reward capability, coercive skill, or legitimacy of position.  I will discuss three experiences in my life someone clearly held power over me, their possible intent, and how that power affected the situation.

The Genius

Very often we come across someone whose knowledge is superior to ours, and because of this, they hold some power over us (at the very least, at the conversational level).  As the less informed individual in the relationship, we grant that person more power because we trust in their skill or expertise.  This was the case for me in a discussion I had with a physicist.  Because that field is beyond my ability to grasp and well beyond what I have learned in school, I had to trust this person that I was getting an objective (and presupposed) expert analysis of the Electron Particle Collider.  It was my fear when they turned it on, a black hole would form and destroy the Earth.  Through explanation, the physicist did little to quell my fears because the subject was still beyond my grasp, but, in trusting his confidence about the subject, I was able to sleep that night.  The fact that the world is still here, six months later, continues to justify my faith in what he had to say.

The Interviewer

Sometimes, one person has the power to reward us with what we want or need.  In my recent hunt for a job, I can’t help but notice the peculiar dynamic of a job interview that I was subjected to.  In my instance, the interviewer was less educated than me, yet the key to my employment rested on his shoulders.  The situation, for me, was humbling; for him, likely empowering. I submitted to the fact that if I were to get a job with this company, it would be in part, based on his decision.  So instead of rolling my eyes, I tried to conduct myself as I had originally planned, and put on a good interview.  I start in my new position Saturday.

A Man with a Gun

Finally, there are some situations we face in which we have very little choice in our actions; our actions are ordered to us by a person holding a gun.  Sometimes, it is a person with a legitimate reason, like a National Guardsman or Police Officer, in my experiences during Hurricane Katrina.  They were there to keep civility, and by my compliance, I was protected.  Other times, a different level control where life and death are your options, is displayed.  On a bad street in New Orleans, when approached by a man with demands for my wallet, granting his request was my safest option.  Compliance and trust that the decision I make satisfies the other party was all I was afforded. Fortunately, the outcome was agreeable, considering.  The particular nature of that situation provided the robber with opportunity, and I was nearly powerless.  I likely would have not given him my wallet if it was daylight, or if I was on a crowded block.   This level of power displayed, like every other, was dependent on time, place, situation, and the relationship.

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