Category Archives: Psychology

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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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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CHRO & AAAC Anti-Discrimination Police/Community Forum

Community Party 

Analysis of the CHRO & AAAC Anti-Discrimination Police/Community Forum

24 June, 2010    3:00-5:00pm   Legislative Office Building


First they said it wasn’t a problem

Then they flipped it—it’s the people that lack respect

Next they say we have laws (unenforced)

Now they admit it happens

And they are “working on it”

Then they switch topic—in true diversion

And finally back to criticism on the community

Racial Profiling – Daniel Malo, 24 June, 2010

In short order, made for show; with requisite back-patting and blame shift.  The forum opened with words from the director of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO).  Mr. Robert Brothers began by telling an anecdote from his police officer days.  It was a routine about rookie cops and cups of coffee. The reaction from the audience—a feigned laughter, the perfunctory kind.  Perhaps an irrelevant joke was not the best way to begin conversation on such a serious issue.

Mr. Glenn Cassis, Executive Director of the African-American Affairs Committee (AAAC), gave a brief statement about the age of the organization and the availability of reading material for the audience.  The focus then turned to the conversation at hand.  From the onset, it was boasted that Connecticut was one of the least racist states, and that very few allegations of racial profiling are received by the state agency tasked to handle them (CHRO).

The CHRO backed up their assertions with a you tube clip, showing the recent immigrant marchers facing harassment from bigots bused in from out of state.  Obviously, the racist behavior in the video was appalling.  But we’re talking about police profiling here.  The recent case of the 17 year old black girl in Seattle being punched in the face by a white officer was brought up.  They declined to show that YouTube clip, however.

The three legislators and four current and former law enforcement officers on the panel went on to say that the community has lost respect for police officers and that in “their day” they would have cooperated fully, without ever questioning officer integrity.  It is the fault of those being arrested—the simply lack respect.  “We need to reach the kids” well, yes obviously, but the issue here is racial profiling.  The issue is not just about “the children!”  What about the kind older lady, Mrs. Sharp, who’s been pulled over on multiple occasions for “driving while black?”

Well, “we have laws against it.”  Agencies report their arrest data, and “this hardly occurs.”  “The media” is partly to blame, for sure, for twisting stories.  Like the members of the panel admit, “cops are human, too.” They even “have feelings.” Yes, I don’t deny that.  I’ve known plenty of law enforcement professionals, and while they are generally dry folks, I’m sure they possess feelings.  For a brief movement, we are reminded of the purpose of the forum: the Penn Act gets a mention, but is summarily dropped.  They are “working on racial profiling.”

It’s about “keeping the kids busy.”  And oh by-the-way—there is a great swimming program—bring the children.  The eloquent speaking gentleman behind me spoke of Conyers and the Civil Rights movement, and then touted the merits of his mentorship organization.  A legislator suggested more cops in school.  The audience suggested the cop actually teaching, rather than just waiting there for a student to arrest.  Respect goes both ways.

Finally, the forum moves to Q & A, which is dominated by agency members, businessmen, and law enforcement professionals.  The community is called out, again, and while I agree that “we are all family” and should treat each other as such, nothing is accomplished here in terms of a discussion about racial profiling.  Amid the intra-agency back-patting and pleasantries, there was just a brief allusion to the fix, once and for all, regarding this issue.  And it’s already in place.

The Alvin W. Penn Racial Profiling Prohibition Act (PA 03-160), a public act—LAW—in the State of Connecticut IS the fix.  Or anyway, it is supposed to be.  The State’s 110 police departments submit traffic stop data to the AAAC, which analyzes it and reports on findings of racial profiling.  Oddly, for it being a state law, only 27 departments are compliant—and Hartford isn’t one of them.  Again on compliance, the AAAC has been unable to review this data because they “lack the funding.”

I had my hand raised to ask the panel some questions about the Penn Act, but of course, we ran out of time, and I was left hanging.  Raising their hands before me to echo their colleagues on the panel were CHRO agency members and a police officer, who won the ire of the crowd by informing everyone that “there is no law to arrest people for driving while black.”  Your audience is smart enough to know that. Without a doubt, it is read between the lines, an underlying issue ignored due to inadequate examination of the issue.

I wanted to say that the Penn Act needs teeth—otherwise it is just a database of arrest/stop data.  I am of the belief that if you are gonna take personal data, it should be used to an appropriate end.  To what end has the data collected been used?  Why have we played this charade if the answer is already out there—let’s talk about implementation.  Some of the questions I had in mind would answer ‘why, this lazy approach?’, as well as address the reason why only 25% of the States police departments follow the law.

In order:

Assistant Hartford Police Chief Neal Drieff:  Why is the City of Hartford—the State Capitol—not in compliance with this mandate?

Elected officials on the Panel; Reps. Robles and Lawlor, Senator Coleman:  Why is the Penn data not being put to its intended use?

AAAC Executive Director Cassis:  Funding?  To write a report?  College students do it for free… Can’t this be as simple as a Scantron?

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