At the level of respect, all people are equal.

What I love most about internet-based forums is the way in which they bring so many diverse people, with differing experience and views together. What challenges me most is the way in which some people see the forums as a place to force their views and positions on others.Instead of increasing input and bringing in more knowledge seekers, it has the opposite effect of shutting down people who could bring new ideas, or great questions. This diminishes all of us.Any of us who have been in a training session will know that many people, fearful of embarrassment, or ridicule, will keep quiet. They only discuss issues where they feel safe.


“It is not the role of the experienced, or angry, to prevent the input or questions of the curious, the knowledgeable, or the inexperienced. It is their role to open the way for questioning, sharing and learning.” (Because of the diversity of  knowledge, tasks and fields – we all are inexperienced in certain areas and experienced in others. And that is ok.)
If we could all stick to the concept, “At the level of respect, all people are equal”, and communicate in a way that brings in more people, we will bring about a better World. If we disagree, let’s do it in a way that increases dialogue.To those of you who are a little nervous to bring your ideas and questions, please be welcome here.

Your input is as important as anyone else. And remember, “Anything that is said is merely the opinion of a person – no matter how experienced they are, or appear to be.” 
In meetings, encourage input from everyone. Make it safe for all to have their say. Quiet people are often the greatest observers. Without their view of the situation – you are half-blind.

Kind regards
17 June 2012

 

Request a Team Building, Diversity Training
or Team Conflict Resolution proposal –
on http://www.celebrating-humanity-projects.com
or email: brian@africa-dreams.com
or call +27 79 643 4457

English – the “common” language?

Another challenge is how we understand words and concepts differently. Many people are not communicating in their mother tongue – when writing – or speaking in English. This can cause confusion to others. It can also cause people to dismiss wonderful inputs, or to take umbrage to what is written. 
Just because we all speak English – does not make it a common language!
The use and meaning of words, in English differ from country to country. Just as a small example, the concept and meaning of the word “diversity” definitely has differing meanings, in my country alone. The differences in concept, across nations, will be even greater. In diversity forums this may be the main stumbling block.
The manner in which people present their ideas also varies. Certain people try and couch their ideas in an almost round-about manner – in order to save the feelings of the people they communicate with. They try to be “diplomatic.” Many people have no idea what they mean. There are others who use sarcasm. To the sarcastic this way of communicating is sharp, tactical and clever. Again there are many people who do not have a clue what they are on about.
Others use the shock tactics of attack and accusation, perhaps thinking that they will bring change and realisations. Often, all that they do is isolate themselves and others. Some will just hurtfully blurt out their judgements and prejudices. Some will learn from that, many will be angered and turn away from them.
Within all of this – even though we use a “common” language, we all need to be constantly vigilant regarding the messages that are being sent out and how we receive them through our preconceptions and judgements.  Are we receiving the messages, as they were intended? Do we need to ask more questions to get true understanding, before we add our judgements?
Steven Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Successful people wrote, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” I personally will try to practice this much more.
Kind regards
17 June 2012
Request a Team Building, Diversity Training
or Team Conflict Resolution proposal –
on http://www.celebrating-humanity-projects.com
or email: brian@africa-dreams.com
or call +27 79 643 4457

Racist name calling in South Africa.

Name calling never helps.
In South Africa it is deemed hate speech to use the “k” word, particularly if the person saying it is not black. However, as previously stated I have heard on very rare occasions black people using it on each other. The word (kaffir), whatever its origins, is simply hurtful and hateful and not acceptable.
However many black people find it acceptable to call a white person Umlungu (Zulu), Ngamla (Sotho); and Afrikaaner is called “iBhunu” (Boer or farmer); a Muslim would be called a “iSulumani”; and person of Indian descent a “iKhula”. The latter comes from the term Coolie. Any of these names group people in a manner which makes it easier to “define”, or “hate” them. This is simply prejudice at work.
Our politicians – some of whom fought the “struggle” for peace against the Apartheid regime sing old struggle songs – such as “Kill the farmer.” This targets the white group in South Africa, in particular people of Afrikaans descent.
The challenge here is that everything else except the use of the “K” word are not seen as hate speech – by the perpetrators. They believe that they have the right to say and sing divisive and hateful things. Until we can build a nation where we can clearly state One South Africa, One Nation and “At the level of respect, all people are equal” we will still live in a land of “them and us.”
To add a few other dimensions even within, so-called similar races, there exist names for each other. English speaking South Africans are some-times called “Rooineks and Soutpiele” the first meaning rednecks – from the sunburnt appearance of the British soldiers fighting in the Anglo-Boer war. The second is a bit rough and I will not translate it here. Some English speakers call Afrikaners “Dutchmen.” None of which are acceptable.
Amongst Indian-speaking South Africans the word “Coolie” and it’s African language equivalents are not acceptable. Many of this group will call themselves “Charous” – very few however allow others to do so. There are further divisions amongst those who originate from North and South India, with the Hindi-speaking northerners being known as Roti-ous and the Tamil speaking as Porridge-ous. This is derived from the flat bread cooking of the Hindi speakers and the porridge used in prayer ceremonies by the Tamil speaking people. This has become a more fun way to describe each other.
The descriptions of other groups by South Africans of Indian descent – such as vet-ous (White people), Slam-ous (Muslim people) and Bruin-ous are some of the many colourful ways to single out members of other race and religious groups. (The word “ous” is Afrikaans slang for people.)
And then in Africa, tribalism enters into the equation. This is becoming more and more prevalent. We are occasionally called in to resolve team conflict where there are no white people. One of the main challenges listed is racism. Because the cultural beliefs and traditions are so different one group may describe the other as, “animals.”
We do not need to separate by group, this prevents us from knowing people as humans. The time has long come that we should respect each other and venture into other diverse circles to find out what makes us tick. Are we so different? Or are we a bunch of human beings from wonderfully different diversities that have been tainted by our histories. Sadly we are being poisoned by the new wave of political utterings, too.
Let us not make the mistakes of the past. Let us build the future together – based in respect.
Brian V Moore 14 June 2012