15 September 2009


So today is the day. Every year, as an employee, there is a tradition we all must endure called "the annual review" or "evaluation". At the firm where I work, you not only have to do a self-evaluation (which I hate! I mean, where is the line between tooting your own horn to the brink of arrogance and not outlining what you do on a daily basis so that you can be properly assessed and evaluated?), but you also are evaluated by every timekeeper you work for. It can make for a stressful situation - even when you are a stellar, above the top, team player, yes I am THAT great employee like myself. Hahaha. (Sort of) just kidding.

We all think we are great employees, don't we? I mean, c'mon. Who wants to own up to being the employee who comes in late, takes long lunches, leaves early, and in-between all that, spends way too much time answering personal emails, playing online games, being less than cordial to clients/customers, gossiping troublemakers that no one wants to work with, but endures nevertheless. Not me, and surely not you either. And yet, everyone knows someone who fits into the category I just described and not too many people who fit into the category in which I jokingly put myself in above.

When I sit down with my (new) supervisor later this afternoon, I fully expect to get a good evaluation from the attorneys that I spent most of the last year supporting. I am confident about this because, throughout the year, I made a conscious effort to communicate with them and make sure that their expectations of me were on point with what I was doing in my daily job. There were some "behind closed doors" conversations where I was told I needed to be more careful in the execution of my job. There were also some times when I was (deservedly so) taken to task for dropping the ball or failing to follow through with a task. (Yes Lin, even your "together" godsister ain't always so "together"!) But overall, I feel I am a good employee and expect a good evaluation. I expect that I will come out of the meeting with my head held high and an evaluation that I can proudly show my mother. (She looks forward to this stuff way more than I do!)

But in the scheme of things, my evaluation today is nothing compared to the evaluation going on every day on a spiritual level for my soul. I KNOW I would be much more apprehensive if I were sitting down face-to-face with my Lord and Saviour waiting for His critique of my performance as His child. Am I the Christian I proclaim to be to my friends, family and loved ones? Hmmm, not always. Do I perform the duties He places before me with a willing spirit? Do I follow through when He whispers a suggestion in my ear? Do I always perform my tasks with a willing spirit? In all honesty...that would again have to be a sheepish "no". What would my "grade" be if my name were called in the judgment chambers today? Would I get a "Well done, My good and faithful servant" or would it be "Depart from me, I don't know who you are." I am praying it would be the former.

There's a song whose lyrics are: "Only what you do for Christ will last." This is true in EVERYTHING we do. Whether it is honoring our parents or being courteous to the rude driver in front of us or performing our duties at work to the best of our abilities: we should do it as if we were being evaluated in the heavenly courts. 'Cause guess what? We are.

Be blessed.

13 September 2009

Since when is rudeness acceptable?

Call me old-fashioned but I remember the days when common decency was...well, common.Whatever happened to "The Golden Rule"? You know, treat others as you would like to be treated? Whatever happened to treating each other with respect, even if we disagree? I don't know. I think we are moving away from a basic foundation of decency and respect and, as a result, rudeness is becoming more commonplace and seemingly, more acceptable. In the past month, there have been a series of shocking displays of downright rude behavior.

It started with a man who thought it was totally acceptable for him to haul off and slap a crying toddler in a WalMart store in Georgia. He defends his behavior by saying he spoke to the child's mother first and when she could not control her child, he took matters into his own hands. REALLY? Can I just say, he best to be glad it wasn't my child he put his hands on because he would not be the one currently sitting in a jail cell. He'd be in the morgue and I'd be in jail..on murder charges!

It continued this past Wednesday night when South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson yelled "you lie" during President Obama's address to Congress about his plan for health care reform. I was at work and was unable to watch the speech, but I listened to it on CNNLive. On audio, all you heard was the disruption - and then the boos of the entire chamber. At first, I thought it was a mistake. Surely, no one would be "bold" enough to disrupt the President's speech, would they?

Have you ever been in a situation where you are in a noisy environment holding a conversation and just as you say something, the room noise dies down and everyone hears you say something inappropriate? I thought initially that is what happened in the Joe Wilson situation. But if you look at the video clip, you will see that is not exactly the case. Before the "you lie" outburst, there was a disruption on that same side of the chamber. I don't know if it was Congressman Wilson testing to see if he could get away with making an outburst, but the outburst that caused everyone to sit up and take notice was not the first outburst made that evening. It was rude. It was disrespectful. And Rep. Wilson has felt the brunt of public criticism and rebuke. He has made an apology, the apology has been accepted, we should move on, right? I don't know. The jury is still out. And it will be up to the voters in South Carolina to decide next year if Joe Wilson is who they want representing them in Congress.

Then tonight, at the Video Music Awards (VMA) show, Kanye West took rudeness to another level. Taylor Swift, a young rising country star, had just been awarded the best video performance award when Kanye West came on stage, took the mic from her and then announced that Beyonce' (another artist up for the same award) had the best video ever. REALLY? I don't watch awards shows, but I saw the clip on YouTube (like everyone else who missed the awards show) and even Beyonce seemed surprised, shocked and embarassed by his outburst. Now, whether it was a publicity stunt or just outright rudeness, I don't know. It was inappropriate, disrespectful to BOTH artists, and made Kanye look like a jerk. Of course, that is just my opinion.

When Joe Wilson made his outburst, thousands of people logged onto the website of his opponent for next year's Congressional race and put their money where their protests were and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to his election campaign. Since Kanye's "stunt" on the VMAs, several people have commented that they will not support Kanye anymore. Good for them. It's one thing to be vocal, another to put your money where your mouth is. Better to do both.

Rudeness is never acceptable. And we need to speak out against it wherever we see it. Whether it is the kid who doesn't give up his seat on public transit for the elderly or pregnant woman. Whether it is the stranger bold enough to slap a crying toddler in a store. Whether it is a Congressman yelling out in what he called a "town hall" moment. Whether it is an entertainer disrupting a young woman's shining moment of achievement...we, as a people, need to stand up, speak up, and denounce such behavior as unacceptable.

Be blessed.

08 September 2009

Is it politics or racism...you decide

Today President Obama made a speech to the nation’s children about the importance of education and what responsibilities they, the individual student, have to themselves and to this country and how education can help them achieve any goals they may have for themselves. I have not heard the speech in its entirety, nor have I read the transcript that was released by the White House over the holiday weekend, but I have been privy to a LOT of discussion about the speech via my friends (and their friends) on Facebook. Most people are amazed that there is even a controversy brewing over the fact that the President of the United States of America wants to address the children about something so fundamentally important as education. But the underlying debate is whether the controversy is based on politics or on racism. Either is equally dangerous if you ask me, but one hits a little closer to home for me.

So here we are in September 2009, almost a year after this country elected Barack Obama as the first African-American President. And in this first year, there have been no scandals of unfaithfulness (Kennedy / Clinton), no scandals of wiretapping and conspiracy (Nixon), no terrorist attacks on our soil (Bush), and while the war is still waging overseas, no new wars have broken out – although North Korea has flexed. The economy, slowly but surely seems to be turning around – it will be a LONG process people, be patient. Unemployment is slowly turning around also – not as fast as someone who has lost his/her job and is looking for one might like, but there are jobs out there and more are opening up nationwide. I knew when I voted for Obama that he was not a miracle worker. I was aware of the fact that all of our problems didn’t START with the Bush administration, and therefore, did not expect all the solutions to be found in the Obama administration. It is going to take time to rectify the problems our nation faces – and patience is needed.

However, people who don’t think as I think politically/emotionally/rationally…have tried to cloud the issues for the last 10 months. Did we have to spend days of news attention on the fact that President Obama took his wife to NYC to watch a play and while they were there, she drank a glass of wine? Really? Do we really have to hear about how Mrs. Obama’s walking shorts were not appropriate to wear while touring the Grand Canyon on vacation? You want me to believe that in sweltering heat, you really are going around in a sundress, sandals, carrying a parasol? Pa-leeze! And PETA has to protest because Obama swatted at a fly during a press conference? He didn’t even kill the fly, just swatted at it! Geesh. And now, finally, most recently, are there people in this country who are seriously “threatened” that Obama is going to “indoctrinate” their children while giving a speech about the importance of education? Excuse my French but, what the hell?!

I understand that all the noise is being made by a small group of people – but they sure are making a LOT of noise. And while most of the people making the noise don’t look like me, there are some who do look like me who feel the same way. (They are just a little less vocal about it). But every White person doesn’t hate Obama, neither does every Black person love him. Just putting that out there. People have said that the controversy is not about race, it’s about politics. Hmmm…really? How can it be about politics when the controversy started before the text of his speech was even released? If you don’t know what I am going to say and yet you are all up in arms at the thought of me saying anything, how is that politics?

I know there is a faction of people in this country who want to make everything about race. I have people in my family like that. (and yes, racism exists both ways and neither is right). And everything is NOT always about race…but from my perspective as an educated, employed, never been on welfare, never been on drugs, no illegitimate or legitimate children, BLACK woman: some things are. When Obama was elected, I knew he and his wife and his children would be scrutinized as no other First Family would be – but even I didn’t expect the microscopic intense attention paid to their every word, action, deed, thought, outfit…I couldn’t do. I have always said that we (Black folks) have to be twice as good to be considered half as worthy. And the older I get, the more I am finding that to be true.

I did listen to some of President Obama’s speech today. I was impressed with his humbleness as he talked about being in Indonesia with his single mom and her waking him up each morning at 4:30a to teach him his lessons. I listened to him tell the children that “your circumstances of today do not have to determine who you become” and thought “exactly!”. He also said (paraphrase): Your failures are not to define you, they are to teach you. Each failure is a lesson in what not to do to be successful. Powerful! Why would anyone NOT want their children to hear such encouraging words? I don’t know.

What amazes me also, these same parents who want to pull their children from school to avoid having them listen to the President will allow their children to listen to all kinds of negative music lyrics, or watch crazy/stupid TV shows and/or movies or go online to various websites that are not positive…you don’t think those are avenues through which your children are being indoctrinated? I’m just sayin’.

It may just be about politics…maybe. I tend to think that if the package delivering the message was packaged just a little differently, there would not have been the controversy.

Be blessed.