My New Blog: Multicultural Meanderings | Working site on citizenship and multiculturalism issues.

As part of my book “Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism”, I have created a new blog to help me manage information and articles.

Multicultural Meanderings | Working site on citizenship and multiculturalism issues..

I have also created a related Facebook page, link below:

Andrew Griffith C&M

Part of my journey beyond my cancer identity 🙂

How I learned to appreciate the struggles of others who don’t fit in

Thoughtful piece on self-exclusion and empathy for others. I am not sure this works in all cases; sometimes self-exclusion can lead to excessive righteousness and judgement of others (e.g., some variants of religion or intellectual snobbery). However, interesting reflection, that would have benefited from some examples of the author’s increased empathy or tolerance. Quote:

Being excluded from a group because of choices you’ve made, what you believe, or what you are is painful, to say the least. But it can also make you strong. It forces you to define your boundaries. To know why they exist. To practice defending them. To practice paying attention to your own voice amid the often deafening cacophony of the voices of those around you.

And it does one thing more: it makes you more empathetic. This, by helping you to appreciate the struggles of those others who also don’t fit, who find themselves trying to find their own community. Being excluded because of the choices you make can even make you empathetic to the suffering of those who most stringently seek to ostracize you. In sum, being excluded makes it far more likely you’ll be able to live according to Plato’s admonition to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” For few things, I’ve found, make us as kind as needing a little kindness ourselves.

How I learned to appreciate the struggles of others who don’t fit in.

Is Movember a misguided attempt to do good for middle-aged men?

To match some of the recent posts on breast cancer screening (Ignoring the Science on Mammograms), this opinion piece on Movember. Quote says it all:

All this means that one half of Movember, which aims to increase men’s awareness of prostate cancer and male mental health, is deeply flawed. Sadly, the campaign doesn’t focus on preventive activities we know to be particularly effective – stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption down from damaging levels, and doing more physical activity (although its website does mention them). Health promotion in this area is often unexciting and difficult, but we know it pays dividends in saved lives and avoided misery.

Is Movember a misguided attempt to do good for middle-aged men?.

Heard the one about women at the office? –

On humour, power and gender relations, a different take by Lucy Kellaway of the FT:

This all rings a distant bell, but I fear there is something more sinister at work. If laughter varies with gender, it varies even more with power. The single fastest way of understanding the balance of power and alliances in any group is by looking at who is laughing – and not laughing – at whose jokes. You only need to watch the Queen or Prince Charles meeting ordinary people to note that even the lamest pleasantry is greeted by gales of laughter. So, if other board members don’t laugh when their women colleagues crack a joke, it may not be because the joke isn’t funny but because boards can be hierarchical places and women are too low in the pecking order to command much in the way of fawning laughter.

Heard the one about women at the office? –

Embracing Children for Who They Are –

Good piece on parenting and the need to accept and support one’s children for who they are (while of course giving them opportunities to explore different areas). Most of us learn this – sometimes the hard way – as our children grow older and their interests and personalities become clearer. Quote:

The goal of parenting should be to raise children with a healthy self-image and self-esteem, ingredients vital to success in school and life. That means accepting children the way they are born — gay or straight, athletic or cerebral, gentle or tough, highly intelligent or less so, scrawny or chubby, shy or outgoing, good eaters or picky ones.

Of course, to the best of their ability, parents should give children opportunities to learn and enjoy activities that might be outside their natural bent. But, as attested to in many a memoir, forcing children to follow a prescribed formula almost always backfires.

Embracing Children for Who They Are –

Reinventing Ethics –

An interesting review of some of the ethical issues of today, and how our original morals and ethics, conceived in small communities, later expanded to a more impersonal world, along with comparable challenges in professional ethics, make the case for a broader discussion of some of the more thorny issues of our time.

How to set up such discussions, how to ensure balance and representativeness, and how to engage in a civil discourse given the wide diversity of views, is of course the challenge. Quote:

The problem with a belief in the immutability of morality is the same as the problem with a belief that the American Constitution contains the answers to all legal disputes. Like the Ten Commandments (or the code of Hammurabi or the Analects of Confucius), the Constitution is a remarkable document for its time. But it’s absurd to believe that the text magically contains the answers to complex modern issues: the definition of what it means to be alive, or how the commerce clause or the right to bear arms amendment should be interpreted; or whether a corporation is a person. By the same token, while we can draw inspiration from the classical texts and teachings of neighborly morality, we cannot expect that dilemmas of professional life will be settled by recourse to these sources. But we need not tackle these alone. If we can draw on wise people across the age spectrum, and enable virtual as well as face-to-face discussion, we are most likely to arrive at an ethical landscape adequate for our time.

Reinventing Ethics –

Suicide by Choice? Not So Fast –

Good and moving opinion against assisted suicide by a life-long disabled person, who notes the social pressures influencing individual choice:

My problem, ultimately, is this: I’ve lived so close to death for so long that I know how thin and porous the border between coercion and free choice is, how easy it is for someone to inadvertently influence you to feel devalued and hopeless — to pressure you ever so slightly but decidedly into being “reasonable,” to unburdening others, to “letting go.”

Perhaps, as advocates contend, you can’t understand why anyone would push for assisted-suicide legislation until you’ve seen a loved one suffer. But you also can’t truly conceive of the many subtle forces — invariably well meaning, kindhearted, even gentle, yet as persuasive as a tsunami — that emerge when your physical autonomy is hopelessly compromised.

Makes one pause.

Suicide by Choice? Not So Fast –