And the Oscar goes to... the Vice President?
It’s Awards Season. Hollywood, in its own way, is seeking to strike a fatal blow at the heart of the abuse which has long been the unspoken reality of their world and ours. And I am glad. For too long, powerful men (because, let’s face it, it’s mostly men), have gotten away with these atrocities.
The Media in turn covers this news. Yet there is someone, someone powerful, who, year-in and year-out, has created an environment of safety for all those around him. It's Oscar night. So I'm wondering, might we give him an award?
An award for safety. I’m pretty sure there’s no Oscar for that. (And if there is, it’s not broadcasted during prime-time… maybe it's one of those less-glamorous categories that doesn’t make it to our living rooms!)
We all know something about creating systems of safety. We do. I spent a large portion of my life in such a world. I worked for years in the Nuclear Power industry. Talk about power. A nuclear reactor seethes with it. When we designed a system, when we thought about a process, we thought, “What could go wrong?” We asked, “How could we modify the process to ensure, even if one, or two, or even three things went wrong, safety would prevail?”
Quite simply, we did not live our lives based on everything going perfectly right, every minute, of every hour, of every day, of every year.
Our Vice President has such a system. Long ago, in a news media cycle far-far-away, the world was stunned to learn of it. Their reaction? Shock and ridicule.
Do you remember? It was March of 2017. The news of Mike Pence not having dinner alone with women swept the nation. More than news, it was the reaction of many—many in Hollywood—the many that the very moment they were reacting negatively towards our country’s Second-in-Command, were knowingly complicit in the sordid abuse of power in their own back yard. Thou dost protest too much seems apt.
Remarkably, as we have now become “all-the-wiser” a year later, no one is saying, “Hey, you know, the VP, he has a way of ensuring a safe work environment, especially in situations where power is prolific!”
Please hear me. I am quite aware that power hungry sociopaths will always be looking for prey. I am simply suggesting that norms of behavior be established, especially where power reigns. Further, that those norms be so far from the line of abuse, that when those lines are crossed, ALARMS sound!
That is how a Nuclear Reactor’s power is kept in check.
Think about it. If someone said to you, “Would you support a system, a process, so we make sure we don’t put a person in a situation where another person with power might be able to hurt them?” Would you want that?
Imagine if an ALARM sounded if the VP had dinner alone with a woman. No one would assume a nuclear meltdown had taken place. But they would ask, “Why did this situation come about?”
Don’t think about how remote this situation seems to be from physical abuse, think about assuring another’s safety. That is how we think about nuclear power plants. Why? Because if we are wrong, the cost… well, the cost is too high to describe.
How about all those women who have been abused at the hands of men in power? How would you describe the cost to them?
I think I’ll write another post with my thoughts about whether any of us should be shocked by the degree of human depravity we encounter each day. But that’s a big can of worms for another day. My point today, in this piece, is simple.
How far will you go to ensure another person's safety?
My daily life in the world of nuclear power had all sorts of norms that others would find silly. Those of us in that business wouldn’t agree. We hope we do whatever it takes to keep others safe.
Today, my life appears much more mundane. Can I tell you something? Our organization is virtual. I have a part-time Assistant. She is great. She is terrific. As my assistant, other than my wife, she knows a great deal about my life. She lives 4 miles from my home.
We meet in public.
We each drive about 6 to 10 miles to meet in public. You might ask, “Why?”
It is not because I am a power wielding sociopath, hell-bent on satisfying my most depraved carnal desires. It is because I want to create a safe work environment.
Someone once said, “Why don’t you just have your wife home, and then she can come over?” I have done that; twice. The Bill Cosby case was in the news. I looked at his wife. I heard the innuendo in the voices of the reporters. I immediately stopped meeting in my home. I would not do that to my wife, or my assistant.
Many think me a Puritan. Uptight. Even “Mike Pence-ish”. You know what? I don’t care.
Our VP’s behavior does not disadvantage women… it is not akin to Sharia law… it is simply a system that aims to keep everyone safe. Can we just admit: even good people, when they are having really bad days, do stupid and harmful things?
Let’s give our VP an award—and more importantly, let’s learn from him.