This is the newest article in this collection and should have been written much sooner. It brings up an issue that must be discussed and requires action by all of us. This article questions the order of the first two business principles included in this collection. I settled on these seven business principles almost twenty-five years ago. Until now, I never questioned the order. I have frequently spoken about these principles and, for the last ten years, have included them on the back of my business card.
This article is markedly different than the other six hundred articles in this collection. It is an editorial that is long overdue. The other articles consist of my observations and recommendations for starting and running a business. This article is about you and what you must do to help everyone on this planet! The title of this article, “Intolerance for Intolerance,” says it all. It is time for all of us to scream “ENOUGH” – and stop the madness and become civil to everyone. Somewhere along the way, we collectively seem to have lost this commonsense approach. Emotion, not logic, seems to rule the day. The Golden Rule seems to be no longer followed. Instead, it seems to have been replaced with “Do unto others before they get a chance to do it to you!” It is easy to follow this new rule; just act offended and then stop listening.
This collection starts with the listing and explanation of the Seven Business Principles that, I believe, apply to every business. However, Principle Two, Treat All Individuals with Dignity and Respec, goes well beyond the business community and needs to be applied by everyone in every interaction. Unfortunately, today, that simple principle has been replaced with the notion that Selective Civility is OK. Many of us feel that it is OK and appropriate to only be civil to those that agree with us and to be downright nasty to those who dare to disagree with us – even a little. Observe virtually any social media platform, watch most of the “news” channels on TV, or listen to almost any Congressional proceeding and, within five minutes or less, you will see examples of this gross incivility. What is even more appalling is that the worst offenders fashion themselves as thought leaders who demand that they be respected for their assumed intellect or acting or singing abilities -- what nonsense!
Intolerance has always been with us. For thousands of years, conquering armies forced their will on those that they had conquered – often doing it in the name of religion. So, this issue is not new. Perhaps because of the instant, worldwide communications capabilities in the hands of anyone with a smartphone or broadcast channel, the problem only seems to be worse today. Perhaps it really is worse. Currently, we cannot count on any public figures, whether in the government, the media, or business to take the lead in the effort to curb the intolerance shown by so many. Each of us must take up the banner and begin to refuse to accept intolerance every time, in every setting that we see, hear, or read it.
A good place to start is to individually stop modifying our behaviors because of “FOOOF” – pronounced as “phooooph.” It stands for the Fear Of Offending Others Fixation.” Salman Rushdie probably said it best:
Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn't exist in any declaration I have ever read. If you are offended it is your problem, and frankly lots of things offend lots of people. I can walk into a bookshop and point out a number of books that I find very unattractive in what they say. But it doesn't occur to me to burn the bookshop down. If you don't like a book, read another book. If you start reading a book and you decide you don't like it, nobody is telling you to finish it.
Critics of this notion will quickly point out extreme examples in an effort to justify their overly sensitive views on their particular “hot button” issue and justify their “hurt feelings.” The examples are everywhere from college campuses that provide puppies to help students cope with seeing the word “Trump” to the military removing the “offensive” words of “man” and “woman” from their acceptable vocabulary. An executive at a huge high-tech company was taken to task by employees for using the “deeply homophobic” word of “family.” He actually apologized – good grief!
Showing intolerance for intolerance is probably the best example of the application of the quote by Eldridge Cleaver: “There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you're going to be part of the problem.” We must all take an active role in doing our part to turn the tides on this appalling situation. This approach, in no way, is meant to interfere with our right of expression. But, perhaps, that right needs to be subservient to the requirement to treat all individuals with dignity and respect. In retrospect, I should have listed this principle in this collection as the first principle, which currently is “Stay in Business.” Treating all individuals with dignity and respect is a far broader issue that applies to everyone, everywhere, not only to the business community. In the business context of this collection, companies that do not adhere to the dignity and respect issue should probably NOT stay in business. This notion applies to private institutions, news media, and the business of politics as well.
What side of the fence are you on? There is no middle ground. Think about it and then consistently act. This is not someone else’s problem to address; it is a problem that all of us need to own and solve – now. If this article offends you, go find a puppy to cuddle or sit in a corner and pout – but don’t expect me to apologize!