Ethics of Dignity

By Maira Hernandez
“Many said this image violated the dignity of this girl”

I came upon this photograph years ago, when I had just started my undergrad I believe, and it made me wonder where the line is drawn.  How could the photographer not help her? Then I learned he had committed suicide, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be in his shoes either.  I was upset he had won a Pulitzer even though he hadn’t helped the little girl.  Then again, I guess he felt the same way.  

Many people expressed their indignation about this photograph citing the ethics of journalism.  Many said this image violated the dignity of this little girl.  However, I don’t think the picture violated the rights or dignity of the little girl anymore than they had already been violated by the rest of the world by letting her get to that condition.  That picture speaks tons of what governments and international NGOs are and aren’t doing.  It speaks of how we put political interests over the welfare of fellow human beings… It is indeed a powerful image.

How easy it is for us to sit and judge others from the comfort  our homes.  Judging is so much easier than getting off our butts and actually doing something.  Nothing of moral or social worth has ever been accomplished by judging.

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El Poderoso Ego

Una pequeña palabra con graves consecuencias.
Viene en todos los colores, formas y tamaños. No mira raza, género, estrato social, idiomas, profesiones, edad, estatus marital, religión, educación, lo ignora todo. El poderoso ego se sienta a sus pies y le carcome los tobillos, despacio y delicadamente, los carcome hasta que le paraliza. El poderoso ego es un mal invisible capaz de arrasar reinos, consumir gobernantes, destruir matrimonios y enceguecer líderes de todos los tamaños y caminos de la vida.
En un tiempo el ego no era más que otra criatura invisible como las muchas otras que caminaban junto a la humanidad. Tenía un propósito, ayudaba a los individuos a mantener un básico sentido de sí mismos, de su identidad y de orgullo por lo que podían hacer por otros y por sí mismos. El ego de cada individuo debía permanecer de cierto tamaño, pequeño, para que no se chocara con el ego de otros en el mercado, el parque, el trabajo o la plaza. Nadie lo sabía con certeza pero se decía que si dos egos se chocaban sus dueños serian sobrecogidos por una rabia muy fuerte y permanecerían así por un tiempo indefinido. Nadie quería ver esto por lo tanto los humanos se aseguraron de llenar el espacio entre los egos con amor y armonía. El amor por su puesto traía consigo otras buenas cosas tales como el respeto lo cual le permitía a los humanos vivir cerca con sus egos bajo control.
La tierra vio el nacimiento de un hombre un día de verano en un año hace tiempo olvidado. Este no era un hombre ordinario, tenía un regalo especial otorgado por los dioses, belleza sin igual. Los dioses querían darle a los humanos un monumento viviente en honor a la perfecta armonía que habían alcanzado en la tierra, así que el perfecto Narciso fue enviado a vivir entre ellos. Como cualquier humano a Narciso le fue dado un ego propio, un simple ego que caminaba justo a sus pies. Los humanos veían su belleza como un regalo y lo trataban como tal. Narciso amaba a los humanos y admiraba su belleza que era tan diversa como los colores del arcoíris.

Extrañamente a veces cuando la gente halagaba a Narciso su ego le lamia los dedos de los pies, y él se sentía bien…su ego aprendió este truco y de una manera extraña se sentía silenciosamente poderoso.

El ego de Narciso creció un poco más de lo normal lo cual era un evento sin precedentes. Con la intención de cuidarlo y evitar un accidente, el orgullo de Narciso también fue creciendo. Narciso empezó a sentirse enfermo, no podía dormir, su alma no encontraba reposo. De repente pensó que los halagos que le daba la gente no eran regalos sino impuestos que debían pagarle por caminar entre humanos imperfectos siendo él una perfecta creación de los dioses. Sus pensamientos eran erráticos, su genio era inestable, su cuerpo temblaba de frio y luego se estremecía de fiebre, era como si una infección se le comiera los huesos…su ego ya no le lamia los dedos, se le estaba tragando los tobillos.

En un momento de lucidez Narciso decidió sumergir su cuerpo en un rio cristalino con la esperanza de que la infección dejara su cuerpo. Tomo su capa y corrió por la ciudad pero su ego era ya muy grande al igual que el orgullo que quería protegerlo. Miraba con desprecio a los que le halagaban, pensamientos de grandeza corrían por su cabeza, se sentía como un gigante bailando el vals sobre insignificantes hormigas y hablaba como tal.

Llego al bosque y corrió tan rápido como pudo pero sus tobillos estaban débiles y sus pasos se entorpecieron. Justo antes de llegar al rio sus piernas cedieron a las heridas en sus tobillos y se desplomó violentamente. El mundo paro por un instante. Sus ojos encontraron su reflejo en el agua cristalina y descubrió un amor enfermizo, amor por su propia imagen, amor por su reflejo, amor por su ego. Su ego también descubrió algo valioso en el reflejo de Narciso, descubrió un poder que solo podía ser desatado al crecer mas allá de lo que permitían los humanos. Entre más Narciso miraba su reflejo en el agua más crecían su ego y su orgullo. Narciso fue incapaz de separar sus ojos de su propio reflejo y murió de hambre en la orilla del rio junto con su orgullo. El ego de Narciso corrió desenfrenado por las calles de la ciudad anunciando jactanciosamente que si ellos crecían un poco más los humanos serian subyugados a su mandato.

A medida que los egos crecían descontroladamente los orgullos crecían a la vez tratando de evitar una catástrofe, pero las cosas estaban tan fuera de control que aun los dioses le dieron la espalda a la tierra. Los humanos se enfurecieron unos con otros, nuevos sentimientos sobrecogieron la tierra. La ansiedad mantenía a la gente despierta planeando maneras de proteger sus egos. La gente se preocupaba por sus propias necesidades y las de nadie más así que el egoísmo empezó a correr por la tierra bajo el pretexto de la sobrevivencia del más fuerte. No había un antídoto para la plaga que el ego había traído al mundo. La única solución era matar el ego de cada ser humano. Pero los egos eran muy persuasivos y convencían a la gente de no darles sentencia de muerte a cambio de grandes recompensas.

En vista de la desgracia y el evidente fin que venía sobre el mundo conocido, un grupo de individuos hizo un pacto. Se reunieron en una playa desolada al atardecer y sacrificaron sus egos por amor de unos a otros. Sabían que la sociedad los iba a tildar de tontos y locos y tal vez quitarles la vida. En vez de regresar a esa ciudad agonizante construyeron una balsa y desaparecieron en el horizonte.

Miles de años después la tierra sigue siendo dominada por algunos de los principios que destruyeron esa sociedad creada por los dioses. De una manera sofisticada nuestro ego aun dirige la tierra. Si usted duda la naturaleza o la veracidad de esta historia déjeme hacerle una pregunta ¿qué pasa cuando alguien toca su ego y no para halagarlo? ¿No se infla su orgullo y sale al rescate? ¿No es usted sobrecogido por un sentimiento poco agradable? ¿No siente la terrible necesidad de defender su ego con mil razones? En ese caso mi historia es verdad.

Las buenas noticias son que esos individuos que desaparecieron en una balsa crearon un mundo más allá del sol. Ese mundo es regido por principios perpendiculares a los nuestros. Cada tantos años un ciudadano de ese mundo viene al nuestro con la esperanza de en encontrar gente dispuesta a establecer una sociedad como la de ellos en esta tierra. Lo que ocurre es que ellos desean regresar a casa y vivir como se vivía en la era antes del ego.

Pocos individuos han decidido ir contra la corriente y han tomado el reto. Ellos sacrifican su ego y se convierten en líderes en busca de un propósito más grande que sí mismos. Usted reconocerá a estos individuos por la manera en que hablan, actúan y como se mueven por la tierra.

Si usted tiene la fortuna de tropezarse con uno de ellos notará que no hablan por horas acerca de sí mismos, de su grandeza y magnificencia. Estos individuos son únicos ya que no temen promover a aquellos debajo de ellos, de hecho se ha dicho que ellos se complacen en ayudar a otros a crecer. Estos individuos son lo suficientemente locos como para liderar con su ejemplo y poner el interés de otros antes del propio.  Hábleles acerca del ego y los verá reírse, ellos dicen que necesitan sus tobillos saludables ya que los líderes están en constante movimiento. Los mejores de ellos son humildes y reconocen que el liderazgo no se trata de ellos sino de quienes los siguen. Estos líderes sacan lo mejor de quienes los rodean, ellos son la gente que viene de mas allá del sol.

Tristemente, al igual que Narciso muchos de nosotros nos sentamos junto a un rio a alimentar nuestro ego cuando hay tanto que hacer en esta tierra.

Yo he tenido la bendición de ver muchos de estos líderes de cerca. No se equivoque, ellos no son hechos en un molde especifico. Algunos de ellos son maestros, entrenadores, ejecutivos, predicadores, madres, padres, mecánicos, inventores, músicos, escritores, cocineros, secretarias, soldados…Ellos también vienen en todas las formas y tamaños sin importar su raza, género, estrato social, idioma, estado marital o edad.

Ellos mueven nuestro mundo.

PK

The Mighty Ego

Such a small word with such great consequences. 

It comes in all colors, shapes and sizes. It disregards race, ethnicity, gender, social status, language barriers, professions, age, marital status, religion, education, it disregards it all. The mighty ego sits at your footstool and gnaws on your heels, slowly and delicately, it gnaws until it cripples you. The mighty ego is an invisible evil capable of running down kingdoms, eating away rulers, destroying marriages, and blinding leaders of all sizes and walks of life.
Once upon a time ego was nothing but another invisible creature like many others walking alongside humankind. It served a purpose, it helped individuals keep a basic sense of self, identity, and pride for who they were and what they could do for one another. Each individual’s ego had to remain a certain size, small, so that it would not bump into other people’s egos at the market, the park, the workplace or the bar. No one was certain, but it was said that if two egos bumped into each other their human owners would be overtaken by rage and remain in an irate state for an indefinite period of time. No one wanted to see this, so they made sure to fill up the space in between egos with love and harmony. Love of course carried with it respect and all these other goodies that allowed humans to live closely while keeping their egos at bay.
Earth saw the birth of a man on a summer day of a year long ago forgotten. This was no ordinary man, he had a special gift granted by the gods, unparalleled beauty. The gods wanted to grant humans a living monument in honor of the perfect harmony they had achieved on earth, therefore perfect Narcissus was sent to live among them. As any human Narcissus was granted an ego of his own, a simple ego that walked next to his feet like everybody else’s.  Humans perceived his beauty as a gift and treated him as such. Narcissus loved humans too and admired their beauty which was as diverse as the colors in the rainbow.
Strangely enough sometimes when Narcissus was paid a compliment his ego would nibble on his toes, and it felt good…his ego learned this trick and in a weird way felt silently empowered.
Narcissus’ ego grew a little more than normal which was an unprecedented event. In a effort to guard it and avoid a collision, his pride grew a little too. Narcissus started feeling ill, he could not sleep, his soul could find no rest. Suddenly he thought compliments were not meant to be gifts but rather taxes owed to him for walking among imperfect humans while being a perfect creation of the gods. His thoughts were erratic, his mood was unstable, his body would shiver with cold then tremble with fever, it was like an infection was eating his bones…his ego was no longer nibbling his toes, it was gnawing his heels.
In a moment of lucidity he decided to submerge his body in a crystal river hoping the infection would leave his body. He took his cape and ran through town but his ego had grown very large and so did his pride to protect it. He disdained those who payed him compliments, thoughts of grandeur were running through his head, he felt like a giant waltzing over meaningless ants and talked as such.
He reached the forest and ran as fast as he could but his heels were growing weak and his steps became gawky. Just before reaching the river his legs gave in and he violently fell to the ground. The world stood still.  His eyes caught a glimpse of his reflection in the water and he discovered a sick love, love for his own image, love for his reflection, love for his ego. Ego too discovered something in that reflection, it discovered a great power which could only be unlocked by growing above the standard size humans had allowed for egos. The more Narcissus stared at his reflection the more his ego grew and his pride with it. Narcissus was unable to take his eyes from his own image and died on that river bank and his pride with him. His ego ran rampant through the streets of the city boastfully announcing to all other egos that if they grew just a little more humankind would be subjugated to their rule.
As egos uncontrollably grew so did pride trying to avoid a catastrophe but things were so out of hand even the gods turned their back on earth. Humans grew angry at each other, new types of feelings took over the earth. Anxiety kept people awake at night devising ways to protect their ego. People now cared about their own needs and no one else’s therefore selfishness started roaming the earth with a pretense known as survival of the fittest. There was no antidote for the plague that ego had brought to the world. The only solution was to kill each human’s ego. But egos were very persuasive, they talked their way out of death sentences and promised great rewards to those who let them live.
In light of this disgrace and the evident coming of the end of the world as humans knew it a group of individuals made a pact. They met on a desolated beach at sunset and sacrificed their egos out of love for one another. They knew that society would deem them fools and insane and perhaps take their lives. Instead of going back to that agonizing city they built a raft and disappeared in the horizon.
Thousands of years later the earth is still dominated by some of the principles that destroyed that society created by the gods. In sophisticated ways our egos still run this earth. If you doubt the nature of this story let me ask you, what happens when someone touches your ego other than to pay it compliments? Doesn’t your pride get inflated and comes out to the rescue? Aren’t you taken over by a feeling less than pleasant? Don’t you feel the eager need to defend your ego and guard it with thousands of reasons? If that is the case then my story is true.
The good news is that those individuals who disappeared on a raft created a world beyond the sun. That world is run by principles perpendicular to ours. Every few years a citizen of that world comes to our world in hopes of finding people willing to establish a society like theirs on this earth. See, their desire is to come back home and live as we used to live in the pre-ego times.
A few individuals have decided to go against the odds and take up the challenge. They sacrifice their egos and become leaders seeking a greater purpose than their own. You will recognize these individuals because of the way they talk, act and move around the earth.
If you are fortunate enough to stumble upon one you will notice they don’t go on and on about themselves, their grandeur and magnificence. These individuals are unique as they do not fear promoting those underneath them, as a matter of fact it has been said they take pleasure in helping others grow. These individuals are crazy enough to lead by example and put other’s interests before their own. Talk to them about their ego and they will laugh, they claim they need their heels healthy as a leader needs to be in constant movement. The best of them are humble and recognize that leadership is not about themselves but about those who follow them. These leaders bring the best out of those around them, these are the people who come from beyond the sun.
Sadly, much like Narcissus many of us sit by a river bank protecting our ego when there is so much to be done on this earth.
I have had the blessing of seeing many of those leaders up close. Do not be mistaken, they are not made in a specific mold. Some of them are teachers, others are coaches, executives, preachers, mothers, fathers, mechanics, inventors, musicians, writers, cooks, janitors, secretaries, soldier…They too come in all shapes and sizes without regard of their race, ethnicity, gender, social status, language, trade, marital status, etc.
They move our world.
PK

I AM A VICTIM

Of a vicious vindictive customer. I will spare you some details and not give out names due to the ridiculous nature of the event.

In my spare time, I like to help small businesses with their advertising needs. One of my favorite customers (for lack of a better word) owns a property on the beach which I advertise and in many cases deal with the customers from beginning to end. A few weeks ago, I had the delight of being contacted by a nice family who wanted to stay at the property for a few days. Deal was closed, family came over and the nightmare began. There were many red flags I missed. The guy was a little intense, asked the same question 20 times, did not mind calling at one in the morning to say the internet was not working…but, since I have very high customer service standards I let all of this go and took care of him.

The big issue took place at the time of check out. The property owner did a routine inspection before returning the guest’s security deposit. Hell broke loose when the tenant was advised $40 would be withheld due to the many luggage scratches on some cabinets, the dirty condition the unit was being returned in and the water spilled on the couch (cleaning the couch alone could cost $50-$80). The tenant went wild, said he should have been paid for staying at that unit, got feisty…you get the idea. He ended up leaving and agreeing to the $40 charge as he had to catch an international flight.

Two days later I get these nasty-grams from one of the sites where I advertise and my own blogspot!
The guy went nuts, dared to call us scum bags and rip offs! He, of course, trashed the unit down with his reviews, put our characters on the line and threatened to make us regret every penny we took form him.

While I thought his word choice was very poor and demonstrated lack of objectivity and perhaps education, I understood this was a hurt customer trying to express himself. I cleaned up his mess and moved on. Now, when I say I cleaned up the mess I mean that his reviews were deleted. I don’t mind bad reviews as long as they are objective, being called scum bag does not qualify as objectivity in my books.

Surprise, surprise. A week later he contacted my customer’s employer and filed a list of ridiculous charges which of course generated a lot of commotion. Please someone tell me when was the last time you broke and entered your own property after being invited by your own tenant. Furthermore, since when does a $40 fee count as extortion? Is it me, or does this sound like pure madness?

A few words of advise for all vindictive customers out there:

  1. Make sure your reviews are fair, objective and factual. Lying in a review shows lack of character. Poor language, name calling and subjectivity make you sound bitter and crazy.
  2. Pointing a positive aspect of you rapport with the vendor in question increases your chances of a resolution and being taken seriously.
  3. Keep in mind that some reviews are dismissed by third parties if deemed questionable or inappropriate.
  4. Choose your words wisely. Spam filters will block reviews using bad words and adjectives such as scum bags.
  5. Let it go. You did your duty. You posted a bad review about this vendor in hopes of alerting other customers about bad business practices. The point of a review is to share your experience with others not to tear the business or the business owner apart.
  6. Let it go. Bitterness hurts you more than anyone else.
  7. Beware of vindictive vendors. The internet is a two way street!



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