Saturday, July 14, 2012

On Apologies and Non-apologies

How often have you actually received an apology from a person in a position of leadership?  It always seemed to me that training in administration included a course called Apology 101.  The curriculum is one word long.  "Don't"

In my experience the apology from leadership is rare and when it does occur it is usually negated or modified in such a way as make it less than an apology, if not meaningless or even demeaning.

There are at least two types of non-apologies:

"I am sorry that what I said hurt you," or "I am sorry that what you thought I said hurt you."  At least the first assumes that hurt occurred although it is not retraction.  The later can be translated as "you stupid idiot, how could you not understand what I said?  It couldn't possibly be my miscommunication.  If you're hurt it's your own damn fault."

"I am sorry about that.  I really should have not done that."  Now there's an apology.  Unfortunately it is often followed up by a tit-for-tat.  "I have been meaning to tell you that I was hurt by ...."  This approach is one that initially seems to be a real apology, but ends up canceling it's effectiveness with a reference to the score card of mistakes.

"Fair Fighting" is something I remember about effective communications.  When one issue is being discussed or argued, that should be the only item on the table.  No "But last month you said ...." when the latter issue has nothing the actions being discussed.  This is difficult.  It requires open communications so that when something happens in which either party feels injured it is dealt with immediately.  Please note that I am not saying that I practice this anymore than anyone else.  However my confession is, I do know better.

The apology that really makes a difference is "I am sorry. I made a mistake." and optionally "Please forgive me."

That's the kind of apology that invites, "You are forgiven.  Let's move on."

I know that Jesus calls us to forgive 70 times 7 times (Matt: 8:22).   Internally I can forgive a slight and just move on but it's a lot easier and moves us toward reconciliation when there is an apology.   It's a bit awkward to walk up to someone who has hut you deeply and say "I forgive you," without context.  But maybe that is what we are called to do.


I am reminded of calling home from General Convention in 2003 when Gene Robinson was given Consents. I would report what was going on and Kyle would say the reporter must be in a different place, and just mentally but physically.

We all know, or should know, that what is reported is not exactly what happened. but there should be some attempt at accuracy. And reporting should be reporting, not op-ed. What was published in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about General Convention is a another clear indication that an well-informed American public has fast becoming extinct. This age of information technology has, ironically, led to its decline. Rarely do I feel it as personally as I did yesterday. Here's what I posted on the blog from the deputation of the Diocese of Rochester.
I fear many of you will read a piece in the Wall Street Journal that purports to be news. I won't give you the link because it does not deserve reference. You can use Google or some search engine to find it... or simply use the link in the blog from the Bishop of Arizona below. Be sure to read the comments he has received. 
This hack journalism starts with an accusaton that this was two weeks of revelry and frivolity. I can assure you that most of us at salads and Starbuck on the run, had Kristy run to the grocery store to supply us with sandwiches so we could eat together and only one night had a decent meal in a real restaurant with linen and silverware as we celebrated the the close of 9 days of work usually beginning at 7:30 and rarely ending before 9.
There is such an agenda behind  this and so much inaccuracy that your best bet is to not believe a word of it. The sad thing is that in today's polarized media world there is an audience that will eat this up and believe every word of it.
As disturbing as it is to see this agenda driven ... well I can't dignify it with the label "reporting" ... essay, maybe... it is impossible to explain how it feels to be the target. Perhaps one of my more learned colleagues will dissect it line by line.
Now I know why when I saw the Presiding Bishop at the airport this AM she seemed in daze. Start here... And my prayers for all the victims of this hideous attack.
Trying to read the comments posted to the original WSJ article is tedious and sometimes painful. It sparks the passionate groups on both sides, and the atheists who are looking for reasons to point toward religion as part of the problem, not the solution to anything find more than adequate fodder in this sort of publication.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The end of the World as we know it.

Geeks of Episcopalian... Your jargon will have to change.  GC 2012 has just voted to sell HQ  at 815 2nd Ave. in NYC.  This action in the House of Deputies must pass the House of Bishops, but that is almost certain to occur.  Unless we find property at 815 Something Street in the middle of America, we are forever changed.

Resolution D017 Rejected then Overturned.

Our resolution D017 "Moving Toward a Paperless Convention" went before the the committee on Structure.  Kit Tobin was present to answer questions at the beginning of the session.  Later the committee reported out its recommendation to reject.  Given that the Secretary of the House of Deputies used that title phrase yesterday, it is surprising.  We will have to find out why it was rejected and offer amendments when it comes before the house.
It's about time we stopped bringing down forests to print every resolution.

A group supporting a resolution on Palestine sent us all a large glossy booklet at home, distributed another copy on the floor AND had it all printed as a part of their resolution.  Without regard to the content of the resolution that is incredible waste.
Below is our Resolution.

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 77th General Convention
call upon the planners of the 78th General Convention to make all materials
available electronically, both prior to and during the convention, and to make
WiFi available on the floor of both houses. In addition, planners are called upon
to make electrical outlets available on the floor of both houses for participants
who wish to use laptop computers or other electronic devices to access these

The actions outlined above would provide a number of important benefits. The transmission of information
(resolutions, amendments, announcements, etc.) via electronic means could streamline the convention process
dramatically, allowing for faster and more accurate dissemination of up-to-date materials.
Significant reductions to printing and paper costs would offset the expense of providing access to electrical
outlets on the convention floor.
In order to be responsible stewards of the earth's resources, it is our duty to drastically reduce the amount of
paperwork generated by Convention. The potential for cost savings and greater efficiency provides added
incentive to plan for a "paperless" convention.

The Resolution came to the floor of the House of Deputies.   I spoke to it.  It was amended to remove  the last sentence about electrical outlets was removed.

This became the first resolution to require a use of electronic voting. It passed by 58% voting in the affirmative.

The resolution as passed in the House of Deputies, reads....

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 77th General Convention
call upon the planners of the 78th General Convention to make all materials
available electronically, both prior to and during the convention, and to make
WiFi available on the floor of both houses.

Now on to the House of Bishops