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  • Reverend James Squire

Wisdom AT A Sink

I saw a cartoon that simply said as an individual was standing in front of a sink in a men’s room: “Employees must swallow resentment before returning to work.” That’s a sign that should be pasted all over the halls of Congress as the vote continues for the Speaker of the House. They don’t need more backroom discussions about strategies to have McCarthy become the winner or Matt Gaetz writing the powers to be that he was offended that McCarthy had already moved in to the Speaker of the House’s Office before the vote began. Marjorie Taylor Green was upset that she wasn’t included in a backroom discussion because they didn’t include her in the far-right deliberation so she cried, “There was nothing in the new proposal about me and what I want.” There was a pic of a member of the Democratic Party, who was eating popcorn on his way into the deliberations to underscore the fact that the deliberations looked more like political theater than it looked like anything else.

I watched the debacle unfold on mute so that I could continue working and join in the fun from time to time. It would be comical if it were not so serious about how our government doesn’t work. This is not funny!

If I were still teaching ethics, I would have my class watch a rerun and we could discuss all the ethical issues at hand. Resentment was a key description of all that was occurring. Certainly, I had to suspend belief when Jim Jordan’s name was put up for speaker. People forgot that he was an election denier, lied in a sexual harassment issue at Ohio State University when he was an assistant wrestling coach (George Clooney has put together a documentary on HBO that will address that issue). He also had not put forth any bills in his time in Congress. Who told him to wear a coat today to indicate a dress code? Dress codes communicate equality and that our business is important. That’s why schools have them.

Recall that I have written extensively about how to work in a diverse community. The guideline is “stand for something and don’t try to be all things to all people or you will wind up being nothing to anyone.” McCarthy switched his stories about Trump’s role from the cause of the insurrection to a quick trip to Florida to kiss Trump’s ring. My students would jump on that as part of McCarthy’s problem. Nobody likes someone who says, “I have worked for this. I deserve this. I am entitled to it.” Clearly, he didn’t tune in to why people didn’t like Hilary and wouldn’t vote for her. Like Trump, he puts his finger in the air to see which way the political winds were blowing. The word, “I” appears in a lot of McCarthy’s statements.

Students could see through a phony quicker than any stage of human development. McCarthy’s Christmas Greeting said “just wait accountability is coming.” Every time that CNN could pan the cameras on George Santos sitting with a smile on his face, we watched everyone refusing to talk with him.

A good family therapist would have a field day with the dynamics of this group’s process to decide the speaker. They should bring one in. That would get the job done quicker. The Democrats and Republicans like to demonize one another. Trump is the archetype for that approach.

Mitch McConnell just received the distinction of being the longest serving party leader in the Senate. He didn’t get there by not understanding the dynamics of political ethics. Politics is about the distribution of power. Who has it? How do I get it? If justice happens so much the better.

Look at what he has done recently. He and Biden took a victory lap TOGETHER in Kentucky proclaiming the benefits of a recent bipartisan bill. McConnell is committed to working with the Democrats. What does he know that fringe members of the Republican Party don’t know? They keep repeating their mistakes. During the midterm attacks and failure to come up with policy to be for something that would be helpful to others, they focused o attacks of the other party. It cost their party the red wave. The American people want policy not performance. Everybody saw what the extremes including Trump were doing. Like the old proverb: “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.” That’s American wisdom!

I have written extensively about group dynamics. It applies here. Groups have a moral or immoral code. They focus on gaining self- esteem and a sense of belonging by being part of a group. They bond by having a common enemy and by scapegoating others. They make good intentioned people better and bad intentioned people worse. For example, they can be members of an insurrection or members of a cancer support group. These are the same dynamics that put Trump in power and many other autocrats in other countries.

Let’s get back to that sign for employees! Employees must swallow resentment before returning to work for therein lies the problem and the solution.

Groups are productive when they are secure and their power comes from within the individual, when they can indicate what they believe in, who they follow, and how they can get into the shoes of others. It’s called empathy

Here are four signs that could be added above that metaphorical sink where we wash our hands before cleaning our hands of resentment.

“Treat others the way that you wish to be treated.” – The Golden Rule

“Maturity is when you have the ability to put another first.” – Harry Stack Sullivan, founder of the Interpersonal School of Psychiatry.

“There is no limit to the good we can do if we don’t need to get the credit.” Presidents Truman and Reagan.

None of these signs were evident in the deliberations! This blog was written before a speaker has been chosen.

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