Thursday, November 16, 2006

Donkey vs. Elephant - Taboo??


You may have noticed that I steer clear of politics and religion on this site. I'm not sure that's the most honest approach to blogging, but hey, I'm not your dancing circus bear. At least I'm raising the bar a tad from our last donkey discussion!

However, the political divide this nation experienced was troubling. And now that the "people have spoken" and voted for change (notice I said, CHANGE, not DEMOCRATS), I'm more optimistic than I've been in a while. Not that I think either party has all the answers. Instead, my faith in the American people has received a boost. We DO have the gumption to get up off our couches and try to change the direction of the country. I was beginning to wonder if we had all been hypnotized by the fancy footwork of Emmitt Smith, and were generally oblivious to the actions of our government.

In college and graduate school, I was taught that there are two topics to avoid discussing in the workplace: religion and politics. In a small town, where our businesses are more like families (crazy and dysfunctional), those rules don't necessarily apply. Or should they? Two of my agents professed their Christianity during the interview process. Oftentimes, a discussion amongst my staff will pit Republican against Democrat, though never to the point of a screaming match. The participants act with dignity and usually "agree to disagree." For the most part, we know where we all stand, who we can talk to about certain issues, and whose toes not to step on. It's an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Unfortunately, something happened at my husband's workplace that could affect his employment. Don't worry, he's not going to be fired. But he is deciding to "opt out" of working on days that a staunchly Republican doctor performs surgery. He had made this request long ago, and yesterday, under great pressure from his manager due to understaffing, broke his own rule and bit the bullet for the good of the hospital. Said doctor has argued with Roger in the past about political issues, and Roger no longer wishes to entertain those discussions.

Our hospital has a new security system in the OR. It involves locked doors that can only be opened by staffers with their ID passes. As Roger was navigating the system to take a patient through these doors, he commented to the patient, "This place has more security than Fort Knox! But that's good, because then no one can come in here and 'get ya.'" Just a little joking demeanor that he uses to put his patients at ease before their procedures. Republican Doctor, far removed from the area, shouted out, "Yeah - that's what we need here to keep the Democrats out!!" Not in a joking manner. In an inflammatory manner. He was decidedly vindictive. Mean-spirited.

If you know my husband, you probably are curious as to what happened next. As he told me this story, I envisioned three possible scenarios:

1. Roger delivering his patient, then going back to Republican Doctor and "giving him the what-for." (This would have been an ugly confrontation, at best.)
2. Roger delivering his patient, then telling the manager, "That's it - I'm out of here," and leaving for the day, refusing ever to work on Republican Doctor days.
3. Roger delivering his patient and holding his tongue.

I am proud to say that he took the high road - choice #3. But at what cost? Should he have to endure verbal jabs? Roger's father is a STAUNCH Democrat, and in a way, the vileness of Republican Doctor's comment was an insult to his family. Allowable, because of the "status" of the one making the comment??

For the record, the definition of "conservative," according to the online dictionary, is "disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change." The definition of liberal? According to the same site, "favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs." I have no idea how the term "liberal" became tarnished with such negativity.

So, I ask you for your thoughts. Is it better to keep our mouths shut? Should managers set boundaries for what can be discussed in the workplace? Or is this another form of discrimination that serves to limit free speech? I solicit your discussion, though I request civility among participants.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

T,
OMG! I am SO proud of your husband. And, yes, you are right, religion and politics sould be kept out of the work place. I consider myself an independant THINKER, and recently voted for both DEM and REP candidates. I TRIED to just vote for the best person.
I (nor your husband) can stand people who think their's is the ONLY way. Of course, that relieves them of the burden of having to REALLY think about a subject. Just get in line, and follow their "Leaders". I had never been more offended than during the last presidential elections. That whole "Family Values" thing drove me NUTS! Like, I didn't have values, while I spent 3 years serving in the Army during the Vietnam War and the Oriental family didn't have family values that live down the street from me because they weren't Christians, and on and on.
Well, the Repulicans have shown us all what their values are based on, and it's a BIG "$" sign. I'm sorry, but you started this. and this is how I feel. Americans of all colors and religions are dying everyday because of BAD LEADERSHIP! And THAT is the truth! Katrina survivors could use 1 tenth of the money going abroad to just get back to work and support their families. O.K., I'm done, except to say that Tigger's husband was once a roommate of mine, and like me, a Vietnam Era veteran, who sreverd when his country called.No Doctor, who has NO IDEA about paying his dues should EVER spesak to a MAN that HAS, like he has done.
Whiterabbit

Anonymous said...

Tell Roger to consider the source when people talk about policics and religion- always helps to keep ignorance in perspective and one doesn't get caught up in other people's shortcomings.

Canada

Anonymous said...

You had two agents that professed their christianity at the interview and you still hired them?

vicki said...

Yes the manager should take care of it. The solution is not to have your husband work a different shift. The solution is to have the doctor keep his yap shut.

kingrancher said...

there are laws against harassment on the job for gender, race, religion, political persuasion,etc

Anonymous said...

interesting === because I have had to hold my tongue so much this year.


I've had my support our troops sticker stolen off my car.

At art class I've listened to made up stuff that came from Saturday Night Live that was being presented to students as fact.

My dental hygenist says horrid things about the president when she's cleaning my teeth.

I try to just let it all slither off.

My mom taught me I need to pray for whoever is in office. They hold our lives in the balance, and because of that they need our support and lifting up.

No one should ever say stuff like that Doctor did -- except if he's with a close group of friends and he knows the way they think.

I have customers come into my office and spout off in both directions. It would jeopardize my position if I responded.

Anonymous said...

I come from a very liberal family, on both sides, as does my husband. The political gene goes back several generations and it's always a topic for conversation. I'm open with my views...on my blog, in my home, on my bumper sticker or my t-shirts...but I don't bring it up in conversation with friends or at parties much if at all.

My husband's in the military, and the republican bent is there. I can argue that it's there because there are a lot of impressionable kids who spend their days in offices with fox news playing in the background and repeat what they hear, but I don't want to argue it. It's not important enough for me to be proven right or to focus on it constantly.

I figure I'm responsible for me and my kids, and we answer our kids' questions, vote, and tell our kids that it's important for them to keep asking questions and to vote when they are old enough to do so. I don't want to convince everybody to agree with me, it takes entirely too much energy, and they're usually not going to agree with me anyway unless they already do. I have a degree in political science, but I didn't get that degree to influence my entire social circle. Unless they can be bought for the price of a beergarita - who can pass up that opportunity? ;)

Anonymous said...

If you can use humor to get back at him, picking on him but not his beliefs, it would be classic.

Tiggerlane said...

I'm loving your thoughts - keep 'em coming!

Karmyn R said...

I personally am SHOCKED every time someone directs so much hatred at another person because of their political party. I don't understand it. To call all Democrats Liberal Freaks (I am one) or all Republicans Right-Wing A-holes is doing an injustice to our country.

I have a friend who is gay and a Republican - and I know a couple who are conservative democrats. So - they aren't the classic sterotypes, are they.

WHY CAN'T WE ALL GET ALONG???

Anonymous said...

Confrontations produce a lot of heat but very little light!!
Keep stumm!!!
Erik

Kila said...

LOL, at my office I think 90% of our conversations are based on religion or politics. Makes things interesting. We all know where we stand and can take a little push and shove. I'm listening to a Christian music station now at work (as I blog, oops).

I personally think the media drives much of our division.

Mugsy said...

My reaction would have been #4: Telling the patient in a hushed tone, "Don't worry about him. No one here is going to let Doktor Chuckle-nuts operate on you!", smiled and had a good laugh.

I live in Texas, where we are required by law to have at least two Conservative friends, so I'm used to handling them. One thing you MUST know is that ALL Republicans are "provocateurs". They get a rise out of taunting anyone their perceive as weaker. Every Republican "secretly" wants to be seen as "lead dog"... but unfortunaely for the rest of the team, they have a lousy sense of direction. :)

C said...

I for one think if we believe in the bill of rights then why do we act as if they do not exist? They only exist when the person exercising their will to govern others quotes their contents. I think that sometimes people forget we all have the same rights.

Anonymous said...

Mugsy is type casting.

Anonymous said...

Interesting in reading the definition of Liberal and Conservative. It appears as if the writer in his choice of words has indicated that "Liberal" means progress while Conservative must mean the opposite. We need to pick and chose our words carefully as they tend to be brands whether meant to be or not.
No Liberal, nor does any conservative have all the answers, will I should say all the "right" answers. All who want to speak should be able to, all who what to hear should be able as well. However, no one should be bullied.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea: just don't talk about it. I like to keep people guessing.

I am an "independent" (I stopped going to the young democrats meetings b/c i'm a bit more conservative and also not THAT young anymore). I've never voted for a rupublican and used to vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders (the only socialist in the congress).

That said, I am AGAINST illegal immigration and really faced a dilema in VA b/c I hated everything Allen stood for EXCEPT for his position on that one issue. That's the reason I decided NOT to vote for the first time ever--and I'm a voter.

I dunno. I try not to talk about it anymore b/c I want Hispanic people to like me and to be my friends even if I disagree w/ many of them on that one particular issue.

That surgeon was an asshole. Your husband should have been like, Oh, you want me to leave?

I think the best thing to do is to keep 'em guessing. I am a slightly left-of-center independent (who's never voted for a republican) but I display an American flag on my car.

No one knows but me!

Oh, and how exclusive is it for your agents to profess their loyalty to Jesus. I am loyal to my cultural heritage as a Western Christian-Catholic, but I am a "Bright" now and find that kind of stuff to be completely inappropriate for the business place. but you're a lot further south than me, I guess!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Pamela and Karmyn - everyone should keep their opinions to themselves. . .especially if they are negative. . .

I don't like to discuss politics or religion either. . .there are some things I don't understand for 1 and others that I totally disagree with for 2. . .It's better just to let it go (I've had a bloody tongue before. . .)

We need to all work together and pray for everyone to keep this nation great!

Anonymous said...

i prefer to watch the "fake news" nowdays. i beginning to believe the shows are actually telling the truth. jon stewart and steven colbert rules! rock on you crazy democratliberal gods!!!!!

marnie said...

Well, after reading that I am thankful that my employer put a Respectful Workplace Policy in place.

That doc would be out on his ear.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Matt on this one in that sometimes it's just best to keep people guessing. There are times when people believe I'm a "bleeding-heart liberal" and other times when they believe I'm a prudish conservative. I try to side-step conversations like this by taking the high road. I smile benignly, and say, "I exercise my right to vote, and how I do that is a private matter."

I think I would have a very hard time in a corporate environment where political and religious views were aired adamantly and openly. There are times when strong opinions are bound to be expressed, but when it becomes a rule, it creates a stressful environment for ALL employees.

I don't have an answer for you except to say that in all areas of conflict, I try to negotiate, build bridges, and seek cooperation. Barring that, then I run like hell!

Anonymous said...

I guess the only thing I have to say is when you voice your opinions about politics, religion, same-sex marriage, abortion..etc...you open up the dam to let any old thing come out. That means someone else seeing they have just as much a right to be expressing their own personal opinions.. it can never be good discussing heated subjects at work. So as far as the Republican doc is concerned, (and I'm a Republican but I'm still saying this), he slit his own throat! How's that for interesting southern terminology!??

Tiggerlane said...

Whiterabbit - Thanks for reminding us about what our soldiers really fight for - freedom! And thanks for sticking up for Rog!

Willowtree - The agents work as independent contractors - and I try to be open-minded. Of course, I find those two agents to be the most judgmental of the group!

Vicki - This would be easier if the hospital didn't promote the policy that "the doctors are our most important clients." Kinda weird, when you think about laying on that OR table!

Kingrancher - The law there only applies if it "creates a hostile work environment." And to have that, the employee has to prove that the harrassment impairs his ability to perform his job duties.

Melissa - You remind me that I often to repeat, "'Tis better to be kind, than right." Well said!

Erik - STUMM??!?!??

Matt - Yup, it's the Bible Belt. I am in the huge minority b/c I don't have a permanent church family. And I think we just get rid of BOTH parties and start over!

Marnie - Got a copy of that policy? Email me, and I'll send my fax number.

Angelina said...

I think it's important that everyone be able to be open about their views in any environment. Being respectful is important because we all have to live together, but living in an atmosphere of silence is oppressive. I don't feel I need to go shouting my views everywhere I go, yet I don't really consider any situation or environment to be automatically off limits to the discussion of politics and religion.

Keeping topics open between people is the only way progress is ever made. But I think your husband responded well to the situation he was in because the Republican doctor was not discussing anything, he was insulting something. Which really doesn't deserve any energy. That kind of behavior is amazingly unattractive.

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