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Leaning Left

One of my granddaughters recently completed a homeschool assignment requiring her to tell a fairy tale from the point of view of one of the minor characters. She did a wonderful job relating Jack and the Beanstalk from Jack’s mother’s perspective. I think she may have a future in journalism.

I regularly scan a variety of newspapers and magazines. As part of that process, I view many news articles and opinion pieces from sources that pride themselves as being mainstream. Overwhelmingly, they tell news events from a Democrat and liberal perspective. Even the Wall Street Journal, whose opinion page skews right, presents the news as seen through liberal eyes.

As an example, look at the Gorsuch nomination hearings slated to begin this week. (I’m writing this on Monday so much will have happened by the time this appears, but it still serves as an illustrative example.) Despite unassailable consensus that he is qualified for the position of Supreme Court Justice, Democrats are either expressing opposition or threatening consequences for any legislator who doesn’t oppose him.

Are the headlines full of stories of Democrats being the “Party of no”? Do newspaper reports speak of bullying by the Democrat base and how harmful it is to our civilization? Are accusations of hatred and bias against white Protestants being hurled? Of course not. That would be the paradigm if a liberal president – shall we say by the name of Obama- nominated a liberal justice – shall we say Sonia Sotomayor or Elana Kagan, and the Republicans did anything other than bow in obeisance.

Here is another example. I have enjoyed reading Peggy Noonan’s column for many years. However, I think she is out of touch with reality. She recently wrote an article urging President Trump to reach across the aisle, citing the working relationship between President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill. Well, that sounds like a great idea. So does sitting back and watching Cheers while interspersing our conversation about Princess Diana with exclamations of amazement that people can actually talk on phones that aren’t connected to wires. Somehow, I don’t think any of those things will be happening again. If leading Democrats resembled Tip O’Neill, Daniel Moynihan or Scoop Jackson, Donald Trump wouldn’t be president. Yet even a conservative columnist like Ms. Noonan thinks that Republicans are the ones who need to bend. She sees events from the base point of the Left even if her head and heart place her on the right.

The popular radio show/podcast, This American Life, just featured a discussion with Mike Wilson, the editor of the Dallas Morning News.  Mr. Wilson, to his credit, wanted to understand the thoughts of those who berated his newspaper for having a liberal bias. He invited two men who wrote disapproving letters to discuss their criticisms. They articulated that they felt that the newspaper tried to be fair, but was blind to the staff’s prejudices.

Yet within the podcast episode (episode #612, the second to last story), lay an example of the very type of bias being critiqued. One of those upset with the Dallas Morning News, a local doctor, gave Mr. Wilson a specific example of a headline he felt was slanted along with an example of a liberal tilt he saw within the article that followed. Listening carefully, the editor responded to the first example saying, “I should speak to this. If we’re looking to find common ground in our conversation, we just found it…,” agreeing that the headline was inappropriate.  Mr. Wilson asked for further elaboration about what the reader found offensive in the example he showed within the article, and ended up saying, “That’s a good criticism.”

Yet how did the podcast end? With the interviewer asking Mr. Wilson if he felt bad because he hadn’t convinced his visitors that the newspaper wasn’t biased. Excuse me? How about asking if he had learned that he needed to be more aware of the bias that does exist. Even after working on the episode, the producer for This American Life wasn’t able to see that he was viewing the issue through a distorted lens.

Do the New York Times or the Washington Post or yes, even the Wall Street Journal, want to know why I turn more and more to right-leaning sites? It is because I am so tired of finding myself still seen as a minority voice constantly on the defensive. Despite the fact that November’s election results highlighted how much the news media is out of touch with vast sections of America, there has been no change. The best of them still seem unaware of how parochial they are. Maybe their assignment should be to write every article from many different perspectives and publish them all. Let the reader discern the truth from that mix. Like my granddaughter, they might actually begin to understand a different point of view.

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No matter what point of view you are expressing, how you express it matters a great deal. There is still time to  take advantage of our $5 download sale on

Perils of Profanity: You Are What You Speak

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How much loyalty do I owe my boss?

Thank you for your valuable insight into how the world really works. It has proven true time and again in my life as you would expect. 

I have been offered a position with a competing company in my industry that pays more and offers a benefit package. In addition my new partner is a harder worker then my current one and also better connected in my city. 

I was hired in my previous position being told that eventually I would be approached like this and would I have the integrity to stay with the company I am currently employed at.

Do I owe my current employer a debt of loyalty since they gave me the position I currently have?

Thanks,

Gregg

Answer: 

Dear Gregg,

Thank you for affirming the value of our teachings in terms of how the world REALLY works!  We love hearing that readers enjoy our work but when people tell us that they found our teachings not merely interesting or enjoyable but actually useful, the fireworks go off for us.

Congratulations on the job offer. It’s always nice to receive validation that your work is recognized. Your letter raises a number of very interesting issues but omits some of the information we’d need to answer your question definitely. Nonetheless, we’ll try to be useful to you.

It isn’t clear to us if your present boss asked you to commit  not to accept an offer from this specific company or to make a general commitment of loyalty. It’s also not clear to us what your response was at the time you were hired.

We’re sure you can see that no employer should ask you for lifetime loyalty. (A commitment never to leave is nonsensical in all circumstances other than marriage.) That would make an employee into a serf, with no ability to better himself. Some firms do have non-compete clauses where employees agree not to join competing firms within a certain location or time. Even these agreements are being regularly challenged in court, because the idea of restricting someone’s free movement is problematic. A company retains good employees by offering inducements such as good working conditions, salary increases and a path to advancement, not by shackling them.

On the other hand, training a new employee is both dollar and labor intensive. An employee often doesn’t earn his salary in terms of adding to a company’s bottom line until a period of time has passed. It is possible that a competing firm has established a legal but unethical policy of poaching newly skilled workers just when they know enough and have enough experience to be valuable in their chosen field.

You aren’t asking us for legal advice, of course. You, admirably, want to do the right thing. We want to emphasize that we reject your current employer’s notion that remaining in this job is a measure of your integrity.  It’s your prerogative to seek to improve your situation always, including by seeking superior employment. In our view, if you gave a general commitment and you have been at your company for a reasonable time, let’s say two years, we think you should feel that you have discharged that commitment.

If, instead, you specifically gave your word not to move to the specific company that has approached you, then we think you should learn a lesson to be more careful with commitments, but that the ability to look yourself in the mirror means that you cannot accept this offer. It all depends upon what commitment you made – but doesn’t everything?

We hope this is helpful.  Let us know what you decide.

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

This ‘Ask the Rabbi’ question highlights the importance of what comes out of our mouth. Our best-selling CD download, Perils of Profanity: You Are What You Speak is on sale for only $5 right now. Check it out! (also available by mail)

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Say Little and Lead Much

Leaders enjoy many benefits.  People seen as leaders get promoted and opportunities come their way.  Parents whose children respect them as leaders have more functional families.   But how do you begin the process of getting others to see you as a leader?

We have all seen leadership in action.  Perhaps one participant at a meeting emerges as the clear leader of the group.  Or people listen more attentively to one person than to another.  Groups coalesce around the one individual who is regarded as more authoritative than anyone else.

I’m sure you’ve seen parents who enjoy such excellent rapport with their children that obedience is almost automatic.  It is clear that the children view the parents as leaders.  Authentic leadership skills that are effective in a work environment are also effective in a family or social environment.  We just need to know what these skills are.

The first and most important skill is to learn to use words sparingly.  Babbling is a sure way to jettison leadership credibility.  A crucial part of using words sparingly is to do more listening than talking. A great way to achieve this is by doing more asking than telling.  Imagine a parent concerned about his or her teenager’s friends.   If the parent starts shouting or accusing, the child switches off.  However, if instead the parent gently and firmly asks questions, exhibiting real interest and concern, information will eventually flow.

Negotiations follow similar rules.  Many of our interactions with others are really negotiations. Some are formally declared while others are negotiations masquerading as discussions or conversations.  The most common mistake is  to firmly articulate your position at the beginning.  People sometimes do this because they fear being seen as weak or being maneuvered into yielding ground.  Don’t for a moment think the other side is even listening to your opening position; they’re busy planning their own opening lines.

Instead, it is far more effective to draw as many words as possible from the other side by means of asking questions.  “Won’t you start by sharing with me some of your initial thoughts? I’d be interested to hear how you see this.”

This permanent principle of not talking unnecessarily is repeatedly visible in ancient Jewish wisdom.  We certainly think of Samson as more of a doer than a talker, right?

And Samson and his father and mother went down to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah, when a lion roared towards him.  And the Lord’s spirit rested upon him, and he tore it as one would tear a goat, though he had nothing in his hand.  He did not tell his father and mother what he had done.
(Judges 14:5-6)

The first question to consider is why the lion roared only towards Samson (him)? Why does the verse not tell us that the lion roared towards them?  Even if that was so, all three of them went on this excursion together. Why would he need to tell his parents about something they saw?

The answer to the first question lies in the words telling us that they came to the vineyards of Timnah. Remember Samson’s prenatal history. The angel gave instructions regarding his mother and ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that she followed these rules for the rest of her life:

From all that comes out of the grapevine she shall not eat,
and wine or strong drink she may not drink…
(Judges 13:14)

Arriving at the Vineyards of Timnah, Samson’s mother elected to keep distant from the grapes and so she chose to circle around the vineyards with her husband.  Meeting up again with Samson on the other side of the vineyards, he keeps quiet about what occurred and they continued on their mission to Timnah.

There, a negotiation of sorts was about to occur.  A foreigner, Samson, was marrying one of the Philistine women.  Thirty men came in force to intimidate Samson. He proceeds to ask them a question in the form of a riddle.  As the story unfolds, only he and his wife know the answer, so when the men solve the riddle, it is clear to all that his wife betrayed him and that her people did not respect the marital bond.

…Had you not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle.
(Judges 14:18)

By not telling his parents, Samson was able to control the situation, setting up his attack on the Philistines.

There is no quicker or more effective way to show leadership than to demonstrate self-discipline.  The poet John Milton wrote a biography of Oliver Cromwell in which he explained that the latter’s military skills and leadership were grounded in self-discipline. “He was a soldier well versed in self-knowledge and whatever enemy lay within—vain hopes, fears, desires—he had either previously destroyed within himself or had long since reduced to subjection.”

This is why self-discipline is regularly voted the most important measure of leadership. Speaking in a measured and thoughtful way is the first proof of self-discipline we encounter in those we meet.

Our audio CD, Perils of Profanity: You Are What You Speak, explores the impact of speech on both our economic and romantic lives. Scripture repeatedly stresses the importance of what comes out of our mouths and this CD will help you work on this area of self-control, yielding immeasurable benefit. Enjoy the download version for only $5.00 this week and step onto your own road to leadership.

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Ever Wonder About the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

The synagogue I was privileged to plant and serve in California had a ball team that played in a local league. We called our synagogue ball team, “The Elders of Zion”. Since this is the name of one of history’s most notorious anti-Semitic forgeries, not everyone was amused but the team thrived and gradually people loosened up and chilled out. Meanwhile, I thought it was time to tear the covers off those “Elders” which I do in this podcast episode. Don’t miss it as I don’t think I want to leave it up on the Internet indefinitely. The episode is entitled Who’s Running Things: The Bilderbergers? The United Nations? Jews? Secret Socialists? Well, I explain the true answer here: https://soundcloud.com/rabbi-daniel-lapin-show

THOUGHT TOOLS

  • Say Little and Lead Much March 21, 2017 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - Leaders enjoy many benefits.  People seen as leaders get promoted and opportunities come their way.  Parents whose children respect them as leaders have more functional families.   But how do you begin the process of getting others to see you as a leader? We have all seen leadership in action.  Perhaps one participant at a Read More

ASK THE RABBI

  • How much loyalty do I owe my boss? March 22, 2017 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - Thank you for your valuable insight into how the world really works. It has proven true time and again in my life as you would expect.  I have been offered a position with a competing company in my industry that pays more and offers a benefit package. In addition my new partner is a harder Read More

SUSAN’S MUSINGS

  • Leaning Left March 23, 2017 by Susan Lapin - One of my granddaughters recently completed a homeschool assignment requiring her to tell a fairy tale from the point of view of one of the minor characters. She did a wonderful job relating Jack and the Beanstalk from Jack’s mother’s perspective. I think she may have a future in journalism. I regularly scan a variety Read More

ON OUR MIND

  • Ever Wonder About the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? March 19, 2017 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - The synagogue I was privileged to plant and serve in California had a ball team that played in a local league. We called our synagogue ball team, "The Elders of Zion". Since this is the name of one of history's most notorious anti-Semitic forgeries, not everyone was amused but the team thrived and gradually people Read More

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About Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America’s Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author and host of the Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show on The Blaze Radio Network. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths. Newsweek magazine included him in its list of America’s fifty most influential rabbis.

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