Lay it out in the sunlight

Openness is blasphemy in both our personal lives and in business. Workplaces shudder at the thought of routine employee meetings becoming public, families shudder at their “dirty laundry” being exposed to the outside world.

We learn that our expectations and values – what we measure ourselves by – is from the media and environment around us. This is why – rightly – we have worked to promote diversity in the media, why we have striven to have a rainbow of colors represented among toys. But it is rare that we see dysfunction.

Realistically, corporate espionage is pointless for 99% of all corporations. Your competitors already know what you’re doing, can guess what you’re doing, or will find out soon enough. My employer had some plans inadvertently exposed when they had to file permits with the city. Given this, why not build rapport with your customers (and, most probably, neighbors)? Be forthright and honest with them. Be transparent and genuine instead of trying to hide behind a corporate PR shill.

We judge ourselves against others, even though our parents always tell us not to. We look at sitcom families and the way our neighbors appear, and see how happy they look. We see how well-adjusted they look… and we find ourselves lacking.

As I tried to cope with S’s deterioration, I talked with a lot of my co-workers, classmates, and friends. Nearly all had some similar family experience. Whether it be a cousin who contacted Children’s Services, a sibling who rebelled a little too much, or things even worse, I was stunned by how many of the people around me had “abnormal” family situations.

We were not abnormal – just regular folks with troubles. Just like everyone else. The only things that were truly “abnormal” were the fake plastic ideals we measured ourselves by.

It is time that we stop measuring ourselves against families who can solve any problem in thirty minutes. It is time that we realize that all our families – black, white, brown, democrat, republican, independent, whatever – have problems. None of us are perfect – and we should not have to lie to pretend otherwise.

By doing so we not only hurt those who need our support, but we hurt ourselves.

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