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Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers in Tucumcari, NM circa 1937
America’s dirty little secret
For some time, I have been aware of the culture in corporate America whereby salaried employees are expected to produce work at any cost. That means working overtime for no extra pay and forgoing vacation time to become production machines. If you don’t produce, it is implied (and sometimes told) that the company will replace you with someone else who will.
I am a professional who left the private corporate world to work for a public agency. I was told upon hiring that I would be expected to work a little more than 40 hours a week, which was acceptable to me. My reward for a job well done was to be given more work. My work week has grown to 50 to 60 hours a week and sometimes more. I don’t blame my boss. He is being pressured by elected officials to get projects done, and he works more than I do.
How did we get here? When did it become acceptable to tell employees that they have to get work done “at any cost”? That cost can be high, putting a strain on health and relationships. I am thankful that I have a job that pays well, and I do enjoy it most of the time. But I am getting older and more tired. And losing my joy.
A spidery Christmas
I want to wish all of the Alibi readers and staff a very Merry Christmas by sharing with you what Christmas means to me.
I look at Christmas as a new beginning, not just the celebration of Christ's birthday and a trip to the mall. There is nothing wrong with shopping for gifts for your loved ones and putting up a beautiful Christmas tree, but the meaning of the day should go on after the wrapping is in the trash and the tree is on the curb. It doesn't matter whether you are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist or an atheist, we should celebrate Christmas as the birth of many wonderful things. Christmas should be the beginning of love, of kindness, of respect and of honor in all of our hearts. We should love all the animals we coexist with and not kill them out of hate, fear or to hang their body parts on our walls for decoration. We were all put on this planet to share its wonders, not kill each other over them. We should show kindness to all those who need it, including hungry children, homeless people and other folks less fortunate than we are, as well as to all the animals condemned to death in animal shelters around the country. We should abolish all aspects of animal and human cruelty, particularly those practiced in the name of tradition or entertainment. We should not pollute our planet with dangerous toxins, including pesticides.
Finally we should honor all those who have protected us from our enemies, foreign and domestic, by giving their lives so we may live. Love, kindness, respect and honor are not just Christian values: They are human values, and Christmas is the perfect day to start showing the world we are a people who consider all life sacred, all of the time, not just once a year.
This is the legend of the spiders and the Christmas tree.
Once upon a time, long ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year: the day on which the Christ child came to bless the house. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner along with the dust bunnies. They finally fled to the farthest corner of the attic. It was Christmas eve at last!
The tree was decorated and waiting for the children to see it. But the poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, nor be present for the Christ child's visit. But the oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could peep through the crack in the door to see him. Silently they crept out of their attic, down the stairs and across the floor to wait in the crack in the threshold.
Suddenly the door opened a wee bit, and quickly the spiders scurried into the room. They needed to see the tree closely because their eyes weren't accustomed to the brightness of the room, so they crept all over the tree, up and down, over every branch and twig, and saw each of the pretty ornaments. Finally the spiders were satisfied by the beauty of the tree and left.
But alas! Everywhere they went they had left their webs, and when the little Christ child came to bless the house, he was dismayed. He loved the little spiders, for they were God's creatures also, but he knew the mother, who had trimmed the tree for the little children, wouldn't feel the same. So he touched the webs, and they all turned to sparkling, shimmering silver and gold. Ever since that time, we have hung tinsel on our Christmas trees, and according to the legend, it is considered good luck to find a spider among the decorations on the tree.
RE: A curious apology
My former UNM colleague, Dr. Phil Bock, is correct about the New Mexico Supreme Court's decision that I have violated no statute. There are no charges pending against me, and the case has been officially closed.
The good professor may be reading too much into what I offered as a simple public apology for being on the Southwest Companions website—certainly an inappropriate behavior in some people's view (including mine).
I do want to emphasize that I did not benefit financially in any way from any of my activities on the SWC site. Although my financial compensation as president was indeed about 1/3 of the UNM presidents who succeeded me, it was more than adequate, very much appreciated and did not necessitate supplementing my income from any source. (However, thank you Dr. Bock for your kind comment).
A monumental decision
The land that I love is the land that enchants us as we navigate through New Mexico. With its rich cultures, open spaces and captivating mountains.
Currently one of the most breathtaking mountains in New Mexico are the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks outside Las Cruces, N.M. They are threatened by reckless development and destructive mining. Such development will threaten wildlife such as the mountain lion, the bald eagle and even rare cacti. Preventative measures need to be taken to preserve a New Mexico beauty. There has been amazing movement with this current issue, and I want to thank Senators Heinrich and Udall for introducing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act. Due to inaction in Congress, I urge President Obama to designate the Organ Mountains as a National Monument.
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