writer, lawyer, human
Human Inspiration Works, LLC
August 2019 Vol 4 No. 8
Inspired by the words and actions of Robert F. Kennedy
I’m back from a mini-sabbatical where I worked on my second book,
, and happy to report that it was a success! I was able to get in 46K words of varying quality during my “time off.” Being a writer to my core, it was all quite delightful! I’m hopeful the book will be out next year (she writes that with multiple crossed fingers…).
While I was gone, it seems as if our country took a profound shift toward sadness, maybe even to despair, and perhaps, also toward a critical awakening. You know that I am a unifier and not a divider, so I don’t want to attack or allocate blame. Rather, it’s time to acknowledge that we are in the middle of a huge cycle of change—change about how Americans view “Other” and about how we desperately want to be kind to each other.
With great humility, there are very few people who have their finger on this country’s pulse like I do. Within the last two years, I’ve spoken in every corner of the continental U.S. Everywhere I go, my message is about having compassion for others, regardless of their skin color, religion, LGBTQ status, gender or any of the 100 other silly things we use to make people “Other.” I can literally count on two fingers the number of times someone has bucked or rejected that message. That’s out of speaking to 30,000+ people live.
The thing about democracy—actually, the thing about this place we call America—is that you must believe we all operate from a place of goodness and common values, like the idea that every child should be allowed to succeed. Notwithstanding some of the horrific things of late, I continue to believe that 99 percent of all humans have good empathetic hearts. I don’t just say that; I am finding that with my work every time I speak or train. (And read below—I offer empirical proof of our goodness!)
Please believe in America. Please believe in the person who stands in front of you in line at Target or who sits next to you on the bus. Smile and then talk to them; let them know they matter. Trust me, they will return the favor.
I care about all of you! I am here for you; I mean that with all my heart.
Compassion by an Idaho Football Team
Families with a child on the autism spectrum frequently see their child experience isolation and marginalizing behavior by others. This was true of Lindsay Larson and her nine-year-old son, Christian, who live in Idaho. It thus came as no surprise to Lindsay that when she sent out birthday invites for Christian’s ninth birthday party, only one of Christian’s classmate’s RSVP’d.
When Lindsay posted on Facebook about the lack of responses, a friend contacted Dan Holtry, the football coach for nearby Nampa High School in Nampa, Idaho. Exercising Gray Area Thinking® to the Nth degree, Coach Holtry asked team members if they’d be willing to attend Christian’s birthday party; all of the team members agreed. As Coach Holtry told CNN, “(w)ithin seconds of a sent text, they were 100 percent in. No hesitation whatsoever.”
On the day of the party, Holtry and his team members arrived at Christian’s house chanting his name. Lindsay said, “The energy became electric and it was amazing to see how they all came together…Christian often plays alone or wanders off, but with the players there helping organize games, he became part of the action.” Later, Christian would tell Lyndsay that it was “the best birthday ever.”
I highlight this story—simple in concept yet high level because of the imagination and motivation it took for all involved—because often, it’s just the simplest thing (like attending a birthday party) that can make all the difference to someone. Remember, human inclusivity is about helping someone, especially a human considered “Other”, feel as if they matter.
No doubt, Christian felt that he mattered that day!
My hat is off to Coach Holtry and his team for the compassion they showed a young boy and his family. You have inspired me to do better! See
to be inspired too!
Proof of Human Goodness: An
What do you think the chances are of someone returning a stranger’s lost wallet with $100 in it? Zero percent? Ten percent? Fifty percent?
Answer: Humans would likely return the wallet 72 percent of the time.
That’s exactly what researcher found when they conducted an “honesty experiment” in three countries—the U.S., the U.K. and Poland. In contrast, only 46 percent of wallets containing no money were returned whereas those with $13 were turned in 61 percent of the time.
All of this was part of a larger worldwide experiment where researchers used 17,000 wallets—some containing $13, others without any money at all—in 40 countries across the globe. The protocol involved a ruse: a researcher—posing as an ordinary citizen—would report to a stranger that he/she had “found” the wallet on the street. The researchers made these reports to police, hotel clerks, post offices or theaters. The question then became: would the stranger who took custody of the wallet take the next step of reporting the find to the wallet’s rightful “owner” (the wallets contained contact information identifying the purported owner—in reality, the “owner” was another researcher keeping tabs on whether wallets were reported found) or would the stranger just keep the money or otherwise not relay to the “owner” that they now had the lost wallet?
Originally, nearly 300 academic economists predicted that putting more money in wallets would make it less likely that someone would do the right thing by returning the wallet (with the money intact) to its rightful owner. Instead, what researchers found was that the
money in a wallet meant it was more likely for the stranger to contact the wallet’s purported “owner.”
reported by NPR
, “As results rolled in from across the world, researchers kept finding the same result. In 38 out of 40 countries, people were more likely to report receiving wallets with money than those without.” (A decrease in reporting rates for the remaining two countries was deemed not statistically significant.)
Researchers theorize there are two reasons for this honesty: first, that the stranger taking charge of the “lost” wallet might feel sorry for the person who had lost it.
The second theory is that most people don’t want to view themselves as a thief; thus, it would feel like stealing if the stranger in possession of the wallet didn’t contact the owner. The greater the amount of money in the wallet, the stronger one might view themselves as a thief.
It was also found that countries with higher rates of primary education were more likely to see high rates of wallet returns, giving rise to the idea that social norms learned in school govern how humans treat each other throughout their entire lives. (Imagine that...)
As you read in my welcoming remarks at the top of this newsletter, I believe 99 percent of humans have good hearts. I think this study totally supports that proposition. Take that as a reason to hope, please!
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
Empowering the WCCSM or WCCSW:
Ally to "Other"
In June, I was invited to the Jenner & Block law firm in Chicago to be on a panel of diverse attorneys to talk about diversity and inclusion challenges for the legal profession. The panel was envisioned and then moderated by Randy Mehrberg, a white-color, cisgender (non-transgender), straight male (WCCSM), who is a Jenner partner with a rich career in business, nonprofits and politics in addition to many years of practicing law. In a variety of contexts, Randy has championed those who are otherwise invisible to our largely white-dominated, straight society. (I also need to note here that Randy and I are friends; back when I presented as a man, he and I tried and won a large jury case in Iowa.)
As Randy posed questions to panelists and provided his own observations, I was first struck by how much Randy understood what it means to be “Other” in today’s America. Then, because of how he brought the panel together, I appreciated that Randy is an ally to those who are seeking change in our society. It’s also not a given that Randy would be so understanding or such an ally; indeed, I suspect that his career may have been much easier had he simply hunkered down, made money, and enjoyed what little free time he might have as a busy lawyer.
The experience got me to thinking about WCCSMs who may exist at other organizations and how they may not be appreciated or empowered. I think it’s easy to overlook such individuals, particularly in this time of many wanting to increase diversity and inclusion by focusing on diverse humans. Yet, in many organizations, it is the WCCSMs who can do the most toward changing culture to welcome “Other” humans. Because male whiteness still carries much greater weight than diverse color or gender, the WCCSM may have the political clout needed to support diverse team members and culture change.
Take the time to determine if you have a WCCSM in your organization who either already is hard at work for culture change or who may want to do such work. If you have such a human, don’t take him for granted. Ensure that his efforts at protecting “Other” humans are recognized and that he is supported. Let him know that you understand it’s not easy for him to engage in allyship and offer to help in whatever way makes sense. Then, let him engage in the special culture change/allyship work that he alone might be able to do.
Finally, I don’t mean to leave out the WCCSW—white color, cisgender, straight women. They too are incredibly valuable in promoting and protecting “Other.” (Indeed, one such woman, Carol Russell of the Twin Cities Russell Herder marketing firm was an over-the-top ally to me whose efforts resulted in me being recognized for my work in Minneapolis.) However, given where most organizations stand, there still is far more power in the hands of men than women. Yet, if you have a WCCSW in your midst, give her all the support (and maybe even more because of the challenges) that she needs!
We cannot get to a better place without allies. It’s that simple!
Odds & Ends
It’s been two months since the last O&E, so we’ve got some catching up to do.
short video of a seesaw
placed between a section of wall on the Texas- Mexico border. Once more, we’re reminded that children have so much to teach adults.
One More Wonderful:
Check out this
video of a donkey
reacting to the girl who raised him when she was younger. Animals can teach us too…
Allyship on the Playground:
Here is a
video of a white-color man standing up for black-color kid
s doing nothing more than playing in the backyard of an apartment complex. Trigger warning: swear words and emotion are very prevalent. As the caption relates, we must be antiracist to change a racist landscape.
Have You Heard of The HistoryMakers?
The Jenner & Block event in June had me sitting with Julieanna Richardson, the founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers, a research and educational nonprofit dedicated to “
preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans…helping to refashion a more inclusive record of American history.
” There are more than 3000 video interviews on
The HistoryMakers website
; I highly recommend checking out this incredible resource! (I know I mentioned this in the June
but I’ve since interviewed Julieanna on my radio show—
click here for the interview
—and I just can’t say enough about The HistoryMakers!)
Paying Attention and Allyship:
Check out how this older man, paying attention to what’s around him,
moves in to protect a young woman
who is the subject of another man’s “upskirting” (taking photos under a woman’s skirt).
Compassion on a Delta Flight:
of how a Delta flight attendant looked out for a young deaf girl in her charge. It’s an excellent example of using imagination to extend compassion.
A Golfer Comes Out:
Kendra Little, a professional golfer born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (she presents as female but is genetically male) explained her
authenticity story on YouTube
. Talk about courage…
Calling it Out:
We can’t change the landscape if we don’t know the facts. Hence,
calls out the State of Minnesota for the disparity in high school graduation rates between white-color students and students of colors other than white.
Quotes by or about me:
Here is a
by me re: the 50
Anniversary of the Stonewall riots that appeared in the June
Go Guide Magazine.
Also, in July, the Illinois CPA
re: diversity and inclusion. Finally, in May, I was
regarding transgender humans struggling to survive.
In late June,
Minnesota Public Radio interviewed me
and another transgender woman about how one’s post-gender transition voice helps one to “pass” (e.g. where no one would guess that the trans person had been assigned a different gender at birth) or not. Guess which category I’m in…
My 29-year-old daughter Kate, a writer like me, is a freelancer for
where she reviews books. She also has an entertainment-book review website that’s fun and smart,
Snarky Yet Satisfying
She regularly reviews books on her blog; check it out! Her book pick and summary for this month: “The
newest release from Ann Patchett,
is a historical fiction gem that spans several generations after a chance encounter leads to the joining of two families. When Bert Cousins crashes a christening party and meets (and kisses) Beverly Keating, it takes these two very different families down the same path. Soon Bert and Beverly have left their significant others and their six children are forced to be in each other's lives. What ensues is a heartwarming and humorous bond between the new siblings, who surprisingly harbor little ill will.”
“Ellie 2.0 Radio” Podcasts/Shows:
My podcast/show, “Ellie 2.0 Radio,” airs on Twin Cities-based AM950 every Monday from 7 to 8 a.m. CST and can be live-streamed by clicking here. Ellie 2.0 Radio highlights various historical and contemporary idealists and my work as a “practical idealist” trying to change the world for the better. My July 15 show highlighted Scott Herold, who gave up a high-powered career to work with inner city youth at a media arts school. A week later, on July 22, I interviewed Dan Collison, a Minneapolis pastor who was excommunicated because he (a WCCSM) wanted to support LGBTQ humans. Wow. You can access the show’s 80+ podcasts
Stuff Worth Reading (assuming you think like ellie…):
2019 marks the 400
anniversary of the first Africans being enslaved in what would become America.
The New York Times Magazine
“The 1619 Project”
which assembles incredible writers and pieces about slavery’s impact on America. I cannot recommend diving into this collective highly enough!
Please Follow Me on Twitter—The Goal is 1000 Followers:
This year I have a goal of doubling (to 1000) the number of people following me on Twitter (my follower number was 502 on Jan. 1; currently it’s 692). Would you please follow me @elliekrug? Thanks!
Past and Upcoming Talks/Trainings and General Stuff:
I’m back into the thick of it working to make the world a better place. At the end of August, I’ll train at the Fredrikson & Byron law firm here in Minneapolis. Then, it’s off to Idaho, Massachusetts and Steamboat Springs, CO in September. On the horizon are multiple trips to Los Angeles to train on Gray Area Thinking and a keynote in Duluth MN to maybe 2000 people? As a 62-year-old idealistic chick with limited support, I’m pushing this changing- the-world-stuff as much as possible. It’s in my blood; it will still be present when I take my last 500 breaths. See my
Upcoming Engagements here
Want to Support My Work toward Fostering Greater Compassion and Human Inclusivity?
My goal is to do more work in greater MN and other parts of the country where access to compassion/human inclusivity training is limited or nonexistent. If you’d like to support this work, please consider
donating to Human Ripple Works, Inc
., a nonprofit that others have set up to fund my expenses (but not my fees) to do work in places/for organizations that can’t afford to pay for training. (I work with nonprofits or under-funded agencies for free or at a greatly reduced fee in these locals.) Thanks for considering this!
is a work in progress, so please, I welcome your suggestions and comments! Please share this newsletter with others, too!
Thank you for helping to make the world a better place! I'm at your side, cheering you on, I promise! Please have compassion for yourself and for others.
Encouraging Open Hearts and Thriving Human Spirits
Human Inspiration Works, LLC: We make "inclusion" an action word