Teachers talk about taking advantage
of a "teachable moment" when an unexpected event makes students more
receptive to learning.
The University probably took some
actions in response to my tenure denial and appeal. Mostly
their actions must have been based on their perceptions of what happened.
Perhaps a few who saw my appeal found something in it to consider in shaping the
response. I have no way of knowing.
It has been my intention to create
this web site ever since I accepted a settlement in lieu of an appeal.
But I chose to put some time between leaving the University and creating
the site. Otherwise, it would have
been perceived as simply the anger of a disgruntled former employee.
Some may still perceive it that way.
In the interim I have been building
a new life - a rebirth if you will - that builds on my experience and expertise.
I offer the rest of my web site as evidence that I have not been sitting
around moping about past failures.
Many women in science that I talk to
complain that they are required to spend all of their time on their work.
There is little room for a life outside of the lab.
Periods of intense concentration are expected, indeed can be thrilling
when new discoveries are being made. But
time to pursue other interests now and then - broad ranging interests- are also
needed. And, time to clean house!
I particularly enjoy the diversity
of projects that I have been able to work on now that I can define my life.
I am following my bliss. It
is more difficult to continue to include research in the mix of projects when
one is not associated with a research lab, but I do the best I can.
And I very much appreciate those former colleagues who continue to
interact with me as an equal.
The Alfalfa Seed Parable is not
about revenge. If you think that I
want revenge, you have missed the point. I
feel at peace toward those who were involved in my tenure denial, including
I do not blame others who were
involved. We all acted in good
faith but from different paradigms. The
interaction was bad, the climate chilly. Without
understanding the difference in our paradigms, others could not have known how
they were contributing to the interaction.
If you are angry about what I have
written, I regret that you have responded so.
But I thank you for reading what I've written.
I seek understanding. Did
you read everything? If not,
perhaps reading what you have missed will clarify.
What stimulated me to launch this
web site when I did was news of a continued chilly climate at the University.
The details are not relevant here. But
perhaps my experience and my insights could be helpful.
It is, perhaps, a teachable moment.
Teachable moments come at different times to different people, so my hope
is that others will find this web site when they are ready for it.
As I have been putting together the
Alfalfa Seed Parable, I have been reading Frans de Waals book, "Peacemaking
among primates" (Harvard University Press 1989).
In his acknowledgment he writes: "For
years my mother scanned Dutch newspapers for the word verzoening
(reconciliation); I owe a great many human anecdotes to her."
Here are some excerpts from the Prologue, and from his chapter on Rhesus
"We know a great deal about the
causes of hostile behavior in both animals and humans, ranging from hormones and
brain activity to cultural influences. Yet
we know little of the way conflicts are avoided, or how, when they do occur,
relationships are afterward repaired and normalized…
"Our closest relatives, the
primates, … have to face the fact that sometimes they cannot win a fight
without losing a friend. The answer
to this dilemma is either to reduce competition or to repair the damage
afterward. The first solution is
known as tolerance, the second as reconciliation. …
"Because my research concerns
the principles of peaceful coexistence, I focus on sharing rather than on
competition, and on how fights end instead of how they start.
Reconciliation is crucial…
"[Two] levels of making up are
observable in humans. I call them
implicit and explicit reconciliations. The
first type, in which no reference is made to the previous conflict, is
rhesuslike. You meet your
colleague, with whom you had a spat yesterday, and act as if nothing had
happened. You get him some coffee,
comment on the weather, or start a work-related discussion.
The colleague does not mention the incident either, yet by responding
normally - not too coolly and not too enthusiastically- he shows himself to be
without rancor, or at least willing to act that way for the moment…
"An explicit reconciliation is
one in which the parties do mention the previous conflict.
They apologize or try to eliminate any misunderstanding.
The exchange may look like a renewed conflict, for the old disagreement
is never completely dead. Typically,
in an egalitarian relationship, a compromise is reached with both parties
sharing responsibility. In a
relationship with a strong status component, however, the subordinate usually
accepts most of the blame. If not,
the conflict is likely to escalate as the dominant sees his or her authority in
(A comment interjected: If you come from a social system that minimizes hierarchy, as women's culture often does [Webs and Ladders], you will expect shared responsibility. Consider the implications when the other party's self-identity is that of dominant status... )
"It is evident that the highest
degree of explicitness is reached in our own species, for we alone have language
to discuss the matters that divide us…
"Georg Simmel, a social philosopher of the turn of the century, pointed out that societies are not built on pure friendliness. In order to achieve a definite organization they require both attraction and repulsion, integration and differentiation, cooperation and competition. Conflict and its resolution serve to overcome these dualisms and reach some form of unity. Simmel saw the peaceful termination of social struggles as a special form of synthesis - a higher process that includes both union and opposition."
|A Conflict Resolved with Bananas|
First and foremost, the Alfalfa Seed
Parable is about finding my voice. The
process of writing it and making it available to the world is all that I want
from it. Finding my voice has been important to me, because it was
stifled for so long. With the
exception of Hug 'o War and Tug of Peace, which I recommended to a few
relatives, I have not specifically advertised this part of my web.
If you have found it and read it, even part of it, if you have read this
far, it is a surprise to me, and more than I expected.
Something about it must be of interest.
If, on reading my parables, you have
found some insight relevant to your life, I am pleased.
back to Parables...
Copyright © January 27, 2003 Karen Strickler. All rights reserved.