Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Strange days

I've got to be a bit careful about what I say here and how I say it because some of the information is a bit sensitive. I also don't like gossip.

But, having said that, we're experiencing strange days in the organisation I work for, as aspects of a former member of staff's private life have been disclosed to all staff. Many people are in shock at said person's behaviour, which our Executive Director described as "incredibly deceitful" when we were all told the news on Monday morning. There is a huge amount of pain, disappointment and, being honest, anger. And a feeling of unreality; as if this is all a misunderstanding which will be cleared up sometime soon.

Another word used by ED was "arrogance". And, to be honest, that was a word I would have associated with said person before all this news broke. I didn't get on with his particular management style. I felt it was authoritarian. Decisions were made without consultation. A few years ago I told my manager at the time that I felt this other person treated our workplace as his personal fiefdom, and behaved as if it was his to use as he wanted.

But I still felt he had integrity as a person. On one occasion he went out of his way to make sure I was OK when a random nutter was trying to make trouble for me. I remember receiving one appreciative email in particular, which praised my writing talent and really encouraged me at a time when I was at quite a low ebb. What made it even more special was that he had taken time out of his schedule while overseas to write and tell me I was doing a good job.

So what do you do? It's tempting to write off all the good things, but I do believe they were genuine expressions of goodness. The hard thing for me was seeing people who had known him for literally decades, and considered him a most trusted friend, so broken and hurt by his duplicity. When you see grown men who you respect, and care about, and to some extent love, struggling to hold back the tears as they try to assimilate what they're hearing, the sense of injustice and anger are magnified.

Personally, I think it's easier to forgive a slight against yourself - to say 'you wronged me, but I forgive you' than to forgive people who have hurt those you care about. A few years ago I felt rage - actual deep-seated pit-of-the-stomach murderous wrath - at the way my wife was being unjustly treated by a relation. If it was happening to me, it would have been easier to forgive. But when it's an attack on someone else, someone you hold dear, forgiveness isn't so easy.

And, a final thought, I think many of those who I care about who have been hurt the most were hurt precisely because they cared so deeply about the friend who betrayed them. In fact, I think that may have made it easier for him to betray them. When you have known someone that long, you see them as they were, not as they have become. As someone new(ish) to the organisation, I saw said person and thought 'he's a bit conceited'. But had he always been that way, or had he grown that way over time?

It's hard to see those gradual changes when you're so close the subject, like the parent who still sees their son as an adorable little boy, even those he's an asbo teen brat. It takes a radical shock to the system to allow you to see that person with fresh eyes, with a new appreciation of who they really are, instead of the image of them you've constructed in your head.

For many of the people I'm closest too, they've had that radical shock and the person they now see is not the person the thought they knew.

If you're the praying type, please pray for us.


  1. I thought about writing something on my own blog about this Jon but didn't quite know how to word it- you've written really sensitively and honestly and I have to say I agree with you entirely.
    One friend said to me that no wonder the organisation had been feeling so weighed down and 'dark' (for want of a better word) over the last year... it wasn't just because of the review after all. And it's not going to get much easier this year as we have to learn to live with it, forgive it, and move on.

  2. I think everything should be ok providing folk dont dwell on it (as folk tend to do)... or even use it as an excuse i.e 'no one now turns up at our events because of what has happened' - when in truth people just don't like the events we put on.

    time will tell i guess...
    p.s. bet mm is happy the mmblog no longer exists :D