Denying our grief and preventing our acceptance

I've gotten into my fair share of trouble for saying that a major problem we have with business and with society is that there are generally accepted truths which people pretend to ignore. We pretend to ignore them by not accepting that most everybody thinks and agrees with these truths, but nobody talks about them or acknowledges them.

While some might say that they are not being ignored, they are just being worked around because the issue lying at the heart of these "truths" are beyond our control. Well I say poppycock. Counselors and therapists always point to acceptance as the first real progress in healing someone suffering from addiction or grief. At this point I bet you're wondering what the "H-E- double hockey sticks" I'm talking about. So I'll give you an example.

Recently the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled "Puerto Rico's Economic Slump
Weighs Hard on Consumers".
The take aways from the article:

  • Left Behind: While inflation in most of the U.S. has remained subdued, prices in Puerto Rico are rising faster, putting pressure on consumers.
  • Dangerous Mix: Puerto Rico's economy is hobbled by a troubled manufacturing sector, national debt, costly imports because of geography and a heavy reliance on oil.
  • More Pain Ahead: The government has trimmed costs but also raised taxes, further increasing prices and cutting consumer spending.
To complete the, in my opinion matter of fact and devoid of much hyperbole. article the author compares Puerto Rico's GDP to the United States and does the same for inflation. And the results are...
  • Puerto Rico's gross national product is forecast for a 1.4% decline in the fiscal year ended in June. The overall U.S. economy grew 2.9% last year, as measured by chGDP Comparisonanges in gross domestic product, and expanded at an annual rate of 3.4% in the second quarter.
  • in Puerto Rico, the consumer-price index, which includes food and fuel prices, was up 15% in 2006, according to the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources. Where as overall inflation in most of the U.S. has remained subdued. In June, the consumer-price index was up 2.7% from a year ago.
In my opinion, if you asked a thousand people living on the island whether they agreed or disagreed with these figures and conclusions, you would get an overwhelming majority stating that they agree. However, since the conclusions you get from this article are seen as threatening by the local government, they must respond with their usual position. We neither deny nor confirm (and while typically not mentioned they damn sure aren't going to agree) with the information, we'd like to point out why the information was wrong, one sided, unfair, etc.

So yesterday, the Journal printed a rebuttal from Ani, our Governor. Since most people will never see this letter, I'll share it here with you:
Puerto Rico's Recent Dynamic Turnaround

Your Au
g. 14 article "Puerto Rico's Economic Slump Weighs Hard on Consumers" paints a one-dimensional portrait of the Commonwealth's economy, overlooking not only global dynamics such as soaring oil prices and the migration of low-end manufacturing jobs from the U.S. to cheaper locations, but also Puerto Rico's notable recent economic progress.

Already, we have seen dramatic budget deficit reductions as we restored the government's fiscal health and eliminated bureaucracy.

Meanwhile, we've attracted billions of dollars in new corporate investment. Long a pharmaceutical manufacturing powerhouse, Puerto Rico is now becoming a center for biotechnology manufacturing and research and development. Amgen, Eli Lilly, Abbott and others have invested more than $4 billion in Puerto Rico in the last four years, creating new jobs and acting as partners for infrastructure development.

Beyond life sciences, Puerto Rico has moved quickly into sectors like aerospace, attracting investment from Honeywell Aerospace, Lockheed Martin and Hamilton Sundstrand. Three years ago, Pratt & Whitney opened an 18-employee software-development facility here; the company now employs more than 500 people. The University of Puerto Rico's top-flight engineers and the Commonwealth's significant tax advantages -- which, contrary to your report, did not "erode" but changed as companies here converted to controlled foreign corporations -- have been a major draw.

Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
San Juan
This is just plain and simple political spin. Most of this is based on half truths and very ineffectively demonstrates that there is, in-fact, a dynamic turn around. Ani's basic point is that there has been progress, uhh Ok, even the author identified that there had been progress. Again, I think most people would agree that there have been progress, but that doesn't make the basic points of the story any less true.

Why I think is worth writing about...

I accuse all people, politicians especially, of lying when they don't acknowledge facts written or said about them or their situation when there exists evidence that proves what was said or written is true or can be easily confirmed. And, for me, that significantly jeopardizes a person's integrity.

Furthermore, just because you don't acknowledge something doesn't make it false or not exist. People are not stupid and there is this little communication medium called the Internet that provides access to a cornucopia of information (thus eliminating the possibility for spin). But usually there is something even better available, personal experience (or perception). Perception is reality. So not acknowledging also threatens a person's credibility.

Unfortunately, in our society, admitting that there are problems is a sign of weakness. However, as any therapist or counselor would testify, it is actually a sign of strength and the foundation to actually addressing or dealing with a problem. Yes when faced with choosing between a fear of perceived weakness and being not credible (incredible) and lacking integrity, most people choose the latter. Don't our politicians understand that we would prefer them to be credible with their integrity in tact, but weak, instead of the opposite.

There is a word for this malady, denial. And denial is the first stage of grief.
Five Stages Of Grief (or acceptance)
  1. Denial and Isolation - At first, we tend to deny the loss has taken place, and may withdraw from our usual social contacts. This stage may last a few moments, or longer.
  2. Anger - The grieving person may then be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt (even if she's dead), or at the world, for letting it happen. He may be angry with himself for letting the event take place, even if, realistically, nothing could have stopped it.
  3. Bargaining - Now the grieving person may make bargains with God, asking, "If I do this, will you take away the loss?"
  4. Depression - The person feels numb, although anger and sadness may remain underneath.
  5. Acceptance - This is when the anger, sadness and mourning have tapered off. The person simply accepts the reality of the loss.
While these stages are associated with grief associated with a loss, I'd submit that we here in One more loss another lie...Puerto Rico are suffering from a loss of the dream, the loss of a golden future where everyone prospers, the loss of our history and our origins, and the loss of a heritage of strong guiding ideals. While we individually might be in different stages of grief, we collectively are stuck in denial. And the most profound manifestation of our collective nature is our elected and appointed officials. As long as they remain stuck in denial, then no matter whether if we individually achieve acceptance and are ready to seek solutions, our politicians and their collective group think will keep us stuck in a state of grief. Which I guess really sums up everything, doesn't it?

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