Major Crow

The heart of the problem is that many believe that being in a leadership position means they no longer need advice, particularly unsolicited advice: They must have all the answers, and see accepting advice from others as a sign of weakness. They think they’ll lose face for accepting help from others; or that “naysayers” are seeking to undermine them and their cause. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

“Where there is no guidance, a nation falls,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
– Proverbs 11:14 (NRSV)

A dozen (or so) years ago, I was a Technical Lead for an IT services contractor in the DC area.  After wrapping up one project, I had been assigned to lead a project for a new client of another division within my company.  A few months later, I was pulled back into my old group because a project that had been waiting approval for a long time had finally gotten the green light: writing a new and very complex logistics-support application for a branch of the military.

Several members of my team had spent years supporting (and fixing) the predecessor to the proposed new system.  They had developed a very deep and thorough knowledge of the way the client used the system, the system’s remaining flaws, and the needs it was failing to address at all.  We had known for a long time that it would cost far more to finish fixing the existing system’s critical problems and gaps than to rewrite the whole thing from scratch.  The client had finally agreed: a design and project plan had been developed, and the proposal had been approved.  I was brought back to lead the technical side of that effort.

Just a couple of weeks later, we had our initial meeting with the primary stakeholders of the new system in an office building not far from the Pentagon.  I arrived along with my boss.  She and I were escorted into a conference room.  Several of the folks associated with the use of the system were already there, and we all chatted for a few minutes as the rest of the team trickled in.

Suddenly, an aide came in and announced an Officer: after that introduction, he strode in and sat down.  Wasting no time, his message was pointed and brief: he had talked to the commander about an hour earlier and convinced him that our project should be under his command, since he was already tasked with leading the development and deployment of a similar system.  (Although similar, not identical – its mission actually had very little overlap with that of our project.)

He explained that our project was needless duplication, and that it would detract from what he was trying to accomplish.  Besides, he’d had a conversation with the vendor of the workgroup product his own “portal” was going to be built-with, and the vendor had assured him it would only take 8 months to duplicate the functionality our project would provide.  And so, he’d promised his commander that he would have the new system up and running in eight months time.

Therefore, he was shutting down our project, effective immediately.

Continue reading “Major Crow”

9/11/2001: Fifteen Years

On this, the 15th anniversary of the “9-11 Attacks” I’ve been asking myself: “How do we remember the past; while also being messengers of healing and growth for those still hurting from this (and other) such events?” And, our remembrances must be respectful of the present and the past: a time of healing, not a source of renewed pain.

So, I created this short video to remind us of the events of that day, and reflect on how we remember what we remember.

This coming Sunday marks the 15th Anniversary of the “9-11 Attacks.”

The youngest of us who remember that day are now of voting age, having lived their whole lives in a world where the threat of Terrorism is real and present; no longer distant and theoretical, as many of us thought it to be before that sunny Tuesday morning in September.

We confront the legacy of 9-11 in our lives in many ways, every day. But, the attacks themselves are growing ever more distant with time. (I marvel that World War II, which seems like such ancient history to me, ended just 15 years before my birth.) 15 years can seem like an eon, yet simultaneously it can be as fresh and strong as if it was just yesterday…

I’ve been asking myself: “How do we remember what has been; while also being  messengers of healing and growth for those still hurting from this (and other) such events?”  Yet, we must also be sensitive to the fact that for many, dredging up these memories is intensely painful. Our remembrance must be respectful of the present and the past. It must be a time of healing, not a source of renewed pain.

For me, one way to do this was to compile a short video that is intended to remind us of the events of that day, and which reflects on how we remember what we remember. I will be showing this video following the church service I’ll be leading this Sunday, and afterwards we’ll have a time for remembering, sharing, and prayer.

There are no words in the video, just carefully selected music and images. This is deliberate – in part so that those who find the memories (that these images will recall) too powerful or painful can simply close their eyes. However, the larger reason is that human words are not adequate for expressing how many of us, including myself, still feel when reminded of the events of that day.

No matter whether you worship in a Church, a Synagogue, a Mosque or a Temple;  please join me this coming Sunday morning: September 11th 2016, to remember, and to pray for those who are still hurting.  Pray with me for the healing of all who have been wounded by hate or fear.

Our  wounds and losses will never be forgotten, but we all believe in a Higher Power – whether that power is in the form of a deity, or simply the power of a people united for the common good.  What is necessary is that we learn to believe and trust in each other, because only by trusting each other and working together will our world be freed from the losses and wounds that we inflict upon others out of our own fear and pain.

 

-Pastor Allen

 

Copyright (c) 2016, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)

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