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Cheese Puffing

Posted 5/30/2001

I have a different viewpoint on the Nose's opinion of Who Moved My Cheese and how Mayor O'Malley is using it (The Nose, May 16).

On one hand, I appreciate the interpretation that this book might espouse values of "unblinking, unthinking obedience to the corporate masters." I don't think that is the point of this book, however. It is certainly not how I use it.

As a management consultant who has presented this material to many companies and groups (including the Mayor's Executive Leadership Program), I see this book as a tool to help people understand their instinctive reactions to any change in their lives. I do not see it supporting a corporate scheme for "gulling, silencing, and firing workers."

The volatility and insecurity of our workplaces certainly leaves us feeling dehumanized and expendable. Yet even in the good old days of mutual commitment and loyalty between corporation and worker, people were dehumanized and expendable. That value system created dysfunctional organizations that were--and still are--destructive to employees. It required--and still requires--people to exchange workaholism, blind obedience to the words (if not the music) of the mission, and numbing out their feelings and thoughts about how the organization goes about doing business, for the "cheese" of recognition, status, title, belonging, etc.

The crumbling of these values is not a bad thing. It is the crumbling of an addictive process. One of the results of the shift in corporate values has been an honest recognition of the strengths and weaknesses of an industrialized, capitalist society and what it really costs people to succeed.

This offers us an unprecedented opportunity for personal growth. As we are forced to deal with unplanned change, we have the opportunity to develop our own unique strategies for taking charge of our lives. In this way we empower ourselves to survive and thrive, even when external events threaten to victimize us. This ultimately produces a healthier, more creative society. The values attending to that health are what I espouse as a management consultant, workshop facilitator, and human being.

Terri Diener

Suicide Is Not Painless
I am writing in response to the ad for your annual poetry and fiction contest showing a man holding a gun to his head. Maybe if Joe MacLeod, the art director, had lost someone to suicide by gunshot, as I have, he would not have thought this ad to be so clever and amusing!

Baltimore City has the highest suicide rate in Maryland for young people under the age of 24! Guns are used more for suicide than homicide! Every hour and 53 minutes in the United States we lose another young person under the age of 24 by suicide--that's a Columbine a day! Is this enough, or should I continue?

Today I am the founder and president of the organization Suicide Prevention Education Awareness for Kids (SPEAK) in Maryland, bringing the epidemic of suicide to the forefront. After speaking with other advocates in the fight for suicide prevention, we find this ad to be quite disturbing! We hope in the future that City Paper will be more sensitive and show compassion to the feelings of the survivors who have lost loved ones so tragically!

Lisa Hurka Covington

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