Category Archives: Space for debate

Justitia Regnum Fundamentum: Choices we make, consequences others live


A 45 year old lawyer was condemned for trading in influence. He bribed the judges in the court of appeal to buy his “freedom”. His pro-bono lawyer, who was also his friend and is a father of two, learned about it when the judges started the deliberation in chambers. A four figure amount in Euro was the price. Six months later he died in a car accident. Two children and a stay-at-home wife were left penniless. The bribe money did not pay for a life insurance. They will be fine in the end.

A 25 year old mother of two in charge of her three underaged sisters, was imprisoned for stubbing to death her violent husband, whose regularly practiced hobby was to beat her to unconsciousness in front of her children. She suffered multiple injuries. She lost one 7 month pregnancy. She did not bribe the system to protect her. The system wants her behind bars. She will be fine in the end.img_0216

Days latter: “The authorities failed in their obligation to protect the life of a woman who had been genuinely and seriously threatened by her husband.
On 23 February 2015 in the Chamber judgment1 in the case of Civek v. Turkey (application no. 55354/11) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the murder of the applicants’ mother, Selma Civek, by their father. The Court found, in particular, that even though the Turkish authorities had been informed of the genuine and serious threat to Ms Civek’s life and despite her continued complaints of threats and harassment, they had failed to take the measures reasonably available to them in order to prevent her being murdered by her husband.”

Names of countries are irrelevant. Names and faiths of people are not.



I was traveling from Strasbourg to Frankfurt by bus last Summer. When I arrived at the bus station, there was a huge crowd with luggage, strollers and bags everywhere. Children, elderly, women, men. 50 percent Arabic. A vivid crowd.
My math skills are not great, but I could easily see that one bus will not fit us all. Half an hour later a second bus arrives. The Arab group of passengers rushed to load their luggage into the bus. Once in, children, elderly and women boarded. Men went last. The doors of the second bus are still closed and the Dutch driver is adamant: until the first bus is full, no one gets on the second bus. He says there is one more sit in the first bus. No one moved.
I took my travel bag and moved to the first bus. “They will not blow their own people” my mind reassured me and started designing contingency plans. “Well, done, human rights trained lawyer!”, my heart responds. There it was, a bias I did not even suspect I had. Once in, my brain slowed down. Kids, women were sited in front sits. All men took their seats in the back of the bus. Five minutes later, another white young lady entered the bus. She looked scared screening faces in the bus. She spotted mine and immediately relaxed.
Throughout the two and a half hour trip, there seemed to be a certain unspoken harmonious structure. I sat next to a ten-year old girl who learned German from a grammar book. Her mother and brother sat behind. She was constantly apologizing whenever her children would be louder than usual. An hour into the trip, snack time seemed to be a family meal. Everyone shared with everyone food they had. A baby was crying. All women around would hold him in turns to help the young mother. Where was the danger my brain warned me about?!
“Our biases can be dangerous, even deadly — as we’ve seen in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, in Staten Island, New York. Diversity advocate Vernā Myers looks closely at some of the subconscious attitudes we hold toward out-groups. She makes a plea to all people: Acknowledge your biases. Then move toward, not away from, the groups that make you uncomfortable. In a funny, impassioned, important talk, she shows us how.” Verna Myers

Negotiations and love making



On both accounts, process and outcome, I find negotiations similar to making love. For both you need a partner (or two). Both (or all three) want something and are determined to get it. There is foreplay in both processes. Its length tends to depend on partners eagerness. No foreplay may lead to no negotiations or no love making sometimes. If all parties express verbally and non-verbally readiness to get right into it, chances are the outcome will be reached.
Some insights:
1. I never negotiate with a weaker partner or someone vulnerable. Same goes for love making. They need a special approach, not a power struggle. At the end of the day, power is about what you do with it and how it serves the needs of those who are not in power or empowered. Apply a special, tailor made approach, bring them to terms equal to yours and only then proceed. No 50 shades of grey. Ensure you are on the same levels as you proceed. Slow down if your partner needs more time. Speed it up, if lagging behind. It needs to bring you together, as partners in love/ in negotiation, to your finish line.
2. Smile. Can you make love with a serious face? I can’t. Negotiating with a smile, a face-lift in every ones price range (Allan Leighton’s book on “Leadership”) will lift the whole situation to a new level of trust. Trust is a key ingredient in both love making and negotiations. Your love or negotiation partner needs to get assurance. Soft smiles, light and appropriate stereotypes-free jokes, open body language will give them this reassurance.
A brief story from negotiations I was involved in: we needed a break after 4 hours of negotiations, so headed to a cafe nearby for a coffee. I was accompanied by a seniour and a junior colleague. My seniour colleague asks me ” how do you like your coffee?”. I remembered a movie line between two African Americans. Same question was asked. The response was ” the same way I like my woman: hot, black and sweet” I quoted proudly. My juniour colleague reply was ” my girlfriend is black”. You can imagine my face :).
3. Apply your favourite science or art to preparations. The astronomy and astrology will help you get to know better your partner. Stars alignment will help you with an optimum set-up in relation to your partner. Chemistry will inspire your selection of approaches: hard, soft, liquid, volatile, stand alone or in any combination. Physics will bring the science of the matter to unleash the energy and force you need. Sculpturing will help you design your approaches to your partners’ tactic: cut in stone, melt, glue, rub, …. Psychology will help on mental and behavioral levels. Music will set the tone both in love making and negotiations. May start with sharing your favourite tunes, for instance.
4. Understand that win-win depends on each parties’ definitions. There is no universal win-win. You can get close to it though. Some of the insights above might help.
5. Gentle separations A relationship was born. Its lifespan depends on your willingness to maintain it. Appreciate your partner with a kiss, after making love, and a handshake and thanks after negotiations. Do not slam doors or leave without good buy, for instance. Saying that you’ll call, when knowing you’ll not, is from the same ” symphony”.
6. What I found universally applicable is that there are no universal rules in negotiations. Choosing your own approach to negotiations might involve finding your own angle or perspective for the outcome you desire. Just keep exploring!love

Feminism and life’s generosity


A male colleague invited me and my colleague to lunch. His treat. My female colleague was hesitant. She said she has to finish something. “We’ll wait for you”, I said. Downstairs at the cafeteria, she asked me “what to do? My feminism is struggling with it”. My response was “Life is generous and generosity has many forms. This is just one of them. It’s your choice whether to accept it with gratitude.” She liked the perspective and accepted it.IMG_8146

It was a terriffic lunch. We talked about food, places to visit when his family is in town and best places to take his family out for dinner. We exchanged our impressions from our trips to France. We responded to his generosity with our generous knowledge of local culture. It’s mutual. Always. Generosity attracts generosity.
What does feminism have to do with who pays for lunches anyway? In one of its many definitions, feminism fights for everyone’s freedom to pursue happiness. It is totally fine, if refusing a treat from a colleague based on your beliefs makes you happy. An offer to buy me lunch has never meant that I was perceived as unable to pay for myself or that any of my abilities were disregarded. Quite the opposite.

A feminist is someone who believes in equality between the genders, reads another definition. Feminism is also about generosity to me. Money saved from the lunch paid by our colleague goes to a lunch for a homeless or a less fortunate one. It’ s going beyound and above the bubble we place ourselves in for the sake of bellonging to a social structure. These bubbles are a bit of luxuries. Once a single mother of five living a poor but dignified life told me: “you may perhaps afford all this feminist talk. I cannot. I have five mouths to feed.” And she is right. A female begger will unlikely object to a treat from a male just because the two of them belong to different genders. Or she may refuse it and hope that her own gender would be as generous and would not do it out of superiority of any kind.

Generosity is gender blind and I sure hope it will stay that way.
Feminism stems originally from a struggle, an opposition, a fight. For the sake of wisdom, I would like to believe we are over it and feminist or feminine we are simply grateful and generous with each other in all of our human interactions.