Robert Rimm has been the managing editor of Arch Street Press since 2010. His key interests include art and culture, social entrepreneurship, education, the environment and human rights. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and fluent in French and Russian, he is a widely published author and professional member of the Authors Guild, PEN America and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. His most recent book is Better to Speak of It: Fostering Relationships & Results through Creativity, focusing on core management and personal values in collaboration with Clive Gillinson, executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall (October 2016).
a lack of transparency: stained glass
Why is transparency within the realm of all types of communication—friend-friend, parent-child, husband-wife, manager-employee—so consistently elusive? Why must the ego so quickly approach the greasy fast-fed drive-thru that values expediency and quick profit over healthy dialogue? Why do so many start with perfection as the baseline, from which there is no room to breathe?
Imagine almost any type of scenario. You’ve borrowed a friend’s or parent’s car and have had an accident that was your fault; does the car’s owner not far more appreciate an immediate admission and pledge to do whatever it takes to right the situation, rather than an elusive answer and possible insurance or courtroom fight? You’ve missed a Friday deadline at work to the detriment of a client relationship; does the client not far more appreciate an immediate call and pledge to work through the entire weekend to right the situation, rather than an elusive excuse and possible contractual fight?
Elusive/fight? Transparency permits the kind of freedom and relationship growth not possible by any other means. Extraordinary intelligence, fierce discipline and sky-high aspiration can no more reach perfection than those who live under the clouds. Must looking good from every angle trump (as it were…) clear and direct communication?
All of us are ultimately accountable, so why not settle the mistakes when they happen rather than let progressively harmful circumstances eat away at the conscience? In just one of countless examples to which this question could be applied, Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families asked the state’s highest criminal law-enforcement agency this week to investigate whether employees at Choate Rosemary Hall failed to report multiple allegations of sexual abuse which by law they must do under such circumstances. This will presumably cause other institutions to come forward for fear of such reprisals. With mistrust more abundant than smog over Beijing, built up over years of deception and cover-ups, how many more generations will have to live and die before seeing lasting progress?
Stained glass—as intricately constructed as a corporate or political cover-up and equally difficult to see through—may appear indelibly beautiful to the eye, yet relationships and communications viewed through Museum Glass, with inevitable flaws and imperfections unable to be hidden, can be far more durable.
Embrace transparency, and leave the thousand-year-old guile of stained glass to the craftsmen, not the crafty.