Finding my voice

Two days ago, I retracted my acceptance of a senior management position that would have made good use of my skills and experience, covered my health care expenses, significantly bolstered my retirement cushion and provided a salary commensurate with the high level of responsibility and expectations of the job.

I did this after two days in which I was subjected to questions about my political and personal beliefs and my professional associations.  This followed the reactions of a handful of intolerant people who protested my appointment.  They objected to the work of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), one of the world’s most principled humanitarian organizations, in a region of the world that is fraught with complexity and conflict..and, by my association with NRC, they objected to me.  They questioned work I had done with the Norwegian Red Cross in the same region, work I am proud to have done and done well.  They disapproved of people I have worked with, attacking views they had expressed with courage and conviction.  I was destabilized.  I was shaken.

Why this should have come as such a surprise to me is, well, surprising.  From my  comfortable perch on top of the world in social democratic Norway, I had followed the rise of fundamentalism in an increasingly polarized America.  I have lazily expressed my outrage by reposting a Facebook article or a meme from those who have been raising the alarm of fundamentalism for many years.  Such virtue signaling didn’t cost me anything.

On my return to the US, I naively thought that I could remain shielded from such narrow-mindedness and continue to express my outrage from wherever I sat comfortably perched.  I never imagined that I would come face-to-face with it so soon and in such an unexpected way…or that it would be represented by so few who were given so much power.  In the end, walking away from this was pretty easy.

There is nothing like a bunch of reactionary voices to clarify one’s own voice.  This clarity came at a price, albeit a relatively small one for me.  Others have paid a far greater price defending their beliefs and values.  I do not presume to stand among them.  Writing is my therapy and I really just needed to get this off  my chest!



10 thoughts on “Finding my voice

  1. The courage to stand up for your beliefs and walk away from a job offer because to you were mistreated. Not to mention that your associations with others where questioned; is reprehensible. In light of the “Me Too” campaign and bullying issues that are highlighted almost daily in the USA. Must be nice for those who subjected you to this to pick and chose what to stand up for. Shame on those folks and their narrow minded views. Good for you Roberta you’re much stronger than most of us !

  2. Dear Roberta first and foremost I hope you celebrating a beautiful Passover with your family tonight. And if so I am hopeful that this this celebration of freedom confirms your decision. I am so sorry however that you had to experience what you did. As always with much love, Marsha

  3. I hope to reflect the other comments made before me: I am proud of you and commend your decision! If this was the organization we last talked about, I know you went through a lot of interviews for this job, and I am astounded that THAT organization was as hard-lined and prejudiced as it apparently is. Good for you to stand up to such close-minded people — people I would not expect to be that way!!

  4. What happened to you is unfortunate on many levels but as others have said, congratulations to you for having the sense and courage to walk away from bigotry and extremism. You’re the only one that came out ahead.

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