Pickle Juice and Prejudice

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Shortly after midnight Tuesday morning, I awoke with a start to a silhouette hovering over my bed. A bit groggy, I queried, "Andrea?" The figure turned and the movement did not seem to be that of my wife. Following the shadow to the next bedroom and confused, I hollered, "Andrea, Andrea what's wrong?"

A person came roaring out the door, knocking me aside and crashing into a bookshelf, then careened down the stairs.

I followed, yelling and cussing, "Who the hell are you? What in the hell are you doing?" 

I thought about grabbing my shotgun, loaded in ready for a fox harassing chickens. Instead, I lunged and caught the balding, lithe guy in a double chicken wing. He slipped one arm out of my hold and pulled away.

I lost interest in the chase when my bare feet hit the gravel, but our dog, Chinook, kept up the chase, barking on his heels, as he vaulted the gate and jumped into his truck. Spinning gravel as he turned onto the highway, he sped away.


I called 911 and the dispatch got our location. I was upset and shaking with adrenaline. I got dressed and checked around to see if anything had been stolen. Only some innocence and peace-of-mind were lost. I had never locked a door in my home. Ever. I wanted to see this guy hang—string ‘em up!

The deputy went through the check-list of questions. Were your doors locked, what was he driving, which way did he go, did you know him, is anything missing, etc. Then he asked me, "What was he wearing?"

"You're not going to believe this."

"Oh, I've heard it all. Try me."

"On Sunday, Andrea and I were out of town. We got home late evening and went to bed. I got up Monday morning and reached for my bathrobe, which hangs on my bedpost. It wasn't there. I retraced steps, yet, I couldn't find it anywhere.

Andrea had no idea where it was either. As we went through the many occasions of absent-mindedness, I posited ‘It's sure going to be interesting when we find where it is.'"

I paused and looked the deputy in the eye, "That son-uva-bitch was wearing my robe."

The officer blinked, "You're right, I haven't heard that one."

He closed his notepad and headed out the door. During the interview, he had dispatched a couple of patrol cars to close the road we had seen the perpetrator's vehicle take.

As the deputy drove away, we locked the doors. 

The deputy called about 30 minutes later. They had found the man wearing my robe sound asleep in his bed. He was a neighbor, who was intellectually challenged. We knew of him but didn't know him.

The deputy wanted to know if we wanted to press charges. 

"Let me go and talk to his mother and get back to you."

"Sure. This is now a matter of record. I have documented the incident and he was wearing the robe that you described. If anything should happen in the future, this incident is well documented in our files."


Holistic Management talks about the social weak link. Out of seven testing questions, or filters, which are designed to help us avoid unintended consequences, the social weak link is the ONLY one that directs us to STOP our proposed action, if it doesn't pass. We are ingrained that if we have a social weak link, we do not move forward if someone, whose support we must have, will be confused or upset. We surely don't need the help of a crazy mid-night intruder.

I visited the perpetrator's mother the next morning. She explained that her son has always had some issues, but they seemed to get worse after an auto accident and a concussion a few years back. She said that he had been seeing a therapist and was on medication but has not been diligent in taking it.

I asked her if it would help if we pressed charges. She assured me that her son was doing better and this incident would motivate all involved to be more conscientious. Andrea asked her if she felt safe. She seemed comforted by the question and assured us that she did.

I told her that I felt obligated to report the incident to our neighbors. She agreed. 

Pickle Juice and Prosecution

I grew up in a small town in western Nebraska. A woman, Rita Marie, would go into a grocery store, open a jar of pickles and drink the juice. After replacing the lid, she put the jar back on the shelf. The store owners and community knew of this. If a customer were to get a jar without any juice, the store owner would set the jar aside and put it on Rita Marie's father's account. Surely, no one considered prosecuting a pickle juice drinker.

Breaking and entering put a different twist on tolerance. But as I was bitching to Andrea about needing to lock our doors, I recognized the arrogance. There are so many people who don't feel safe in their home, even with doors locked. Many people of color can't even feel safe driving to work in the morning, not knowing when they might be profiled and hauled into the police station. Too often, blind justice comes down on the poor, the desperate, and the disadvantaged.

The intruder was not aggressive and scared to death. Once caught, he was trying to flee and get the hell out. We just didn’t think anyone would benefit from jailing our mentally challenged neighbor. The neighborhood knows and watches. 

Once recognizing my arrogance, I couldn't help seeing the hypocrisy. Why would we prosecute someone who may be a minor nuisance as we tolerate those in power intentionally hurting many? 

We have people in power nationally and internationally and more throughout business and organizations lying, abusing power, name calling, and bullying. Why would we prosecute the poor, the sick, and the hungry as we give those of power a pass?

It reminds me of my neighbor telling me that his mother-in-law would not let him smoke in her house. That didn't bother him, but she had some investors from Denver to her home and they all lit up and smoked a cigarette after dinner.

I responded, "That's kind of hypocritical, isn't it?"

He took a drag on his smoke, saying, "Oh no, she doesn't mind rich smoke."

And there we are. We get our Joneses out by bullying those beneath us. We hen peck the weak to feel powerful, while our chicken shit side tolerates the pathetic behavior of those in command. People are violated daily due to our cowardice. Blind justice becomes literally blind as whitecollar crime, lying, and abuse tear down our character and that of our community.

So why hasn't the Practice of Holistic Management helped us deal with this hypocrisy? The crux comes down to a misunderstanding—the social weak link. Admittedly, I thought about those whose support we must have, as those who could do something for me. I usually think about who can invest money, provide connections, support agenda's, etc., when considering a social weak link. Now I see the selfishness in looking up the chain of power. The more damaging social weak link are those beneath us in power. When thinking about our social weak link, look down the chain of power and ask, "Who can I support?"

Our grounding, the base of our stability, rests at the soil surface. As we become self-impressed, we take those supporting us for granted. We can be no stronger or powerful than those beneath us.


What Provides Our Safety?

We have no stability unless the school's 7th-grade class, the grocery store, our neighbor, the fruit-picking crew, and the community college have stability. Holistic Management does address these factions of our community in our Future Resource Base. However, the assumption is that we are building our Future Resource Base over a hundred years. If we look at our employees, our immigrants, and the poor and downtrodden in our community from a social weak link perspective, it puts a different spin on the universe. With this fresh approach, the tyrant will have no place to hide. We actively think about support for those at the soil surface.

Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Erosion of Character

Three common denominators erode the resilience of our institutions. They begin with a simple disrespect for people and evolve towards meanness, dishonesty, corruption, perversion, and indecency. 

First, note the person whose humor relies on emasculating underlings in front of their colleagues and friends. You know them.

Years ago, my good friend and hired hand of 25 years, Pee Wee, and I were at a branding. One of the cowboys started beating the hell out of his horse, right in the middle of the branding corral. 

Pee Wee, gravely serious said, "You can bet that he beats his wife too."

We've all been at a party, or a meeting, or dinner when the husband makes a joke at the expense of his wife. Most likely, we laugh, as the wife squirms. Those making fun of their wife, their children, or their employees in front of peers or colleagues are insecure dweebs that need to be called out. Those who mock, ridicule or taunt lack imagination and purpose. Demeaning nicknames, scorning appearance or stereotyping political party, sex, or race simply tells us the person lacks the capacity to discuss ideas and needs to distract. 

Misplaced humor and kicking those beneath you erodes character.

A few days after the incident, my horse escaped. I saw her walking up the road to our neighbor's place. I grabbed a halter and headed after her. I called the mother and told her I was walking around her house looking for my horse, and she thanked me for the heads up. The horse gave me the slip, and I thought maybe she went over to the golf course.

I left a message at the golf course that I was missing a white horse and asked them to call if anyone saw her. Later that morning, Randy, one of my golf partners, left a message on my phone, "I see a white horse galloping down the 4th hole fairway. And there's a guy riding her wearing a bathrobe!" Now, that’s funny.

Second, why would we tolerate someone's passive aggressive behavior, and need to blame others rather than demanding honest communication? People lobbing out texts from the safety of their bedroom, pontificating in email or reports, while not willing to sit across the table, are scared individuals. 

Blaming others lacks character, but it’s also the first red flag that someone doesn't have a clue about the core of Practicing Holistic Management. The Practitioners creed, "Ask, ‘How must I behave to create my desired Future Resource Base?'" The state of our condition today reflects our past decisions and actions. Today's decisions will create the state of our future. This core of Practicing Holistic Management leaves no room for blame. We own it.

Speak the truth, face-to-face, and own your present and future.

Third, and the most pervasive flaw eroding character happens when we protect an individual, or a personality, at the expense of principles, mission, code, law, and the core purpose of our nation, our church, our business, and our organization. Maybe tribalism introduces this sin of omission, providing the pathway to a cult. Not meaning to be too simplistic, a cult replaces principles and purpose with a personality. Our business, our democracy, our church and holistic management could easily swirl down this gutter if we as citizens, investors, patrons, and practitioners allow principles to be compromised in favor of a personality. Covering for someone's bad behavior takes down the institution for naught because the one being protected missed the chance to develop character and will soon follow the organization's demise. 

Own your Future Resource Base, own your behavior, and those of solid character will follow.


Holistic Management touts triple bottom line management. Holistic Management has been most successful in planning grazing and monitoring ecosystem health. Holistic Management has been most successful in planning infrastructure development through land planning and capital expenses planning. Holistic Management has been most successful in planning and monitoring financial management. Yet, we have no effective or practical means of planning or monitoring the social aspect and people's well-being. And let's be clear, without a safe, motivated, and empowered person at the soil surface, there isn't a chance in hell that the grazing plan and financial plan will be executed.

Monitor Well-Being

A few Savory Institute Hubs, a few people on Grasslands-LLC ranches, some nurses and hospital residency programs, some Women in Ranching participants and others are using Life Energy to plan and monitor personal well-being. https://lifeenergy.guide/landing-wp/ Just as the other Holistic Management planning and monitoring processes, Life Energy and personal well-being will develop over time as the art and science of positive psychology becomes refined.

The 18th-century Scottish poet, Robert Burns said, "… the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray." I'm afraid this is often true with Holistic Management too. It takes motivated people, owning the mission, and empowered to get plans executed. It takes people who are healthy, financially secure and safe, at the soil surface. We can plan and monitor to make this happen. 

We can have good, solid relationships, with no weak-links, up the chain of power—investors, lenders, customers, vendors and civic leaders. However, if we have a weak-link with our crew and those down the chain of power, it's like we built our castle on sand. All will come tumbling down.