Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nobody Wins

A pack of black dogs got angry at the gray dog the other day, when it tried to get into my house. The other dogs tore into the gray dog, as if to say, who do you think you are? Get back here like the rest of us. Only the most powerful dog can come up to the door. The other dogs wait at a respectful distance.
Humans are that way, a pack of humans ripping into the human not strong enough to hold his or her ground. To seek power requires strength, stamina, deviousness, egoism strong enough to overpower conscience, and self-interest intense enough to allow one to harm others and not feel bad about it. Wanting to be top dog is not the problem. The problem is that if you’re going to be top dog, you better be willing to fight. Top dog has to fight the immediate contender. If top dog can’t fight off the contender, the pack moves in and tears apart the dog that wanted to be top.
The dog rolled on its back, tail curled between the legs, paws bent, ears folded back and whining in complete submission. The stronger dog stood on top of the weaker dog, growled, bit the weaker dog a few times and then stood there, satisfied for a minute or two, to enjoy victory and to savor the humiliation of the weaker dog.
A human who reveals weakness, or suffers misfortune, is treated in a similar manner. Someone who schemes for your downfall and succeeds knows no greater pleasure than listening to you describe your humiliation and defeat. That’s one of the greatest pleasures a power hungry human could experience, to gloat over someone who suffered because of the hungry human’s malicious gossip and pressure tactics behind the scenes.
Often the person who wishes your downfall is motivated by wounded vanity. You weren’t sufficiently quick or humble to respond to directives from administrators who justify their salaries by offering unrealistic and impractical directives. You didn’t fill out forms properly. You made an unforgivable mistake, which went on your record.
Such a mistake is worse than being listed with the credit bureau. Each time you reapply for credit, one notes that you were previously rejected and so you will be rejected to infinity. Each application adds another rejection to your record. It snowballs, all because of a minor act of negligence. Go ahead and beg for mercy. It might help.
If you’re able to demonstrate that you are a true believer in mandates and procedures, you might be given a reprieve, but the black mark will never be erased from your record, especially if an expert made the mark. An expert is someone who has done a job for ten years or more. Degree of competence doesn’t matter. If you make it that long in one job, you generally have enough allies in the organization.
Nobody would risk his or her security by questioning the judgment of someone who had done a job for so many years until promoted into a position of power. I’ve heard people state their primary credential as being the fact that he or she has been in that job for many years and is therefore an expert. Experts are pretty close to infallible. When the expert speaks, those lower down the line will nod their heads, eager for approval, anxious to fit in so that one day they too may be experts with power to shake those lower down the totem pole.
For example, when questioning a social worker, as she tried to decide whether or not a child was injured by accident or on purpose, the social worker’s main argument was that she’d been doing her job for over thirty years and knew how to do the job properly and that I shouldn’t question her judgment and would I please stop interfering with her work. Your request for information or clarification would be noted down in your file as being aggression or lack of cooperation.
In other words, she had the power to play god. Depending on her mood, or gut feeling, she had the power to say whether the parents were lying or telling the truth and whether the parents got to keep the child, or whether the child had to go to foster care.
Of course, the social worker’s behavior was theater. The decision was made in advance, and the interview with the parents a mere formality. She acted according to the dictates of a doctor, who was convinced the parents deliberately harmed the child, and so the parents had to spend thousands of dollars and go through an eight month long nightmare to prove their innocence. Fortunately, they won their case in court and are able to continue as a family, scarred by the traumatic brush with child services. Psychological distress to the child, after the child was kidnapped by social services and placed for six months in foster care, while the parents fought it out in court, was a minor concern.
Such dramas point out the corruption of the system. The system is made of up people with the power to make crucial decisions, which affect lives. Such people have too much power. There’s not enough accountability. I don’t believe the people in the system are innocent.
The worst part is when administrators deliver bad news. They invent a story to explain how they arrived at the decision. They expect you to believe it. If not, they become impatient and turn away. They won. There’s nothing you can do about it.
I don’t have the energy to fight. Even if I won, victory would be shallow compensation for the amount of energy expended to win. My contract will not be renewed, because I don’t have a permit. For six years, I was hired on the basis of equivalency, meaning, I had more than enough education. Whether or not I got hired depended on the boss. For six years, I was lucky in having a supportive boss. This year I was unlucky with the new boss. So be it.
Welcome to the club. It happens to a lot of people. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or didn’t do a good job. It just means; it’s time to move on. Unfortunately, with the recession happening, this is not the ideal time to be unemployed.

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