Dignity and Loyalty

Most days at work, I have a spreadsheet open that contains salary information across the entire organization. I do this so I am constantly reminded of my place and my value according to my employer. This alone is enough to encourage a job hunt. Yet if I make a lateral move (which appears to be my only option), those in power and those readily influenced by power, will see me, (if they see me at all), and portray me as the bad guy. A career should be about dignity, contribution, productivity, just compensation, and in return often loyalty. Today, for most of us, a career is a series of lateral moves in search of those things. And on occasion one will stumble into a lateral move that provides a step up in return for a willingness to be readily influenced by greater power. And in most circumstance one is allowed and even encouraged to contribute productively. But due to the scarcity of just compensation, dignity and loyalty have been stretched and twisted into delusional self-regard, and guilt and fear. And the entire dynamic has become dysfunctional. So we have learned to settle for mutual disgruntlement, and we have learned to hide it from power, in hopes of that step up; until we lose hope and/or we decide that we have had enough. Then we do it all again.

To disguise and distract from this dysfunction, those employers (like our government) who are not totally oblivious, pretend to care by making relatively inconsequential concessions. But from where I sit in my workplace, compassion is flowery, superficial rhetoric and the more it is spewed, the less actual listening, understanding, empathy, connection, respect there is. In the workplace, this intolerance gap widens in proportion to income and power gaps.

As an over-60 senior who six years ago voluntarily gave up dead-end disability income to come back to work full-time both to make a contribution and to perhaps increase earnings potential, what I have learned is that power is afraid of truthfulness and that power hides behind political bureaucracy. Regardless, somehow, I still actively hope. So here I am, this old, disabled guy close to retirement, sending out applications because I don’t want my last work experience to be reflective of the condescending, conventional, arbitrary, intolerant practices that I can now see have been so predominant in this country over my lifetime. Though I have completely given up on just compensation, I would still like to believe that there are workplaces offering at least some degree of expressive, reciprocal, compassionate, equitable respect and dignity. I have several more years of productive, experienced, knowledgeable, passionate energy to contribute, and I would like to spend that time and energy appreciated.

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