Saturday, April 14, 2012

Working for the Man

Dire Straits.  "The Man's Too Strong."  In Brothers in Arms. Warner Brothers, 1985.

I wrote this in response to a friend who pointed me to an article referencing Ann Romney.

I actually agree with this article too, for the most part.  I think the choice to stay out of the workforce is a valid one for the individual (whether male or female), and I agree that the family (whatever people make it up) constitutes an important check on the larger community in terms of forming and imparting moral value(s).

My only dog in this fight is that I am very suspicious of the larger community, including organizations that break families up or prevent them from forming in the name of protecting them.  I think Ann Romney should be free to live as she wants (with her family, as it turns out).  I think other people should be similarly free (even if they are gay, or members of some minority religion -- including what some would call atheism or humanism).  I grew up thinking that there were some larger social organizations that defended the family and others that attacked it.  Now I think that all larger social organizations attack the family -- not necessarily because they want to; that is just what their existence entails in the long run: the Democratic party is bad for families; the Republican is too; Wal-Mart is bad for families; and the LDS church can be too (along with every other church out there).  I work for the university: this is good for my family, in that it gives them food that they need to survive; it is also bad for them, in that it takes me away from them for long hours.  There are palliatives that I get to help out with the hurt (subsidies for childcare, healthcare, scholarships providing paid leave, etc.), but they do not cancel it: they just make it a little easier to bear (sometimes, for those who are in a position to take advantage of them).

As I see it, we are all caught in a constant balancing game: we all have to serve our families by leaving them (and playing roles in larger organizations).  The key to playing this game well is recognizing when our service to the Man (the larger organizations) becomes more of a drag then a benefit.  This is really hard to do when the Man pressures you into making Him your first priority (the third wheel in your marriage, the first in line to take a cut from your paycheck, the one whose direct order you are honor and duty bound to obey, or else).

I think I have come to a better relationship now with the Man than I have ever had, though I know I have a long way to go.  I am still very paranoid: I find it really hard to trust people outside of my family.  I tend to avoid dealing with my superiors in the Man's hierarchy more than I probably should (leading them to think of me as a bit of a loose cannon, perhaps).  The hard thing, for me, is learning to trust the Man at all.  I trusted Him too absolutely before, and He really burned me.  I don't know if I will ever be really comfortable with Him again.

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