What is wrong with us?!

I seem to be asking myself this question an awful lot. Really, what’s wrong with us?!

I’m put in mind of this question, again, after hearing about this story on the news this morning. Well, the little snippet on the morning top of the hour news only mentioned the case, but it was enough. Why can’t we just do the right thing, even if not doing the right thing is legal? In fact, why must there be laws forcing people to do the right thing?

Sure. I understand that what “the right thing is” isn’t always the same from one person to another. Right for whom? Right for the investors? Right for the bottom line? Right for the workers or families of workers? I guess it all depends on your values.

I guess I don’t understand why our corporations, and maybe our society in general, has the skewed values it has. Is it a byproduct of our throw away society? Things are so disposable. It’s kind of like A Brave New World. Actually, it’s really disturbing how much of that novel we’re actually seeing in our society. Think about it. Throw stuff away rather than fixing broken things. Just get a new one. (Sure, sometimes you just can’t, what with, for instance, electronics, being so miniaturized that they can’t be fixed.) Is that also how we handle people? Just throw them away, we can get new ones. They’re just parts, they’re replaceable, one’s about as good as another. Do we value each other so little? Do we value saving a penny, never mind a buck, so much that we can’t modify duties for a pregnant UPS driver? I see that UPS has announced that it’s going to implement a policy that mandates accommodating pregnant employees such as should have been done in this case, yet they maintain that their stance was still legally correct. What about morally correct? Are we so wedded to being right that we can’t unconditionally admit when we were wrong and then make things right?

I don’t suppose that this UPS driver got, or ever would get, an apology. Maybe someone sees this change in policy as an apology of sorts, but there’s really nothing worse than a conditional apology, or an apology with a defense. “I’m sorry, but I was still right” strikes me as something like that. It reminds me of this time when I had an argument with my mother. I was still living at home, though I was by then over 18. I came home late…well, I came home later than expected, at any rate. I walked in the door and I got both barrels. I was selfish. I didn’t care about anyone but myself. If I really had any consideration for anybody else’s feelings, I would have called. (It wasn’t even 10 at night, and it was a weekend!) I was pretty upset. I went back to my room. Some time later, mom came into my room, brought me a sandwich, and said, “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but you pissed me off.” Nope…that didn’t help. I didn’t consider that an apology at all. Oh sure, it used the right words, or it started to anyway, but it fell short. I think you can see how.

It seems to me that we’d live in a much nicer world if we lived by these rules:

  • If you can do something for someone else, do so cheerfully. Everything we do comes back to us, good or bad.
  • If you wrong someone, apologize sincerely, completely, with feeling, and without reservation.
  • If you make a mistake, own up to it, and do what you can to make it right.
  • Say thank you, and by god, mean it.

Is that really a lot to expect?

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