Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Don't be afraid of your freedom!

I was attempting earlier to bolster my pre-holiday flagging spirits (Is it the Irish in me?) by thinking of that song by the Rolling Stones (I was actually surprised when I looked it up that it was the Rolling Stones - but then I realized I was thinking of the Soup Dragons version).

I'm free to do what I want, any old time. I don't have to get up at a proscribed time, enter a stuffy office at another proscribed time, and stay there for however long someone else needs me to stay.

This explains why I'm in a state of economic meltdown, by the way.

So once I got past that depressing scenario, I continued on to thinking about rules and policies and procedures. It wasn't that big of a leap.

According to my dictionary (the little, paperback one - too lazy to haul the big old Oxford English off the shelf), a rule is much more dictatorial than a policy. A policy just guides you to future decisions.

I don't like rules or policies. I'm fine with most laws, and I obey them even if I don't agree with them, but I think being told how you can dress or that you have no freedom of opinion is just wrong. And while sexual harassment policies have pretty much eliminated the chance of your self proclaimed 'horny toad' boss kissing and touching you, they also have eliminated some of the lighthearted banter and mild, inoffensive
flirting that used to go on in the workplace.

If you get a chance, I again urge my readers to check out the dramatic series "Mad Men" on A&E. What I like as much as the storyline is that I had forgotten how thematic the way people are required to dress has always been.

If I learned nothing else at the University of Michigan, I learned that it was OK to run around in a blue work shirt and jeans. Where is the freedom in whalebone stays (OK, they're wire of plastic in this case), half girdles, nylons, and bras so pointed you could take someone's eye out?

And then I thought, why do I have to strap on a seatbelt every time I get into a car? Don't I have the right to risk my own life? The list went on and on, but still I pondered (I could feel my blood pressure rising).

Why was it, that in school, you had to put your name up in the right hand corner and number your answers outside the red line? This put me in mind of my mother, a teacher, relating a story:

Mom: "OK, class, be sure to put your name on your paper."
Student: "Ummm, Mrs. Swart? Where should we put it?"
Mom: "Put what?"
Student: "Ummm, our name ..."
Mom: "Oh, anywhere - just as long as it's on there."
[Stupefied silence]
Mom: "What is it?"
Student: "You have to tell us where to write our name."

I may be free to do what I want, but I'm still under constraints that have been embedded deep in my brain. And those put on me by others - like, hey, if you write for us, you can't write for anyone else (but we reserve the right to never give you any work so that in six or eight weeks you're screwed).

I love being free to do what I want. But I still put my melange of rice and stew into a china bowl instead of eating it out of the pan (and thereby only having one item to wash instead of two), use cutlery (even when using my hands would be a lot less cumbersome), and brush my teeth.

Don't be afraid of your freedom!

Oh, and universal health care is a good thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did you see this video? Amazing, scary too! http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/18152210/detail.html?treets=bos&tml=bos_break&ts=T&tmi=bos_break_-1_11290111262008