Thursday, July 23, 2015
don't ask the boss
No, I learned after a while: If you want to know what the governor is doing, don't call the governor.
And the same seedling took on meaning in other realms as well. Trying to get to the bottom of things almost invariably meant talking to those trying to implement whatever grand scheme was afoot: Hitler could not tell you much about Nazism; the police chief was unlikely to impart the bloodstream of his or her profession; the mafia don or medical miracle worker or angel of journalism or Buddha or Jesus ... if you really wanted to know what was going on, don't ask the boss.
Find the sergeant who implemented the lieutenant's instruction.
Why NOT ask the boss? Well, partly because the boss always has an agenda that is outside the direction of the movement of which s/he is the honcho. At the easiest level it's, "save your own ass." At a more intricate level, it's assuring a cohesiveness to what may be a very diverse bunch of acolytes. It's politics and the lying by omission (the omerta) that tints the scene: Doctors and mafia dons and church fathers and cops look out for their own and ... well, sometimes the rest of us pay, however benevolent to social direction.
But what began and to some extent remains the touchstone of don't-ask-the-boss showed itself as less-than-certain as time went by. For one thing, if you don't ask the boss-spokesman-leading-light, it means a lot more work. Ferreting out aspects of "what's going on" is like nailing Jell-O to a wall. The further anyone gets from the guiding principals that poobahs may enunciate, the more self-centered and fractured things become. Communism/socialism become gulag; Christianity becomes inquisition and child molestation; goodness requires enforcement etc.
Last night I watched U.S. President Barack Obama talking with TV satirist Jon Stewart. One of the things I think Obama correctly observed was the social diffusion that has erupted with the spread of communications/the Internet. No longer was there a social conversation about serious issues that affected everyone. No longer was there an assumed commonality of national interest. Instead -- though he didn't put it exactly like this -- there was Facebook and Twitter and a self-centered impatience to get my view across. And of course there was the impatience of those who were impatient with the impatient. The ground work necessary for health care or a nuclear detente with Iran took years to cobble together but now ... well the critics and apologists claim the day as if they had done anything in reality.
Don't-ask-the-boss seems to have morphed, over time, into don't-ask-the-employees-either.
This morning, on the porch, a butterfly had become trapped and confused by the windows that were closed yet seemed to reveal an open space it was meant to inhabit. It fluttered and flapped against the glass and paid scant attention to the fact that I tried to talk it out the open door.
At first I watched. Then I talked. Then I tried to net it. Then I simply couldn't take it any more and, despite the accumulated boxes and other detritus that barred the way to various windows, I had to do something. A stumbled and lost-regained-balance over to the long-unopened window and opened it amid squeaks and squeals.
Good? Bad? Humane? Self-centered?
Get a life!