Saturday, December 04, 2010

back again

It has been tough to figure out how to blog given the responsibility to refrain from posting anything that might allow identification of a specific person or facility. Which I understand, because when your job involves Seeing Dead People it is important not to do anything that causes any more pain to the living people who surround said Dead People.

So I will be self-involved and blog about MEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

It has been a rough month or two. Jobs that involve death and dying hold an inherent level of stress and loss, that is if one plans to be actually present to the work. There are lots of ways to avoid doing so, but I think people who are facing loss need human connection more than they need most anything else, so there you have it: an inherent level of stress and loss.

If there is one thing I am NOT, it is romantic. When I become more weary I become LESS romantic, less convinced that "things happen for a reason" or that "the right thing happens in the end." I become more likely to be pissy about what has gone wrong or firm about the existence of sin, yes SIN, and evil in the world and in the big systems that surround us.

We had a workshop on the environment at work. The worldview behind the presentation is that people are inherently good and need education about what needs to be done. Once educated, people will feel "empowered" to make the right decisions and do the simple things that will change culture and save the planet. The notion is that an industrialized model that relies on continued growth in production and consumption has put the planet and its people in danger (I actually agree with this and have been saying it in one form or another for some time). There is, however, a certain irony in listening to this message from a man wearing a Ralph Lauren shirt. A kinder soul than I suggested maybe he bought the shirt used from a thrift shop, but I think not. The presentation involved some video segments of folks in beautifully and expensively decorated offices. I was in a rage at the romanticism of it all by the end. Would that anything were so simple. Would that we could just make one change that wouldn't hurt ANYONE. Would that everything about indigenous societies was so praise-worthy and possible to implement that the world could simply turn the clock back.

I know I am not enlightened. I know I don't do my best every single time. I know I could do better at conservation and recycling and the like. I know in that vein I sin. I also would guess I am not alone. I also would guess that it is very hard to discern what the best choice is in most situations. Out here we don't have water to spare. Is it really better to stop using disposables and use water to wash dishes, cups, towels, the like? Is it better to compost? What IS the best choice? I am tired of romantically smug folks who are SURE they are doing right things and aren't able to see complexity. I am tired of people who are unwilling to confront the fact that evil exists. You work in systems, it is easy to see evil. It is harder to see our own. Am I willing to keep my thermostat set lower in winter? Am I willing to spend more time cooking? What really IS required?

I have a much lower anthropology than most people it seems. Maybe because I know myself better, know my own ability to let myself off the hook for things. The presentation was supposed to be enlightening and uplifting. It was not--it made me despair. "Education" sure has worked well for racism and sexism, hasn't it? It sure has worked well for efforts for peace, right?

Here's where a doctrine of sin CAN bring comfort: it allows me to say, I am no better than you, and you no better than I. We have a problem. And we already know we will resist fixing it, because that is how we are. How can we work together to find out what to do and sustain one another to do what we can, even if that involves sacrifices we already know we will resist making? How can we help ourselves be accountable? How can we broaden our view and face uncomfortable things?

Eh. Enough for today. I am mourning the loss of a good friend who died just over two weeks ago. I am sad for some tough deaths at work and for times of low census that have stressed teams to the max and for tough circumstances faced by friends. I am glad for big furry dogs and a tiny hot-water-bottle of a dog who make me laugh a thousand times in a day. I am glad for holiday lights and evergreen smells and the gorgeous music of the season and new friends at church. And I hope next week's presentation at work doesn't make me mad...


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