To Whom It May Concern, Heroes, and Otherwise:
Tyranny. My beloved F12’s word bible widget defines that as “cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control.” Sometimes, when we fear something for so long, we just accept it. That doesn’t work for me. Tyranny has no success rate, so why bother?
With the heaviest of hearts and knowing I’d be forever blacklisted, I begged you to examine the plight of one laid off employee: a worker who performed her duties to the extreme satisfaction of the “shareholders,” someone who willingly worked incredibly long hours at a severely reduced rate in comparison to that of her male counterparts, someone who was two months away from being vested in her pension, a full time worker who was replaced by a less skilled junior employee who was hired to work part time hours. On a personal level, I noted the laid off employee faced grave financial prospects should she, her three children, and husband, who is a stay-at-home parent, be forced into foreclosure — something totally avoidable should the employee receive entitled benefits and payment from vacation time earned.
It was overwhelming.
“I am so angry, so affected by this decision. It seems like a vindictive step backward. It is not supposed to be like this,” I told you right before I broke down and cried out of desperation and frustration and panic at the reality of what the company in question had executed.
I believe you were sincere when you said: “In life, things don’t always happen the ways they should or the ways we would like for them to be, but that’s just how it is,” but I disagree. A lot. Here’s why:
I belong to a labor union, and what you’re placating violates every basic tenet of unionism. My brain is wired to instantly alert me to this kind of weird, Montgomery Burns, corporate bullshit because it would never fly with any decent union representative. Laying off good employees in order to fulfill personal vendettas is akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face. Or drowning kittens because they’re too cute. Or something like that. It just doesn’t add up to anything logical, and therein lies my concern.
It shouldn’t have to be like that, and it won’t, so I gave you my Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., soapbox speech. As everybody who is not living under a rock in a remote cave knows, King believed in and preached “character rather than color” during a volatile time in American history when people were afraid to speak against racist tyranny. Maybe that’s why he had a Nobel Peace Prize under his belt by the time he was my age. I am willing to bet both arms that MLK was sick of hearing people tell him that “things weren’t the way they should be, but that’s just how it is.” Imagine how fucked up this country would be today if he hadn’t been born with that set of steel cojones.
In 1920, how many women were heckled as they waited in voting lines to practice their newly acquired 19th Amendment Right?
Oppressed by the gender-based tyranny of some, these women bravely fought and died in more than a handful of instances so that I could waltz into the voting booth like it was MINE (and with my daughter by my side). This didn’t happen forever ago, might I remind you. When my grandmother was born, she wasn’t eligible to vote by default of that nasty double X chromosome problem, which apparently was believed to hinder one’s ability to mark a ballot. These days, my daughter regards stories about women’s suffrage as if they’re cast from the bowels of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. The prior discrimination is that unbelievably wrong. All the same, I’m sure someone must have mentioned at one point before that 19th Amendment passed that “it wasn’t supposed to be like that, but that’s just how it is, ladies.”
One of the worst examples of passive acceptance to tyranny was when the United States along with the United Nations stood by as an estimated one million Tutsis were killed in Rwanda by their Hutu rivals, whose sole intent was nothing short of genocide. As if that wasn’t enough, the Hutus raped an estimated 500,000 women and girls routinely as part of an encouraged, public war ritual as they emerged from schools, churches, etc. This wasn’t 500 years ago; it happened in the last decade, people. When did we step forward to answer their repeated pleas for help? When it was too late, that’s when. You know why? Because what was going on over in Rwanda “wasn’t the way it should be, but that’s just how it was.” Furthermore, when the RUF rose to power in Sierra Leone shortly thereafter, did we take heed? Nah, we bought African blood diamonds in record numbers and felt sorry for the terrible situation going on over there, far away on the African continent. We knew it shouldn’t have been that way, but “that was just the way it was.” Luckily, courageous souls came forth and reminded the world, again, that it shouldn’t have to be like that and won’t. It’s not enough — not yet, but is it worth the trouble? It is. Everyday.
More candidates for “Shouldn’t Have Been Like That and Aren’t Anymore”: Salem, Massachusetts; the Holocaust; Integration in Little Rock; American child labor; slavery; lead paint; my marriage. Heh.
Look, all I’m saying is that in the grand scheme of things, refuting the specifics of this layoff? Giving in to what’s right vs. what’s easy? Pfft, small beans in comparison to everything else others before you have been brave enough to battle. Don’t let the insignificance of tyranny drag the genre down for us all. There is a way, but you’ll have to will it.
It shouldn’t be this way. And it won’t.
With respect, support and much optimism,