I have always loved that quote by Oscar Wilde. I don’t read it as morality in the religious sense, this quote has always helped to remind me that it is important to remember who you are and what you stand for in every aspect of your life. It started to mean something to me when I dated an ex who gave me the nick-name “the moral police”. He took issue with the fact that I would say something when I saw something happening that made me feel uncomfortable, even if it meant speaking out against one of our/his friends. I know he found this to be an annoyance and probably wished that I just wouldn’t rock the boat but from my point of view if someone is doing something wrong and I am witness to it I am also accomplice. My affection towards him usually quieted me that is until he was the one in the wrong, that’s when the line was drawn and the silence was broken. After the fact I felt guilty for not speaking up when I previously felt I should have, I did my best to correct that although I have always regretted compromising my values for him.
Today we watched a documentary about Pete Seeger called The Power of Music. It really spoke to me. He once said he felt as though his entire life was a contribution, just based on the parts that this documentary covers I would have to agree. He was stead fast in his beliefs and would not succumb to the bullying he encountered from the government or anyone else that took issue with his point of view. One part of his story I really connected with was when he was in a band called The Weavers which he eventually left because they put their need for money ahead of their beliefs. Specifically, they signed up to do a cigarette commercial which Pete did not agree with. They decided to go forward with the commercial because at the time their music had been blacklisted and they needed the money, this didn’t sit right with him so he left the band.
It made me think of what MLK Jr said, “There comes a time when silence is a betrayal”. You cannot just go along with something that you don’t believe in because you are afraid to rock the boat or afraid of losing someone from your life. Him leaving The Weavers made me think of my professional history up to this point and it reaffirmed for me the decisions I have made thus far. I have had four long term jobs and have left each after feeling that they were in contrast to my values. Bank of America took no interest in my ability to serve the customer, if I was not making sales I was considered sub-par. I was OK with this so long as I knew I was doing right by the people I helped. I would not recommend a credit card to an 18 year old for example. It wasn’t until I encountered a manager who had zero interest in the people we served and saw them all as dollar signs that I felt the need to leave. A few months later the economy began to slide and BOA with their faulty loans was definitely in part to blame.
At the MRI facility I watched day in and day out as my Doctor bullied and verbally abused the people who worked for him as well, in some cases, as the actual patients. I was able to get by for a while because I knew and still know that I was making a difference with the patients I served. I know on more than one occasion I had an impact on a person’s life and that out weighed my ill feelings towards the man I worked for. Not to mention I know he was able to see the good in me and I guess a naive piece of me hoped it would inspire him to try harder, in some cases I believe I succeeded in this. A few years in however I was no longer able to excuse his behavior. He verbally abused and fired two amazing women and forced into a position I never wanted. I was so relieved the day I was finally able to give notice. He spent the next month attempting to throw money at me in an effort to keep me there, it took him a long time to realize not everyone can be bought.
With the hospital I felt at home for a while. I worked under a good man who believed in what I believed, that there is value in taking care of people. He led the christian service group at our campus which meant i got to sit in on the meetings and take minutes as well as contribute ideas. The first Friday quickly became my favorite day of the month because of this. The problem for me arose with some of the other people I worked with. I witnessed unfair treatment and lying and even bullying and I felt as though they were trying to drag me in. I am proud that I stood up and said something. Ultimately I could not stay though I hear changes were made after my departure.
This last instance of me leaving was the hardest because in doing so I changed mine and Todd’s life with the decision to go back to school full time. I just know that this, social work I mean, is the only thing that will ever fit for me. I do not and never have cared about the money when working, all the matters is the impact on I able to make on people’s lives. In the documentary it said something to the affect of, to live with an activist you have to be a martyr. I don’t know how much I agree with this but it made me appreciate Todd’s sacrifice for me so much. I know that he believes in me and believes in what I am doing and supports my efforts. I am so thankful for what he is giving me in letting me follow my dream. I also appreciate that he understands that I am not the kind of person that will ever be driven by money so there is no promise that what I choose to do with my life will ever make us better off financially. Todd may not have as many opinions as I do or feel the need to get his hands dirty like I do but he supports my efforts and believes in what I stand for which makes him apart of it as well.
I have a meeting with the social worker at the Cherokee School tomorrow to start volunteering with them. I am so excited, I have felt so restless lately because I am ready to get back into things and have had no place to put my energy. My orientation with the Zebra Organization is coming up soon as well. I am just so ready to get started.