What could it possibly mean, and how did that concept ever develop? It implicates, of course, by logical extension its very inverted context in an insidiously opposing perspective; for, in the very admission that the rarity of the shared values that have to be “sought for” and “discovered” merely reflects the wide chasm of that which does not exist.
Once upon a time, a “community” never talked about “finding” common ground, for the very shared commonality expressed the very essence of the social contract itself, such that people assumed and presumed a set of normative values that characterize the intimate nature of the collective whole. Thus, disputes which created fissures within a tribe, a neighborhood, a town or a nation merely revealed the inconsequential rarity of such factional events; it is only when the wideness of the chasm requires expressions like, “We need to find some common ground” or the need to reach some “foundational commonality” – that is when we know that the cavern is deep, the friction tantamount to an incommensurate duality of paradigms, and the torrent of vitriol an unbridgeable gap reflecting inconsistent values.
Modernity has manifested such a state of affairs; and, perhaps it is merely an inevitable process of a developing nation, like a Hegelian dialectical fate resulting from a history of wrongs committed and evils perpetuated – from the systematic genocide of the indigenous population to the history of slavery, suspension of Habeas Corpus, a divided nation ripped by Civil War, to the internment of citizens based upon race and ethnicity; it is, indeed, division in recent times which appears to dominate, with the constant drumbeat of voices calling for the identification, recognition and discovery of “common ground”.
Laws, of course, try and protect and preserve the ground lost to lack of commonality; and such forced and compelled imposition of laws, regulations and statutory enforcement can, for a time, keep the fissures covered and the leaking faucets somewhat dry. But always understand that the enactment of laws becomes a societal necessity only when shared normative values can no longer restrain; it is, in some respects, an admission of failure for each law that is passed to protect.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the chasm between reality and theoretical construct must be faced the moment the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service is informed of the intent to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.
For, while the laws concerning administrative rights of filing, the requirement for the Agency or U.S. Postal Service to attempt to provide accommodations, and the absolute right to seek Federal Disability Retirement benefits are all there; the reality is that such laws governing Federal Disability Retirement benefits were fought for and maintained precisely because necessity compelled the recognition that that was a fissure widening into a deep chasm concerning the common ground of common decency in how Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service would, should and must treat Federal and Postal employees with an identifiable medical condition and disability, and it was precisely because of the loss of common ground that the laws governing Federal Disability Retirement benefits came into being.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
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