There is a difference, with a real distinction, between utilizing a process as a means to an end, as opposed to using people for the same purpose. Such a concept should be a “given” – that logical posit which is unquestionably true, without the likelihood of being controverted, and generally accepted as a foundational principle in a caring society and community. Yet, modernity has contravened such a belief, and truth and falsity have become relative concepts on the pendulum of linguistic elasticity where the spectrum of facts, beliefs and opinions have become an amalgamation of conflated confusions.
Have we lost the capacity to recognize and identify distinctions that are substantively different because of their self-evident meaning and relevance? Do we no longer teach logic – whether of the fundamental Aristotelian syllogism, or the greater complexity by extension as delineated in Russell’s three-volume magnum opus, Principia Mathematica – such that we can no longer argue for even the basics when confronted by once-accepted paradigms that Kantian categorical imperatives allegedly put to rest forever and a day?
Yet, that final proverbial “day” has now passed, purportedly, and such statements have become mere fodder for dismissive philosophical trash-heaps characterized by “Mereology” and other third-rate, Oprah-like condescension of forgeries masking as genuine belief systems.
Sartre and Camus presented their cases; the former, through a meandering philosophical treatise some would characterize as “Heidegger-Lite” (the comparison can be made superficially on the titles alone – of “Being and Time” as opposed to “Being and Nothingness”) and where his plays allowed for greater coherence than any of his “serious” attempts, while the latter conveyed the angst of human repugnance to becoming “objectified” through novels depicting alienation and the dilemma of human value in the very activity of defiance and rebellion.
Man, we are told, should always be treated as an end in and of himself, and never as a means. Yet, in this mechanized, electronic-ized, technologized society, where the Smartphone is King and the tactile engagement with one another is merely an afterthought, we have to recognize that such inane beliefs are now mere archaic formulations of former times, previous generations and outdated constructs no longer applicable. The Angst of Existentialism has come full circle; that which we scoffed at because it originated from Continental Europe is no longer a Sisyphean mythology, but a reality that now consumes.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who feel the weight and burden of a medical condition, being treated as a means to an end becomes part of the process.
Past accolades of dedication and loyalty fail to leave a trail of concomitant interest and empathy of warmth; you find out quickly that others don’t give a hoot about distinguishing between “means” and “ends”; but in the end, it is precisely the means by which you end up treating a fellow human being, and the very filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application should in and of itself warrant treatment of being an “end”, and not a “means” – but such self-evident principles appear to no longer be the accepted normative value within a society that cries tears for the Oprah show, but not for the real human experiences of the person in your own office, sitting in front of you, a foot away, real, not imagined, not a picture on Facebook, but a person of real flesh and blood.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire