It is a metaphor that is familiar; of secrets, or near-secrets; of those cluttered past incidents and events that need to be kept in the hallway closet, perhaps even locked for safety and security, whether of embarrassment, regret or shame.
Yet, modernity has less of them. With the disappearance of shame, of openness of societal mores and normative values disappearing, almost vanishing, there is then no need for the closet to exist, and skeletons are fewer and far between because we have redefined what is shameful, what should be regretted, and that which is deemed unworthy of public display.
“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.” That quip is attributed to Mark Twain, of course; the grand humorist of American society, and the author of books that have touched the conscience of an unsettled people. How does a species stop blushing? By rearranging that which triggers such a characteristic – the words that touch, the concept that shames, the sentence that embarrasses and the paragraph that pushes.
There are, of course, positive consequences, as well; for, the openness of society and the suppression and obliteration of normative standards have allowed for silent crimes that were once unspoken to be openly displayed and cauterized. Perhaps, sometimes, “talking about it” opens things up, allows for the public airing of that which was hidden because polite society did not want to deal with it; but since it existed, anyway, we might as well open the closet of skeletons as a society and let everyone see whatever it is that we were ashamed of.
Sometimes, or more often than not, those monsters within are greater than the reality of the objective world.
Medical conditions often relate to such a concept. We tend to hide them, be ashamed of them, and make of them larger than what necessity dictates – except for old men and women standing in the line at the post office who openly discuss the details of their last operation and procedures, of course.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, remember that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often like the closet of skeletons; once they are out in the open, the agency and the Postal Service will have to deal with it, just like the Federal or Postal worker who had to “deal with it” – the medical condition – for all of these many years, fearful of the shame of revelation and the reaction of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire