OPM Medical Retirement: Empathy: What it Says About Us

In a recent Wall Street Journal Article, there was a story about 3 people who died — of professional individuals who had purchased cocaine, but where the “product” was tainted with fentanyl and perhaps some other deadly additives.

Why was it so difficult to feel a sense of empathy for these people?  The fact that they all seemed “privileged” — of having good jobs, being young and having all of the alleged “appearance” of having social, professional and financial advantages — seems to come into play.  The judgment we make is: It was their “choice” to buy the drugs, to take them, to understand the chance they were taking, and so….

Yet, how are they any different, substantively, from the child who grows up in the “projects” and is daily surrounded by drug dealers, criminals and bad parenting?  What is the substantive difference between the two?  Why do we have empathy for the child who grows up with disadvantages and succumbs to them, but not for the ones who seemingly have all of the advantages in life, and yet, squanders them and descends to the level of those who have always been without?

Empathy is a funny animal; and moreover, it probably says something about us when we show it for some, feel it for others, and yet for those “others” — none at all.  Which is a lesson for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from an injury or disease, and who have shown a sense of loyalty to their Federal Agency or Postal Unit for many years, and expect to find some sympathy when they file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under the FERS system.

Perhaps you believe that you will receive some modicum of empathy from your Agency or Postal Service.  Don’t.  And when you do not, don’t begin ruminating about it; for, in the end, it says something about your Agency, and not about yourself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

 

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