It is the personal encounter, the direct engagement, that many seek to actualize in hopes of fulfillment. “If only I could speak to the person”; “If you knew the real me”; and, indeed, it is that depersonalized universe which undermines and tempers. Somehow, if we are merely one among many, like the little girl in the red dress in Schindler’s List, the singularity of the living entity shouts at us for relevance, significance, and a chance to distinguish. It is in the personalization of the deep chasm reaching down from the inertia of life, from which the sacred emerges.
There is the daily monotony; the repetition of costs, conversations and couples coexisting; and then suddenly an idea conflicts, an encounter entangles, and life itself takes on a meaningful menagerie of sounds and magnified explosions of signification. Sans the sacred, the inertia of living would prevail. That is the true crime of a bureaucracy, and the administrative process which life imposes upon us.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is the sudden clash and inevitable tension between the depersonalized and faceless bureaucracy which one must face and submit one’s Federal Disability Retirement application to, and the sacredness of the most personal information being forwarded, which gives magnified rise to the anxiety of life.
That is the conundrum and anomaly; to formulate the most personal of narratives involving one’s medical condition and its impact upon one’s professional and personal life, and then to have the depersonalized experience of a faceless bureaucrat make a decision on one’s life without ever a direct encounter or face-to-face plea of persuasion. And the form which one must pour out such sacred information upon — SF 3112A, the “Applicant’s Statement of Disability” — reflects the depersonalized character of the entire administrative process.
In the end, however, one must always keep in mind the goal of the endeavor. Achievement is to reach and fulfill the intended goal. Filing for Disability Retirement benefits through OPM must by necessity involve the avenue of a faceless bureaucracy.
To reach the destination of purposive intent, the Federal and Postal employee must recognize that it is not the depersonalized world which will finally define one’s existence, but the recognition that a universe sans the sacred will manifest its humanity only through small steps of personal encounters, and that can be accomplished when once the Federal or Postal employee gets beyond the present circumstance, obtains Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, and moves forward with life into another vocation, another stage of life, and a further contact with the sacred nature of one’s essence.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire