Each generation believes itself to be unique according to its own fashion, and in possession of the sole quantitative cache of knowledge, wisdom and creativity heretofore never manifested by man, civilization and the alchemy of provocative thought. It is doubtful that John Bunyan’s work, “Pilgrim’s Progress“, is taught generally in schools; for, beyond the obvious religious significance of the allegory, it falls below the acceptable level of sophistication modernity believes it has embraced.
Yet, it is in the very manner of the narrative — its richness of depicting struggles, encounters and adversarial confrontation through metaphor, allegory, analogy and displaced double entendres — that well prepares the journeying individual to encounter, tackle, deal with, and ultimately resolve the complexities of the world.
It is perhaps the loss of historicity, and the simplistic and elemental outlook, which is objected to; and of course the obvious distrust of anything involving moral condemnation presented in an iconoclastic manner — exempting, of course, those who espouse such unwavering beliefs from an agnostic viewpoint. But the compendium of travails depicted — of the heavy burden carried, the spectrum of human emotions experienced; of shame, guilt, moral struggles and pain of endurance despite unconquerable depravity and obstacles beyond human measure — these are manifested in a manner beyond thoughts which provoke dismissive countenance.
How does one prepare for adversity? We protect and avoid, and warn against the maladies of life; and yet we antiseptically wipe the diseases of the universe clean with empty promises of fairytale condolences. Then, when trouble arises, we wander in lost chasms of blind darkness, reaching out with vain hopes of touching something or somebody for guidance and wisdom.
Medical conditions and the trials which they accompany, tend to bring such tensions to the fore. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who struggle with 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 positional duties required, it is well to keep in mind the story of Pilgrim’s Progress. For, the medical condition is indeed a heavy burden; the encounter and continuing saga with the universe of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, a trial of adversity; and the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, an allegory of bureaucratic malaise.
As the story of the Federal or Postal employee who must face adversity is one encompassing an “everyman” saga, so the journey of the pilgrim who progresses through the confrontations of life must be faced with the tools of change, whether those encounters are identified in metaphorical terms, or by the stark reality of nameless nothingness which never prepared us for life’s journey, but which we must nevertheless deal with in modernity.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire