Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Minding the ‘happiness principle’

Is there such a thing?  Certainly, enough authors, gurus and faith-healers have claimed it, packaged it and sold it as a commodity to be prepared, marketed and purchased.  Somehow, we are all gullible enough to believe in it:  Just as sorcerers of old possessed powers beyond human comprehension, so we hold on to the hope that such secrets of soothsayers mixing the concoction in a cauldron of expectations may boil over with fumes and aromas we can smell into oblivion.

That secret incantation; those mysterious sequence of codes (yes, which is why the Da Vinci Code was so popular – until it was made into a movie and the audience realized the farcical nature when bad literature is transformed into an ever worse media script); or perhaps it is a deal of Faustian proportions – of one’s soul for the hidden principle, the fountain of youth, the corridor down timeless ecstasy; instead, of course, in this mass-marketing world of consumer gullibility, we cling to the anticipation – despite all historical evidence to the contrary – that there exists a fortune-teller’s abracadabra comprising a happiness principle.

Principles are the foundational guidance for understanding the causal connections of events that occur in the objective world; first principles, as Aristotle liked to point out, are important in their revelatory powers to comprehend the operational mechanisms of this world of Being.  If you don’t know first principles, or the paradigmatic principles that operate behind the scenes – much like the Wizard behind the curtain —  then you will always only know that it happens, not why it does so.

And so we go through life, walking and wandering the streets, seeing others smiling, laughing and seeming to enjoy life, while we stew in the solitude of our private misery, perhaps outwardly attempting to feign such emotional brightness while inwardly decaying with each day’s tumult of angst and anxiety.

In minding the existence of the ‘happiness principle’, we are everyday falling into the statistical trap of that famous quip attributed to the 19th century Showman, P.T. Barnum, that there’s “a sucker born every minute.”  Even if everyday empirical evidence refutes the existential reality of such a principle, we nevertheless hope against fading hope for such a white knight in shining armor – that armor of protective fallacies based upon a nonexistent principle wrapped in the cloaking of hopes unearned and never to be attained.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are down in the dumps because of a medical condition, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the reality that one’s career may be cut short and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may be a necessity, must fight against the false hope that a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is the “be-all” and “end-all” of life’s miseries.

Medical conditions may continue to remain chronic; there will likely remain many challenges in the future; but the point of filing for Federal Disability Retirement is to allow for one to attain a plateau of hopefulness where one can make one’s health and well-being a priority, without necessarily minding the ‘happiness principle’ or believing in P.T. Barnum’s secret to success.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Analogies

It is the greater concept often developed through metaphors and similes; but to the extent they are now of use depends largely upon the shared cultural context within which we live.  If Classical literature is no longer the common thread of meaningful discourse, can references to them in creating analogies work?  To share that a person’s tragedy is more Shakespeare than Milton, or that the individual’s circumstances remind one more akin to The Road to Wigan Pier than Brideshead Revisited, can such conversations take on a relevant pathway if the intellectual divide fails to be crossed?

You can, of course, always Google and quickly get the quick rundown of the literary reference through electronic Spark Notes, or some other venue of shortcutting the arduous endeavor reserved in former times; but even that may reveal an inadequacy that cannot be overcome.  For, of what part of the book or author is being referred to?  Is it any particular play or poem, or the entirety of the work itself?  Is it any specific character or scene?

Some philosophers have posited that, by and large, we comprehend and make sense of the objective world through the use of analogies, built upon by metaphors and similes; for, language itself is a conglomerate of such literary devices.  To face the universe purely for survival’s sake is to forego the need for imposing the ordering through language; animals do not require it, but in the most rudimentary of mechanisms that advance warning signs and preemptive communications; it is only in the arena of human constructs where categorical imperatives need to be assigned in order to filter the world into more palatable and circumscribed entities for processing the complexities we have created.

Analogies thus communicate through the medium of shared conceptual constructs, where we draw in the recipient and spectator, the audience of our targeted comparisons, by relating a shared, known and familiar encapsulation of linguistic constructs.  It is only when the strangeness of the metaphor, the unfamiliarity of the reference, creates further puzzlement and loss of connection, that problems occur and relationships become fissures of language games gone awry.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the applicability of providing a foundational construct of relating one’s story to an “administrative specialist” at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will often involve – and require – analogies by default.

Use them sparingly; utilize discretion; and, in writing up one’s narrative in response to the questions posed on SF 3112A (Applicant’s Statement of Disability), remember that this is not the time, the context or the best place to try out radical, untested metaphors, similes or analogies.

Thus, while those who have read Orwell’s work, The Road to Wigan Pier, as well as Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, may find a clever and appropriate place in one’s Applicant’s Statement of Disability to make some brilliant literary reference, it may be more prudent to stick to the medical facts and incorporate those supportive documents in dealing with analogies of life, health, and the nexus between the latter and one’s Federal or Postal job duties.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire