Many such contingent annotations are in the form of: If not illegal, then at least unethical; or, if not unethical, then at least lacking of propriety, etc. It is the pathway to a lesser acceptance, where the focus of one’s aspiration is lowered because of the inevitability of discovering that evidence insufficient will be uncovered. Thus can one go on ad infinitum in various but similar forms: If not happiness, then at least some semblance of contentment; if not a soul mate, then at least someone to share my experiences with, etc.
But what if that “replacement” standard turns out to be less than acceptable over time, through duration of toleration, and during cold nights when boredom no longer excites in playing pinochle while the kids are asleep? Or, if the infractions and constant infringements persist with no end in sight, and no appropriate definition of a violation such that there are penalties to be ascribed and consequences to be felt? Do we then accept an even lesser paradigm, and if so, how do we know that such diminution and diminishment of acceptance won’t again be averted and avoided? Thus, do we assert: If not X, then at least Y; but if Y doesn’t work out, then at least Z; and so on? When first one submits to the acceptance of a lesser standard, the proverbial horserace has already been lost.
In negotiations, in contractual disputes, in attempting to come to terms, etc., the sign first evidenced of conceding the lesser standard is the first indicator that the slippery-slope has just begun. There are instances, of course, where the opposite is true, as well, except that we can rarely discern beneath the surface appearances. That is what Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, must face and accept daily – the conflict between an aspirational paradigm of hope, and the reality of daily pain and anguish.
Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee, we have: If there is lesser pain today, perhaps I can last through the day; If I show that I am productive this week, then maybe the supervisor will just leave me alone, etc. As if, “lasting through the day”, or just “being left alone” for a week, a day, an hour, etc., are acceptable standards for living life? That is why abandonment of all prior paradigms must often be employed in the journey of life, career and fortitude of endurance; we tend to cling on to categories of an “ought” no longer applicable.
For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who can no longer endure the acceptance of the lesser standard when there is an alternative to the constant suffering and persistent harassment at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, fortunately, there is the ongoing benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity. Even for that, the road is still difficult and arduous, for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the agency that determines all disability retirement applications, does not merely “hand out” the benefit. Like everything else in life, it must be fought for.
But, then, the Federal or Postal worker who fights for a Federal Disability Retirement benefit can retrospectively declare: “If not the constant and daily struggle, then at least an annuity to secure my future” – the “exception” to the rule, where the lesser is in fact the greater, but is not always apparently so.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire