Superstitions often have a grain of truth in them; otherwise, they would not have endured the test of culture, time and governance of actions in ensuring their longevity and pervasive countenance.
Aboriginal tribes and remote communities far removed from the technological modernity of this growing world; pockets of secluded peoples and those who simply shy away from the spotlight of drones like druids of yore; once, there was a belief that having a photograph taken or an image drawn constituted the stealing of a soul. We don’t believe that. We no longer believe such nonsense.
Such belief systems constitute an anomaly tantamount to insanity, or at the very least a level of eccentricity bordering upon an unacceptable level of non-conformity. Indeed, instead, we have gone in the opposite direction of the extreme: many no longer visit ancient and sacred sights with a view by the naked eye, but through the lens of a video camera never to be detached from the “on” button; and we deplete and exhaust the personal “I” within the sanctity of our selves by posting the most personal of information on Facebook and other public forums for full view and entertainment, reserving nothing of a private nature.
For, in the end, the technology of the internet is merely an advanced form of the singular photograph of yore; and as the daguerreotype of yesteryear represented the technological advancement of securing frozen images in a given time, of a place cemented within the historicity of events and contexts of human occurrences, so the voluntary dissemination of information about ourselves is merely a logical extension of that loss of privacy and depletion of the soul.
The soul is not inexhaustible; and is that not why there is so much emptiness and loss of value in the world? Of the content of information which we consider “personal” and “private”, that which concerns our medical condition tops the list. Yet, in the context of Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will inquire, demand of, and insist upon, release of medical information beyond that which constitutes allowable breach of confidentiality, leaving aside the issue of good taste.
Of course, when the Federal or Postal employee decides to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, then the onus of proof (by the legal standard of “preponderance of the evidence”) is entirely upon the Federal or Postal employee, and in that event, such submission of medical information is voluntary and must be done in order to secure the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement benefits. But before that, Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often demand medical information without limits or respecting of privacy.
A response by the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker should be carefully considered, lest there be a later conflict when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. For, often, during a time and circumstance prior to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the issue is one of wanting to continue to work; and, in any event, unconstrained dissemination of information of the most private nature — that of medical information — should always be carefully guarded.
In the end, releasing of medical information is like that superstitious sense held sacredly by those aboriginal tribes now lost in the deep forests of forgotten time; once, we believed that a single photograph would steal our soul, to be forever tortured in the chasms of an enemy’s grip; today, such a suspicion has been replaced with the foolhardy belief that we can give of ourselves indiscriminately, without the stolen soul suffering the agony of public scorn.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire