The herd mentality must of necessity have a survivability factor; otherwise, there is little to explain the illogical repetition of the historical recurrence of human folly for behavioral anthropology. In the modern era, being “different” is a sign of rebellion, and the cultural tidal wave of the Sixties in altering the normative landscape of music, art, religion and social customs, revealed the pinnacle of self-destructive behavior — until it became clear that being a misfit itself was merely the convention.
Behaving “normally” means that one does not make “waves”; in a highly bureaucratized society, the importance of non-innovation and complete compliance is regarded as sacrosanct. Loud, boisterous behavior; conduct outside of the normative inflexibility of societal perspectives; that which is acceptable as quirkiness or eccentricities, as opposed to destructive explosions of tendencies bordering upon insanity; the invisible line between the misfit and clinical commitment to a psychiatric facility is a thin reed, indeed.
Often, however, it is uncontrollable circumstances which impose upon an individual the unwanted label of being an “outsider”. Medical conditions often have a tendency to promote such a state. It is like being labeled a plague-carrying contagion by the CDC; once whispered, the rumors begin to spread.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, being labeled a misfit becomes a “given”. Others begin to shy away from an association; some are told bluntly not to have contact with “that one”.
Loss of normative acceptance within any community or society is an important factor for success; somehow, despite all of the legal safeguards, EEO regulations and protective statutes applying to disabled individuals, the herd mentality of yore nevertheless prevails. For Federal and Postal workers, the only pragmatic exit is to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.
Is it a retreat or an escape? Not really; rather, just a means of looking out for one’s own best interests. The medical condition itself should always be paramount in considering one’s life; attending to it properly means that one must have the time and energy to treat the underlying malady; and continuing in an employment atmosphere where acceptance is avoided, and empathy is rare, is also an unstated definition of engaging in self-flagellation.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire