Are there societies in which the non-existence of the concept of “self” reveals a qualitative difference in approaching life in general? Does the fact that language embraces the singular personal pronoun in contradistinction to the plural, communal form (i.e., “we” or “us”) make a difference in the manner in which we see the world?
If “I” as the subject/nominative form or the “me” as the objective (accusative and dative form) were to be expunged from the English Lexicon, would the universe be shaken and the axis upon which rotation occurs be shattered such that earth would no longer remain as we have known it? Or — beyond the modernity of linguistic philosophy, where there are no substantive philosophical problems which cannot be solved by Wittgensteinian means of clarifying, modifying or overhauling the language game utilized — will we merely go on as before and act “as if” the “I” and “me” did not exist, but carry on for selfish purposes, anyway?
There is always that hankering by each one of us that “if only…”. If only people knew the “real me”; if only she could recognize the uniqueness of the “I” that doesn’t quite come out right because of my nervousness, shyness, etc. If only the boss knew; if only my wife knew; if only my husband knew….
The cynic, of course, would counter with: Good thing no one knows the real you…. Or, is it really just another form of the philosophical conundrum that we have cornered ourselves into — sort of like Ryle’s “Ghost in the Machine” argument where Cartesian dualism doesn’t exist, and so there is no “real me” beneath the surface of what we present to the world — that, in fact, we really are boorish, one-dimensional and unsophisticated creatures who put on a good show, and that is all there is to the “I” and “me”: A composite of the Neanderthal who puts on a necktie and pronounces words and phrases in monosyllabic forms of grunts and groans?
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition and who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the real “I” or “me” is certainly not the person whom the Agency has tagged as “less than whole” because of the medical condition itself.
Yet, that is how the Federal Agency and the Postal unit will often approach the unfortunate circumstances of the Federal employee or Postal worker who reveals an intent to file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits under FERS. No longer as part of the “we” or “us” team of Federal employees or Postal workers, the Federal Disability Retirement applicant is often shunned and sequestered, and generally harassed and placed under administrative sanctions — merely for revealing a vulnerability resulting from a medical condition.
That is essentially where the problem of the “real me” resides: Of how we pigeonhole one another.
To avoid that as much as possible, it is a good idea to consult with an Attorney who Specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, to fight back against the notion of the real me that the Federal Agency or the Postal Service wants to depict, as that malingering worker who once was X, but is now seen as Y.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire