Why is it that money taints with toxicity of motive? If a person does something with no compensatory demand, does that fact alone make it less suspect? Does the professional soldier who gets paid by one’s own country show a level of patriotism unblemished, but the one who hires out for monetary rewards by another, belie a code of honor? What gives the scent of blemish, the hint of a soul’s impoverishment, and the sullied character of an inner decay?
Are we merely taught to remain in silent awe at the poor woman in the story of the miserly penny, and frown if a child begins laughing and saying, “What a fool to give up the last penny!” Are saints born, or are they taught and disciplined, when the innate signs of cynicism may yet win out over the empathy of a fool’s errand? What good is “goodness” in an evil world? Do we remember Bonhoeffer, or was his courage forgotten amidst the thousands of graves both marked and without remembrance, in a world where community no longer exists and friends are counted by Facebook likes and never by the warmth of human comity?
Somehow, money taints, and the toxicity of the transfer sticks like mud to the boots of a killer, leaving tracks and traces in the bogs of lives tarnished. Yet, it is the exchange by which dreams are made, the goal for which daily toil is endured, and the chances taken in bribes received in order to attain a measure of financial security and the declarative success of an age where hypocrisy dares to utter its laughable voice of despair.
Is it because we believe that mercenaries fail to believe in that which is being fought for, and instead confuse the means for an end we misguidedly believe should be the end in and of itself? Does engaging an individual for purposes of honor, country, faith and other tropes of a nation’s visage of vacuous promises make it any more substantive if the abandonment of a country of its own vital principles reaches a point where such terms no longer apply?
There are those who romanticize the independence of the mercenary, despite the Geneva Convention restrictions which grant lesser protections in the event of capture; and, yet, history is replete with their use and presence, from Ancient Egypt during the rein of Pharaoh Ramesses II to the French Foreign Legion and the British Gurkha regiments, and beyond to modern warfare. But romanticization and reality often conflict and collide, and the remaining entrails of toxicity remain with the scent of avoidance.
In more quiet arenas of modern life, the term itself is often applicable not to fields of the battleground, but to individuals who “go after” others for rewards and reasons of similar taint and toxicity. In the employment arena, there are mercenaries aplenty, and they are predators that devour with equal ferocity.
For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset who suffers 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 Federal or Postal job, and therefore must prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the duality of dangers must be faced.
First, the allegation that the Federal or Postal employee is merely being a “mercenary” by “taking advantage” of a generous system of medical retirements, and Second, to beware of the mercenaries of the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service who aggressively go after the Federal or Postal employee weakened and unable to defend him or herself during the process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, precisely because of the medical condition itself.
In both instances, it is the mercenary instinct itself which dominates, and no amount of honor or faith in country can withstand the onslaught of the vicious outliers of such gossiping geese.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire