It is a surprise that we are constantly surprised by them. Why should we be? Do we elevate man to such a pinnacle of virtue as the angels who look down upon us with remorseful eyes? Are there more of them today, like shattered mirrors or destroyed lives littering the highways of hopeful futures stretching out into a path of devastated backdrops in the history of unknown commoners who lay quietly in the tombs that speak not but in haunting whispers in muted graveyards long abandoned with the silence of church bells that no longer toll?
Promises are but linguistic constructs that are controlled by the good intentions of those who make them, and restricted by the constraints of social virtues that no longer exist, have been modified, disavowed and have now been deemed archaic in this modernity of relative moral standards.
Once upon a time (or so the fairytale goes), a handshake, a nod, a single word without the written confirmation, the 10-page fax to declare a deal made, or the fine-print of agreements incomprehensible – they constituted the affirmation of man’s purity of intent, motivation and virtuous underbelly unseen but for the flight of angels touching and tugging upon our conscience when evil forces attempted to lead us astray.
Now, we have found the power of linguistic elasticity. It is no longer a “lie”, and perhaps it was always known, just as Eve realized the cunning of justification, persuasive argumentation and methodological coercion; no, broken promises no longer exist – instead, it is a mutual “misunderstanding”, failure of minds to meet, or just plain wrong-headedness on the part of the one who relied upon a promise made.
No one really believes anyone else’s handshake, anymore – and, in any event, who shakes hands these days? What can it mean but a mere vestige of an arcane eccentricity that needs be relegated to those rustic movies where granddad and obscure relatives and neighbors would jump from frame-to-frame in old movies where a wave to the camera was the memorabilia to preserve, now replaced by thousands of Selfies stored in electronic devices neither for posterity nor discretion of family enjoyment, but for self-aggrandizement and public display for prurient intentions.
Like granddad’s smile that once reassured as the solid Rock of Gibraltar, promises don’t mean anything, anymore.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who think that assurances of accommodating medical conditions because, somehow, laws are in place that provide for that, think about it for a moment: Without the laws, would a promise mean anything? Further, do the laws really protect, or are they also just linguistic modalities easily manipulated? Fortunately, however, laws can work both ways, and Federal Disability Retirement Law operates in favor of Federal and Postal employees with a standard of proof geared towards an approval – of a preponderance of the evidence.
No, the promises made by Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service may not amount to much, and the heap of junk piles left behind by broken promises may litter the once-beautiful landscape of arcane handshakes in years past, but the availability of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits remains a reality for those Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that there is now an incompatibility between one’s medical conditions and the performance of one’s essential elements of the Federal or Postal job.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire