12 February 2009

You Are Free To Eat

From the “Biting The Hand” Files:

Am I? Am I really free to eat?

I used to think so. Nowadays, I am not so sure. What does it mean to be free to eat? Rather, what do I have to DO to be free to eat? Be someone else’s tool, I suppose.

In the corporate culture, to be free to eat means to be not free to do something else. It means doing what you are told, when you are told to do it, by whomever is in charge of telling you what to do. They can get away with this through the exercise of fear.

Fear that you will not have a job.
Fear that you will not have insurance.
Fear that you will not have a retirement plan.
Fear that you will not move up in life.
Fear that you will not have a “career”.

These are wonderful things, but no one like the implicit threat of the leash.

Fear that if you do not keep your mouth shut and behave you will become a corporate leper. You will not be able to find, or keep, that “position” in the “ladder” or “organization” in which if you work hard enough, long enough, you too will be “vested” and get to tell other people what to do.

Just keep chasing after that next “goal”*. The goal is there, they tell you, it’s just up ahead, just around the bend, just around the next corner. So you do keep chasing it, because after all, achieving the goals is what gets you “security”. Isn’t security the most important thing?

You will have “security”, they say. Security being a relative term, that everyone thinks they know the definition of but is really solely defined by the inscrutable whims of someone else in “authority”. If by security, “stability” is meant, that is true in a limited sense. You get somewhere to go everyday at the same time, whiling away your hours. Security, however, is a myth. A myth wielded as a tool to keep the parts of the machine in line. ‘Replaceability’ is implicit in being a machine part. Machine parts are not really meant to be individuals. You are useful in so much as you are replaceable.

The threat of replacement breeds fear. Fear becomes a tool to control the other tools.

If I am going to be a tool, I prefer to be a tool on my own terms. If I am going to work myself to the point of exhaustion, I prefer it to be at my discretion, for my own goals.

I once told myself that “we are all exploited” and I suspect that really is true. It is up to us to set the terms of that exploitation. Does this guarantee security? Of course not. But to survive, no, to thrive it becomes a matter of imperative. Being free to eat does not mean always having the ability to put food in your mouth; it also means the freedom to say “I’m not hungry”.

If we don’t set the terms of our exploitation, we will never be free to eat.

*Digression: If you transpose the ‘o’ and ‘a’ in goal, it becomes “gaol”, an archaic term for jail. How about that.
LAST DAY TO BEAT THE DRUMS: Please don't forget the HeBlogs/SheBlogs contest forget sponsored by Petra over at The Wise (*Young*) Mommy. Today's entries are from Ron from Clark Kent's Lunchbox and Ryan from Pacing the Panic Room, two nice guys (well, one nice guy and a handsome bastard relying on his good looks) who are very good at what they do, although we are not quite sure what that is yet. The posts go up at 8:00. Remember, voting starts tonight after all entries have been posted. Rock the vote!


  1. Fear is a motivator unlike any other. I've been downsized (two consecutive times) and it had to be about the worst damn feeling on earth. I've never been in a position where I had much say over anything more important than expense reports or the accounting system but I wasn't providing 'security' for anyone but myself then so I really didn't care. I haven't held a paying job (other than the odd freelance thing) in nearly seven years. I'd love to go back to school and find something new to love and go and do it. But hearing all the stories of the newly unemployed maybe I'll just keep myself entrenched firmly in full time mommyhood a bit longer.
    It's a big scary world out there and I fear I've stepped out of the workforce so long ago now I'll never catch back up.

    Here's hoping you're free to eat soon.

  2. Unfortunately this fear is not only in the workplace now but is threading itself into every aspect of American life. Even those who are not fearing for their jobs are wondering if they are really free to eat.

  3. Hell I'm scared shitless of my professor!

    but my work is improving because of it =)

  4. makes me kinda glad I'm not a man.. ;)

    or at least not the 'bread winner'.

  5. I agree my dear. You are a tool.

    Sorry, it was there. I had to do it. I AM a 12 year old boy inside after all.

    I hate being the bread winner. But, you gots to do what you gots to do, ya know?

  6. Seeing as I kinda need my job, can I at least have a sizable discount to eat?

  7. Damn Mama Dawg beat me calling you a tool.

  8. Heh, heh. You snooze, you lose pal. Better luck next time.

    Hey, I know what. Bring a frickin' Stormtrooper next time and maybe, just maybe....nah, never mind. You'll still lose, sucka!

  9. I've never had a secure job in my life.

    Until I suddenly decided to become responsible and get a job with a big company. Now I know what you mean and it's rubbish. I'm giving it until the upturn of this blip and then I'm going it alone again :)

  10. BMA: Sorry about the downsizing, I know how it feels. And I am look forward to free eating :)

    Kat: You are wise, O Kat.

    IAG: Just don’t let the fear outweigh the benefits…

    Miw: Yes, ma’am, I got some good advice :) Poet? I like the sound of that…

    CPM: I wish I were a man…;)

    MD: Heehee. You said tool. I am a tool of my own making.

    SK: Sure! I can dig that.

    Captain: Snooze, you lose, suckah…

    Braja: (bows) Thank you, sensei.

    RS: Power, brother!

  11. think about it:
    amateurs built the ark

    professionals built the TITANIC

    oldman irish

  12. I will feed you...when I have it ready :) hey I wanted to tell you that I had you in mind when I made these wraps, you can actually eat this inside of a wrap-wrap...I tried it after eating a few of the lettuce wraps and it was a good test just for you...

    I will post more on fillings in a few days...keep up the writing Gumbo...I do not always say something, but I am watching you :)

  13. i freakin' hate FEAR. It scares the shit out of me.

  14. "If I am going to be a tool, I prefer to be a tool on my own terms."

    Totally love that.

    The video wont play for me so I shall have to make a return visit.
    In the meantime, that was powerful. :)

  15. That 'oldman irish'... he is wise. ;)

    And you are a man. A good man.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...