A quick thought about belonging

My office not a  political place, in fact, the sedate social atmosphere and muted tones of office conversation never stray into such controversial waters.

However gauging from its demographics (I’m definitely the youngest person there) and little snippets of conversation I hear by the water cooler (how “Office Space,” no?), I get the impression that a good deal of my fellow employees are, politically speaking quite differently inclined than I am.

Here I am, an idealistic young graduate, waltzing into the office with ideas like civic duty, participation and the like as compared with the contrary idea, of “just give me my rights and leave me alone”. Much more pressing is the daily grind–finishing the new rate update, or planning for the new platform conversion. Civic Engagement? Participation? Please!  Just let me do my job and stay out of my way and out of my pocketbook!

Well, here’s the interesting thing…even if civic participation isn’t a value we share in common, these co-workers aren’t quite as atomized as they like to think. Instead of giving their time and energy to the democratic process and the creation of a robust civic society, they devote their energies to the company.

So much of the emphasis of the workplace is about bettering the company; improving its performance, efficiency, and profitability. And when the company does better, we are in turn supposed to feel better about ourselves as if we participated in a worthwhile venture.

It seems that, whereas some people might think it’s not their duty to participate in the democratic process, I’m not convinced they can actually withdraw from all sorts of participation. The question then doesn’t seem to be so much about whether to engage, but rather, where to focus your energies. Maybe the concept of “the company” just seems more personal or more directly associated with their lives, but whether it’s “the company” or democracy, people have to get jazzed up about something.


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