July 4, 2008
A close friend of mine has a successful career at a major corporation. Less than a year ago, she hit a personal bottom with alcoholism and entered treatment. She has stayed sober, and is fully engaged at work now that she is again in possession of all of her faculties.
Her boss, on the other hand, has taken a nasty view of my friend’s admitted alcoholism and has illegally begun a campaign to force her from her job, deriding all of her work and giving her the worst performance review she’s ever had in all her years at this enterprise. At the height of Shanay’s drinking she earned the highest review she’s ever had, and consistently earned the second highest review possible. Beyond the poor review this year, her boss has now created a hostile work environment with constant criticism.
My friend is not bellicose by nature, so when this nastiness began, she decided to look for work elsewhere. With the downturn in our economy, with outsourcing on the rise, with competition for well-paying positions fierce, and with her lack of formal education, the prospects don’t bode well. After much input from trusted sources, she finally decided to stay and fight.
I respect and admire my friend’s peaceful nature, and her plight reminded me what Independence Day is really about: fighting oppression. I wrote to her today:
Why We Must Sometimes Fight (even tho it always seems easier to avoid)
You’re not just fighting for yourself over this whole ADA discrimination, but you’re also stopping your boss (and potentially others) from treating other recovering alcoholics the same way. You’re stopping that precedent – which in sociopolitical terms is the most important result. It protects future alkies from being discriminated against.
The world is full of heroes and heroines who never asked for that role – it was thrust upon them; their choice was to cave or fight. In that fight, whether they win or lose, they shine a light on the darkness enveloping them. They expose the wrongful actions for others to see.
Frederick Douglass, a freed slave who became a famous orator, said, “The limit of tyrants is prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
Edmund Burke (political theorist from the 18th c.) said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [women] to do nothing.”
This is not just your battle – altho it very much is at your feet. You fight for all people disabled by alcoholism, and who deserve to retain their jobs once they’ve begun recovering from that debilitating disease.
So don your shining armor, Shanay, and think of July 4th as independence from oppression – from the bottle and from ignorance. Remember, freedom is never granted; it can only be asserted.