Do You Know This Man

By Katy Landless

When I first learned of the concept alienation, a picture of a person came to my mind. In fact, this person still comes to my mind. He is my own personal image of alienation. This person is a worker who has a repetitious job, a worker who does the same task over and over, every day and every week. This worker that I envision works hard and works often. He, yes, my picture is of a man although for no reason which I can defend, is bored with the repetition because this work is not up to his potential. His work provides him no rewards of equal value to him as a human being. His work does provide him with time to think, more time than he wants, but it offers no occasion for him to put his thoughts into practice. No one cares about his opinions on how things should be run or how things could be better. In fact, if his bosses could have it their way, he would not think on the job at all, he is only supposed to work. To the rulers, thinking on the job may mean that he will come up with better ideas than the ones in place. It may mean that his thoughts could become a threat, they could some day be put into action. He may even share his thoughts and someone around him may agree and then their ideas gain strength and become more and more real to the ones on top. This worker that I pictured may have had thoughts at one point in time, but I am not sure because to see him, is to see a void. If he thought, he may not now. If he thinks he does not bother to share. He works. He works for little at a monotonous and strenuous job. He is thought of by his bosses as a means of production, like a machine, like an ox. His only reason for working is, for himself, to survive. His only reason for working, to the world who owns him, is to benefit that world which he will not know.

This person has always made me sad. He hates his job, which for so many others like him, is too much a part of his existence to ignore. He feels powerless and unneeded. He is not quite sure however, if it is the work that he hates or the fact that he is not valued, he is not equal - that makes him angry and embarrassed. He feels as if he must tolerate his lot in life because the system around him tells him he is replaceable and only needed to the extent in which he completes his task. He hates his boss for recognizing him only as a link in a monotonous and never ending chain. He despises his peers who have allowed themselves to be overcome by this unjust system and accept it without question and refuse to acknowledge that this is not what life is for. He is frustrated that he is angry and no one else seems to be - his peers are sheep and his bosses are power. He is confused at the world for not being mad too. 

This man makes me sad and the world that created him makes me angry. I do not feel pity for him because he has to work hard. I do not feel sorry for him because he cannot afford riches. It upsets me that this man is disappointed in himself for thinking, or at least thinking years ago, and allowing himself to grow blank. It is sad that he is disappointed in himself because he has given into the system. It is sad that he is disappointed in himself because he has allowed what he knows is wrong to surround him and defeat him. It angers me that alienation is so strong. It angers me that alienation is such a part of our world that most people do not even know it exists. Most people do not even have this man in their heads. Most people do not know this man exists to even feel these emotions and it scares me that too many people, if they knew of this man, would believe he deserves what he gets. It scares me that as an educator in a so-called democracy, I could become this man.


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