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The Danger Employers See In Solitude
Our current business environment finds an extreme threat from the idea of solitude. In local and global markets that have put a high premium on indexes quantifying productivity there is little patience for measuring reflection, non-activity and contemplation.
In our churches we have professionalized clergy to such an extent that Pastor’s Reports must be filled to the brim with activity. A clergy’s interior life no longer counts as part of this spread sheet mentality to ministry. Whoa to the minister suggesting hours of silence, prayer and solitude as the first order of his or her vocation to a personnel committee.
Clergy are certainly not alone in our push toward more and more productivity. The largest employer in the United States presents it’s workers with a faux sports team analogy to boost its production. Team members, team leaders and coaches run the stores Sam Walton built. Pep rallies are held and there is high pressure to be engaged in group dynamics for low pay and paltry benefits. In the end the opportunities for development are certainly unequal for men and women. The strategy of high percentage overturn of employees insures even lower wages in the community. From the time an employee punches in until they punch out they are controlled by the culture of Wal Mart.
In Wal Mart’s “community” model productivity is streamlined. Bargain is king and consumerism is greeted at the door by someone underpaid whose dignity is covered in a blue polyester vest. It would be unthinkable in such a culture to insert the idea of solitude. This would be deemed as rogue behavior that would damage the group. It would be absurd to think of individuals not constantly serving customers or the company when “on the clock.” This would cut into the bottom line, which is to increase the wealth of a very small amount of humans exponentially. This wealth is increased by the sweat and productivity of a mass of humanity that share only marginally in the wealth they produce.
You can see why solitude might be a threat to their owners. If an apathy or lethargy can pervade, if an illusion of ones general reality can be produced it will silence the inner critic. If a malaise hindering person growth can be produced or even better if we manipulate human’s need for belonging creates an allegiance so much the better for business. So much the better for our overlords.
When one allows oneself to be seen as a spiritual being becoming integral to the function to true community, false community comes into question. True community sees even her weakness as an asset to the growth of the whole. A true community finds it important for reflection, questions, engagement and change. Yet, none of this can begin without solitude. It is only through the dialogue of our interior dialogues and our exterior ones where we are challenged to actively engage one another.
It is in those moments of solitude where the germs of questioning can nurture. These questions when courageously confronted in community have power to expose weakness, sin and injustice. It is through solitude, reflection, engagement and action where we are given the redemptive possibilities for change.
In places where productivity trumps justice and profit overpowers wisdom it is easy to see why solitude and reflection amongst the masses is a threat to the bottom line, making money. It could call into question participation in systems that are unjust to workers and the community that consumes their souls. If we keep cheering loud enough maybe we will never follow the money.
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