Your Personal Life is Not Expendable

“Man is the measure of all things.”

~ Protagoras (490-420 BCE),
Greek Philosopher

If you’re lucky enough to have a job nowadays, quite likely you’re unlucky enough to be expected to work overtime at the cost of not having a personal life.

Fifty-hour, sixty-hour, even eighty-hour weeks! Without having to say anything, you and your boss understand that if you’re not willing to work overtime, you will be replaced by someone who is willing.

The presumption of business to treat you as an economic object, not a person, simply reflects how our upside-down society dehumanizes the person (i.e, civilian deaths are “collateral damage”, maximizing profit trumps keeping employees).

More overtime means less personal life. Deprived of time with your children who grow too quickly, time to enjoy your spouse, friends, relatives, time to maintain your health, time to learn, time to benefit from the arts, time for civil duties, time to maintain your soul, and time simply to be — deprived of these what is left? What remains is a business function encased in protoplasm which becomes increasingly sickly and unbalanced.

As I see it, the problem with such dehumanization is that human life does not exist to satisfy economic functions. Instead economies exist to serve human life. Our personal lives are not resources to be plundered by the greed of others. The mystery of all life, of human life, of your life and mine does not exist to satisfy others’ profits.

During my former corporate career, I repeatedly defended my right to a private life. For example, I insisted on taking time off to attend my grandson’s birth despite my boss’ objections. I refused to work one Christmas evening when an installation could have been scheduled at another time. I took month-long sabbaticals, although inconvenient to executives, etc.

Defending a personal life is an implicit assertion of the worth and dignity of being human. If you agree, then when and where it is realistically possible for you, I encourage you to say “no” to the dehumanizing influences which would deprive you of a personal life, and render you an object. As Protagoras said, “Man is the measure of all things” – not business profit.

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