Monday, January 26, 2009

Human Sacrifice?

Yesterday, after church, I was lolling inside from the snowy days outdoors and giving myself permission to linger over favorite blogsites. One of those favorites is "The Painted Prayerbook". Always rich with visual works and thoughtfully constructed spiritual words, I came upon this phrase of Jan's that really smacked me!

"I wonder if the people of Israel ever wondered if human sacrifice might be easier, after all, than all this justice and kindness stuff."

In light of that know, I know, we all know that the economics of our current day aren't terrific and that hard decisions need to be made at times regarding employment vs. non-employment, firing versus hiring. These are neither welcomed nor easy decisions that must more and more often these days be pondered.

Listening to an NPR interview last week, I heard the interviewer asking persons on the street, or the studio, or wherever, whether given a choice of losing one's colleagues' or saving one's colleagues' salaries with cuts being absorbed by all - what would you do?

Several people never hesitated and stated although they would not like to take a cut in pay that if it meant saving jobs for more of their colleagues in these hard times, they would definitely consider a paycut worth the sacrifice. I thought that was a wonderful thing to hear......until a gentleman given that question said, "absolutely not, firings just cut the dead wood out of an organization and they probably weren't contributing that much anyway. No, he would not like or would not like being asked to consider taking a paycut!"

Arghhhhh, so what do hard decisions, firings, cutbacks, pink slips and the like have to do with human sacrifice? The human sacifice, it seems to me, comes about when persons making decisions hastily, without pondering justice and kindness beforehand make a decision(s) that clearly exhibits callousness toward another human being, whether friend, confidante, employee or colleague. Regrettably it is sometimes necessary to announce layoffs due to financial crises, and/or lack of competence but, I believe, it is not in God's plan that decisions should be cruel or announced in a way to impute job performance issues when there were not such.

Selfishness, greed, and lack of respect for one's fellow persons being laid off also falls outside the realm of justice and kindness. Being let go in a public arena, meaning not being told privately of the issues causing the layoff/firing, is humiliating at best, cruel at most.

So in some cases, I would say for some persons, human sacrifice is not only unquestionable but preferable with justice and kindness having really nothing to do with any thing.

I repeat, argggghhhhh - oh, and just yesterday I was blogging about not passing judgment on my fellow human beings......I've guess I've flunked again!


  1. I also found that post of Jan's really hit me, although a slightly different bit.

    The interview you describe is interesting, and I think many people would indeed cut pay and/or hours to save their colleagues.

    I think, though, that many organisations won't give the choice, because many are indeed using job losses to cut what the unpleasant man referred to as "dead wood". No matter how the same organisation have created the "dead wood" in the first place by poor hiring, training and managing practices...

  2. Always keep in mind that there is a subtle but important difference between judgment of the sort we are urged not to make, and observations of facts and conditions that may have a good or bad effect on God's creation. Even then, our observations must be conditional because we seldom have the full story or the capacity to understand it if we did.

  3. Tess and CP - thanks for your comments, I always value your opinions!

  4. Years ago I was in just that position. I worked for the provincial government as a college teacher. Times were tough -- or so the government claimed! -- and money had to be saved. We could either accept a global pay cut or lose colleagues and increase our workload.
    I was president of the faculty association (union), affiliated to most of the other faculty unions across the province and we were asked to make a choice. My fellow executive members wanted to allow the job loss since they figured it would not affect us at our college. I saw our workload as already barely tenable and I thought of our fellow teachers in rural Quebec and my own anxious colleagues, so I asked my executive friends for their indulgence as I expressed an opposing opinion. I nervously stepped out of the chair's chair and took my place among the faculty. Eventually, I stood up and spoke my opinion, my conscience, while respecting my colleagues on the executive. I got a round of applause, the vote went my way on campus as across the province. My executive friends never quite forgave me for that.
    Alas, we are among the lowest paid teachers in Canada still.

  5. Barbara, thanks for sharing your story. It is hard to always choose justice and kindness - the human sacrifice sometimes seems a little less messy, just brush off one's hands and forget it? I believe that the human sacrifice of feelings choice is harder to forget and definitely harder to reconcile in one's heart. Thanks again for sharing!