Wednesday, March 01, 2006

No one wants peace but the bridge

Albert Camus - The Guest

Camus tries to show the absurdity of the world we live in through his writing.  The Guest is about a school teacher in a colony.  The authorities have captured a man and allot it to this teacher to deliver this prisoner to the next county.  

Two absurdities emerge about the system we live in.  The first is that of responsibility.  No one takes responsibility for actually completing the task, only their individual part in it.  The school teacher outright tells the guard that delivers the prisoner to him that he might not deliver the prisoner.  The guard’s only concern is that he will vouch that he has delivered him.  I have experienced this same thing in my professional life.  Everyone just writes down what happens and shows that they have followed procedure.  In the story the teacher doesn’t know why the man is imprisoned and so can’t make a choice as to what the right thing to do is.  The lack of information people have to work in is combined with a holy reverence for procedure and not ever being wrong because if I make 3 bad calls I lose my job.  Procedure becomes the replacement for good moral decision making.

The second absurdity that plagues humanity is that of the struggle between relationship and belief or ideology.  The guard accepts the teacher on the basis that they share the same values.  But the teacher also wants to relate to the prisoner which precludes a relationship with the guard.  This theme may be more of a projection than what is really in the story, but… the teacher just wants to have a relationship with both the guard and the prisoner, but to get it he has to make social sacrifices.  If he accepts the prisoner the guard might not trust him and he will be alienated from the guard.  There are two sides that disagree and there is no room for sitting on the fence and playing peacemaker between the two groups.  

Two final thoughts,
Do what you think is right because in the end all you have is yourself.  (are relationships that I have to make sacrifices of my beliefs worth it? Are they even authentic relationships?  How do I avoid the alienation that stems from differing beliefs?)

My name means peacemaker, it has shaped who I am.  

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