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Weekly commentaries on current issues. Commentaries are posted every Monday, in English and Spanish. Please, read our previous commentaries in the Archive section.
On the wall of an almost forgotten corner of my office there is a clock with its battery getting lower and lower. The clock is still working and you can clearly hear its tic-toc. Yet, the hands don’t move and, therefore, the clock is always at 5:55.
This situation is similar to what happens to many of us who, in spite of that fact that we are still working, we are increasingly disconnected from our source of internal energy and, even if our heart is still beating, we are frozen in time; alive, dead, alienated from reality and from the ever-changing world around us.
If I want for my clock to work properly, that’s easy. I just need to replace its battery (and perhaps I will soon do it). Yet, what will be the point? If want to know the time, my phone, the computer, the microwave, and half a dozen other devices at the office constantly show the time.
So, even the clock was to work perfectly, it will be soon forgotten, as forgotten as it is now when it is losing strength to move its hand.
At the time, how are we going to reconnect a person with the source of her energy so that person can regain not only her place in the world, but also regain her dignity as a person?
Because, contrary to what happens to my clock, people are not (we are not) objects whose appreciation is based on how “useful” we are. Unfortunately, that’s the approach our society teaches, promotes, and even promulgates.
Kafka warned us that if we feel useless and good for nothing, we will turn ourselves into something impure, unwanted, and repugnant for us and for others, so we will soon lose the last vestiges of humanness still residing inside ourselves.
And Fromm warned us that we are no longer loving people and using things, but, regrettably, doing exactly the opposite.
For that reason, if we want to help a person to recover his place in the world and his dignity (to himself and in front of others), we should not help that person to merely become “useful.” In fact, assuming a person is truly human only if that person is “useful” (because of his/her “contributions”) is indeed dehumanizing that person.
In addition, in a world in constant change and with pre-programmed obsolesce, the so-called “usefulness” is but ephemeral, and, therefore, the person we were tried to help will be even worst at the end than at the beginning, because we just tried to make him/her “useful”.
What to do, then? Perhaps we should recognize that not every clock wants to show the same time and that there are some clocks able to use all its internal energy to show only one particular time forever.
Perhaps we should stop thinking we are just machines in need of repairs, so we can recover our dignity. Perhaps we should reconnect with a non-mechanical time to recover our creative energy and our identity.