Friday in a New York office. Worker drones are busy at the business of the day, looking forward to the weekend. But one face is missing, a man I’ve spent the last three years worked across from. We’ve talked, we’ve joked, mostly we’ve ignored each other, though in truth I always liked the guy. Half an hour before quitting time. The boss calls us together and says that Jim (not his real name) has been ‘let go’ because his job like so many others is now redundant, and given thy he us a man of advancing years, it is left unspoken that the same is true of the man. Given a severance and shown the door, obsolete and gone. And despite the bosses pretty assurances to the contrary, we wonder who will be next.
Sunday in church. The priest reads from the gospel, one of the passages from Matthew about the importance of forgiveness, which expands upon in the homily afterward. And it’s a fine thing, forgiveness…but here is the question; can a cog really forgive the machine that uses it until it’s worn down, and throws it aside?
For make no mistake, cogs are what we are, interchangeable parts with legs, to be cast aside when no more usefulness can be extracted. Our society provides much in the way of material comfort…but is all really just a sedative, to numb us Eocene fact that we live our lives under the thumbs of others, always in danger of being crushed? The labor we perform is done for someone else’s benefit. The equipment we use belongs to another. Our time, our welfare we must give over to a boss who has his or her own interests first, and will not hesitate to upend someone else’s life, with the justification that it’s “just business.” And in return we get…what exactly? Little green pieces of paper that we are told are supposed to be valuable. Take and be grateful?
And when our use is done, when there is nothing more to be extracted and exploited, we are ‘let go,’ just like Jim. Just another worn-out cog for the scrapheap.
Can this be forgiven?
Should it be forgiven?