Lim: Is it us versus them?

Wide awake
Melanie Lim.
Melanie Lim.File photo

I admit I scoff at them: the lazy, the cocky, the whiny, the entitled and the self-absorbed. I admit I roll my eyes at them: they who demand premium pay for work performance that barely meets the minimum and falls, in fact, below expectations.

I admit I throw shade at them.

They who are not willing to put in the work and the time to get to where they want to go. They who do not know how to pay their dues and earn the respect of their peers, subordinates and superiors. They who do not know how to wait. They who do not know their place.

They who do sloppy and substandard work. They who work only when they want to. They who do only what sparks joy in their lives. They who will not, for a moment, do an act of sacrifice.

They who leave when they don’t get what they want. They who leave when they get what they want. They who quit when the going gets tough. They who think life is unfair. They who are onion-skinned. They who cannot be called out for anything.

They who leave without guilt or gratitude. They who leave without compassion or compunction like mercenaries when the better deal arrives. They who leave and delude themselves with the idea that their callous acts of irresponsibility are acts of self-care.

Is it us taking away your dignity and self-respect? Or is it you taking it away from yourselves?

We don’t want to deprive you of a life outside of work. But we do want you to be committed, responsible, self-motivated adults at work. If everyone felt they could take a self-care day any time they wanted to, who would run the trains, fly the planes, deliver your babies or your food to your doorstep?

We do not believe in abuse and/or oppression. But we believe in the value of order, discipline and policy. And while we believe in an egalitarian society, we do not dismiss authority, structure and hierarchy.

We believe in giving everyone a voice, but each voice is not necessarily a vote towards the final decision or choice. We believe in democracy but not disrespect for authority.

Perhaps, they are smart. And we are stupid.

We who are grateful rather than entitled. We who wait for our turn. We who wait for our time. We who wait to earn the respect of our peers. We who wait to ask for what we believe we deserve.

Perhaps, we erred. We brainwashed our kids into thinking they did not have to work on themselves to be loved. Because didn’t we tell them we would love them no matter what?

We got them addicted to incentives. A lifetime of participation awards turned them into transactional beings. We shielded them from the hard tasks. We taught them to pursue their passions. We forgot to teach them about chore, duty and obligation.

And now we wonder what we have birthed and brought into our workplaces?

It’s not us versus them.

When we feel we have the right to do, act and say as we like whenever we want without regard for anyone—it’s us versus ourselves.


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