No one likes whining.Â Iâ€™ll try not to whine.Â I realize that if you speak out against mistreatment on othersâ€™ behalf, itâ€™s justice.Â If you speak out on your own behalf, itâ€™s whining.Â But maybe I can see the bottom of the boot better from down here and describe it more accurately.Â If thatâ€™s whining, I apologize in advance.
Iâ€™ve been job-hunting for months.Â This has surprised me, as Iâ€™ve never had a hard time finding a job before.Â But the school where I was teaching closed, and I have to do something else.Â Suddenly my education and experience, which were considered assets where I used to work, seem to be worth nothing any longer and canâ€™t keep my resume from the trash can.Â And the maddening thing is that I donâ€™t know what to do about that.
Thirty years ago we were given good advice about job hunting:Â Make it personal.Â Get your foot in the door.Â Talk on the phone.Â Send your resume in the mail.Â But you canâ€™t do that anymore!Â Many want ads donâ€™t even list the company thatâ€™s hiring, only an email address of an agency.Â If the company is named, there is no telephone number or personâ€™s name to apply to.Â Bold print on the ad insists that job seekers must not call, must not mail materials, must not come to the office.
Human resources has it all their way.Â The system is set up entirely for their convenience.Â The jobseeker is an annoyance who has to be barricaded against.Â But ironically, not only the jobseeker suffers from the human resource hegemony.Â In most places the people and departments who need new employees donâ€™t even get to see the majority of applications coming in.Â Theyâ€™ve all been screened by HR, and most HR people arenâ€™t in the position to go out on a limb, to follow a hunch, or to give someone a try.Â I suspect that the people who ultimately do the hiring suffer as much from the HR barricade as the jobseekers do.
My point here, though, is not to complain about the difficulties of finding a job.Â (Email me if youâ€™d like to join my tirade about that!)Â My point is that the system has become inhumane and materialistic. â€œInhumaneâ€ is obvious to anyone whoâ€™s been buffeted by it.Â I chose the word â€œmaterialisticâ€ to imply that the universe of the current HR-dominated job exchange is a closed system.
A materialist believes that the material universe is all there is.Â Therefore everything is finite.Â Goods are ultimately in short supply.Â Any good you have is a loss to me, and anything I acquire is taken from you.Â â€œTo beâ€ means â€œto be in competition,â€ as Screwtape says.
The materialist sees the jobseeker as a competitor for scarce resources, red in tooth and claw, prowling to seek his own advantage at whatever cost to those around him.Â â€œWe canâ€™t let him in the door!â€Â HR wails and starts nailing crooked pieces of wood over all the windows.
The idea that jobseekers are assets, are a potential good that they and the company would mutually benefit from, is entirely foreign to this way of thinking.Â Materialists donâ€™t assume that all the people out there are in fact valuable human beings.Â They assume that one of the crowd will have proved himself fitter to survive than the others, will have clawed his way to the top, and that he is the one they want.
Itâ€™s a very adolescent view, the materialist one.Â Do you remember, as you got older, noticing with surprise all the happily married couples of plain, even dumpy-looking, people?Â When youâ€™re a teenager, you think that only the â€œbestâ€ will attract a mate or succeed at anything — only the cheerleader, or the football player, or the valedictorian, or whatever the aristocracy was in your adolescence.Â Then you notice that even the average people, even the bottom of the social heap, seem to be happy, find love, do well in their lives.Â And it first occurs to you that maybe life is not a competition to establish my value over yours, maybe life is a courtship of equally valued beings.
Mostly the materialist view is rooted in a profound misunderstanding about who and what God is, and what his universe is like.Â Materialists entirely miss the point of the loaves and the fishes.Â But there is another reason for the prevalence of materialism nowadays.Â It is the perception that there are too many of us competing for too few resources, that in olden days (probably apocryphal) people lived in small communities and could afford to be in relationship with their few neighbors, but now in our big cities we get overwhelmed.
There was a Doonesbury cartoon from the days of Pol Pot.Â BD and Fred the Viet Cong (if I remember correctly) are cooking a pot of rice over a fire.Â A refugee comes up and says, â€œCan we share your rice?â€Â â€œUmm, sure,â€ says Fred; â€œhow many of you are there?â€Â â€œFive hundred thousand,â€ says the refugee.
We call it compassion fatigue.Â There are too many hungry, the rice wonâ€™t stretch that far.Â There are too many homeless, they canâ€™t all fit in the guest room.Â There are too many unemployed, they canâ€™t all be hired.Â So to protect themselves from despair people build barricades, set up impersonal email addresses, move into gated communities.Â Many who do that arenâ€™t bad people.Â If you could get through the barricades youâ€™d find that they were friendly and generous enough.Â But theyâ€™ve missed the point of the loaves and fishes.
The point of the loaves and fishes is this:Â Jesus would just have been an admirably generous man if he had shared the little he had with the crowds.Â But he was â€” is â€” God.Â His creative and beneficent power is infinitely greater than we can imagine.Â The universe is not a closed system.Â There is a limitless supply, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.Â Life is a courtship, not a competition; a giving of gifts and not a staking out of territory.Â Against all human imagining, there are bread and fish enough for all, with more left over.
Now I only wish I could meet the human resources person whose faith is strong enough to let me in the door, who could believe that I — or one of the other desperate people — might be an asset and a blessing, not a debit and a drain.
And I also want to remember, if I ever do get a job and am the one wearing the boot, what the sole looks like from underneath.