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January 19, 2003

Fate - just live with it

Found an interesting quote from the new Syd Field book 'Going To The Movies' that has a lot of bearing on my current position.

The idealistic conflict between North and South, between one way of life and another, often pitted brother against brother, friend against friend. It had potential for strong action, dynamic and colorful characters who would lay down their lives for their personal freedom.
The more I read and thought about it, the more it seemed that the aftermath of the Civil War really exemplified what the German philosopher Hegel intended in his famous theory of tragedy. Hegel maintainted that the essence of tragedy was not derived from one character's being "right" and the other "wrong", or the conflict of good versus evil. True tragedy, he believed, occurs when both characters pursue actions that are right. As Hegel wrote, tragedy lies in the story of "good versus good".

Now, I did science at school. As a result I'm aware that Hegel is probably old hat to many, but it was an eye-opener to me. And from my outsider point of view, it also sums up a great many of the terrible situations that people find themselves in at work. Particularly within the public sector, where there's a finite amount of money and the only way to pursue your goals is to make sure someone else doesn't pursue (or is constrained in pursuing) theirs. Often when you're both trying to reach the same goal.

Without being melodramatic, the position I was in - and the eventual conclusion - was tragic in this sense.

But it's also possible to extend this back to the more literary version of the word.

When two empires in an organisation clash, how often can those caught in the fallout look back and say 'it was inevitable - from the moment I got this job, from the moment we started down this route, I was doomed'?

So I find almost blessed relief in accepting that mine was a job that could never be done, and that I'm freed from its constraints.

And at least I get a chance to start anew...

Posted by Tom Dolan at January 19, 2003 08:31 PM

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