Sunday, January 10, 2010

Subversion as an act of professionalism

Have you ever been subversive in your line of work?

I'm pretty sure most people would agree that subversive activities would not be overly welcome in any institution.

But what if an organization had some policy or rule that simply didn't allow you to always to the right thing? When does it mean that being a professional means being subversive?

I was reading Pollinate Asheville blog that gave this anecdote:

The mirror in a middle school girls’ restroom is rusted to the point that one can not see her reflection. The Principal recognizes that not being able to primp properly before class is making girls tardy to class and affecting their learning. She asks the janitorial staff to replace the mirror. The district has a policy that mirrors are not replaced unless they are broken. The Principal calls the district to confirm, and promptly breaks the mirror with a hammer in order to solve this problem.

I can readily admit that we need rules and we need policies, but how often do professionals become slaves to those rules and policies?

I'm not sure I can imagine a policy or rule that has ever been created, that if followed to the letter, would always promise the most ethical and moral choice.

'Do no harm' is not a bad moral compass to follow, but 'Do good' may take us to an even more professional destination - and to do so, you might have to subscribe to a form of artistic insubordination.

Sometimes the letter of the law simply can not properly represent its own spirit.

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