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Staying Sane in a Crazy System


Taking Care of Your Spirit

Telling the truth often means stepping into the unknown, a true act of faith. Working to change a crazy system, rather than passively accept corruption or abuse or illegality is spiritual action. Stuck in a rut is its opposite. Some whistleblowers find spiritual resources, and also use their own basic sanity to clean up dysfunction bit by bit. Indeed, stereotypes portray whistleblowers as tormented by interior demons or crushed in spirit, while modern psychological jargon talks of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In any event, many valiant attempts end prematurely. Resources to deal with the stress make a key difference. Here are some spiritual resource links and some psychological resource links.

Privacy and Confidentiality Issues

Most whistleblowers care a lot about both their privacy and their careers. Whistleblowing always involves conflicting loyalties, as well as shame or stigma. Who to trust? Courts only recognize confidentiality in some relationships. Private discussions with attorneys receive the most protection. Conversations with doctors, therapists and pastors or other spiritual professionals are also usually confidential. Remember that few attorneys can or try to deal with the ethical, spiritual and mental health effects of whistleblowing. However, many attorneys fail to realize (or acknowledge) their inadequacy with respect to these client needs. Plus, some stressed-out employees fear seeking out mental or spiritual assistance (particularly from a confidentiality-sloppy employee assistance program).

Dysfunctional Organizations

The "Peter principle" describes a typical dysfunctional system--a manager rising to a level where his or her shortcomings become too obvious for further promotions. Of course, those demonstrating the principle invariably deny it, in part because poor self-awareness is often associated with mediocre management. Blaming the competition or underlings is easy. Good managers, on the other hand, consider subordinates human resources--to be trained and utilized to best advantage. In a competitive environment, poor managers get fired. However, bureaucracy is sticky. Bad managers keep many personnel officers in business. After all, no one doubts that managing is tough: balancing the interests of supervisors above and employees below, juggling limited resources, climbing the career ladder. Advancement requires skills, knowledge and luck. The temptation is to think that it also requires silence.
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