So here we are.
A significant percentage of our nation is jubilant, euphoric and full of hope.
A significant percentage of our nation is anxious, resigned and full of dread.
A significant percentage - perhaps - also settles in somewhere in-between those well-publicized extremes.
The victors call for unity, as victors tend to do.
Others wonder where that unity was when “45” prevailed and they were the victors.
The question of unity - what that really means, and what is reasonable to expect when invoking that call, looms as a crucial question with no easy answers.
Fittingly, the first dictionary entry I glimpsed defined it using a political example:
“U·ni·ty | ˈyo͞onədē: The state of being united or joined as a whole: ‘European unity; their leaders called for unity between opposing factions.’”
“Unity between opposing factions.”
If that isn’t one of America’s most pressing problems, I don’t know what is.
Given our apparent current level of division, which seems to be approaching that of the Civil War era, it’s valid to question whether that’s still achievable to any meaningful degree.
As was evidenced by deadly riots and numerous other conflicts in recent months, the cost of extreme disunity is high in the short term, and potentially much higher in the long term.
In an 1838 speech, Abraham Lincoln spoke to the belief that, for America to collapse, it would have to be an inside job:
“At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected?,” asked Honest Abe. “I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”
And some 20+ years after he said that, it very nearly came true - on his watch.
I tend to agree with “16”’s warning, with the caveat that America’s numerous sworn external enemies around the globe are watching closely for widening cracks in a national unity which for so many years gave us at least the appearance of invulnerability. They are anxious to widen those cracks by any means available to them - and eventually to step right through them.
That’s the sort of realistic threat which should provoke greater national unity.
However, despite that clear and present danger, it’s hard to see that happening any time soon, isn’t it?
The main obstacle to functional unity seems to be competing ideologies which have never been more disparate than they are right now.
The popular counter to that is presenting ‘tolerance’ as a high and mandatory virtue.
However, finding an acceptable marriage between ‘tolerance’ and compromising one’s closely-held core beliefs is elusive at best, and often impossible.
While I am in the group resigned to our nation now drifting in what I feel is an unwise direction, I take much greater solace in God’s sovereignty:
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” - Colossians 1:16. That ultimate reality allows me to live with hope and to sleep well.
For me personally, I will genuinely pray for the new regime in the White House and Congress, even though I find myself at odds with many of their stated objectives; pray that they are led to making wise and just decisions that would be good for our nation and acceptable to God, not just convenient to humanity or popular with constituents.
Second only to God & family, I love the nation of my birth. I am not ashamed of her, nor embarrassed by her…and I will pray for her, too - in this, her hour of need.
Revisiting the idea of achieving unity, perhaps collective prayer is the only vehicle that can truly drive us there. In fact, I’m convinced it is our only real hope.
I seriously doubt actual call center employees ever really look this happy...
So I’m some months into my first working experience in the inbound call center world -albeit working from home.
While trying to answer random callers’ questions about obtaining government loans and grants is certainly not a role to which I’ve ever aspired, in our present circumstances, I’m truly thankful for the work, and it can be rewarding on those occasions when I genuinely feel as if I’ve helped someone.
However, I quickly discovered that this gig can be majorly frustrating as well.
Beyond being cursed out by callers, dealing with likely fraudsters, IT issues and the like, it’s actually the rules of the call center world itself that I find the most trying.
The greatest of those frustrations centers on the fact that what I consider trying my best to help people and what those who evaluate us consider a top effort aren’t likely to be the same thing. I certainly understand that they need metrics of some sort, and that perceived efficiency (i.e. the highest possible number of short calls) is chief among those. Where that model seems to fall short, however, is primarily measuring what we do with a counter and a timer. We’re under considerable pressure to complete as many calls as possible, as quickly as possible, and to also make our mandatory after-call notes in less than 60 seconds in order to be available for the next call. While there’s admittedly some necessity to handling calls and post-call work efficiently, it seems to me the number one goal in anything labeled ‘customer service’ should be exactly that - and that’s not something best measured with a stop watch and a calculator.
Actually helping a caller reminds me more of my time as an EMT, where I found that patience and empathy often proved at least as important as vitals and drugs. Something the nature of a government loan is complicated enough for me, even with specialized training. It has to be very daunting indeed for many of the callers with whom I speak. On top of that, we’re at the mercy of: Folks with a poor command of the English language, poor-quality connections (Pro Tip: Calling about an important financial matter from your noisy car on speaker phone is not in your best interests…), ill-prepared callers who spend the first few minutes just fumbling for their application number or other basic information, or callers who seem to be spoiling for a fight right from the word ‘Hello.’ Those are all things that lengthen calls which we can do little or nothing about.
Evaluators do occasionally listen in on calls, and occasionally callers provide their own positive or negative feedback, but the vast majority of the time, it’s just about time on the line, regardless of what actually transpired on any given call.
Nothing to be done about it, really. Nature of the beast. It’s also quite possible that more savvy and experienced call-takers view things differently. I’m just a newbie calling it as I see it so far.
End of rant. Thanks for calling…err, listening.