Monday, December 18, 2006

My Hypocritic Oath

I had an unusual experience recently, at least unusual for me. I was called a hypocrite. Well, not personally, but a group I clearly belong to was called hypocritical by its nature. That group consists of people who work for a municipal library but do not live in that library's home city. In my case, I work for the Kankakee Public Library but live in Bourbonnais. In case your not familiar with our county's geography, Kankakee, Bourbonnais, and Bradley, Illinois are conjoined cities, not neighboring, but actually bordering in a way that makes it impossible to tell when you leave one and enter the other without reading the "Welcome to..." signs. Still, each has its own government and its own municipal property taxes, and it's true that the property taxes of the apartment building I live in go to Bourbonnais Public Library District, not to Kankakee Public Library. I have lots of rationalizations for why I am not a hypocrite: my pay is fair compensation for the work I do, so I have the right to spend it any place I want; my commitment to my employer could not be greater even if I lived next door to it; I am in complete compliance with all library and city laws and policies; my elderly mother lives only a mile from me in Bourbonnais. But still it niggles at me. Am I not showing confidence in my library's community? Why did the accusation sting if I didn't feel a bit guilty about it?

Steve Bertrand
Assistant Director
Kankakee Public Library

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve: I share your niggling. I teach in Kankakee and live in Limestone. Some feel teachers should live in the community in which they work. That idea falls in the same category as "you shouldn't put hot pans on the Formica countertop," and "you shouldn't dry jeans in a dryer." It's a long-held tenet unsubstantiated by evidence. Because it persists in the collective conscience, it niggles. My cookie sheets have never burned my Formica, and my dryer has a "jeans" setting. I would not teach any different if I lived on the other side of the line. So let people think what they want, but act on what you know to be right.

December 18, 2006 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Sue (Mohawk College Library, Hamilton, Ontario) said...

Hi Steve
Up here in Canada (which I am sure is similar to the States) we often live in smaller "bedroom communities" and commute to the city to work. I don't think you should feel the least bit guilty about where you live and work. My question would be...In the grand scheme of life and of all the things a person should be protesting, advocating, griping, worrying about in this world - why is where you live on the top of their list of things to comment on? I think it is almost laughable. I bet you are feeling the niggle as anyone else would because your integrity is being attacked. You know the old saying eh? (typical Canadian speech) Let it be water off a duck's back.

December 20, 2006 6:17 AM  

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