A conflict of interest as defined by Google: a situation in which the concerns or aims of two different parties are incompatible.
I am having a conflict of interest, but it doesn’t involve two parties. It involves two sides of me. I am essentially at war with myself. One party in this conflict is my need to survive and pay my bills. My desire for survival is strong and I don’t want to be hungry, so this side of me has some compelling arguments.
The other side is my free spirit. The one that doesn’t want to be tied down. This is the side that wants the freedom to do what I want, when I want, and where I want. This spirit does not want anything to do with the corporate slave camps again. It has been reminding me of all the dehumanizing and confining issues involved with being a slave.
Another objection is how much life I’ve miss out on because I have to go to work. If I have a time clock to punch, I tend to avoid meeting with my friends until days when I don’t. Punching-in cuts short time I could spend spreading my special brand of nuttiness. Many of my significant encounters happened because I wasn’t confined by a time clock. Instead of rushed visits, I can spend hours getting to know and understand people.
The problem is, unless I’m able to find someone to support my sorry butt or figure out a way to make it on my own, I need money to survive. So I am having to face the impossible issue of which slave owner do I want to commit to so I can make money? At this time, the free spirit is winning, so my answer is none. I don’t want to be someone else’s slave to abuse at will, but if I commit to that choice, I actually commit to another type of confinement.
This other prison doesn’t have cubicles, time clocks, or corporate overlords, but it is just as abhorrent to my free spirit. Poverty is confining in it’s own right. It limits my mobility and adds a different stress to my life. I want the freedom to do a spontaneous lunch date like I did today, but I also want to be able to pay for it. I want to be able to treat others, to give gifts of not only my time, but tokens of affection as well. I also want to take care of the bills that will hound me until the day I die if I don’t.
So right now I have a conflict waging inside me. Do I keep listening to the free spirit, or do I take up the chains of bondage and fasten them to my own neck?
Clearly my free spirit side is winning. The fact that I still see it as bondage tells me what I “should do” is still not something I will do, but let’s look at it from the other side of the equation. For the sacrifice of a few hours a week, I gain the ability to get out from under my debts. Sacrificing my time in exchange for a paycheck would allow me to follow my dream of getting to Washington state. Giving up my ability to do spontaneous lunches would allow me to pay for those lunches.
Did you see what I did there? I didn’t actually see the other side of the equation. “Sacrificing” and “giving up” are not the other side of the argument and the free spirit is still dominating the issue. Persistent little bugger.
The real issue isn’t my need for freedom though. The real issue is what kind of job is worth my sacrificing some of that freedom? I don’t want to sacrifice my time on the alter of corporate greed. I want a job that will allow me to feel like I am accomplishing good in the world. Those jobs are far apart and most of them want a donation of time and don’t pay.
In all my job searches through the years, I’ve only ever seen one job that would give me what I want while at the same time allowing me to do good. That was the job that made me resurrect my Washington dream in the first place.
That job had all my major criteria:
Helping save lives
Being a positive change
Since I didn’t get that job and I need one that is local, I have been looking into the non-profit realm. I’ve worked with the Salvation Army on several disasters and was impressed with the organization. They are the only organization I would support financially and frankly, the Christmas season is upon us. For the same pay, I can choose to be a security guard working for some corporate overlord protecting someone else’s slave camp, or I can help others while I help myself.
That is something I consider worthy of my sacrifice. I don’t have to compromise my belief system to survive and that does away with my conflict. Both parties are happy.
How many times have you sacrificed your personal beliefs in order to survive? Let me know what your conflict of interests were in the comments below.