Why The Cages That Keep Us In Are First Built In Our Own Minds


Sunday, 8.49pm

Sheffield, U.K.

They makes cages in all sizes and shapes, you know. Bank-shaped some of ’em, carpets and all. – Bert in Mary Poppins

For many of us a job started as something we fell into and then became something we started to depend on and then became something that the people around us relied on.

How about bosses?

For some business owners a sense of feeling responsible for their employees is a very real thing – something that affects how they make decisions about who to hire and keep and let go.

For other owners – perhaps not quite so much.

But what about employees? How many are loyal to the business that has put food on the table for the past several years? How many would just walk away for a little bit more?

And how many stay, afraid that they will never make as much somewhere else – afraid that they would not get another job?

We watched Mary Poppins this weekend and Dick Van Dyke as Bert said to the Banks children that the person he felt sorry for was their father – caged in that cold, heartless bank where he worked.

And, for many of us, has the modern world indeed become one of cages?

The typical day for someone working in an office is effectively a process of prisoner transfer – from vehicle to building and back again.

You might be your own prison office but the results are much the same.

You’re dragged away from your warm cosy space and transported somewhere else at a time decided by others.

There’s something vaguely uncomfortable about seeing things like that. Aren’t you there of your own free will?

You signed a contract – agreed to the corporation’s terms.

You are there in the way that you are because you chose to be.

Isn’t that right?

I’m not sure. I think the conditioning starts early.

Some people suggest it all started with the invention of modern armies that needed well trained recruits – a structure that was equally useful to create well-trained recruits for businesses.

So, is education really all about equipping people to fill jobs? To fit into the openings available out there?

By the time you emerge, blinking, out of school and university in your twenties what most of us have learned is that we need to look for a job.

It takes ten to twenty years to get good at something.

Some of us do – we get good enough to perhaps start our own businesses, create new industries.

Although that can be a whole new learning experience as many of us have never run a business before.

Others reach a plateau and watch with increasing concern as other younger, cheaper, better trained recruits look hungrily at their jobs.

So, what does all this boil down to?

Well, if you were in prison for ten years, what would you do every day?

Me – I’d read and exercise – preparing for the day when I’d get out.

I’d hope that I’d know enough and have enough health to be able to start a second life.

At the start of a working life maybe the next ten years is just a sentence you have to serve to get skills that someone else values enough to pay for.

If you haven’t got those skills then freedom is likely to be cold and miserable.

If you’re in a cage – so be it.

After that you might think about opening the door – it’s been unlocked all this time waiting for you to decide when to walk through.

The question is are you brave enough after all this time?


Karthik Suresh

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