From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Commentary: Freedom, Responsibility, and Ergonomics

One year ago today, the deeds of a wicked few caused untold pain and suffering for millions, across borders and cultures, the world over. You didn’t have to be an American citizen to feel the impact of those misdirected planes, piloted by those misguided souls; you only had to be human.

I must admit, however, that once the immediate shock and horror subsided, and my initial tears dried, the senseless acts did not paralyze me with terror. Quite the contrary: anger — intense, rising, anger — is a better way to describe my emotions on the subject. When those men attacked “America,” they attacked me personally, along with each and every other American.

That’s because the philosophical foundation for America rests not on the State, but rather, upon the Individual. It’s not our geographical borders or our often out-of-touch politicians that define us, it’s our individual approaches to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that makes America what it is.

I’m passionate about individual freedom, and the responsibility that goes with it. There is no better way to live, than to live free. Perhaps this philosophy is what drives my passion for ergonomics.

Ergonomics, like a society that celebrates the individual, is a science that’s built around the individual. Ergonomics recognizes that one size doesn’t fit all, and that each person is unique. Ergonomists work to “change the world” to better fit each and every one of us — one product, one job, and one system at a time.

Like those who advocate individual freedom within human social systems, ergonomists are advocates for the individual in an increasingly technical and impersonal world.
Like a method of governing that removes the shackles of slavery, ergonomics removes the barriers to safe, productive, and comfortable systems, work, and leisure.

But freedom doesn’t survive without responsibility, and neither does ergonomics. If you want to live free, then you’d better behave in a responsible manner, and you’d better remain vigilant against those who lurk in the shadows, ready to take that freedom at the next turn. Likewise, if you want ergonomics to reach its potential, then you’d better study and practice responsibly, and always be prepared to counter those who misunderstand or misrepresent the discipline.

There are no shortcuts to real freedom, and there are no shortcuts to sound ergonomics.

If you want ergonomics to succeed, role up your sleeves, take on the responsibility, avoid shortcuts, and get to work. Use intellectual persuasion in your advocacy, not force. People will always resist force, and rightly so.

And if you want to pursue or preserve freedom — and I hope you do — resist the forces of repression at every turn. I can think of no better way to honor the memory of those who were ruthlessly murdered one year ago today, than to prevail in liberating more people from the tyrants that oppress them.

Our hearts go out to those who died in the attacks of September 11, 2001, and to their family, friends, and all the people of the world who understand how wrong those events were. Let’s each shoulder the responsibility and do our part in preventing such things from happening again.