Compartmentalization is a military concept.
It’s part of a design intended to keep the hierarchy in place, from top brass down to enlisted private. The lowest in rank reports to his/her next in rank, and ONLY to that officer; said officer in turn reports up the ladder, one rung at a time, until orders come down from the top and the whole process is reversed. Going above one’s immediate superior is considered “breaking rank” and anybody who breaks rank is either disciplined or expelled.
Now a retired public school educator, born female at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation, I was not privy to how, when, or why this concept for both establishing, securing, and maintaining control was adopted by other institutions; I only know that, in my adult lifetime, compartmentalized structure and its related thought processes have become ubiquitous.
Unfortunately, society as a whole and, more critical, its related interactive behaviors neither require nor operate successfully within such a structure. Reason? The right hand can never know what the left hand is doing. The “only told what you need to know” plan creates absolutely zero option for lateral movement, resulting in comprehension deficit, protracted delays in information relay, communication breakdown, and system failure.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a glaring example. When the top brass acted compartmentally, and those lateral in rank were not uniformly informed, the result was chaos. From dispensing accurate information about the virus’ nature and behavior to managing testing design and distribution, those at all subject levels – from Governors to Mayors to local public health authorities – were swimming in a sea of conflicting, contradicting data and panicked, reactive supposition, waving wildly to one another from across the moat. And, where did that leave the rest of us, still?
Oh; and, let’s not forget how closely related compartmentalization is to its cousin, social segregation. All action and reaction follows a hierarchy not only of power, but of importance; as such, those “at the top” call the shots, and those in middle management become glorified pawns of the system handed down therefrom. Even when minorities reach middle level authority, they are still subject to the mentality – with its subliminal, similarity bias and vested preferences – of the mind at the head of that table.
Now, we have a form of compartmentalization at play with regard to our upcoming Presidential election. Who decides whether we can vote by mail? Who determines whether mail in ballots will be properly distributed, received, or processed? I took a small social media poll this morning, of those I know personally, and the confused data poured in. Twenty one individuals responded; among these, seven households had received duplicate application forms, and the rest weren’t clear on how such ballots were obtained, several insisting that PA wouldn’t receive theirs until September 14th. Mail in ballot applications can be found online, yet many were unaware and one woman recounted the following, which I quote:
“I requested my mail in vote request on line for the primary, and never received it. I contacted the person who advised me; she [ confirmed that she ] received the application, and told me I could come down to the courthouse and get it?? Now I have received an email confirmation for a mail-in ballot. Will I really receive it? I guess I will have to wait and see. “
But, we can’t afford to sit around and wait. Compartmentalization may work for the military; but, among civilians in crisis, it is a recipe for confusion, riddled with blind spots, rife with the potential for panic and pandemonium. As we approach this critical election season, preserving individual access to the voting ballot had better set fire to that rigid, tyrannical system before democracy as we thought we knew it becomes a casualty of war.
© 8/22/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Hyperbole? All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material. Permission to reprint in part or whole granted upon written request. firstname.lastname@example.org