Tag Archives: compartmentalization


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. littlebarefeet@msn.com


Philip Tryon.


We may never know, Jim said.

I’m sure Philip wouldn’t have known, either, when he was four. Back then, in 1981, he was busy at the computer writing a story and, since the machine had managed to erase the whole thing, he had to stay right there until he could rewrite every word.

Then again, when he was six, at the piano, picking out every song he’d heard, so many tunes, the ones that seemed simple and the ones that sounded complicated, all of them.  Hunched intently over the piano keys, he’d not have had even a moment to know anything else, for sure.

Nor would any other considerations have crossed his mind as he stood in the middle of the bass section, on the Warner stage, sending forth with his choirmates the Brahms Requiem accompanied by the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra. In the midst of singing a mass for the dead, Philip was way too alive to know anything at all about what could never be known by anybody else.

In fact, Philip was extremely alive. Word was he had been born with a raw intelligence far superior to any other in his realm. His mind being his most interesting companion, he was easily engrossed for hours, days, weeks, and months, never once being distracted by any notion of time passing. By the time he was seven, he likely knew that time did not pass, that both space and time were on a continuum and that light was both a particle and a wave.

In truth, that which could never be known had long escaped his concern. All Philip knew was that whatever could be known reached his understanding with effortless ease, only to be quickly sorted, catalogued, and compartmentalized ad infinitum, all to be cross referenced later when integrated thought was required to feed theoretical proposition.

It was in just such pursuit that Philip apprehended the Bible. Having read every other book in his household, likely twice within any twenty four hour period, this one kept him fascinated longer than the entire Baroque and Classical repertoire combined. Having been taught to take this holy book with very great and sober respect, his allegiance to its prophets, psalms, proverbs and letters of admonishment was total; he’d memorized essentially the entire King James canon before even the most earnest had finished the study of one gospel.

Most could hardly grasp what Philip could know, about anything. One thing is certain: nobody knew Philip like Philip did.

All anybody did know was that the man called by his name showed up for family get togethers, eager and smiling, bringing homemade cookies and board games, and then to work the next day, still smiling, ready to greet his loyal customers at the grocery check out with pointed acknowledgement of their families by each of their names and often in the language of their birth, regardless from which remote country they had come. Those who might have been inclined to observe would have seen a tall, slender, fair skinned gentleman, applying to tasks at hand his devoted energy until the last chicken had been bleached and packaged and the store had closed for the day. Still others might have seen him enter his solitary room at home, perhaps with more than one book under his arm, only to disappear into the vast depths of the comprehensive universe of his own company for the remainder of the evening.

Philosophers have been known to declare that one can never truly know anything but oneself, to which one should then be true.

Jim was likely right about one thing. We would never know what Philip finally knew.

Never know why. Why Philip jumped. Why he jumped to his death, from the bridge at Wintergreen Gorge, after spending weeks shredding paper in his bedroom, sometime between Saturday night and Sunday when they found him.

But, Philip did.





” Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.”  — I Cor. 13:12



© 1/30/18     Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Respect the living, and the dead.  Thank you.