Friday, September 4, 2009

Human Rights

I don’t delve into politics much. I’m a VERY casual observer. I know what I believe and what I would like, but I am not hardcore for anything. I think it’s every American’s right to believe what they want. Period.

HOWEVER, I have encountered an ugly situation. Where do personal rights of one overshadow the personal rights of another? We are taking common sense out of the equation… what is better for MOST instead of FEW, etc. I’m talking about black and white. Yes and No.

In a group setting, when the group as a whole is trying to keep a common group area clean with antibacterial wipes and cleaners to try to stop the spread of serious illness to the best of our limited abilty, what does one do when a group member claims a ‘chemical sensitivity’ and doesn’t want anything with an odor used near her…..or anywhere she frequents?

Do her rights as a sensitive individual get trounced on, or does the majority of us lose our battle to try to not spread illness? This endeavor is to try to do our human best to keep flu germs at bay, and to try to protect us as a whole. This is a limited setting. We are all going to frequent other places where germs may be rampant. But in this one limited situation, we were given a directive from an administrative individual to try to do our very best in keeping common areas clean. Wiped…sprayed….disinfected. I think this is smart. It’s proactive, and even if it fails in the long run, the empowered feeling that a group can get from trying to be in control is important too. Besides, cleaning stuff isn’t such a bad thing.

Yet, one person is crying foul that her individual rights are being violated and it’s not right.
This goes against my general liberal feeling that people SHOULD be allowed their own preferences. However, in a small setting, this isn’t always possible. Do we go with the majority, and OUR rights and preferences? Or do we go against one’s preferences and rights?

The general feeling is that this is for the good of everyone. There is no malice towards anyone. However, the person in question feels maligned and outcast.

I hate this. What is right? What is proper? How does one confront the fact that no matter what some or one will have their ‘rights’ violated???

Tell me, what do YOU think?

Toodles for now.


MsDarkstar said...

Ok, you go and get you some of this: from here:

Yes, it has an odor. Mostly smells like cloves. But there are very few people who have legitimate allergies to essential oil products.

Aside from the fact that I am a generally pretty healthy person, who is allergic to pretty much every known antibiotic, I employ essential oils when I start to feel run down/like I may be coming down with something. It seems to work pretty damn well for me.

And if there is a question about my credentials, I'm a Natural Health Consultant (yes, I have an actual diploma).

Lynne said...

You do your best to use products with no scent and you tell her that in light of the flu epidemic, you must do everything possible to disinfect the workplace. Majority rules.

stoogepie said...

While I positively agree with Ms. Darkstar, I don't know whether her suggestion will work. Your coworker has pointed out chemical sensitivity for what it actually is: a condition in which odors -- not chemicals -- cause a perception of illness.

The AMA has not recognized chemical sensitivity at all. More than half the people claiming chemical sensitivity have signs of depression and anxiety disorders, and one study found that about 70% have other psychiatric disorders. Meanwhile, in blinded studies, chemically sensitive patients don't react to chemicals but do react to benign substances when they believe it is a chemical. There is absolutely no research -- none, not one even poorly conducted study -- that demonstrates that chemically sensitive folks suffer from anything other than odor sensitivity that results in an entirely psychosomatic perception of illness or, in other words, a plain old psychological disorder. And numerous studies have demonstrated that good old antidepressants -- in other words, treating their psychological condition -- is the most effective treatment for people who claim chemical sensitivities.

Now, your coworker has pretty much stated this: she is not chemically sensitive, but odor sensitive. I think it's perfectly fine for Perfectly Shelly to tell her that you suffer from a psychological condition, too: you are mysophobic. You can't stand germs and you fear illness due to contamination. Tell her about your insane aversion to eating raw things like steak tartare and sushi (which are yum, BTW). If there is going to be a battle of psychological illnesses, I say the one that has a legitimate basis in a concern for sanitation and health should win.

If she doesn't agree, everyone should spit on the floor around her desk and, whenever anyone has to sneeze, they should make sure and do it in her direction. Also, from now on, you should call Wednesday "Wear Too Much Perfume To Work Day." And maybe every other work day, too.

rockygrace said...

You could try asking your co-worker what she uses to clean her own home, and then see if your company can buy the same products for use in the office. Just to keep the peace.