Saturday, August 01, 2009

I am a professional

A scene from "Man on Fire"

Kidnapper to Denzel: I am a professional
Denzel: You know, everybody keeps telling the same thing, and I am sick of hearing that.

What the kidnapper was implying was that he was a small part in the big kidnapping incident and he just played his part as a professional. Some times, this dividing line works, and sometimes it doesn't.

Consider:
A cab driver picks up a hitman and drops him at his destination (cabbie doesn't know).
Most will agree it's ok.

A cab driver picks up a hitman and drops him at his destination (cabbie knows he is on an assignment).
Technically, the cabbie is just doing his job (of dropping a passenger at his target place).

I am guessing the parties will be divided here. There is no clear answer. Will professionalism work here? Is there a demarcating line where the person is just doing his/her job versus contributing to a situation which no one wants to exist in general?

The gun manufacturers are just manufacturing guns. It's (just) an industry. But is there a link between them and the number of murders that happen through guns? What about bombs?

There truth is, "I am a professional" is not a valid answer. However, in differing contexts, where we draw a line between ok/not-ok will vary. Not just by the context, but by person as well.

Extrapolating this - what about entire industries that behave "professionally"? For example, consider an IT organization that develops programs or provides IT services for a company that manufactures guns.

No easy answers - but definitely needs enough thought and clarity!

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