The value of public service

“You give me the middle finger” we read in a box published in the press. The sentence continues in finer characters “Is that how you say thank you to me? » It is believed, wrongly, that it is an advertisement.

Who speaks to us like this? The employee wearing the letters DIR on his work clothes and holding a traffic cone? He has a sweet, sad look. In the background, we see a vehicle of the type that we are used to seeing on the highway. The meaning of the acronym DIR is not given anywhere. The message denounces our ingratitude towards the agents of the Interdepartmental Directorate of Roads whose work ensures our safety.

Public officials

Below, we read: “Respect their work, respect them”. The injunction is no longer formulated here in the first person. After a first attempt at ventriloquism, someone seems to have regained the use of speech. There is indeed a discreet logo of the French Republic, at the top left of the box. The agents of the DIR are therefore designated by the government in the third person. As one speaks of things or people distinct from oneself. And another distinction is necessarily established between them and we. As if these public officials were of a nature distinct from wethe recipients lectured by the message.

Curious shimmer. the government speaks to us, through the mouth of an anonymous agent, like a kind of Republican shrew speaking to her children. “Is that how you say thank you to me?” » The tone is guilt-ridden, childish. Subsequently, the same government commands our respect for the imperative. And between the two, there is mention of the law: “Threatening state agents, intimidating them or harming their physical integrity is punishable by three years in prison and a fine of €45,000. » This is the only relevant reminder since the law applies to everyone. And yet, a third line sticks unduly to the reminder of the law, since it is only information in an advertising tone: “DIR agents intervene on the road every day for your safety. » And here we are again back to the distinction between them and we. As if what public officials were working on didn’t concern them as well.

Doing one’s duty

Do we have to be grateful to the public servants who do their job? Certainly, and all the more so when they accomplish it in dangerous conditions, their sacrifice sometimes going beyond their duty. During the pandemic, we expressed our gratitude to those who continued to carry their load while most of us remained confined. After each attack, flowers were offered to the usually unloved police officers.

Every week, six DIR vehicles are hit on the roads. The number of officers injured or killed is appalling. In French, the word recognition refers to both gratitude and awareness. Recognizing the work of State agents would be useful for our collective awareness. But how can one demand gratitude from the public without risking alienating, down to the finger of honor, the people who serve it? The agents of the State, serving a nation of which they form part, are remunerated by all the citizens. Can you imagine a message calling on them to thank the taxpayers? It would be a terrible misinterpretation of the nature of the relationships that unite us.

The disinterestedness, loyalty and integrity of those who have chosen to serve the general interest are enough to inspire everyone’s respect. Is it quite certain that making ourselves feel guilty by demanding our gratitude, and in such a violently vulgar way, is the best way to make us recognize the value of public service?

The value of public service