Thursday, March 02, 2006

March 2 - The "Feast Day of Subsidiarity"

Before everyone gets concerned that I have forgotten it is Lent - this is not an official designation. Yes, I know it is Lent. No, you did NOT miss an important announcement from the Vatican.

But for me, while I live, I will always consider this day as the "feast day" of Subsidiarity. For on Thursday, March 2, 2000, the machinery at the place-where-I-used-to-work went "live" and began officially running.

What was that machinery? Well, as much as it may horrify you to learn, it had to do with playing commercials on cable TV.

But there was a computer called HOME (there's no place like it) and on that computer was the heart of the machinery - a program called PUMP (hee hee, love these puns!) and the innermost part of that program contained a file called "subsid.c" - for it performed the complex task of controlling spot delivery to the Field - the task that everyone at the company knew was called "subsidiarity".

That file of "C" programming started with a very unusual quote. Good programming practice (and indeed justice!) suggests that when one uses ideas invented by others, one gives that person credit and acknowledgement in the comments...

The principle of subsidiarity:

A situation is always dealt with at the lowest possible level.

"Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good."

John Paul II: Centesimus Annus, 48

excerpted from a version of PUMP dated January 14, 2000

The machinery ran - and ran well - for just over 2000 days, round the clock. Because of this, a lot more people know about "thirteenth century metaphysics" which (as GKC noted in CW1:46) we resorted to, "inspired by the general hope of getting something done." And they know about subsidiarity too.

And, since today, six years later, it is again Thursday, I express my thanks to all those who worked hard to implement and maintain the amazing achievement we accomplished.

Yes, the world changed since then... but the principles have not.


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