Thursday, February 15, 2007

I have a dream

Almost in the words of MLK:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our department.

Five score months ago, a greatly hated developer, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, left for Sweden. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of wage slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred releases later, the programmer still is not free. One hundred releases later, the life of the programmer is still sadly crippled by the manacles of business requirements and the chains of process. One hundred releases later, the programmer lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the programmer is still languished in the corners of valuation society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our company's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Mission Statement and the Declaration of Coding Standards, they were signing a promissory note to which every programmer was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all coders, yes, systems as well as developers, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that Valex has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of nature are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, Valex has given the programmers a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this company. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind Valex of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of refactoring. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of business requirements to the sunlit path of stable code. Now is the time to lift our company from the quicksands of heavy regression to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the company to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the programmer's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 2007 is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the programmer needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the company returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in Valex until the programmer is granted his svn commit rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our company until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to willful disregard of coding standards. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the programmer community must not lead us to a distrust of all business people, for many of our business brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of time management and planning, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the programmer is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of deadline brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of development, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities on the company credit card. *We cannot be satisfied as long as the programmer's basic mobility is from a smaller development box to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: "For Managers Only."* We cannot be satisfied as long as a Programmer in a meeting cannot vote and a programmer in a triage meeting believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cubicles. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom -- left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of deadline brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to your cubicle, go back to your dual monitors, go back to your mouse, go back to your office space, go back to your cess pool, go back to the chaos and hell of our IT department, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the Valex dream.

I have a dream that one day this department will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all tickets are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red bits of Gantt Charts, the sons of former coders and the sons of former managers will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of usual chaos, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little worksheets will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the urgency of their need but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Compliance, with its vicious checks, with its manager having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Compliance little progress reports and mortgagee in possession reports will be able to join hands with residential shortforms and check valuations as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to work with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our department into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:


My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if IT is to be a great department, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of typing.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of admin.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of
the sydney office.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped office in Tassie.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of Accounts.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Client Services.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of the Perth office.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of M & H.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, managers and coders, systems and developers, business and IT, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old programmer spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

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