Understand “the other”

Are you one of the normal people (pardon my generalization) out there? Do you believe you strive hard to be impartial at all times; you try to engage for the betterment of society; and are happy to be a conscientious individual? If yes, let me pose you a query.


oung_maid_scrubbing_the_floorHow would you like to do physical work? (No, I don’t mean exercise!!! I do mean labor or work). And doing it every day? Would you rather prefer to leave that to the others whom you can afford to pay so that you get to do better things that make you more creative or intelligent? You may not be condescending to those who are employed in this way. In fact, you may be highly respectful of them. However, beneath this facade, there lurks a hypocrisy. You do not think that manual labor is worth it. In other words, you are meant to do higher things than manual labor.

This general contempt for manual labor is pervasive in many cultures and is highly disturbing for me. The roots of such a mindset go back centuries and extend across continents. Humans have always had the tendency for classification – superior, inferior; master, slave; me, you; us, them. In an economically unequal world, the opportune few, have the ability to employ any number of underpaid helpers to accomplish any (all) tasks without moving a finger. While this is certainly a boon and a requirement for many, it is just an indulgent luxury for the rest – those who think it is “beneath” them to wash, cook, fold, dry, drive a nail or hold a brush.

The result? A disparate society turning polarized. Some people are deemed suitable for only this job. There is no respect for indigenous knowledge like farming, weaving, etc. Only the educated are respectable. The “us” and “them” disease consumes society. Gender and racial stereotypes are reinforced. Take a look at this paper (although old, it is remarkably relevant to many cultures of today).  I worry about the loss of sense of community and respect for knowledge. Can centuries of conditioning be overturned?

I beleive every change only needs a beginning. Just a force to nudge the inertia and the wheels will roll to a better place. We could begin the process by understanding the day of “the other”. What better way than to “do what they do”? We could start by doing some of our chores ourselves. It will definitely help us realize that no job is entirely “manual” and involves all the “higher” abilities that we are so proud of. (Also it is highly beneficial physically and mentally). We could respect their indegenous knowledge and learn from them. The relationship of the seeker and the giver is a most powerful one – capable of scaling the tallest walls. Hopefully, with time, we all could grow into an man-cleaning-dirty-dishes-clipartunderstanding, equitable and symbiotic community free from the barrier of “the other”.

What about right now? I suggest you do the dishes for a week.

Image courtesy: Source

Other similar thoughts: Link

Benefits of physical work: Link1Link2


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