Tuesday, June 19, 2007
disneytunnels and fig leaves, part 2
and then there's the other side of the tunnel system, the perfection on the surface of a Magic Kingdom. any magic kingdom in which all is well and we don't have to think much about how it happens. how does it happen? as i said in part 1, there are underground tunnels, so that no one has to see a garbage cart or a sewage crew (as in, me, sunday night) or anything out of place. it's nice. seriously. no, seriously. it's beautiful.
i have worked as a janitor. i worked on an electrical crew on a refinery ship. i was kitchen help in a bar-b-que place. i mowed yards. i was a church janitor for two summers. i worked in a lumberyard for two summers. i worked at a grain elevator. i worked as a cook in a sandwich shop. i ran errands for a tv station. i have sweated and cussed and been hot and very dirty. i have sat drinking beer drenched and near heat exhaustion at the end of a 12-hour day in the texas sun. i know what it is to make minimum wage.
but i was always like matt damon in "good will hunting," a janitor at M.I.T. who knew as soon as he was ready, all he had to do was engage his amazing brain and creativity, and he didn't have to do that job anymore. i knew i was on my way to being not someone in the tunnels under disneyworld but in the offices creating things for disneyworld, collegeworld, businessworld, churchworld, americaworld, whatever. and now i am that. i'm up in the show.
but some people won't ever get out of the tunnels. that's their lot. as alice walker says in her amazing short story "everyday use," that is "their portion."
but we don't have to look at them. those people who work the tunnels under america and keep it pretty for us as we enjoy it, and trade our lives and money for its pleasures. they live in a different part of town. they are brown or black. they don't have the education we have. they live in dangerous places. they speak different languages, different dialects. if their houses are too small, we feel sorry for them - or we blame them, for not having more initiative. after all, this is america, the land of opportunity; anyone who wants to be successful can be.
they wash our dishes, mow our yards, take out our trash, pick our strawberries. and we let it work that way, because we don't have to know them personally. if we did, we'd be appalled. if we lived where they live, in the tunnels under americaworld ...
and we resent them for being angry. "why are black people so militant?"
and we resent them for being poor. "they are such a drain on the economy and the school systems."
but what we really do is fear them ... because ... we don't want to look down into the tunnels under our magic kingdom and see the trash and shit and food scraps we leave behind and make someone else take care of for us. we have the money; we pay for our debris to go away.
jesus loved the poor - because no one else did. because they are open to god's love and grace.
and because he was poor, among the poorest class of people in his culture. he lived in the tunnels.