Thursday, October 17, 2013

Walking with dogs

After a long hiatus, I am back to share my perspective of Fall weather in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and whatever else has come to mind. I am a dog-walker and we walk through our neighborhood a few times a week, varying our route at times to see different streets, yards, and colors. Fall being a very colorful time of year, along with the other seasons, but with different dominating colors. What's not to like about crimson, bright yellows and oranges, greens and browns, and their variegated cousins? I have found that color helps me to cope with life's challenges so I try to look for, and appreciate it everywhere. 

Another situation springs to mind when thinking about my walks with our very active, and sometimes maniacal dogs, and that is the workers that I see while I am out walking. As most of us know, many of the developments I walk through are those built by one contractor, and clustered into covenanted sections of streets. The general landscaping in these developments are maintained commercially, and they keep the parking strips and common areas mowed, pruned, and cleaned up. Many, if not most, of the companies that maintain these developments are staffed by people who are from ethnic backgrounds that are different from my own. Why do I mention this? Or, why is it noteworthy? It is because I make a habit of nodding or saying "Good Morning" to anyone I meet on my walks. If I am passing another walker, I can usually speak my greeting. If someone is across the street and passing me, I try to make eye-contact, and at least nod and smile. When I pass the workers who are maintaining the landscaping, I am almost never able to catch an eye. I keep trying to establish eye-contact while we are passing, but in general to no avail. Again why is this noteworthy? I suspect that it is because these are people who feel subjugated into a lower class that does not get acknowledged. As a reader of historical fiction, I have gained the impression that 'servants' or 'domestic workers' are to be neither seen or heard when encountered. It seems to me that we have continued this practice with anyone who works in a service capacity. I see  this as an excellent example marginalization; it is not new. 

Economically, the service sector is a major employer today, and will represent more and more companies and jobs going forward. Having worked in the service sector myself for many years, I know first-hand how people seem to look through you when encountered. It is not a comfortable experience. Why is it easier to ignore our fellow humans than to acknowledge them? It is a sad and scary thought that we humans have not evolved beyond this type of 'us' and 'them' such that everyone who is human is 'us', and worthy of our greetings and acknowledgement. I suspect that until we do evolve past marginalization of our own species, war and conflict will dominate the human experience. 

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