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Polishing Stars

The first time I walked on Hollywood Blvd. I saw a man with no legs polishing the stars with his hands.

He had a bucket and a cloth and would use his hands to move from star to star. With tattered clothing, unshaven face, long grey hair, and beard he looked homeless and sad. I could only wonder if he was getting paid for such a miserable job.

What a bizarre contrast between our idols and our untouchables.

Maybe the man wasn’t that miserable and was grateful for the opportunity just to get that close to the wealthy and famous entertainers from yesterday and today. Maybe this task gave him joy. If so, his condition and demeanor sure didn’t show it.

What does work mean and what kinds of values does our work create or support? Some of us may only be polishing the icons of the gods in our industries. The question is if that kind of work truly creates happiness. Happiness might depend on the source of the values we think are the most important to invest our time and energy. We either can create happiness for ourselves and others in our work or become glorified shoe-shiners inches from being kicked in the face by unsatisfied bosses.

Those of us fortunate to work 40 or more hours a week in an economy of high unemployment still have to address the question of who and what we serve. Do we settle for polishing the stars of bootlicking and idolizing the gods of our industry just to get to the top and become gods ourselves? Or can we create a set of values that contribute to the happiness of those who can benefit from the work we do?

About Andrew Tatusko

Secularization, critical pedagogy, sometimes agnostic, politics, and a ton of running. Penn State is definitely not responsible for what I say.

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