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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr. - If a man is called to be a street sweeper

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the United States, my experience is that most people have an idea of what type of work makes a "good" job. Lawyer, doctor, and executive are good jobs. Writer, painter, and sculptor may be considered good jobs. Money and "prestige" make a job "good." Sweeping streets is NOT a good job, and those who take such jobs appear to consider them loathsome and shameful.

In contrast, I had a very different experience on my trip to New Zealand. People I met there actually were proud of their jobs - whatever they were. One man proudly told me that he was "the best bus boy in Christchurch." He was a very pleasant and well spoken man in his fifties who had been a clearing tables for 30 years. He was interested in Americans, and contrasted his happy life with the stories of stress he heard from the tourists whose tables he bussed.

7 comments:

  1. I fully agree with Martin Luther King, but the problem is the society around us. Its this society which creates definitions of success and cool jobs. Its a well known fact that society respects those who have more money in their bank accounts, society does not respect a poor human who has lot of good thoughts in his heart.

    ReplyDelete
  2. There is certainly peer pressure to conform to the ideals of those in our community. However, I believe that it is worth the effort to say NO to the implied demands of society, and to choose whatever path brings each of us the greatest sense of accomplishment and happiness.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I believe anyone can set an example and society will follow in time. It only takes one person to change. It wont happen over night but then all good things take time,

    ReplyDelete
  4. There's a saying by an unkown writer that goes
    like this:
    "It aint what you do,
    it's the WAY you hacha do it!"

    And this saying pertains to ANYTHING you do,
    not just a job for money. Seesee

    ReplyDelete
  5. This reminds me of my husband. He is a custodian and cleans buildings. He said some of his co-workers & the public treat him like the dirt he cleans up. He said they also ignore hm like he is not there. I said keeping a building sparkling clean and picking up all the tons of garbage is an important job. If he didn't do it, the place would be a mess and smell. All jobs have importance and honor. The next time you see a custodian or janitor, smile and just say hello and say the place looks clean. I guarantee, you will "make his day" by saying that !

    ReplyDelete
  6. We are all stewards of what we are given. It is not ours, but we are merely chosen to take care of it for awhile. This goes for money and possessions, but also for gifts and talents. When asked, "What do you do?" Instead of saying - I'm a carpenter or I'm a farmer, we should say, "I am responsible for ..." This is a big step towards accepting what we have been called to do.

    This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. It hangs in my office as a reminder to be thankful for whatever God calls me to do.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a beautiful quote...and what Anonymous said above rings so true. I'm a first generation college student. My dad is a mechanic and blue-collar worker. As I've grown older, I'm so thankful for what he does and for how well he has done it. I laugh when I think that my rich friends' fathers who are lawyers or doctors...who do they cry out for when they have a car problem?....My dad :)

    ReplyDelete

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