Ask the Guy Who Sweeps the Floor

By | September 4, 2015 | 0 Comments


Some time ago, my wife and I went to the mall. While passing a news rack, I noticed a magazine. The cover affected me so much that I remarked, “That may be the most immoral magazine cover I ever saw.”
My wife thought I was referring to an X-rated magazine, but it was worse. The cover showed two teenage girls who looked enough alike that they might have been sisters. But large print announced, “Suicide Mission.”
The story was of yet another Middle East bombing. One of the girls was a multiple murderer; the other was one of her victims. What angered me was the equating of criminal and victim, as well as the use of the term “suicide mission” rather than “murder mission.”
A man standing nearby intruded by declaring loudly, “Nobody’s innocent over there.” I looked over and saw a well-dressed professional, perhaps an attorney or entertainment executive going to lunch.
I asked him, “Do you really believe a teenage girl deserved to be blown up?”
He replied sternly, “They stole the land.” Clearly, “they” were “the Jews.”
So I retorted, even more sternly, “Keep away from me − you must think I deserve to be killed, too.” He looked blank, and I explained, “I stole land from the Indians and the Mexicans, didn’t I? We’re in Los Angeles, aren’t we?” Of course, if I deserved to be killed for this reason, so did he.
The man walked away, muttering to himself. The clerk looked worried, and a passerby looked amused, but my wife was annoyed with me. “Why not get into a political discussion with the guy who sweeps the floor?” she asked.
But was my wife correct? Would I have had a more intelligent discussion with the guy who sweeps the floor?
In a word, yes. They guy who sweeps the floor probably didn’t finish high school, or even begin it. He never went to college, as had my opponent. He probably got his values from his foreign-born parents and his church.
The guy who sweeps the floor might, or might not, approve of our actions in the Middle East, assuming he had any opinion on the subject. But I’ll bet serious money that he could distinguish murderer from victim.
Almost certainly, he could answer without hesitation that it was wrong to deliberately murder innocent civilians, especially women and children. Probably he would describe murder by using the word “sin,” a word my well-educated opponent would not think of using to describe anything at all.
The guy who sweeps the floor never had the “benefit” of higher education. He was never taught that all ideas and all cultures are equal. He was never taught not to be “judgmental.” His moral compass had never been “adjusted” by professors who taught that north is south.
His moral compass still points north. He was given his moral compass by his parents, who knew their job was to be their kids’ parents, not just their friends. He was given his moral compass by clergy, who knew their job was to teach their parishioners how to do good, not just how to feel good.
The guy who sweeps the floor never studied Nietzsche, so he knows nothing about “supermen” or the “death of God.” To him, Superman is the one in the red cape, not the elitist ancestor of Nazism who believed he should rule “inferior” people, or even get rid of them. To the guy who sweeps the floor, Superman fights for “truth, justice, and the American way.” His God is alive and well, thank you. He is reminded of this most Sundays, when his wife drags him to church – probably Catholic or, increasingly, Evangelical.
The guy who sweeps the floor, or his parents, probably came from Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America. He knows as well as I do the history of the Southwest. But he has not the slightest desire to train his young children to become human bombs because Americans “stole the land.” He would consider it a horrible crime. Blowing to pieces people in shopping malls never once entered his mind.
The guy who sweeps the floor is poor and owns no property, but he is by no means “hopeless,” as the bombers are said to be. On the contrary, he hopes to better the condition of his children by working hard in a free and multiethnic country. To him, using children as improvised explosive devices would be an unthinkable form of child abuse.
The guy who sweeps the floor did not have his heart filled with racist hatred by political and religious “leaders.” He may have suffered discrimination or insults because of his accent or birthplace, but he never – not once − thought of using this as an excuse for mass murder.
The guy who sweeps the floor watched Western movies as a child. He learned that doing what is right is often unpopular and sometimes dangerous. The guy who sweeps the floor saw the sheriff ride out to face the outlaws, even if he has to do it alone. So he would be unimpressed if you informed him that the European Union and the United Nations opposed us, and America had to act alone. He wouldn’t be at all surprised. That many people were against us wouldn’t bother him in the least.
The guy who sweeps the floor was taught that when Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from the mountain, many people weren’t overjoyed. And when he goes to church, he has only to look up at the Crucifix to be reminded of what happened to Jesus. He knows that popularity is hardly a guarantee of being right − indeed, it is more likely to indicate the opposite.
The guy who sweeps the floor would probably have given me a more intelligent, more rational, more humane, less angry, and less embittered discussion of the world situation. No, he wouldn’t be able to use big words, but he would be able to think clearly about good and evil. And surely he would recognize that good and evil exist – which probably is more than my university-educated opponent knows.
Was I right to have been angry about the magazine cover? Is the equating of murderer and victim something to get angry about? Is excusing mass murder something to be upset about?
You tell me. But if you have difficulty answering these questions, you might try asking the guy who sweeps the floor. He wears work clothes, not Armani suits; and scuffed boots, not Gucci loafers – because he isn’t a loafer. He has calluses on his hands from honest work, not on his rear end from sitting behind a desk and shuffling papers.
He doesn’t sit in a corporate office and plan how to lay off workers and import more shoddy goods made by slave labor in China. He doesn’t sit in a legal office and help his clients break contracts or beat criminal charges. He doesn’t sit in an entertainment office and produce anti-American, anti-Christian films laced with superfluous sex, gratuitous violence, and needless cursing.
The guy who sweeps the floor reduces the amount of dirt in the world – he doesn’t increase it.
On Labor Day, and every day, let us honor the men and women who sweep our floors, clean our toilets, unstop our drains, repair our cars, deliver our food, and generally keep things running. It is they, much more than the people in suits, who make civilization possible.
And if you stop to talk to them, they are likely to give you a clearer moral picture of current events than the self-anointed “intellectuals” who are unable to grasp the difference between murderer and victim.
suicide mission

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