Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Philosopher Kings

Today I screened the documentary The Philosopher Kings.

How many of us have ever felt invisible? And if so, how often?

The folks featured in this film represent one of the most invisible professions in our society—custodians. Sure, we all realize there's someone responsible for cleaning every office or establishment we visit, but they're usually around after we've all gone home and disappear before we return. Seldom do we know them by name.

The janitors here all have something in common: they work at colleges or universities. They also share something else: a mutual love for their work.

What many would consider to be menial, miserable labor, these folks feel is a somewhat pleasant, honest way to make a living. One female subject even goes so far as to say "I like cleaning."

That's not to say they don't have bad days or resent the fact that some feel they didn't have a choice in their selection of profession (yes, by the way, they did). But for the most part, these are happy, productive, successful professionals.

What's refreshing about the group shown here is that they are both male and female, and represent a wide variety of cultures. All are articulate, well-spoken individuals who seem to have overcome major obstacles in their life (one lost a parent as a child; another lost a limb in a car crash, etc.) and arrived at a place of peace in their current situation.

Coming from a blue collar family myself, I have a great respect for how hard manual labor can be. I've seen the physical and mental exhaustion after a difficult day, and realize the toll it takes on one's body and mind.

If only the veil were more obviously lifted so that everyone could see what life is like for custodians—and every other profession that entails physically serving others—I'm certain they would be held in higher regard and appreciated appropriately for what they do.

To purchase a DVD of
The Philosopher Kings, click here.

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