Appalachian Americans don’t converse with Neighbors, we have a Word of Prayer with them. When is the last time you had an actual face to face conversation without any background noise, electronic devices, or multi-tasking? That’s what I thought. You can’t remember. Neither could I until I made a conscious decision to quit the human race and begin my Human Journey. We’re all going through the same thing – it’s called LIFE. Regardless of religion, a Word of Prayer is a religious experience. Active listening in looking someone in the eye, calming your body language, and not multi tasking leads to the religious experience of a Word of Prayer.
A Word of Prayer is something I practice every day now. It can be a challenge to slow down and calm your mind enough to speak politely to the service worker in front of you in a business transaction, but it can also be a religious experience.
A common question in my hometown, Lakeland, Florida is “What’s really happenin’, Heidi?” Generally this question came from people who rode the bus, worked at the Florida Southern College cafeteria with me, and were not the Americans who asked the perfunctory, “How are you?” while quickly passing by and awaiting a response. Stated in terms of the Game of Go, where White has a 6.5 point disadvantage, these Neighbors who asked, “What’s really happenin’, Heidi?” were Black.
Yes, the helping professions including Caregiving are still dominated by women. After all this women’s lib and what not, the more things change the more they stay the same. Le plus ça change, le plus c’est le même chose.
In the words of Booker T. Washington, I cherish no bitterness against this fact. I have always been, and will ever be militantly radically gendered, since like many women, I do not believe gender is a diagnosis. My philosophical differences with the 1970s ERA button wearing feminists remain to numerous to recount, but I admit at this elder age that they are not wrong about everything. Neither do I hold any quarrel with the LGBTQ-Plus community, since this facet of the Human Journey has existed for countless generations. It’s just that now we are humble and transparent about it, rather than high and mighty and hypocritical.
It is as Vietnam Veteran and Founder of Third World Press, Dr. Haki R. Madhabuti, said about philosophy and religion. He said, “We’re all equally correct and incorrect.” I believe this is important to acknowledge to learn from my Neighbor and have a meaningful Word of Prayer.
Enter the Word of Prayer about Women’s Work. Home Economics is what makes all other economics possible. Without a Mother who did the hard work of bearing us and raising us, we would have nothing. Without a Father who did his duty in siring us and raising us, we would have nothing. Now that marriage equality is the rule of law, we may think about these roles less in terms of gender, and more in terms of electronics. On every circuit, there are Active Components and Interconnect, Passive, and Electromechanical components. The circuit won’t work properly if these pieces are not working in health and harmony.
So when I hear someone tell me their Caregiver wage is low at $13/hour in Washington State, I only wonder if they have ever worked for $8.50 per hour in South Carolina or $7.50 in Florida as others do. I am not stumping for a minimum wage here, for as I have said many, many, many, many times – I am a Right Wing Maniac. I believe in hothouse wages set by market forces in organic capitalism. The behemoth that is the American healthcare system seems to be a sorry blend of corporate fascism and inefficient bureaucracy. I am not anti-government, nor totally against the ruling bodies that govern health care. I don’t want to be against anything. I want to be for something. I am for an economy where we actually value health as the greatest wealth. I am for an economy that treats the actual disease and not the symptom.
One solution we can have right now is a Word of Prayer. As I said, I cherish no bitterness against anyone for my wages, for which I am thankful. Caregivers are fully aware that they could make more money elsewhere. Money is important. One mistake America makes is in misquoting that “money is the root of all evil.” Such a thing is not true. It is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil. As Aretha Franklin said, “Save your money, because your money will save you.” Invest it too. Invest in your health. Caregivers do their duty because it brings them joy.
When we value our health and that of all 7.1 billion Neighbors we are working toward building an economy and a dominant culture where all lives have equal value.
AARP defines 55% of Caregivers are women, and 45% are men. Until men dominate the helping professions, including but not limited to, Caregiving, it is fair to call it women’s work. If this hurts your feelings, then kindly refer to this Hurt Feelings Report. Rather than being tart with the hedge fund manager who makes billions, we are helped by realizing that we are all Caregivers in context. The hedge fund manager has aches and pains in life as we all do. S/He pays a lot of taxes and can go to prison for doing their job incorrectly, as can we all. Caregivers are not the only workers with demanding schedules, the constant potential for burnout, and the demands on our time for relatively low market wages. We may be the only ones who live by the motto, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
In closing, I challenge myself and everyone reading this blog to be Black in the Game of Go called LIFE. Instead of rushing through your business transactions today, take a moment for a Word of Prayer. Ask someone, “What’s really happenin’?”, then actually stop and do some active listening. You might get a perfunctory response that signals you to move along. You might get a story that will inspire you. You might understand that we are all Caregivers. Whether you are the Active component earning disposable income and acting as the primary breadwinner, or whether you are the Passive component who is tasked with managing the infinite number of tasks associated with Child/Elder/Veteran/Vulnerable Adult care, you are a Caregiver. I salute you.
This has been a Word of Prayer about Women’s Work. Anyone can do it, no one should be ashamed of it, and Home Economics in the 21st Century will have more relevance as we consider Planet Earth our shared home as market barriers to entry drop and peaceful people cross borders freely.
Thanks for listening.
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