No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else – Charles Dickens
As I went through the photos of a play I attended recently, I was reminded of something I’ve known for a long time: every member of the cast, the team, and the community matters. In the pictures, I noticed how much difference it made that the people in the background were in character, full of expression. If they had felt that they didn’t matter because the leading actor or actress were on stage, they would have appeared to be part of the backdrop–unemotional and adding nothing to the scene. Actually, if they had become a part of the backdrop, they would have taken away from the scene. Every cast member matters, regardless of his or her role. Those supporting actors’ expressions were perfect for the action taking place at center stage, and that should be ample reminder that in a play and in life, the stars would be nothing without the rest of the cast.
What if a team (I can’t think of ‘team’ without thinking basketball) didn’t have the supporting players, only a point guard and center? What if the symphony, or a rock band, only used the instruments playing the melody? What if life didn’t have supporting players, only the main attraction? I can tell you, but I am guessing you already know, that without everyone’s help, life wouldn’t be what it is. From the time you get up until the time you go to bed, you need more than a handful of supporting players for life to work.
I usually wake up in the morning because an alarm is blaring. While I would prefer to awaken when my body says it’s time, I must set an alarm. How did I get that alarm? Someone in a company, most likely located in China, made the clock with the alarm. Without that person who gets paid almost nothing monetarily and even less in respect, I would not awaken to my choice of alarm tones. Awake, I move to the kitchen and start the coffee.
The coffee maker was made by a person or persons outside of my home. In fact, I can go a step further and think about the person who designed the coffee maker. That was one smart man (or woman) to give us coffee on demand! The coffee in my machine was grown in a third world country and traveled to my kitchen as a Fair Trade item. It matters to me. The people who planted, harvested, packaged, and roasted the beans matter, but let’s face it…in the world of Academy Awards, they are considered something less than Best Supporting Actors.
With my coffee, I might have some eggs for breakfast, and in my case I have a couple of local farmers who supply my breakfast item of choice. Again, they aren’t on the list of award winning stars of the show, but breakfast wouldn’t happen without their participation. I hop in the shower. Wait. Do you know how amazing it is that we have water that comes through the pipes and into a stall? Think of all of the people who worked digging ditches, making pipes, and cleaning the water supply to bring us a warm shower. These are people who work hard at their jobs, and often they are overlooked.
There have been several people already involved in making my morning start on the right foot, and I’m betting you don’t even know their names. It could have been Bacon, Portius, or LaHire who is responsible for realizing we could have clean water, but locally I will email a fella named Darren if I have a problem with my water, and he will send out a crew of workers whose names I will likely never know. I am grateful.
Perhaps gratitude is what this is really about. Your job might seem to go unnoticed, but if you didn’t show up for work, I bet plenty of people would notice. Someone keeps the floors clean, light bulbs changed, paint touched up and so much more in the buildings we visit daily. I’ll never forget the garbage strike in New York City during the holidays of 1981. The garbage men in New York City might never have been given a second thought before that strike. Garbage was everywhere in a city known for her holiday glamour. When employers and employees disagree, bad things can happen, and when there is no garbage pick-up, there is nothing pretty about it.
This week, I hope you’ll take a minute to look around and consider who has had a hand in providing what you enjoy. No job is truly superior to another. We absolutely need each other, and we each need to be appreciated for our value to society.
The chef, the server, the custodian, the administrative assistant, the reporter, the printer, the teacher, the cafeteria worker, the mechanic, the plumber, the person who paints stripes on the road, the woman who knows how to hem pants because I do not, and especially the sanitation worker who removes the garbage from in front of our house each week all deserved to be recognized and thanked. Without each of these people, the Best Actor or Actress would be too busy to play the winning role.
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man…” Ernest Hemingway