Yesterday a truck arrived with 5,000 copies of the wonderfully revised new edition of Blessing your Spirit in Spanish.
The written bill of lading indicated that the pallets were not to be stacked. The person loading the truck stacked them. The top two pallets lost their load, creating some damaged product and a whole lot of work for the truck driver to sort it out, and eventually offload four pallets of boxes.
His name was Jorge. We chatted off and on while he worked the mess. He is from El Salvador.
The printing company we have been using for years delivers using a third party brokerage service which in turn subs the job out to the cheapest bidder. That means there is simply no quality control, and we usually get the bottom of the barrel: trucks that were young when I was and drivers who can’t get work elsewhere.
Most of the drivers have the manners of a cretin and the personal grooming of a hippo. We have had drivers who were White, Hispanic, Asian and African Americans. None were a pleasure to deal with so far.
Jorge by contrast was a joy to engage with. It was not his fault someone botched the load, but he made it a matter of personal pride to give me the best salvage job he could. All the previous drivers simply want their paper signed so they can get out of there and get paid.
I thought of my history with El Salvadorans in the US. They are a Servant nation. In Central America they have a rough reputation. Some snobs from other nations refuse to eat at the same table as a Salvadoran. Their nation has gone through some turbulent times in the past 40 years with diverse civil government failures.
I have a modest amount of experience with people from El Salvador here in the Los Angeles area. I have known them as employees, customers, friends, church family and sundry brief encounters like Jorge. My experiences with them have been uniformly good.
I especially like their hard work with grace for challenging situations.
And it is that sentence that poses problems.
Our culture is increasingly intolerant of even the perception of intolerance. It has become so absurd that all kinds of acts of validating one thing, are instantly translated into an IMPLIED statement diminishing someone else.
So in California, kids are sent home from school for having an American flag on their school notebook. A celebration of America becomes a de facto assault on immigrant students.
A school back east cancelled valedictorians and salutatorians and their engagement in the graduation formalities.
And my commenting on how hard El Salvadorans work can be taken by some as an implied insult against all other immigrants from Central America.
The great engine of political correctness is malicious at its core. It is blatantly biased and has succeeded in using the fear of verbal assault to silence a lot of people who would otherwise celebrate good things that they see.
One does not have to be rude and crude to push back against the pressure to equalize all people. The sentence “There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people” has been variously attributed to Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson and others.
I believe it to be true. We can have equal opportunity. Equal justice. Absolutely equal access to God. Equal sharing of sun and rain.
But not all people are equal in their investment into the art of life. And I propose to push back against the political correctness machine by celebrating goodness in people groups and individuals more overtly beginning now.
We still recognize and celebrate the inequality of athletes and artists. There are sundry competitions which relentlessly reduce the field until there is one winner. The celebration of one team or one person who worked ridiculously hard to achieve a little better level of excellence from the talent they were given by God, is a legitimate thing.
Now let’s expand it beyond sports and music, and extend the same honor to every other human being who chooses to work hard and unpack the treasures God has given them.
Copyright June 2016 by Arthur Burk
From home, on a good evening