Monday, 18 June 2012
Cleaning Lady Syndrome - Don't Ever Get Caught With It!
Cleaning Lady Syndrome? Heard of it before? I've certainly seen it around, but only after reading a Jewish publication recently (see below) did I realise just how far out we've gone. Far out - in doing whatever we can to make sure others - no matter how hard they work - are not entitled to live.
In Israel, when all else fails, and one is unable to get a job - even working in something one is well qualified for - one often resorts to the norm of the Israel economy. One becomes a Cleaning Lady (even if one is a man!) There's a general rule about minimum wage (a concept that teaches that legally one should pay an amount equal to an accepted standard - instituted by a group of people who nobody actually ever knows about. This often entitles bosses to make large profits while the employee must work daily for - literally - his bread.)
Then there's a broader concept of the individual who wants to progress. Call it Capitalism! The minimum wage - around 20-22 Shekels per hour currently (allowing for a full-time job income of around 4000 Shekel) allows one the opportunity to rent a one bedroom apartment and pay one's taxes. It doesn't allow for much more - and in fact often puts one in debt - even before eating - one's bread!
The Cleaning Lady has moved up a level in society and "demands" almost double the minimum wage (apparently an accepted amount by most people). Should she have the opportunity to work 6 days a week - 8 hours a day (all practically impossible - as nobody is actually able to work this way in the Cleaning Lady industry) - she would come out with sufficient money to rent her apartment, pay her taxes and purchase the basic food she needs to live. If lucky enough - she'd even be able to afford bus fare to get to work and back!
Most people never consider the reality of this. We've come to live in a society where our paying others is frowned upon for any honest work that the other does. It's become a society where we take as much as we can at the expense of the other - who must surely pull their weight in giving something to the world. It's a society where we feel the other must be put in their place as to their lowliness - at the advantage of the exploitative employer who may demand practically anything from the employee - all for the amount of a piece of bread. There are indeed known organisations who hire rabbinical teachers to teach at their "offices" without payment. Sure there is money - but those attending pay the organisation who receive the wealth for themselves while the teacher is given the "honour" to teach for them. Volunteer organisations abound - with "employers" demanding work from the volunteer for no pay at all - just for the privilege of being able to tell others that they "have a job!"
The letter below - sent in to a widely circulated magazine in Israel - was one that truly showed its colours. I wondered why the publisher had chosen to publish it, and wondered if they actually agreed with it's thoughts. Either way - that's their decision, because we live in a free society. A society that is entitled to express itself practically any way it chooses. I guess the hardest part in all this, is working out - that if indeed we do live in a society that allows one to express oneself as one wishes to, how come we are not entitled to charge honestly for the work we do (by the very people who expect the right to free-speech?!)
It's not the Torah approach to life - which encourages a healthy lifestyle of paying honestly for work done. The Torah demands not just giving charity, nor helping one's fellow when they are in dire straits. It demands respecting the other for the efforts they put in to doing a hard and honest job. Should they require money to live, or dare it be requiring money to pay for bus fare - shouldn't we at least be prepared to accept the basic necessities of the other?! Or should we simply get together and force others to kneel at our every request - so that we may live as we wish to - with our own wealth, while the other be brought down to the lowest levels of life - and heaven forbid, give up on life altogether due to a lack of money just to live...
The "Cleaning Lady" in Israel is often a very educated person (many times a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant or even occupational therapist!) Not only are they to be respected for their education and their other contributions to society - they are too be thoroughly appreciated for the tremendous effort they go to (back breaking - very often) of keeping our homes clean when we need that time for ourselves to attend to our own lives. What a shame the writer below could never appreciate this!
The comments below leave a lot to be desired. They reflect this most sick condition in our society - The Cleaning Lady Syndrome. It's not a syndrome the Cleaning Lady has - it's a sickness very often found in the head of the employer!