Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 4551
Age Group: Adult
Posted: March 4th. 2002
The Heart of A Mechanic
"You do know that you're going to hell, right?" he said.
And of course, that had to happen on 'Shopping Day'. The one day each week when I sneak in a couple of hours of personal time. After performing my official TWV duties at both the post office and the bank, I usually have about four hours, a tank full of gas, a moderate allowance and whole slew of thrift stops and bookstores to visit. It's my one guilty little pleasure and I really look forward to it. (So I won't tell you what it is that I actually said last week when it became painfully obviously that S-Day just wasn't going to happen. We do try to keep this site family-friendly.) Drat! Going to hell simply wasn't on my Tuesday agenda. That's really more of a Monday thing.
But the automotive gremlins, it seems, had me penciled in for Tuesday. Maybe they were running a little behind schedule or something. After dropping Fritz off at work, I reached over and pressed the switch that is supposed to make the power window actually exert its power and move into the 'up' position. Nothing. I pressed it again and again. Nothing and more of nothing. I pulled over and got out and slammed the door a few times. Nothing. Window open. Window staying open. Bad, bad window! At least if it had broken while shut, I could still do my rounds. But, noooooo...With the window stuck on 'Come right in!' I wasn't about to leave the car parked alone and vulnerable anywhere. I needed a day off sure, but more than that, I needed a window that went up. I needed Mike.
Mike is our auto mechanic and I'm convinced that these guys are the modern day equivalent of the old-tyme blacksmith. When your horsepower goes lame or your chariot throws a tire, you want to know a good mechanic. Mike is a good mechanic. Good mechanics are usually very busy mechanics and so he was when I pulled into the lot. I felt sort of bad just showing up like that without calling first. And I knew that he probably couldn't fix the window that afternoon (Mike being one of those good, busy mechanics and all), but I was hoping that he could pry it up or something so that the Witch mobile would be secure overnight. Walking into his office, I meekly explained the problem and metaphorically threw myself at his feet begging for mercy. "The car has been here before", I began (reaching for the 'good customer' card), "and I know that you probably can't fix it today...but maybe you can get it to stay up until we can make an appointment?" Mike looked up from his computer. "I remember you." "Yep," I chirped, "Name's Jung. You know, the Witches."
Now lest you think that I just blurt that out to any old auto mechanic that I might meet, I have to explain that the last time the car was in Mike's shop, we had gotten into a conversation about computers and all that and the subject of the TWV web site came up. He thought it was pretty interesting, what we do here. Oh sure, he did still chastise us about not having our regularly scheduled oil changes done on time - or anywhere even close to on time- but he was totally cool with the Witch thing. So when he looked up from my auto door with a hand full of window-wire guts and said, "You do know that you're going to hell, right?" I just whipped out that old chestnut, "Yeah. I get that a lot." Our eyes locked and then we both burst out laughing. He couldn't fix my window. But right then and there, he did fix my day.
If you have been watching or reading the news of late, you no doubt have seen footage of the on-going Afghanistan war, the horrific suicide bombings in Israel and the terrible fighting in India which has left at least 400 people dead in just three days. It's depressing. It's also scary. And the scariest part about it to me is that people can actually do these things to other human beings. How is that possible? Well, I certainly don't have all of the answers for the problems of human violence and hatred. In fact, I have more questions than answers. Questions like "How do we know that all of the Israelis killed in the suicide bomb blasts were actually anti-Palestine?" And how about the Hindus or the Muslims in India? "Were each and every one of those Hindus who were blown up in the train haters of Muslims? Were the Muslims who were burned alive in their beds all malevolently plotting to kill Hindus? Even the children? Were all of the people who died in the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon plotting to take over the Arab world?"
We'll never know if that is right or not-that ALL of these people were the evil villains that their murderers thought them to be. But I can tell you one of the reasons that this sort of thing happens: Labels. Religious labels. Political labels. 'Them' labels. 'Us' labels. Labels that take the faces of the people away. Labels that take the hearts and minds and spirits of people away. Labels that make it easy to tell who is like you and who is not like you; who is a friend and who is an enemy. Labels that let you know just who is in and who is out. Labels that make a very complicated and diverse world easier to understand, easier to define and ultimately easier to control. Labels are just plain easier. Labels take the face away.
"In the heart of the face's vulnerability is its moral strength and authority: it is the face that "forbids one to kill" and thereby commands respect and nonviolence...Even during war when ethics is said to be suspended, it is difficult to kill someone who looks one straight in the eye and that assassins usually attack their victims from behind." "Genuine unity within society cannot be achieved till people become faces to each other."-(Angelli F. Tugado; The Sociality of the Face-to-Face Relation)
Pagans have faces. Christians have faces. Hindus and Muslims and Palestinians and Jews have faces. It is more difficult to try to see the individual faces than it is to slap a label on a whole group of people. It is harder to look into each individual face and try to see what is really there. It also is harder to hate the face that pleads for understanding, the face that crinkles in confusion or the face that smiles at the sight of a kitten playing with a piece of string or of his or her child reaching up for a hug. It is tempting-oh, so tempting- to simply slap some label on a group of people and be done with it. It's easier.
Well, I don't know what your copy of "The Guide To Life Here On Earth" says, but there is no paragraph in the one that I have that states that life will be easy. I don't know why we kick and moan so much about not having something that we were never guaranteed that we would have anyway. Life is not easy. Life is complicated. Violence and hatred are complicated issues. And perhaps instead of just reaching for that easy label every time that the going gets rough, we should begin to look at these problems one face at a time.
Looking down into his twinkling eyes, Mike suddenly wasn't 'Mike the Mechanic' anymore. He was just Mike. Mike who the next day gave me a ride back and forth to the garage. Mike who talked about the new house that he was building. Mike who told me something interesting about wells and underground aquifers. Mike who saw my face and smiled back with his own. Mike with the open heart.
I almost didn't hate paying the bill.
Walk in Love and Light,
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, March 4th., 2002
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