Caste, Dirty Work, Love
by Rebekah Rice
Let us reimagine sewage, garbage, cleaning, and [insert your most hated “chore” here]. While we are at it, let’s reimagine the growing of food, the fixing of broken things, and the tasks of giving care to people of any age who cannot easily take care of themselves.
People may believe that these items do not take skill, imagination, creativity, time, or dedication—but they absolutely do. Truly, none of us would prefer to live in a world where these jobs went undone.
At this moment, there are people whose only option for paid work is to do this dirty work, all the time. Across the world these people are seen as being at the bottom (or even below the bottom as with the Dalits in India) of the caste structure.
Without compromising anyone’s livelihood, what is to be done about equality?
How can we, as Friends, co-create a world in which everyone has satisfying work? It is not enough that we do our own dirty work; without addressing the systemic nature of the caste system, that would merely reduce the amount of such work available for others.
I’ve been considering the intentionality with which Camphill Villages have created communities that support all with loving kindnesses; villagers from each house clean and cook for another house, coming home to the same having been done for them. Simultaneously, care is provided for the differently abled adults who live in the village, skills are developed, and a sense of self in a community of love is created.
How might we all share the work of the world? How might we all share the fruits of our labor? How can we stop participating in the caste structure?