The Children of God at Wal-Mart
There's a Wal-Mart in the city where I live — and soon, there will be a much bigger Wal-Mart in the city where I live.
This is inevitable, and it is what we now call "economic development," which is what we called "progress" when I was a kid. We stopped saying "progress" because America became the kind of country in which you don't use one word if it's possible to use two words.
Being a white-collar worker with a college degree means that I should insert here the obligatory disdain — not for Wal-Mart's business policies, but for the people who shop in Wal-Mart.
I do not much like Wal-Mart, if only because Wal-Mart hands you a food stamp application with your first paycheck.
But why go on about that sad circumstance? "Job creators," we know in 2012 America, are not at all responsible for the kinds of jobs they create.
Lately, though, college-educated knotholes like me have taken to snickering at the Wal-Mart clientele, many of whom are poor and look like they're poor.
"I went to the Wal-Mart the other day," a friend said to me a couple months ago. "It's like a Third World country in there."
I had to admire the guy's use of the English language, a language never mastered by his own immigrant grandmother, who died illiterate, as did my grandmother.
By saying "Third World country," he was able to communicate an intense dislike for the poor, the caramel-colored, the black of skin and those who gabble away in fractured English, and he was able to communicate it in such a way that he did not have to use any words he couldn't use in his own air-conditioned, linguistically refined office.
The weird thing is, the guy's a political conservative with a strong liking for the Jesus end of the political scene.
Like everybody else (including the poor), I live in the best neighborhood I can afford. But I live in a city neighborhood, so the biblical admonition, "The poor you will always have with you," means they're living a house or two away.
And, as I said, there's a Wal-Mart in my city. Four miles from my door.
I resent the fact that shoddy, off-brand, offshore crap is sold in my country, because it means we're losing the jobs that supported the families that didn't buy junk. I cannot, however, bring myself to join the universal desire to make fun of Wal-Mart customers and other poor people.
Being poor is the hardest job in the world, which is why most people don't do it very well. I see poorly dressed people in the Wal-Mart, and I know how hard it is to look good when your life is not good. The missing teeth aren't jokes. They're toothaches that went unattended. The obese women aren't funny. They're short of breath.
Would Jesus have shopped in Wal-Mart? Maybe not.
But he would have loved the customers.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com
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