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Work (The Dichotomy Between Policy Makers and Those They Make Policy For)

Last week I began working at the International Affairs Building at Columbia University.  Almost daily there are academic forums and lectures addressing abstract but important global issues.  The concentration of intelligence, knowledge and theory is impressive, and I, I park their cars.

I actually do not particularly like cars, nor do I know much about them (I learned how to drive stick my first day on expensive sports cars in the overcrowded parking garage), but still there is something interesting going on there.  In a very real way the students in the classrooms above me are preparing themselves to rule the world.  They will dictate where and how the development money is spent, strategize how to win the “hearts and minds” of people in conflict zones and usher in the following generation of power elite.  What really interests me though is the obvious disconnect between the workers underneath the classrooms and the students within them.

The university itself is quite literally an island in its own neighborhood; a natural wall isolates academia from Harlem and the other lower income neighborhoods that surround the place.  The International Affairs Building is roughly in the middle of the walled in campus but the disconnect between theory and reality is just as present there as anywhere else, perhaps even more so considering what is being studied.  Some students do try and engage the men and women in uniform working low wage jobs but more often than not the attempts hit the invisible wall of relation – the students simply can not relate (and vice versa).
I don’t know how the same people who do not understand the immigrant workers in their cafeteria will be able to solve the problems that brought them there; I don’t know how anyone can help a world they don’t live in.  But I guess with enough hard work, enough conferences, enough theory and VIP tours of refuge camps, the people above me may be able to solve the worlds problems, but then – who would wash their dishes?
***I’ll continue to re-post one my favorite entries from my old blog each day as I tweak this one***
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