Keeping it clean
The phrase ‘keeping it clean’ seems to have etched its way into the modern dialect. Its use and scope is considerable and is often taken to represent a grander function, a life mantra if you will.
The Collins online dictionary really demonstrates the diversity of the term:
1. free from dirt or impurities, clean water,
2. habitually hygienic and neat,
3. morally sound, clean living,
4. without objectionable language or obscenity, good clean fun,
5. without anything in it or on it, a clean sheet of paper,
6. causing little contamination or pollution
7. recently washed, fresh,
8. thorough or complete, a clean break with the past,
9. skilful and done without fumbling, dexterous, a clean catch,
10. (Sport) played fairly and without fouls,
11. free from dishonesty or corruption, clean government,
12. simple and streamlined in design
13. showing or having no record of offences,
14. (Slang) innocent, not carrying illegal drugs, weapons, etc.
15. verb: to make or become free of dirt.
If one is to live according to clean values in any substantial sense, one could not boast about an aspect of their life being clean while others remain dirty. For, in reality, this in sum would mean that they are still living a partially dirty existence. And while no one can realistically live a completely pristine life, it is inauthentic and delusional to claim your keeping it clean if one aspect of your being is pristine while others wallow in soot.
Allow me to illustrate by way of example. Let’s take a middle-aged house wife, Judy. Her husband and sole means of income, Rod, is an investment banker and he has several lucrative port-folios; some are reputable businesses while others are investments of more dubious social value.
Judy likes to provide a clean home for her loved one. She likes to keep the domestic facilities in perfect working order and free from dirt and debris. She scrubs away at the oven to ensure all charred residue is removed, spraying and wiping down the benches to guarantee all traces of harmful bacteria are dissolved. After some time she is left with a spotless kitchen, hygienic and functional, ready for hubby when he returns home from a hard day’s work.
The house is vacuumed, the kitchen’s been sanitized, the floors are mopped. Even the windows have been wiped and the sun rays shine in for inspection. It can be told that the house is sparkling; no dirt remains.
The housewife reclines at the end of her duties, meditating on a full sense of satisfaction that she has kept it clean, as far as she is concerned, and feels fulfilled that her obligations have been met and order has been restored to her universe.
The problem, however, is that the cloths she used, the cleaning agents she dispersed and the very house itself that she was so passionately scrubbing, came with some very dirty repercussions. You see the house was funded off some of hubby’s investments. And some of hubby’s investments weren’t so clean at all.
One particular investment produced some significant dividends – an oil company that had recently cut-costs. Those cut-costs had resulted in a failure of equipment. This failure resulted in a major oil spill. That spill left oceans polluted and wild-life to suffocate on black gold, gasping for air, wrapped in thick grease. Entire eco-systems were in fact dilapidated with schools of fish starving and communities of fisherman and their families thrown into poverty.
Another lucrative investment was an arms dealership that does not pass any judgment on its customers and delivers its products far and wide. Some of the more consistent purchases come from the Congo where rifles and submachines go-a-plenty, often at bargain basement prices. These pieces of weaponry find their way into militias that use the vast amount of younger people in their local villages, from the ages of 6 to 13 years, in their combat. So hubby’s profits come from putting a rifle in a 9 year-old’s hands to go an kill another 9 year-old for the domination of territories in which coca is grown. The problem is that the young boys and girls that are forced to kill with hubby’s guns don’t have the cleanest dreams. No, instead they are filled with very messy visions of amputated limbs and screams.
So while Judy basks in her contentment that her abode is clean, it has come at the filthy cost of turtles writhing and suffocating, a stoic fisherman weeping in the early hours of morning distraught how he is to feed his family, and a seven year old child breathing shallow breaths in the night, pondering the horrors of the day. It can be seen here, that wifey isn’t keeping it so clean.
One doesn’t have to look as far as the Congo to see whether you’re keeping it clean or not. One can observe something as close as one’s own relationship. The world seems to be sullied with relationships that put forth the veneer of tidiness, of streak-free cleanliness. But upon a little further inspection a plethora of grime and destructive emotional residue resides. Two people can convey to themselves and one-another and their friends and their families that they are engaged in wholesome, giving, honest love. But as soon as the cameras are off, and even sometimes when they’re still on, the very despoiled and unsanitary truth rears forth. Instead, of an honest and selfless love what becomes apparent is their emotional and financial dependence, fear, cowardice and habit. There really seems to be nothing more honorable about many ‘romantic’ relationships than there is with a smoker and their chosen brand of Rothmans – they’ve shared a lot of time with one another and can ease the pain when the going’s tough, but the relationship is ultimately addictive, and sustained by the user being too lazy to give it up.
One can look even closer to home and see if they’re keeping it clean. One can look at their own beliefs. For example if one pronounces their belief in equal opportunity but then takes a job based on nepotism, ones’ beliefs are soiled with hypocrisy. Or if one touts the claim that they earned all their great wealth by themselves, from the boots up as it were, and as such avoids paying tax, but then goes on to recall their years of wealth accumulation in which they drove on roads paid by others, went to school paid by others, the laws were enforced by paid others, then their beliefs are encaked in the filth of contradiction and the stench of ideological self-delusion. And the messy consequences of patients languishing in hospital hallways and children coughing blood due to uninsulated public housing are left to smolder as tax revenue runs short.
Even on a more literal level the very notion of cleanliness is misused on a daily basis. For when we get out of the shower, after a rigorous scrub, we can claim our freshness. But what if our bodies are still sullied from a weekend of drugs, booze, cigarettes and saturated fats. For while our exterior is sanitary, our internals are rotting with carcinogens, our arteries are blocked with grease and our synapses are struggling to fire due to A-class grunge.
In fact it can be seen that an individual who struts out onto the street feeling crispy, shaved, hair slicked, looking the part, is can in fact covered in filth. His or her tax avoidance, disingenuous relationship, murderous investments and decaying liver leaves a long slippery trail of putrid mess behind them. All the filth that they’ve swept under the carpet does not go away. It just piles up with alarmingly harmful consequences.