A man can, as John Steinbeck said, live a gray life. It can be lonely, full of so-called failure. He may be penniless, addicted, unable or unwilling to hold an ordinary job. He may sleep in a tent in the forest, hang around the square or Whiskey Row, shave and shower only when he’s able. He may feel his life passing him by and look back mostly upon regrets and hurts. He may blame everyone but himself.
As Linda explains about Willy Lowman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, “I don’t say he’s a great man. [He] never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper…But he’s a human being…so attention must be paid… Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.”
Willy Lowman is all of us. He is the corporate CEO, the carpenter building the house, the mother home with her children, the clerk behind the counter, the cop in the cruiser, the criminal behind bars, the waitress in the restaurant, the pastor behind the pulpit. He is every person who walks through the door of Quixote’s Garage.
Our society is designed to keep us isolated. A sense of community is discouraged. In school we learn to compete, not cooperate; to be better than the other guy, not help the other guy be all he can be. Our isolation is so much a part of our lives that we think it’s normal.
The Catholic Worker movement offers another example. Community is not only possible and desirable; it’s a great way to live. We can work together for peace, for social change, for a new society. Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin wanted to create a society in which it is easier to be good. And I would add that we must create a society in which it is easier to be together—with each other and with the rest of creation. We are revolutionaries.
Dorothy Day said, “The greatest challenge of the day is: How to bring about a revolution of the heart; a revolution which has to start with each one of us.”
So when someone walks through the door of Quixote’s Garage, attention is paid to that person. Our guests know that someone else is aware that they exist; that they are human beings, an essential part of God’s creation.
This is our revolutionary, our radical act of compassion. It is our resistance to a society based on isolation that can lead only to fear, that in turn leads to violence, destruction and war. We are out to change the world by changing ourselves and each other one heart at a time.
Doug Finn, Co-founder of the Garage, beloved husband to Kris
Doug passed away in 2005