Now that Labor Day has passed, it’s time to go to work.
And to recognize what a wonderful and ennobling thing work is. To realize how fundamental it is to our self-concept and wellbeing.
We need to work.
It is elemental to who we are.
We each must be useful and productive. We must obey the commandment to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow.
Whether it’s at home, raising our babies. Or off at any one of the countless trades and professions. Doing surgery, shoveling stalls, waiting on tables. It doesn’t so much matter what you do, just that you do something.
Sadly, our society has largely forgotten that.
And our fondness for leisure has turned into a love of laziness. We glorify the goldbrick and resent our jobs and employers.
And a shame.
And leads to problems throughout society.
We somehow have decided that work demeans us, when in actuality it does exactly the opposite. We have declared it drudgery. Jobs we scratched for and professions we studied years to acquire have turned bitter in our mouths. Not because the jobs and professions have changed, but because we’ve gotten a chip on our shoulders.
We’ve come to resent the efforts and employers who feed our families and put roofs over our heads. Our whole culture mocks work, and much effort is expended trying to get out of it.
Which is too bad.
Because our national work ethic is wavering. We are not raising our children with work, or to understand the great good it will do them. We are depriving ourselves of the joy, purpose and prosperity which an honest day’s labor can provide us.
Everybody’s got to have a purpose. A means of contributing. A service that benefits society and themselves. Human dignity is inseparably tied to work, and those who don’t work invariably wander into trouble and unhappiness as they seek deceptive substitutes for dignity. We preach as a society that self-esteem and self-worth are entitlements that are demanded with a sneer, instead of earned through productive effort.
No man has ever had self-respect who wasn’t self-reliant. Who didn’t earn his bread by the sweat of his brow and give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.
The idler never was happy, never was content, never quite satisfied the hunger for relevance. Our many recreations have become gods to us, great obstacles to our productivity and happiness. They cripple us, instead of refresh us. There is a balance between work and play, and for many it is out of whack, and so skewed that our play is now nothing more than inactivity.
We sit in front of televisions for hours at a time, and spend forever in front of computers, typing to strangers on a screen or playing solitaire with a machine. And our hands and heads – which could do so much good and be so productive – sit fallow and unused.
We fill time, and live empty lives.
And our children follow our example, and are encouraged by us to further excesses of laziness.
And haughtiness and arrogance, seeing many jobs and efforts as being beneath them.
Selfishness is always self-defeating. And the fundamental selfishness which is at the core of laziness always leads to dissatisfaction, first with one’s circumstance and ultimately with one’s life.
So we are a nation increasingly plagued by depression and obesity, discord and poverty, envy and arrogance. Each is a consequence of the curse of idleness. Each a disease curable by the elixir of work. And there is a huge price tag attached, a financial tab which is typically paid by those who do work. So that the disease of the idler bears symptoms even among those who labor. The idler tears down not just his own life, but his entire society, usually with an ever-growing greed and sense of entitlement.
Those who work are forced to pay for those who don’t – both in terms of heavy taxes and social pathology.
It doesn’t matter what you do, just that you do something. That your time and your life be spent productively, earning something and contributing. Any legal job, done to the best of your ability, is honorable. Put the other way, it is hard to maintain a personal sense of honor if you are not doing a job, and doing it to the best of your ability.
It’s one of the laws of nature. A piece of absolute truth.
The laborer is worthy of his hire.
And the idler isn’t.
Work isn’t misery. Work is the cure for misery.