Working for a living – except for today
September 2, 2005
For all people, there is a holiday. We set aside a day to honor our mothers, another to honor our fathers. We pay tribute to those who’ve gone to war to protect our freedom and spread democracy.
Our minds turn to deity for Christmas and lovers celebrate their good fortune on Valentine’s Day.
But today is a day to recognize those who usually go unnoticed – us. Today is the day of the worker.
Although it doesn’t sound that glamorous, Thomas Jefferson singled out labor as the key to happiness.
He said, “A mind always employed is always happy. This is the true secret, the grand recipe, for felicity.”
There is no task so menial that it doesn’t give the performer a certain set of satisfaction at its completion. Nor is there a task so insignificant that it doesn’t directly benefit society.
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As badly as we need educators to teach and nurture our children, we equally need bus drivers to get the students to the classroom.
Doctors would find saving lives much more difficult if not for the custodians to ensure a sterile environment.
The greatest chef would never be appreciated if not for those who serve the food.
Still, while we are defined to a certain extent by the labor of our hands, our work is rarely the sum of our being.
The truck driver is also a father, the housekeeper a daughter and the valet is somebody’s best friend.
Belgian philosopher Raoul Vaneigem said, “The same people who are murdered slowly in the mechanized slaughterhouses of work are also arguing, singing, drinking, dancing, making love, holding the streets, picking up weapons and inventing a new poetry.”
And that’s how it should be.