Check the premise:
Nearly all work, if we mean the work that most people in the West do day after day in exchange for money, is a life sentence in prison. It is dull, repetitive, and soul-destroying. It does not liberate.
I agree with a great deal of what Nicholas Farrell has to say in this piece regarding women, motherhood and work. This madness I excerpted though…
Work=Punishment, or as he puts it, a “life sentence in prison.” Or, as Judge Smails in Caddyshack put it, “well, the world needs ditch-diggers, too.”
The attitude about work, especially work that is not idealistically fulfilling, will separate people. I’ve worked at shitty manual labor, shitty-paying service labor, and at a better-paying professional thing I do now. At no point in my working life have I seen work as “dull, repetitive and soul-destroying.” It is my observation that people who see productive work so oddly are people who’ve engaged in very little of the same. Even when one realizes they’re breaking their back for the profit of another – and yep, I’ve done that on many occasions – at some point, the work is the work and the satisfaction is what it is.
Again: the work is the work, and much of what makes it worthwhile has nothing to do with the pay.
Sorry Mr. Farrell sees it that way, this idea that work is punishment – our POTUS sees work that way, too. Nope, seriously – it is the grand litmus test to put various Conservatives in a room and figure out how they see the concept of work. Some see it as the ends, some see it as the means, and some see it as punishment for poor choices made. The first group are exceptionally intelligent, the second group are Objectivists, and the third group are self-described libertarians who end up voting for a Democrat.
This country was built by people who understood that work wasn’t punishment, it was gratifying for the sake of itself. What we are losing in this country is that same work ethic, one being replaced by the notion of work-as-punishment, the perverted sense that working in and of itself is shameful and/or wrong.
I rue the notion that work is equivocal to punishment – its natural cures are many, its balm for depression de facto, and its antecedent to any number of social problems self-evident. A vast swath of our problem could be combated by the weird ethic of work, but the attitude that it is punishment prevails.
Such is life, no?