Work Ethic

The American culture loves work. It seems like a good thing for a culture to revere. If money and success aren’t enough to motivate people to get to work, well, maybe throwing in some admiration from their family and friends for their strong work ethic will help.

But what does someone with such a reverence do when there’s no work left to be done?

They make work.

Stones must be moved from here to there for aesthetic reasons. Fashion must be followed. Postcards must be mailed from the most exotic places possible. Rockets must be sent around the universe. All haste must be made so men may live yet six more months at the end of their lives.

Well I don’t subscribe to that idea. I will take my earned savings that provide for what I have deemed my necessities, and even a few of my indulgences, and be done with it. But my neighbors, family and friends who choose to make work for themselves hold themselves up on pedestals because of their reverence for work. Having provided for their necessities long ago, and without even realizing it, they graduated to employing themselves digging holes only so someone else will be employed because there is a hole somewhere that needs filling in. Then they turn to me, seeing that I refuse to pick up a shovel, and tell me I ought to be ashamed for my laziness.

How am I to respond to such a charge? If holding a walking stick instead of a shovel makes me lazy, so be it. If watching the stars instead of a clock makes me selfish, then oh well. If thinking about poetry instead of production means I’m not contributing enough, then I don’t care to contribute at all.

My inaction makes me an enemy. If I refuse to take up their shovel, I am not doing my part. And if I try to explain why, I am undermining core premises from which they’ve built their moral system.

So I softly disguise my walking stick as a shovel. – My astronomy as a study of navigation. – Poetry as a study of communication. – Philosophy as a study of law.

And I go about trying not to let most people notice what it is that I’m really doing.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted June 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    well said.

    as individuals we only have one obligation to society: To make sure we, and our children, are not a burden to others.

    beyond that, it’s your call!

  2. Posted June 8, 2011 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Living differently is enough to constitute offense because it makes fools and jokes out of their lives. Having our own understanding and philosophy — that is so much more appropriate to how reality really is — is such offending existence.

    Yes, disguise is good and tactful because someone once said “Careful when you deal with salvages, you may end up in the cooking pot!”