work-for-freedom

Work for freedom

Have you ever noticed the ants in your garden? They never stop working and working — constantly checking and touching and smelling and probing. They undoubtedly demonstrate what the concept of labor truly means. They work for freedom, for food, and for their little society. In our culture, however, we have come to demonize the concept of toil. It is something that must be undertaken, much like any inane activity, just because everyone else does — but rather reluctantly. It is not thought of in the same vein as a pleasurable evening with friends and family or a trip abroad. It is work, after all.  

At its most negative, it is something that we really revile but must do to simply survive. The concept is analogous to painful surgery. You suffer through it, but in the long term, in the long term, you will be happy — better known as retirement. The whole idea sounds awful, doesn’t it? Why would you ever, knowingly, place yourself in that circumstance; you wouldn’t. It is only under protest and with the possibility of being anesthetized by alcohol or drugs along the way. 

If you ask a farmer, or someone truly engaged in their metier, however, they don’t regard their efforts in a pejorative way. At worst, they describe it as a necessary task — the hay must be cut and bundled or the project must be finished on time. There is no focus on watching a clock and praying that the employment time ends as quickly as possible.  

Our loathing for work certainly originated with the advent of capitalism. (1) Very quickly the more intellectually spry among us began to realize that we were selling our precious time for some money — and for not enough of the stuff, either. Karl Marx (2) fully articulated the proletariat’s complaint in the Communist Manifesto in 1848.   

His rather dogmatic philosophy saw the end of the free market and the eventual birth of a worker’s inspired utopia. (3) He was Christ-like in seeing a resurgent form of humanity: kind, tender, and loving, in my interpretation. The Marxist message for the most part has fallen on fallow soil. Few true believers exist in the world today, though some countries claim that they are communist states. (4) 

So what then for me as a young person; how do I go forward and provide for my life, without sacrificing my integrity — my soul, so to speak? One must always begin at the beginning. What is it that I want from my piece of life?  Is it material well-being, spiritual growth, enlightened understanding, what do I choose?  

The first is the most concrete. I want to be financially successful. If that is your desire, then make a plan. Malcolm Gladwell (5) tells us that it requires at least 10,000 hours to gain a form of expertise, a place in the timeline of your career where you are truly free. Prior to this, you are simply working to live. You struggle, you worry and you save, hopefully. As you develop your career, nonetheless, you soon realize that work is an extremely pleasurable undertaking. 

You enter a state of flow (6) that produces your greatest accomplishments, your special oeuvre. You realize you are working for freedom. The old concepts of work simply dissolve away. The great author and sinologist, Pearl S. Buck (7) leaves us with a thought: The secret of joy in work is contained in one word — excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it. 

A closing thought: All this talk of work being freeing is nonsensical unless I have the proverbial talk with myself. There is so much external noise and advice when I am young. It is consequently difficult to comprehend that I am truly alone. This is not a statement of fear and mental isolation, it is simply the truth. There is only me against the world, with the support of my benefactor, God. This means that I can be a powerful being if I wish. I can therefore define success on my own terms, whatever that means to me. I can thus work for freedom — much like I work for pleasure and enjoyment.                                                            

To sum up: This week we spoke about work being enjoyable and edifying. 

To be noted: From Soren Kierkegaard (8) — Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. 

Just for fun: 

For reflection:

This week, on your special walk, please reflect on your work activities. 

Every day look for something magical and beautiful. 

Don’t be a wage slave – critical thinking is great! 

Quote: The main quest in my life is to find my true calling, my essential mission.  

Footnotes: 

1) Capitalism

2) Political Theory – Karl Marx

3) What are the 5 stages of society according to Marx?

4) A List of Current Communist Countries in the World

5) Researcher Behind ‘10,000-Hour Rule’ Says Good Teaching Matters, Not Just Practice

6) FLOW BY MIHALY CSIKSZENTMIHALYI | ANIMATED BOOK SUMMARY

7) BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF PEARL S. BUCK 

8) PHILOSOPHY – Soren Kierkegaard

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