Tag Archives: careers

How’s that work ethic coming along?

work ethic caption

Growing up in a family where everyone worked, was expected to work, some things are branded on the psyche and tend to remain there. When I was a pre-schooler and my mother was working in the cotton-patch pulling boles during harvest, my sisters and I had our own pillow-case sized sacks. And though we didn’t pull a lot of cotton, the experience established a niche in our thinking processes that never went away, for me.

[The Runaways – 1947, posted here July 9, 2013, tells a bit about that time]

It’s only as I had five-or-so decades of life behind me that I ever seriously examined the values concerning work I’d lived with and adhered to all my life.

I’d pursued a career almost twenty years, blindly believed my dedication to the job, and the job, itself, were a major piece of what made me valuable as a person. And a spinoff of that belief was that a person who didn’t hold that view and allow a job to measure his worth probably wasn’t worth much.

But toward the end of that career the realization began to creep in that I was devoted, pouring my heart into a job that probably didn’t need doing. That I was wasting my life and that I was actually having a negative influence on the lives of many other people by my single-minded pursuit of that career.

Tough wake-up call it was for me. Jangled my entire life.

So I left that career for another, and wasn’t long in realizing that I was not that job. The job was just a way of making a living. That I was actually in another job that probably didn’t need doing. And I looked around me and saw it was true for almost everything going on around me.

Yes, there are essential jobs out there. Jobs that really need doing. Running the municipal sewer plant, for instance. Driving the garbage truck. Making sure the crops farmers plant are nurtured and harvested. Delivering food essentials to the population. Placing food on the counters for sale to the public.

Now isn’t that interesting? The most fundamentally essential jobs in our ‘civilization’ are the least coveted? That the rewards for doing them are less than those for people selling something, or representing someone in a lawsuit, or working in a unionized factory as a piece of an assembly line? Or repairing automobiles?

I’m inclined to believe the entire issue of the work ethic in this country, and the people who embrace the notion it’s a measure of human worth, needs a lot more careful examination.

I hope I’ll be doing some more blog posts about it for a closer look. Which I expect will raise the hackles of some readers.

Old Jules

Advertisements

The Occasional Crisis of Values – Philosophy by Limerick

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Eavesdropping on a conversation between young adults at a nearby table in a restaurant Thursday led me into a lot of pondering afterward.  All these rosy-cheeked youngsters believed they had long lives ahead of them, believed a human life can be lived performing occupations and activities to give it value and meaning.   They wanted this for themselves and were searching the databases of wisdom available among the young for answers to where it might be found.

They didn’t want to waste their lives, as they believed their parents, other older folks they observed, were doing and have done.  They examined and discarded dozens of avenues of human endeavor as meaningless, having no worth. 

Buying and selling almost anything from automobiles to insurance to consumer products found no home with them.  Lawyering, law enforcement, engineering, health care, drew closer examination, but were found wanting.  They’d had been damned by close observation of these fields as manifested in their own homes and the homes of acquaintances.  

They’d seen the inside of the lives of people who spent their days doing these things, experienced their interactions with their children and other family members.  Judged the professions to be worthless as a way of passing time because the dysfunctional home lives of so many served as a testimony no relationship existed between earning an affluent lifestyle and anything admirable in personal behavior outside work environments. 

But underlying the entire conversation was the assumption some profession, some job, some means of earning a living, could provide value to their lives in ways they’d be able to recognize afterward.  The unspoken determination that when they reached, say, the age of that old cowboy-looking guy over there reading a book, they’d be able to look backward with confidence and satisfaction their lives had been worth the effort of living.

A few years from now they won’t be thinking of those things anymore, most likely.  They’ll become involved in trying to scratch out a living, satisfy a mate’s desire for a new car, trips to Europe, big house.  Keep kids in new clothing and whatever else people buy for their kids these days.  There’ll be no place left, no niche of yearning they’ll be able to allow.  The value of the lives they’re living will be manifested in the cars they drive.  The homes they sleep and entertain themselves inside.

By the time they arrive at the age of that old cowboy-looking guy over there they’ll be so far removed from concepts of life being worth living the default position will be a habit of thinking assigning it intrinsic value.  Worth prolonging at any cost, no matter how it’s been spent, how it’s currently being spent.

They’ll mercifully be spared asking themselves whether they’ve wasted their lives doing things that didn’t need doing, might well have left the world a better place if they hadn’t been done.

What’s important in life is official
Sign-painters declare, and initial,
“Portfolio sums
When we die, keep the bums
From the ponderous and superficial.”

Old Jules