Work…. Its Use and Abuse…

Work, Its use, and abuse…

“Finally, renumeration for work should guarantee man, the opportnity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural, and spiritual level to correspond to the role and producivity of each…. ”

(Rerum Novarum p. 649 )

In the United States an interesting thing is occuring people have been going on strike for and in one case in Washington State passed a law requiring higher wages for all employees.

There are so many viewpoints about why this is or is not a good thing.  There are many opinions about why this move would be bad for the economy of the country.

The interesting thing about this scenario is that it has forced people who stop to consider and expore their feelings and beliefs about work and what is means, on the personal level and how it effects them.

The issue centers around a job working at a fast food restraunt and their workers who are demanding higher wages.   This job, working in fast food has historically been the domain of high school children.  Viewed as lowly, entry level jobs used by kids to use as money to enjoy time with their friends. This is certainly not a “real” job for any responsible adult, and certainly just a job to learn about the “real world” when those employees are sent into a job where what they are doing really matters.
There are several issues with this viewpoint. First in a work environment where the ecomomy is thriving, jobs are plentiful and there are companies who treat their employees with dignity and respect, then the idea that these are ” lower level jobs for young kids” might be justified.

Like many other things, in an economy that is not thriving, and the jobs are not plentiful, we are forced to look at our perspectives in a new and different way. These jobs are taken on by hard working,  people who are trying to survive on what little money they make.  In many cases they are the elderly, those who have fallen on hard times,   Some of them who might have made poor choices in life and are starting over.

In a somewhat larger lens, the questions involved are more about why it is that we look at these employees as “less”.  Not just in  these fast food locations, but there is a larger problem where companies view their employees not at people, but as machines or commodities.  There is a larger issue where companies engage in a de-humanization of the person.  Like any other piece of machinery or commodity, we can throw it out once it nears the end of its expected use.  We can use it for things it was not intended to do with cheaper parts and objects and since there are so many other parts just waiting to be used, we will just toss this one and get another.

The use of threats and fear, unreasonable expectations and policies that cause unneccesary anxiety and stress.

Then there is where we need to also look in the mirror.  Our society has created this view of some people as being “less” than others, worth less, need-less, use-less, and just plain inferior.  They seem to us “less” because of how they speak, or their level of education, their job title, their relationships, what family they belong to, or because of the work they do.

My mother used to say ” THere is dignity and honor in every job.”  This simple statement taught my brother two things.  That we should take some pride in the job we are doing, and that job is worth having because it fills a need.   THe second thing was that  no matter who it is that no matter what business you enter, or utilize, that every person deserves honor, and respect no matter what job it is that they do.

Work fills a certain spiritual need.   Work ( provided correctly) provides dignity to the human person.  It should provide a means  for a person to provide for themselves and their family.  It should provide for enough surplus that they can participate in the life of their own society, and the needs of their spiritual lives.    It should provide time away from their job not only for relaxation, but for their spiritual lives.
Work should not only provide for but demand, provide for,and protect the respect and dignity for every single employee it has regardless of their job title.  THis, because the Christ in each of us may be the only Christ that person sees or has seen.  Because that person is in the in dwelling of the Holy Spirit and because they are the neighbor, we are supposed to be loving.

May God give you the gift of His peace…

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One Response to “Work…. Its Use and Abuse…”

  1. SaintlySages Says:

    Perhaps one can learn much about labor by meditating upon how Christ might have understood His occupation as a carpenter in Nazareth. God bless!

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