Keep it simple, silly

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Honest work

The tall grass waves at me outside the window, “Come and get me!” it beckons with a smirk. It has seen me struggling through its neighbours and delights in the thought of me attempting another assault. “Why bother?” it asks. “I’ll only grow back again just as thick and you’ll almost break your back, and then come winter I’ll get covered by snow and ice, and you’ll be wondering why you ever bothered.” Ah, wave away, I like a challenge.

It’s good to have some physical work to do. It invigorates me. Mowing a grass forest, digging out a floor, shoveling snow, carrying wood: it is all good, honest work. Honest work: that’s an interesting term. What is it that makes it honest? It comes to me that it is labour without excessive thought, and each thought is another step from the truth. Office work is not honest: there is gossip; there is the cognitive dissonance – the compromising of values – that comes with the following of every directive from above; and cooping an animal up inside each and every day goes directly against nature’s intentions. Customer service has all this, plus the dishonesty inherent in pretending to be nice to each customer. Lawyers and politicians are paid great sums to lie through their teeth. Psychologists and counselors attempt to convince messed up people they’re not messed up while covering up their own inadequacies. Even a doctor – signatory to the Hippocratic Oath – must often choose whether to make a patient feel better or tell them the truth. A labourer suffers no such conflict in the workplace.

So what is a worse fate to suffer: a broken body or corrupted values? Tough choice.


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