Chapter 3: A Life of Work
Chapter 3, verse one:To work is to live.
Verse 2:Without work I cannot live, I can only survive.
Verse 3:My work is the process by which I fulfill my potential and give my gift to others, in return I receive the gifts of others from their work.
Work is not an activity distinct from living, it is a natural component in the act of living.Work is the fulfillment of being and indistinguishable from experiencing life.
We are all born with gifts.Some gifts are universal, like love.Others are more individual and are most easily recognized in the arts such as painters, poets, sculptors and musicians.The gifts that we have are the key to achieving our raison d’être in this life — they lead us to the lessons from which we will learn what we have come to learn. The catch is that our gifts are not the lessons, we must give our gifts to others to see the lessons that lie behind them. If we guard our gifts for fear of losing them we deprive ourselves of the fulfillment of our lives; there is no option to giving in the longest run.
We give our gifts by exercising them in the daily course of our lives, which is why work is so important to our spiritual fulfillment.We mean “work” in its broadest sense; we would define work as any activity that allows us to give.Because we are all individual, we all have individual gifts as well as universal ones and, on a spiritual level, society exists only when we all give cooperatively to make a whole. We debase ourselves by confining our concept of work entirely to the physical level and we also miss the point in the process.The machinations of the economy and the exchange of goods, the results of work, can only be success-full if our society is based on an understanding of the truly holistic nature of work, and it’s importance in our individual spiritual journeys and to the health of our society.
If you have accepted the above, you will see how completely unnatural the concept of unemployment is.Unemployment is not a state of being, it is a block to being. In a natural and holistic society there is no unemployment because everyone has something to give and does so freely.It is fundamental to any change that we have a structure that allows everyone to work.It is not necessary to find work for people, only to allow them the opportunity to give.
So, how is it that we have a structure that actually stops people from working?Let’s identify the problems so that we can know what to change.Work is, now, primarily defined in the context of the economy. Nowadays even the efforts of people to help others in the community are included in the calculations of economists and Treasury officials, who know it as “the voluntary sector” — unmasking the subconscious assumption that all other work is in-voluntary.This concept of involuntary work is at the base of our economic system: the less likely an activity is deemed to be “voluntary”, the higher the wages for performing it.As work is not voluntary, people don’t want to do it and so being unemployed is a goal. Using this logic, we should all learn to accept that we will have to work involuntarily, in activities we do not enjoy, to “get on in the world”.And so the list of attitudes goes on, all stemming from the one false premise that work is not part of life.
The general assumption that work is involuntary is relatively new and originates from the same time as our industrial societies.An industrial society requires the mass production of goods, which are most often made of raw materials that are only accessible using machines, produced by the industrial corporations that need the raw materials. An industrial corporation requires scale because the capital involved in production is too great to be justified for a small quantity of output (except in the case of military products).Scale requires the division of labor for maximum efficiency and the sublimation of workers to the same level as raw materials.
So an industrial society is structured to meet the needs of an industrial economy which is, in turn, based on the model of the industrial corporation.The features which describe this structure are scale, mass output, the division of labor and an appetite for raw materials.
Scale means that economies, and therefore societies, are dominated by a few, very large, corporations.The ebb and flow of the fortunes of these corporations have consequential impact on the whole of society.During the ebb they reduce their resource utilization (read ‘lay off workers’) and during the flow they ravage the Earth with their voracious appetite for raw materials.
Mass output means that short life expectancy products, that require replacement, and are not ideal because most products are a compromise for the need they seek to satisfy — needs are, in reality, most often unique and individual. The result is enormous waste (over 99% of all inputs into the industrial system are waste within a year!) as well as mass dissatisfaction.Byproducts of this are: indoctrination with mass indifference and acceptance of mediocrity.
The division of labor means that everyone is amputated from the whole and thus the spiritual satisfaction of work.It also means that we are required to be specialists who have to find a particular type of work.Without that work, we cannot “work” because we have ceased to be a useful resource to the large, industrial, corporate employer.
The appetite for raw materials means that we disfigure, deplete and pollute the Earth’s natural resources without proper regard for the future health of the environment and therefore our descendents.
In summary, we believe that work is life and not an involuntary activity that has to be endured for the sake of continued existence.The nature of work is dictated, in large measure, by the structure of our economy and society.To get back to a more natural and fulfilling life we must move forward to new structures that allow us to be individual contributors in a mutually supportive environment.
Let us leave you with the thought that the Yukwana Indians, living in the heart of the Amazon jungle, do not have a word for “work”.
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