W-o-r-k is the new four letter dirty word. There is even a “War on Work” in America, a civil war, a cold war.
The pernicious entertainment community has a war on work. Their depiction of the non-executive, non-professional worker is evidenced by their portrayal of the American worker as an illiterate, unfulfilled sloven buffoon.
The advertising world wages war under such banners as “you don’t need such a hard job,” “you are entitled to more time off,” and “plan to retire early.” Do anything, but don’t work.
Mike Rowe, star of “Dirty Jobs,” says he has learned a lot from associating with working people. He concludes people with dirty jobs are the happiest of all people. They have learned there is dignity in work. They have found honor and pride in doing a job well.
I have long contended the best definition of happiness is that it is a by-product of a job well done.
I have a dear friend who is one such person. He works for the Dixie Stampede in Sevierville, Tenn., a production featuring a lot of horses and other animals. My friend Steve has the job of cleaning all the stalls and he does it well in order to keep the place odor free. It is a good job and pays well. He then sells the residue to farmers who have it spread on fields as fertilizer. He has one son in college and his daughter is studying medicine at Johns Hopkins in Minnesota. He is the embodiment of the happy man working a dirty job.
The War on Work has resulted in a decline in trade school enrollment. The consequence is a lack of trained workers and a loss of interest by many young people in available jobs.
The government has appropriated $2 trillion to rebuild the infrastructure of America and a sufficient number of workers is hard to find. Jobs won’t work if people don’t want them.
Washington has made a contribution to The War on Work. It has resulted in many people rationalizing themselves into believing it is more honorable not to work and to get paid for not working. In turn, these non-workers become a burden on the workers who are taxed in order to pay them for doing nothing. If I am right about happiness being a by-product of a job well done, these have to be the most unhappy people. If Rowe is right and the happiest people he knows are those who perform dirty jobs, then it becomes apparent how to avoid being unhappy and how to be happy.
For example, if you think the dirty job picking up garbage isn’t important, just let a week go by without the pick-up. Take any trade and close it down for a few days and it soon becomes apparent how important it is.
Innovation is done mostly by executives. Labor is most often done by imitators. The imitator essentially replicates the work of the innovator. Without imitation (production) innovation (creativity) is an end in itself. Each is as essential as the other.
Join a PR campaign showing appreciation for laborers. If you can work and there is a job opportunity, even a dirty job, take it and enjoy the happiness that comes not from what it is, but from doing it well.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.