Monday, August 15, 2011

Money and good work

Listening to an episode of Being from a couple years ago, called The Soul in Depression, I thought about how the most meaningful parts of our life, the ones with the most visceral and emotional impact on us and those around us, have nothing to do with money. Rather, it is the things that are immeasurable that can truly shape and change our being in this world, whether it is family, friends, a nice conversation, a good piece of advice, a flower, helping someone in need, a nice meal in your backyard.

I cannot deny the importance of money in this particular culture, and I can understand the need to "work" for money, especially for those that have been oppressed in this culture. But "work", and what what this culture likes to equate work with - a "job" - are two totally different things, unfortunately. The "jobs" people have are more often than not a mindless slavery, wholly unsatisfying and undeniably degrading.  By work, I do not mean only what we do at our "jobs". I do not mean only what we do to earn monetary compensation that we can then trade for something else. I also mean are the things we choose to do with our time. Of course, I would hope that the jobs people have are of their choosing.

And those people that do the most valuable (not in a monetary sense, rather, in an immeasurable sense) work in this world, work that is founded on respect, care, nurturing, and kindness are those that are least compensated by money. Whether it is being a social worker or a psychological therapist, a good parent or an environmental advocate, this is the work that is most challenging - it allows us and forces us to expand our moral imaginations, while at the same time exposing the contradictions of this culture, its carelessness and ruthlessness. How can we structure this all-encompassing work, which includes our "jobs", such that it is founded on respect, care, nurturing, and kindness? Maybe such work will allow us to tread lightly enough on this earth so that our physical presence vanishes quickly, yet our emotional presence endures, while at the same time enriching the experience we have on this planet. Good work nurtures what nurtures us.

It is obvious that many of us are trapped in situations in which we feel the push and pull of life in this culture and society. Many do things, have "jobs", that they don't like to support what they like. But why have we structured an entire culture and society on this notion of unhealthy work? Even when we are unemployed, we are drawn back almost zombie-like to an economy and culture that is counter to good work. I've realised that we cannot buy back what we've lost, and so why lose it in the first place? Why not vigourously, ardently, steadfastly protect what we cannot afford to lose, like our environment? Why not expand our moral imaginations to encompass those people and places we don't know, now and in the future? This is radically different from the "work" we do nowadays - of fighting militarily, of extracting and pillaging and plundering.


  1. Unhealthy work is the 'progress' from peasant life which was a 'progress' from serfdom, which was a 'progress' from slavery, according to Western mythologic history books.

    fighting has been punished by prison, toture &/or death. And it's also true we can not buy back our life once we lose it, so is surrending coward?

  2. How do we get rid of the elitism that results in unhealthy work? Any thoughts?