Monday, July 29, 2013

Will Work for Profit

Our life - that is, my and Jeff's life together - hasn't exactly been traditional, normal.

We've shared our home with other people for most of our married years, left "full-time" work for "part-time" work (though our lives are still full of work) and we pack up our music gear several times a month to play instruments and sing our songs for little-to-no pay.

We do a lot of other things, too: grow vegetables (tend the garden), drink good coffee (roast it ourselves), have people over for dinner (cook a lot of meals), and make sure there are clean bath towels for our overnight guests (do lots of laundry with our homemade laundry detergent). Those things take a lot of work.

But there is no longer much value in good work. There is value in "good" profit. People are valuable insomuch as the profit (in the form of dollars) they bring in, not necessarily how good their work is (though we cannot argue that good work should bring in good profit).**

What about good work - farming, art, home-making - that doesn't have "good" profit, the kind that changes hands at the register? Is it still valuable? Does it still provide for a family, at least in some way? Is it necessary in order for people to live whole, healthy lives? If the laundry wasn't done and the vegetables weren't harvested and mother was never home and songs were never written (and, consequently, never heard), I think we would ourselves less human, less full.

I won't write about the importance or doing work that makes money to feed your family: we all know it is important. I am not silly enough to argue it has no value. But I am silly enough to model with my own life that good work matters whether or not it makes money. And I'll keep doing that work - songwriting, gardening, letter-writing - no matter how much time it takes and no matter how little value it has in the eyes of others (though the recipients of this work can attest to its value).

Perhaps we have a big problem: people work hard for money. But what happens when you reduce the money or take it away? People often stop working hard.

Must there be more reasons to work besides money alone?

(**Inspired by the reading of Wendell Berry's The Unsettling of America)

1 comment:

Nathan Brasfield said...

Your thoughts are exactly what the author of Ecclesiastes is getting at. The solution to the problem of toil is not the results of that toil, but joy in that toil--that only God can give. This is such a wonderful message.