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The Rest that Follows Labor

Alexander the Great is quoted as having said,  “Nothing is nobler than work.” That is a sentiment that I believe has, at least somewhat, passed from our national consciousness. The reason is actually pretty simple and easy to trace – college. Only college produced successful people, only people who went to college were considered worthy. Even, as I think about it, the left’s love affair with communism and socialism played a part.

The work that comes after rest

Even though communism is about the worker, the beloved “little guy” it is still a system that puts the little guy at the bottom of the heap. The little guy is still the one who has to struggle and fight. Even though communism promises a shining future it also promises a difficult and bloody climb. I suspect that the shadow of the proletariat convinced the psyche of many to disdain the bottom and aim for the top. How to get there? College of course.

Be educated, work smart, not hard.

College for the sake of college is not something I have an issue with. I think that college is a very useful thing even if the end result isn’t employment. Learning for the sake of learning is a worthwhile activity. If you want to go to college just to expand your knowledge and you do just that then the whole thing was a success for you. However, for decades now young men and women have been promised that if they want to be successful they had to go to college. I remember this, I’m sure you remember this. It’s been the mantra for so long I doubt many people reading this remember a time when college wasn’t being pushed on youth as the next and obvious step their lives should take. That is, if they wanted to have any kind of good life at all!

Never though, as I reflect on it, did anyone ever teach me anything about college other than generalities. “You can go to college. Get an education. Be anything you want to be.” That’s about it. Looking back on it I now see it for the useless propaganda it is. Like all such tales spun by salesmen of the snake oil variety they leave out the details, give you open-ended promises that allow you to fill in the glorious blanks. Really college is more akin to a fortune cookie than anything else.

Work only can keep even kings respectable. And when a king is a king indeed, it is an honorable office to give tone to the manners and morals of a nation; to set the example of virtuous conduct, and restore in spirit the old schools of chivalry, in which the young manhood may be nurtured to real greatness. Work and wages will go together in men’s minds, in the most royal institutions. We must ever come to the idea of real work. The rest that follows labor should be sweeter than the rest which follows rest. – (Pike, 1887)

The rest that follows rest is the place that many on welfare find themselves.

I’m not opposed to people getting help when they need it. I’m not 100% convinced that help should come from the government but that’s a discussion for another time. No matter what the source of the help is experience has shown us all that too much of it is harmful rather than helpful. If someone has difficulty paying the mortgage for a month or two then someone can help with food, a tank of gas, or even by sitting down with them and going over the bills to see where they can cut back. Sometimes, someone could even pay that mortgage for them. This should all be seen by the person receiving it as a kindness and a gift. Something that should leave them feeling warm toward the other person and realizing humbly that they can stay in their house for at least another month. Living this way isn’t good mind you. Living month to month I mean. Anyone who has ever had to do it knows, it stinks. No “government cheese” tastes as good as what you worked for and paid for with your own money.

In America there are people who live off of welfare. They have places to stay, televisions to watch, cigarettes to smoke, and smartphones to take selfies on.

Their income, month to month, comes from the tax dollars of people who worked very hard for that money. Of course there are people on welfare who want off of it and feel grateful for the help but there are also millions more who collect their “benefits” with greedy expectation. Though they aren’t exactly specific as to why it is owed to them they seem to have developed the belief that it is. These particular people are not prevented by health in finding a job or doing work. Even the people we see begging on the side of the road holding cardboard signs manage to stand in the heat or cold for hours a day, often within walking distance of dozens of businesses. I have wondered to myself how many of them they have applied for. Did they turn in applications at all of them and get turned down? It’s a personal opinion (one developed from talking with these people directly) that they feel holding a sign is less demeaning than working at McDonald’s.

We have children (yes children) protesting and rioting in the streets. The base reason for this is that they don’t want to work. It’s beneath them somehow. They have no idea how the money is made or where it will actually come from but they want their chunk of it – from you.

It used to be that work was honorable. Even those in high positions respected the knowledge and hands of a farmer be he of wheat or of pigs. Martin Luther King has one of my favorite quotes on this subject:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

If you make burgers, do it well. Don’t allow your meat to be lopsided to your bun, don’t allow the pickle to be hanging out the side, and don’t allow the special sauce to be in short supply. If you are in charge of the french fries, for heaven’s sake fill up the glorious red box all the way, tamp it down, top it off, because you care and you care because you know other people care and you care about other people. Even if you don’t care about other people, at least care about yourself. If you don’t do it well for honor, do it for pride, just do it. People notice.

But more importantly, you notice. That’s really the point here. When you do a job, any job, well, you feel it in your bones, in your mind, and in your heart. You know you have done your best and that lifts a man.

When your bones are tired your mind is free – and your rest – the sweetest rest you will ever have.

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