An Honest Day’s Work

27 05 2010

Dear Fellow Canadians (I will call you FC from here on in),

Up early (thankfully, given today’s proverb) and had to laugh when I read Proverbs 6:9-11. Check this out:

“But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”

This verse just puts it out there, doesn’t it? Lazybones…

As a Canadian, I am so thankful for the many of the benefits I have available to me.  When I am sick – no matter what it is – I know I will receive medical care and it won’t come with a back-breaking bill; there is even “medical leave” and “disability” if I run into issues where I cannot work at all. If I lose my job, there is Employment Insurance to buy me some time. If I really fall on hard times, there is social-assistance. When I get old there is (or more accurately, might be) Old Age Pension.

On the other hand, some of these things are cradles, lulling our generation into inaction. I don’t know how many times during this “recession” I have heard the line, “I deserve” or “you deserve.” Do we really deserve anything, FC?

Do we deserve a vacation? Do we deserve dinner out? Do we deserve coffee? Do we deserve hand-lotion? Curtains? Whip-cream? Pay-per-view? The internet? A cell-phone?  If that is true, then it should be true for all people. I am thinking that these things haven’t even occurred to the single mom in Africa who has lost her husband to AIDS and is now raising 4 kids by selling coal by the side of the road. What she is thinking about is providing the bare necessities.

I am thinking about the stories I hear from people in third-world nations who have literally only one good hand, and with that hand they provide what they can. Doesn’t that make you feel spoiled, FC?

I often wonder what our Great-Grandparents would say to those of us living in North America in 2010. I have a feeling there would not be a lot of sympathy for our set-back stories.  I think my Great-Grandpa Kaethler would say to me, “Quit your whining. Pick up a shovel and get to work.”  Now that I think of it, my mom used to say, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat” (always popular with us kids).

But we don’t say those things out loud anymore do we, FC. A disclaimer: I realize there are some very legitimate reasons for not working; there are also some very illegitimate reasons for not working; can we tell the difference? I have a hunch that many of our mountains would seem like mole-hills to our grandparents.

FC, how willing — how willful — are we to move past whatever needs moving past to get out, get going, and get it done? How industrious are we? What do we consider beneath us?

What are we passing on to the next generation? Will they look at us and see how we worked with integrity?  Will they see that it is honorable to put in an “honest day’s work”? Will they see thankfulness in us for what we have (or will they remember us always wanting what we don’t?) Will they see moms and dads who faced challenges with spirit and courage?

Will they believe in work, FC? Will they have the guts to face the future and the muscle to put in the effort?  If they have a job and lose it, will they wash dishes for minimum wage versus waiting for the phone to ring while they play X-box?

Proverbs says, “You lazybones!” Just not something we commonly say (or commonly want to hear).

— Teresa Klassen

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