Work As a Measure of Our Humanity

“Work, we know, is both a burden and a need, both a curse and a blessing,” Peter Drucker wrote in Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. “Whether this is in-born or learned, we do not know—and it does not greatly matter. By the time a human being reaches the age of 4 or 5, she has been conditioned to work. To be sure, child labor is outlawed in most countries, but learning the fundamentals of being a person, especially learning to talk, is work and creates the habit of work. Unemployment we long ago learned creates severe psychological disturbances, not because of economic deprivation, but primarily because it undermines self-respect. Work is an extension of personality. It is achievement. It is one of the ways in which a person defines himself or herself, measures his worth and his humanity.

“The peculiar characteristic of the work ethic of the West is not that it glorified work. That was neither new nor particularly Western. It sanctified the ‘calling’; it preached that all work was service and contribution and equally deserving of respect.”

We wish all of our Dx readers and their families a happy and safe Labor Day.

Men working, circa 1910. Source: Flickr Commons