Graduation and a willingness to work
There’s nothing wrong with working hard. Or long. In fact, there are plenty of pluses, and it’s mainly a matter of liking the work, the job, and of setting some work/life balance.
Hard and long doesn’t mean lawyers’ hours, 16- to 18-hour work-days, but it does mean more than bankers’ hours, which is what the folks who fear hard work want—without the educational requirements, the smarts, good sense, and experience of bankers. And, really, which bankers don’t work hard?
Yes, some people can’t work these hours, for medical or other reasons, and there are plenty who pretend to suffer the ill effects of hard work. It’s more about willingness to work.
Fear of hard work, or just the distaste of it, is a luxury. In most societies, it is mandatory, even when work appears rather easy-going. The work part, when it comes, is demanding and difficult.
The simplest – even the most simplistic – explanation for valuing hard work is that it is the source of our own self-respect. Look at it in reverse. Those who avoid working are building up an unacknowledged sense of guilt, one that will come around to bite them hard as they age and begin to look for more than a pay cheque out of life. Self-respect is one of our most valuable assets, one we have to earn for ourselves.
A lack of self-respect leads to a deeply hidden feeling of guilt that we are not pulling our weight, doing our share, in making this a better, more just, and more comfortable world. The guilt manifests itself, even while we brag about not having to work; avoiding work creates bad faith in our psyches.
Bad faith leads to plenty of difficulties, always second-guessing ourselves, always fearing that any criticism, or even any comment is some form of disguised criticism. Those who fear or resent criticism the most are those bearing this gift to themselves of bad faith. The end results are not pretty and can be extreme. A suicide bomber (addict, down-and-out) starts from this self-loathing.
On the other hand, self-respect is a trait that will take us a long way, and through many a social minefield. It is what will carry us to our most difficult goals, especially in our hyper-competitive society.
Anyone who brags that they need not work, that life serves them on a silver platter – for no other reason than that they are able to pull off not working—are suffering the Delusion of Our Time, the delusion that we are entitled to not work, to receive a cheque in the mail for no productive reason. And that delusion is the door that keeps opening onto other delusions and foolishness, the door that leads often to depression and an inability to achieve almost any goal at all.
All this seems worth reflecting upon during this season of graduations. Doesn’t a good attitude often mean as much as any diploma?