What the work is? (part two)

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Because just like all those workers before us; we also work for living in that we trade our time/labour/skills/knowledge for pay. But unlike those before us, thanks to giant steps in science and technology, we now have time and resources required to seek what is often termed as ‘self-realization’ or ‘self-fulfilment’ or ‘enlightenment’. Hence the proliferation of resources on self-help and self-improvements to suit any taste and fit within any lifestyle imaginable. With free time on our hands we became seekers of higher purpose.  

Surely, you are not suggesting that there is something wrong with that, I hear you saying.  

No, of course I am not. I believe in betterment of one-self through self-realization and education above all else. But, I am also aware of pitfalls unique to our time.  

Provided with the time to pursue our ‘destinies’ and ‘callings’ we come to realize our own limitations and are often left frustrated when, what we come to believe is our ‘calling in life’, fails to materialize into tangible, monetary rewards we need or want to maintain our lifestyles. 

Unless we are exceptionally talented, or lucky, or both, and so we do get paid for what we will be doing anyway, our stretch across the chasm from ‘working for living’ to ‘doing it for love, or pleasure, or self’ is often painful. Mostly because sooner or later we became acutely aware that even the hardest stretch fails to deliver our very best to the either side.  

Modern day management and industrial psychology gurus have long realized that tapping into that elusive ‘voluntary engagement’, when work becomes form of self-expression, is the golden mine of human potential. That is where all the various forms of management theories and practices based on psychological research originated from.  

It is a well-known fact that people are capable of and indeed have accomplished outstanding results when engaged in those activities where their personal interests and passions are roused. Yet, those activities are often not what they get paid for.  

Still, if we are toiling in horrid 19th century work-houses, or are modern-day slaves to production lines in ‘third world’ countries; we would have neither time, nor energy to even consider such pursuits.  

So where is the problem then?  

As with most such questions, there are many possible answers, neither of them simple or complete. I can but hope to touch upon what seems the most obvious.  

By outsourcing labour intensive and mundane work to so-called ‘third world’ countries we have not erased need for it, but have instead simply moved it from our world to ‘their’ world.  

While ‘they’ toil on production lines making consumer goods, ‘we’, the ‘western world’s’ working men and women are employed in less labour intensive, more sophisticated and cleaner industries, in our ‘knowledge economies’. That gives us better quality of life and more time to explore our passions. Or so it seems to us.  

Because the enormous amount of goods produced in ‘third world’ countries is only valuable if it is consumed. And this is where we come in, as consumers. 

Unless we make our livings through self-expressions, such as artists or those answering their true callings, (in this context ‘true calling’ stands for ‘I cannot imagine doing anything else’), we toil in our offices arranged into cubicles, or in any other number of ways ‘knowledge economies’ provided us with, to buy those goods. To make absolutely sure we do that; huge marketing machinery is at work 24/7 without breaks. And we work with and for it, also without breaks, caught in the glow of never-fading neon lights.  

And so those grafting in so-called ‘third’ world countries continue to manage meagre survival by producing goods that flood our markets and which we are made to need or want. The circle is thus closed.  Both; ‘them’ and ‘us’ are ‘rained’ into it. ‘Them’ as produces, ‘us’ as consumers.  

And while true that the length, quality of material and sophistication of our respective ‘rains’ greatly differ, the fact remains that they are still ‘rains’, keeping never-ending production/consumption/expansion  alive and well as it was since the onset of the Industrial Revolution 

This is not to demonize the Industrial Revolution, but to simply highlight that despite all our modern-day advancements, when observed closely, the original, basic principles that gave birth to work for hire remain, even though manifestations of it are very different from one era to another, and from one part of the world to another.  

Moreover, the closer examination also reveals that those holding the ‘rains’ remain much the same as they always were irrespective of changes in appearances. They still hold the power through the ownership of resources and shift those resources wherever they can generate the highest profits from them.  

So what is to be done? 

There are some indications that the hired work as we know it, is set to change significantly in the future. For instance; running ‘cubical nations’ would become too expensive and would have to be replaced with more cost and resource (such as energy) efficient ways that are also more conducive to human nature. After all people do not seem to work at their best when arranged in a battery hens fashion (nor do the hens for that matter). Secondly, future workers would enjoy greater flexibility in terms of hours and times they perform their work and engagement of creative potential would be encouraged, even necessary.  

While those changes are of course primarily meant for workers in ‘first’ world countries, some suggest spill-over effect across the hired work-force irrespective of location. This is based on the notion that our insatiable hunger for supply of consumer goods will greatly diminish, or at least change dramatically, due to scarcity of natural resources.  And that indeed is the key.  

The key with which to unlock human potential for creating future work-force where each and every worker, irrespective of where in the world they are, is valued for their individual contribution in line with their human capabilities and sufficiently to ensure decent life for them and their families. For that to eventuate, demand/supply and production/consumption/expansions formulas of the industrial era will have to become obsolete.

Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

10 thoughts on “What the work is? (part two)”

  1. this is so well written! thank you, you sparked off enthusiasm and hope in me. I’d like to add that to make a living from artistic expression you also need to work really hard, and adapt to a lifestyle where consuming is of little importance. and still, you need money to buy tools and goods for your art. I hope that more and more people realize that we can create a small society within the society where thoughts like these blossom. and where the strength and vitality of this is more evident than the frustration of trying to live up to consumer glorified society.

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    1. Hi,
      Many thanks for your thoughtful comment! I am so very glad to hear about hope and enthusiasm as together they can spark light to illuminate the way.
      Kindest Regards,
      Daniela

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  2. Lots to think about, here. My son is a professor of industrial psychology-management and we have had countless discussions about outsourcing to ‘third world’ countries. He raised many points that I had never even considered. Complicated topic … thought provoking!

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    1. Oh great to hear! I am sure you enjoy great many discussions together. There are many arguments based around the idea that outsourcing to those countries provides jobs and thus helps lift people out of sheer poverty. While, in itself, this is not incorrect, it is nevertheless still based on the same production/consumption/expansion formula.
      Thank you very much for reading and commenting,
      Daniela

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  3. Good Thinking! Given that the world is actually one world of people, and that wealth and poverty have relocated around that world many times over the centuries, I believe that the only way to break this cycle is to address the real causes, namely human greed and lack of compassion for ones fellow human. How this can be achieved I don’t know, perhaps it will only be when humanity has a real common foe, forcing us to band together as one…

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    1. Hi,
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, I am very glad you did -:) And I do agree with your thoughtful observation; we are indeed all members of the same human family.
      Many thanks,
      Daniela

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  4. Thought-provoking and as always, beautifully written! It would be interesting to look at similarities/differences between the ‘centre’ (vs periphery) groups in the First and the Third Worlds in terms of working conditions and lifestyles. In some parts of the Third World, paying for the services of a ‘hired help’ is almost cultural for sectors of society that can afford it (or in some cases, out of necessity). This specialised commodity makes a huge difference to work-life balance and is also a lucrative export to First World consumers – but the nature of the work is not mechanical. Looking forward to your next piece! Love, F

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    1. Hi my dear,
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Indeed you have touched upon an interesting topic, I would love to explore at some point and hear your views further.
      Kindest Regards,
      Daniela

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  5. My husband and I are artists and we shocked everyone when we decided leave the cubicle world and start our own business. We live a life characterized by voluntary simplicity as we chose not to be part of the mainstream consumer driven society. Thirty years have passed since we made that decision. We can’t imagine doing anything else that would have brought us the satisfaction we feel with the life we have led and are still leading.

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    1. Hi,
      Thank you so very much for this wonderful comment. You said it all really … all that I am thinking, planning and hoping to achieve sooner rather than later!
      Many thanks,
      Daniela

      Like

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