• Cate

Work, Work, Work

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

A popular theme these days is work: who is doing it and who needs to do it. I’ve been thinking a lot about paradoxes lately. I feel like the subject of work is a good way to take that apart.

The dictionary defines a paradox thus:

par·a·dox

/ˈperəˌdäks/

noun

noun: paradox; plural noun: paradoxes

  1. a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true."in a paradox, he has discovered that stepping back from his job has increased the rewards he gleans from it”

Now we’re on the same page. I’m thinking about the statements people make that prove the paradoxes. The paradoxes are the rebuttal to the contradictory statements that people have become at home with settling arguments with these days.

I am often shocked at the level some people will reach towards to put their minds at ease. It’s almost as if they never want them troubled. Why wouldn’t you want your mind to ever be troubled? When we feel troubled, those are red flags going up. We need those flags. Others need us to see those flags.

The contradictory statement at hand is “Everyone needs to work for the world to work.” It’s simply untrue. I can come up with a million paradoxes to prove it, but would it change your mind?

I want to clearly state the paradox I want to elaborate: A person’s worth does not lie in their ability to generate an income. It’s a crazy idea, right? I have all kinds of crazy ideas. But this one is pretty sound.

There are all sorts of people in the world and there are all sorts of jobs. The general theme these days is that money makes the world go ‘round. But that is another contradictory statement. Money is the key to the destruction of the planet, not the salvation of it.

But we’re talking about work here. Think about all of the things that you do at your job. Think of all of the time you spend getting to and from your job, getting ready, commuting, traveling to your workspace…. It’s time that adds up.

If you’re a parent, that time increases. You must figure in childcare or school, after school care or activities, medical and dental appointments, shopping to meet the needs of the child, and many times their wants too. Then there’s transporting them everywhere.

We travel to work because there’s more money to be made in the city, or across the state border. We spend hours stuck in traffic to maximize our dollar. We pay taxes, we pay health insurance, we save for the future if we can, and we pay our bills.

We work until we’re burned out and then we stop working, to the demise of our active minds. Life slows down. Our bodies fall apart. Our minds fade. You may wind up in a nursing home at the end. Does anyone really want to be there?

This formula doesn’t make sense to me. If you’ve been poor (oh boy, have I been poor!) you know how much it costs just to live. To barely make it by takes everything you’ve got. You may work two or three jobs to make ends meet. You may still need help to afford the skyrocketing cost of rent and general cost of living expenses.

Meanwhile, the poor have less access to healthcare and contraception, so they end up with more kids. Those with money or from money can choose whether and how many kids they have or whether to even have them at all.

When your Planned Parenthood gets shut down because people don’t like one of their services and you lost your free access to birth control, you got pregnant. You did your best but your one resource was taken away. Is that not the fault of someone pushing their selfish agenda into your life?

Whether you’re rich or poor depends on your ability to obtain and maintain gainful employment. It has everything to do with what resources were available to you as you were growing up. Did you go to a good school? Did your parents have enough money to buy you clothes? Did you have enough to eat? Was your mom there because your dad made enough money to support the family? Every piece of it matters.

When you condemn a single mother to work 3 jobs, you leave her children in the care of sometimes questionable people or leave the kids free to govern themselves. The contradiction here is that society vehemently wants that mother to earn her way while completely sailing over the fact that those kids will grow up to be part of that system of work-for-the-right-to-survive. They may be thrown into a cycle of abuse by being left in the care of people who are not who they appear to be.

Ah, now you see how this fits in with my theme of understanding abuse! That cycle is present in poverty. Why? Because people are tired. Because they work so hard, they try their very best just to make it, and it’s still not enough. There’s no end in sight to their struggle.

This may seem irrelevant to someone who’s never gone through it. But that struggle eats away at you. You may become depressed. You may be whittled away by stress. You may turn to drugs or alcohol to sooth your constant ache of poverty. Everyone hates you and thinks you're worthless anyway, why not drown the struggle and prove them all right.

When it becomes a problem, it creates more problems. Now you have less money than you did before. Now you’re struggling to support your life and your habit. The despair deepens and the habit worsens.

Drugs and alcohol can erode a person’s moral response to situations. Anyone who’s ever been drunk knows that your inhibitions melt away. You do things you wouldn’t do if you had your full moral compass available to you. If you struggle with anger, you might hurt someone in these states. You may feel terrible about it afterward, but you’ve crossed the line. Maybe your parents treated you badly and you slip into old habits.

Your soul knows better. At least, mine does. Throughout my life, my soul has always known what was right and wrong. When bad things happened to me when I was a child and it was completely out of control, my soul knew it was wrong.

And when I drank as a young adult and ended up in bad situations, my soul knew better. When I said no to drugs, it was because my soul knew better. When I chose my children over my social life, if was because my soul knew better. And when it came down to a point of whether to work or to stay with my children when they were scared, my soul knew better and I stayed with my kids.

The responsibility to give children a sound upbringing supersedes the argument that their parent needs to work all hours to provide for them as punishment for being poor. It makes far more sense, to me, to make sure that each child has their needs met and are provided with quality medical care, education, and time with their parents to become healthy, well rounded individuals, prepared for a career out in the world.

Can the poor help but be poor? They cannot. I’m not out to prove how much being poor sucks. You ought to just know: Being poor really sucks. Any single mom has worked her ass off to raise her children and provide for them or given up and the kids paid the price. If there are exceptions to the rule, those who found their way around the road blocks, did they not “work” very hard to get and maintain what they have? They were clever enough to beat a heartless system. Bravo!

Most of our tax money pays for wars. The salaries of politicians should make you angrier than the paltry amount it takes to support the poor in the humiliating way we do. The real welfare queen is the career politician, I don’t care the party affiliation.

It is our duty as citizens of the earth, in a capitalist society, to invest in the youth that will one day take hold of the species’ fate. Who cares if they’re poor. Why is that even still a thing?

We know how to give everyone everything. There is plenty to go round. It’s just, you see, there’s not enough currency in print to pay all of the debt we currently have. With that ridiculous, limiting factor, how can you fix anything? You simply can’t.

Maybe we should take a pause to restructure the way we live our lives. Does any of it make sense to anyone? Shouldn’t we all just stop for a second and have a hearty laugh and say, “Well this is ridiculous! We’re all building fences when we ought to be appreciating each and every soul. This is supposed to be fun!”

How beautiful the world could be if we all stopped working for the sake of working and figured out what really needed to be done! Not for the sake of imaginary currency, but for the sake of souls - beautiful, magical souls! Is that not why we are here? To be happy?

I can’t bear the thought of even one child being hungry or dying from a preventable disease. Why can’t compassion defeat greed? My job is to make sure my kids have what they need. My job is to give them their best chance.

But what about me? Have I not worked hard? Have I not been through things I ought not to have been subjected to? Have I not advocated for my children to give them everything I could? Do I not deserve the support of society to raise these children to be upstanding citizens, prepared to thrive in the world?

Maybe my strong will and insuppressible nature will build me a bridge out of my situation. But maybe it won’t. The reason I’m stuck to begin with is because it’s so ridiculously hard to support children on a single income. It’s hard to obtain that income when you lack the resources to pay for childcare, or don’t qualify for help because “you make too much”, or the childcare simply isn’t available because of a lack of workers due to a pandemic.

The contradiction here is that the people caring for the children who are not in school yet are not available to work, because there is not care available for their children so that they can be allowed to work. Some of those people may even work at a childcare center.

You must come back to the root of the problem. The root of the problem is a pandemic that won’t seem to end. The problem is rushing people back to work rather than taking the opportunity to slow down for a minute to take a hard look at things and whether we’re doing them the right way.

Did not Ayn Rand suggest that the key to repairing the motor of the world was to stop it completely, repair it, and then start it again the right way? Was she not a revered capitalist? But who is John Galt anyway?

There are many fires burning right now. There are literal fires burning, right now. I guess I’d rather talk about solutions than keep pointing out all of the problems that we have. There are lots of problems. But are there viable solutions? Let’s talk about those.

I think it’s time we took a hard look at what we define as “earning a living” and assess whether that formula produces a successful and happy life for the majority of people who are herded into it. There’s plenty to go around. The store shelves are full, yet the poor child’s cupboard’s are bare. They deserve to eat too.

Do you want a solvent workforce? Provide for the kids. Give them activities. Make it tax-funded for every kid. A kid shouldn’t be punished for their parent’s choices. A parent shouldn’t be forced to make tough choices to survive and provide for their child. There’s a simple solution here. You only have to see it. I may speak in paradoxes, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

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