Work means very different things to each of us, the common factor being the expectation of pay – or the second part of this old phrase, an honest day’s pay. We think of pay being monetary, but there are all sorts of means to be paid for the work that we do.
I’m not much for quoting the bible, especially in this forum, but this particular thought has roots back to this venerable book, such as:
“Show me a man who does a good job, and I will show you a man who is better than most and worthy of the company of kings.”
~ Proverbs 22:29
It is not by accident that the word ethic is tied so closely to the word work. There is reward in working hard – food tastes better and no bed ever felt so soft and cozy except after sustained labor. (I thought of this post after coming in from shoveling my driveway. Winter is just getting started with us this year, spring will have to wait.) There is the old fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper, and plenty of others about being diligent in your efforts.
Our ancestors had strong reason to develop their work ethic, it equated directly to how well they ate, where they slept and the clothes on their backs because if they didn’t work to make them, they didn’t have them. Now that we have found means to trade skills and services, we define work in much more varied ways than ever.
I’ve spent a bit of time this afternoon trying to track the origination of this phrase, but have yet to be successful with the tools available to me at the moment. I’ve already referenced the bible, and old fables. Unions also played a part in the development of this phrase as they worked to help people band together to better define the honest pay portion of the phrase. The economics of supply and demand have helped the definition as all the factors fluctuate over time.
Think what you will about the validity of all these forces, it feels good to do something with a sense of purpose. (It’s still snowing and my son is young and healthy, so I just did enough of the shoveling to be able to say I got some exercise and not enough to be moaning about my back.)
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