Nº 124.- Working for the Sake of Working
One of the secrets of happiness is to work for the sake of working, and not for the sake of a reward but for the pleasure of giving. Every thing in Nature, except men, are fulfilling this law spontaneously: rosebushes offer the beauty of their flowers to anyone passing by the road; if one is making a stroll by a stream, we find freshness, crystal water, rest, and points to reflect; trees are deliver living or dead wood for a fire that gives light, heat and will to live; birds make us happy by their flights and trills; by night, in the field, not in the city, we have stars making us think of the greatness of God. In Nature, everything is happiness. Nature works for the sake of working, and shows us the Way.
How many times we have offered a birth day gift or on the occasion of the friend day, and that present has produced a more intense joy than when we ourselves are given something. Because it is nicer to give than to take. It takes place an inner phenomenon of fullness, which is equal to the value of an offering. It is as if life, by such deed of surrender, is giving us a part of itself, an inner reward, a bit of happiness. This deed can be seen continuously on innocent children that are beyond any profit; they are ever giving presents, any simple thing, a stone, a wild flower, the half of a biscuit they are eating.
Children do not work; they play. They learn by playing, and grow up by clear experiences, and acquire rules of life. When some adults start getting money for a work or merchandise, they stop playing and learning. When they have leisure time –Saturdays, Sundays, vacation– they practice sports, wander by the beach, play cards, or look at shop windows, but neither give nor work for the sake of others. They are happy when they gain; when they lose, their mood is bad. They do not know what happiness is, however more money they may earn because they do not know how to work for the sake of working. And how many things can be made in a community for the sake of the most needy! In Argentina, the 50 percent of its inhabitants in basic need are unable to solve it. If the other 50 percent well-to-do were to give some few hours a week for community help, for the pleasure of giving, Argentineans, all Argentineans would live a state of fraternal understanding that would help to solve hardest problems in our country, not financial problems, but moral and social ones, and those who are marginalized in slums would be able to learn how to work and forge their way.
The Western civilization is improperly organized as a whole and since the beginning because of the will to possess, beyond their needs. We are at the end of that civilization that has produced marvelous works on every social field, arts, technology, architecture, cities and communications, spaceflights, and universities, laboratories and computers, and at the end, one half of Humanity suffers from famine and destitution, lives in tin and carton houses, eats wastes and gathers garbage because these persons have no money to purchase clean food. Even they are unable to purchase medicines or pay expensive doctors. In the United States, an opulent country in other times, unemployment grows and grows; families of two or three children are staying at a motel room, cook fried potatoes and watch TV; there are 14 million houses in auction, which as are empty and dirty, they would be unable to inhabit. After so many years living by an easy credit, they do not know how to rebel and claim for their rights. In Spain, there are a lot of deserted houses under the same conditions, while their owners are living in cities, thanks to their unemployment insurance. Illegal immigrants are leaving North America and Europe behind and coming back to their home countries where they have their relatives and some hope for living better. But there, in Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, Bolivia, and North Africa, destitution is general and without any welfare. Those persons do not know how to work; they grew up in offices and stores, being unable to build a modest brick house or install running water or gas. They do not know how to grow a little orchard of tomato, lettuce, potato and onion, or to harvest vines or fruit trees. Even they refuse to make it and spend their time watching TV and drinking maté and eating fat cakes. Destitution grows and grows in Argentina, Brazil, United States, Europe and Mexico, and everywhere. In Mendoza province, every year there are problems for the harvest of vines by lack of manpower, although there are slums filled with thousands of unemployed persons. Then, Bolivians and Paraguarians are coming by truck along with their families, and they all work men, women and children– like forty years ago and come back home with fresh money to live the rest of the year. Youngsters from Mendoza go on to clean windshields at traffic-lights in red, picking up cartons and garbage, or violating the law just to live without working.
Some quite old motto reads: “He who does not work shall not eat”. At the end of this age, many persons do not work and get State subsidies to eat. Our modern society is full of holes, niches and crannies where those who do not work are thriving and living on others. They have missed the meaning of working, which goes beyond any money retributions. Until the last moment, one has to work on needs and quite simple activities. Those who live and do not strive for working are missing the meaning of life when it is more necessary at old age, and they die a bad death. Working is necessary in one’s existence and those who do not work become parasites for the rest of society. As the old age comes, and one is free of obligations, then the need to work for the sake of working is born.
It is quite known to men how much misfortune they are given by money, whether they have it or don’t. When one has a lot of money, we have to watch and lose; and when one has little money or nothing, we feel unhappy. Because to have or don’t is no a matter of bank accounts, but of will to possess and greed; in short, a mere spiritual problem: Renunciation. Those who live at tropical forests, in shacks they have built by their own hands, and live on hunting and picking up are no covetous because Nature provides with their needs. Likewise fishermen from Polynesia, simple farmers growing their orchards and refusing to migrate to the town, boys from healthy families of middle class, and cloistered monks; all they consider it is enough what they have.
Renunciation to material things can be so difficult? Is a matter of hermits or perhaps any person of a healthy mind and staying in the centre of a big city can discard superfluous things of a consumerist and commercial civilization in our days? It is difficult but not impossible. One has to begin by simple, apparent harmless things, which are quite demanding: TV, sport shows, and subhuman works. A kiosk attendant shall spend his life at a room of two square meters watching pedestrians coming to a fro and how years are passing, smoking endlessly, when the open space begins nearby with eucalyptus forests, cattle and a hut now and then until reaching the mountain range. A kiosk attendant can be settled anywhere on such immense space, but he shall miss both the prison and noise of buses and motorcycles. As soon as he sleeps outdoors, he shall be unable to cope with that great starry sky. He will come back to his confinement. Freedom is for so few persons. Everybody can try this challenge, and in case of winning, he will become the happiest mortal.
In a city, a person has many chances to work without payment, by fulfilling community tasks. Saturdays and Sundays are holidays, an annual vacation lasts almost one month, those who are pensioned and over 65 years old are free and do not know how so spend their time, and are mainly gathered at parks with some colleague to “kill” the time. And there are so many needs that the State does not meet at schools, hospitals, dispensaries, and even streets! Shall an inactive person, of any age, dare along with some few companions, even with children, to go to a public hospital and talk to sick people, reading to them a newspaper if those individuals are blind, and making some few errands that they ask? Shall the most prepared go to prisons and asylums to comfort persons deprived of freedom? Shall slums be given help from those who have a house and car?
It is hard to work for the sake of working in our modern society because everything is ruled by money values. Fortunately, first signs of the universal holocaust are looming everywhere: in geography, climate, society and economy. Some people go on to weep for the disappearance of Twin Towers, others by the financial collapse in Europe; and over there, others by a torrid heat and fires in Russia. When chaos and destitution are rampant in the planet, like other times before has occurred with no sign of quietness –Atlantics, Lemuria– what will think the survivors? What do Palestinians think of Gaza, being enclosed by a wall of destruction? And what shall think those people who have suffered from a flood in Pakistan and have lost everything? The Saint Masters know the future and warn previously about the near times so as somehow we may correct our behavior.
Unfortunately, in our present society, the longest are the outer circumstances, the most selfish become the individuals. They feel their rights are inborn and snatched from them, and do not mend their own ways. They are expecting favors from destiny, State or someone. Mr. Smith, from Detroit, has been fired, his mortgaged house has been auctioned because he could not pay, he has sold his motorboat and four-wheeled rural car and took refuge in a little hotel –a room for him, his wife and two children, and they eat hamburgers and watch TV. He has never worked without a salary, and he does not even now. He does not know how to live. He has no choices; his bitterness and frustration are permanent.
The best way to be prepared for the coming times is by learning to work for the sake of working, for the pleasure of giving and not expecting any retribution. So he prepares himself for manual tasks that were unknown to him, but also to face hard times. One should help improving the precarious house of someone else in need, and we shall learn to build a better house when it is our turn. First of all, one shall learn the invaluable gift of supporting destitute people.
Nobody enjoys an Olympic happiness. Divine Justice is distributive and dispenses suffering and joy according to our own merit. A person that, in his opinion, deserves financial and spiritual goods and despairs to get them does not understand the meaning of his existence. Sooner or later, in this life or in the hereafter, he shall have his corresponding share. The best is to give now as much as possible, and in this way he will be given what he deserves, with patience and in harmony.
José González Muñoz