Acton Institute Powerblog

The Lost Dignity of Work

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From websites promoting help with Monday morning atheism, to an ever present ‘TGIF,’ a place of honor toward work seems to do nothing but diminish within our culture. The mere suggestion that work is not a curse of the fall is unfortunately quite foreign in many circles. Joseph Sunde at Remnant Culture has written a blog based on his reading of Booker T. Washington’s biography entitled Up From Slavery in which he highlights the high ethic and dignity Washington placed on work.

I can only imagine the impact that would be realized in our culture, if the majority of people embraced the principles of Washington’s work ethic and practiced them on a daily basis. If you are looking for further reading on this topic, beyond Washington’s biography I would recommend Work: The Meaning Of Your Life by Lester DeKoster.

There is also a lesson here for our leaders, one of whom recently promised to spur such artificiality faster and further, promoting things like “free” education while ignoring the “drudgery” and “toil” that Washington recognized as necessary for any kind of authentic success and genuine sense of self-worth. How, might I ask, are we to return to recognizing the “beauty” and “dignity” in our labor if the very people who have maximized their utility in these areas—CEOs or investors like Mitt Romney, for example—are demonized and ridiculed for their successes by both politicians and policies?

To be clear, we are not to hope for the same constraining and discriminatory circumstances that Washington faced when it came to racism and mistreatment, but neither should we pretend that true opportunity is realized by constructing some utopian college-bound cookie-cutter and applying it to everyone and everything in what Mark Steyn calls the “Brokest Nation in History.”

Real prosperity doesn’t come from the flip of a magic wand, and it seems that we’ve forgotten that it can and sometimes should come from the sweep of a simple broom.

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Chris Robertson Originally from the suburbs of Cleveland Ohio, Chris Robertson graduated from Cornerstone University with a Bachelor of Science in Bible with minors in Greek and Spanish. Chris is the Program Outreach Coordinator for the Acton Institute. He comes to the Acton Institute from The Salvation Army where his work focused on Social Media, eCommunications, Project Management, and Administration. Chris’ interests include spending time with his wife Rebecca and son Levi, international news, travel, social media, the web and technology. Chris and his family are members of City Hope Ministries in Grand Rapids.

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