Eastern Wake: Opinion

Editorial: Why we labor as we do

Welcome to Labor Day weekend. The children are back in school, we’re taking a final break from our labors before we make the final charge into the holiday season, an the weather is sure to turn cooler in a few weeks.

As you sit on a beach, or grill in your back yard this weekend, and think about how nice it is to have a brief respite from work, take just a moment to consider why you look forward to the break so much.

We labor for a couple of main reasons. First, we need to. Second, we want to.

Obviously, the money is a necessary, if frustrating part of our lives. We need it to keep a roof over our heads, to buy groceries, to keep the lights on and so forth and so on. With the exception of the few who are born into wealth or fall into wealth with a lucky lottery ticket, we aren’t likely to be able to maintain our desired standard of living without working for the money that requires. Ask 100 people if they think they are making what they are worth and we dare say, 99 would say no.

And there might be some evidence to back that up. Second quarter statistics from the Bureau of Labor indicate that worker productivity increased 2.5 percent during that period. Wage costs increased by just 0.6 percent. We are producing more product without getting paid a like increase. Nevertheless, the bills have to be paid, so we report to work each morning and do everything we can to ensure the future of our job.

But there’s also a case to be made that we Americans want to work.

Work gives us an identity. Bob is the mailman. Jim is the farmer. We come to know our friends not only by who they are, but by what they do. Work colors our thinking. It dictates, in some cases, how we see the poltical landscape and how we view the larger world. Work also gives us a sense of purpose. Regardless of our pay, there is a sense of satisfaction when we do something and do it well. If you work on an assembly line and meet the company’s production quotas, you feel like you’ve put in a good day. If you marked off all of the items on your to-do list at the office, you can go home with a sense of accomplishment. Work brings us a sense of satisfication.

So why, then, the love of a holiday? It’s simple. The body – and the mind – must rest. So enjoy your time off. You’ve earned it. You should enjoy it.