Tracking ID UA-126977798-1
Howdy from Texas:
There are many thought provoking quotes about work and life, including the ancient: "Life is work and work is life" and the poignant line from the American author Robert Byrne of Iowa who stated simply:
The purpose of life is a life of purpose. Hopefully your life purpose and your life work weave together and enrich you and others. Ideally our work keeps us engaged in our skill and knowledge base, provides us with a sense of fulfillment and/or satisfaction, spurs us to be more capable and competent than we previously envisioned. A few fortunate people on our planet even have the experience of "loving" their work and working in a field which is conscionable, which contributes to a healthier way of being and which reaches others positively and possibly, deeply.
However, from my experience observing and working in many countries over many decades, I reckon these folks are in the fortunate minority. Where on the planet you are born, and what family you are born into does make a significant difference in terms of your opportunities in life.
In the west we are bombarded by "individual success stories" and the pop psychology incantation that "you can be whatever you choose to be" no matter who you are and no matter what your genetic inheritance. The reality is, only a small percentage of the 7.6 billion human beings on the Earth will ever truly have the opportunities, training and support needed to achieve their highest aspirations. The majority of human beings will have to follow the lead from family obligations, compromise to state dictates or to "class and position" ordered by others in authority over them. They will work as different degrees of "wage slaves" and be bound to a life of dependence. They will forget or perhaps never know what their unique "life purpose" is. They will submit to a routine imposed by others and many of the masses will submerge their own desires and dreams and learn to live lives of "quiet desperation" as the American Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau wrote in the 1800s. He also wrote: Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.
We must all to some degree be dependent on others. This inter-relatedness to others connects us to the wider "labor force" and to "ordered society". One of the few strategies available to workers in the public sector serving the needs of others in the areas of health, education, safety and protection - is to organize professional societies, band together to speak with a stronger voice about conditions of work, of labor, health, safety and compensation.
The Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor was one such organization. "The distinction between skilled and unskilled laborers was still made in the early 1870’s, yet changes created by industrialization placed the groups in greater contact, often in the factory. This opportunity to bridge the divide of the workers was part of the reason the Knights of Labor formed. The Knights of Labor were formed in 1869 by eight garment cutters in Philadelphia, USA." socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/organizations/labor/knights-of-labor-2/
The formation of "unions" is another example and one that has been controversial since the rise of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) founded by Samuel Gompers in the USA in 1886. Unions emerged in a number of countries and peaked after World War II. In 1955, the AFL merged with the Congressional Industrial Organizations (CIO) to become the AFL-CIO and their influence peaked by the 1980s. However, President Reagan’s "public firing of striking air traffic controllers vividly demonstrated to a weakened labor movement that times had changed. Anti-union politicians repeatedly blocked all union-backed efforts to re-balance the playing field, most recently in 2008-2009, with the successful Senate filibuster of the Employee Free Choice Act." theconversation.com/the-rise-and-fall-of-us-labor-unions-and-why-they-still-matter-38263 (see photos below of teacher strikes in England, India and Oklahoma, USA)
In Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia state legislation makes it illegal for teachers to belong to a union. The Orwellian label is that these are "right to work" states. The rate of union membership for teachers in public and charter schools in the USA is now 70% - down from 79% just ten years ago.
Teachers and the teaching profession, especially for elementary, middle and high school teachers, has been denigrated by media and this has negatively influenced public perceptions. The way American media portrays the teaching profession in films, TV shows and online is designed to focus and saturate the main streams with stories and emphasis on a few sensational cases of teachers caught in criminal and/or shameful behavior. Public perception has been socially engineered in the USA to view teachers as part of a less than noble profession and as less than competent. The salaries for teachers have not been increased although the teaching load, curriculum shifts and class sizes have in most districts in the USA. Teacher training is not subsidized in the USA, as it is in most other countries. Teachers are under constant scrutiny and political correctness policing in their classrooms, on their social media and in their private lives.
Yet those who teach the next generation of citizens in any country, are with children through their crucial stages of development and spend more time with them during these growing years than most of their own family members. Teachers, educators, trainers are a specialized component of the labor force in any/every country. The master teachers are those who can teach their students how to problem solve and think on their own-without teachers-ultimately. Personally it is my intention that my students become "teacher proof" and learn to navigate the subject matter (and their lives) successfully. For most of my colleagues, no matter where I may be in the world, the greatest reward is seeing their students grow beyond them. In the health sector, most of my colleagues are gratified seeing patients relieved of pain and suffering and fulfilling their own purpose in life, partly as a result of our labors and their efforts.
Our students and patients are part of our life purpose. We serve them to assist them with their aspirations and duties in all different sectors of society. We are inter-connected on so many levels. Together we are a force to be reckoned with in the world. It is vitally important for the generations coming up in the 21st century to have employment as well as to learn and practice a diligent "work ethic". The optimum to strive for would be for every country to have enough work for their own population to remain and to strengthen their own communities. I continue to search for meaningful work in my own country full time-but am still searching as this holiday draws to a close. Like many others on the planet, once again I may have to go abroad to find gainful employment.
It does feel good to be on home ground in time for a non-sectarian celebration of "labor" for the Labor Day weekend and to have completed a job overseas where working and living was a daily challenge, but I persevered. While this was not a well paid position in terms of money, in terms of human experience and purpose it was enriching enough for me at this time in my life.
Most importantly I am able to be home in Texas to see my daughter read her second, award winning non-fiction travel book in a public venue and support her efforts as a writer and entrepreneur/ publisher. I feel proud and blessed to see her and the fruits of her labor appreciated by so many people. Her company has just published her grandfather's (my father's) non-fiction book, "Born in Rome". The book launch will be in Houston on September 5. She is probably the one person who could urge him to sit down and write about his life and his career just as he turns 88 years old.
By the way he and my mother are both in their late eighties and still working in their own consulting businesses they created in their sixties.
Hope ya'll can enjoy at least one aspect of your work and work situation.
Until next week.....
Best from Texas,