Hard Work in America
When I was young boy working on the farm, we had a saying about hard work. The name of someone who wasn’t known for his hard work might come up and somebody would say, “So-and-so, he’s not afraid of hard work; he’ll sit down right next to it!”
It might have been the farm where there is always something to do and one gets started to working at a young age or it might have been the era in which I grew up. I would imagine it had something to do with my father and mother, but work was expected and much of the farm work was hard work.
I write about this today because there is something that is said often and it doesn’t take too long for it to be said. “You can’t find anyone who wants to work these days.” That’s true and false. I am blessed to be around many people who have a very strong work ethic. It might be said that they work from “can to can’t.”
On the other hand, Donna Sue and I have experienced, during the renovation of a project, great frustration at finding people who would do what they said they would. And when they said they would. Oh, in the hiring process, it’s all good. Yet, when the rubber meets the road, there’s the no-show and the no-call.
What was expected to be a three or four week project, according to the initial conversation, turned into a two or three month “teeth-pulling” experience. When speaking to others about the frustration, it’s almost a universal, “nobody wants to work anymore.”
Among the many things that made America great was the American work ethic. I guess it took such an ethic to make something of this new world. It’s true. The blessings of this North American continent are from sea to shining sea, but land didn’t clear itself and the riches underneath the surface didn’t mine themselves.
Factories and farms just don’t fall from the sky.
Remember the joke about the farmer who had worked very hard to clear his land and plant his crops. His hard work had paid off and his preacher came by to visit. The preacher was very impressed with the crops. “John, those are some of the biggest tomatoes I have ever seen and your corn is the tallest in the county. The Lord sure has blessed you.”
The farmer listened, but also knew how hard he had worked and wanted the preacher to know that. He said, “Preacher, you should have seen this place when the Lord was doing it all by Himself!” We may be blessed in many ways, but work always makes the blessings look a little bigger.
A ride down any street in any town in America these days will show many “Hiring Now” signs. After what happened last year, I think our nation is yearning to make a comeback, but that return to economic vitality is not an automatic given. It’s going to take Americans foregoing some of that easy unemployment money and getting back to work.
It’s time for Uncle Sam to stop making it more attractive not to work than it is to get out and work hard. A safety net is necessary and good for a rich nation like America, but safety nets that are more comfortable cushions than limited nets are counter-productive to being a great nation.
Alexis de Tocqueville was a French writer who was quite “taken” with America in the early 1800’s. He came to visit, observe, and write about her. He wrote of this great American experiment and much of its greatness he observed was because Americans were busy people, hardworking people. We need to get back to work!