Sunday 11 Dec 2016

Working for the Man
M Adam Roberts

I love to work. Most days, I like to get up and go to work rather than not. When I'm working, I feel like I'm doing something. I feel like I'm contributing to something important, doing my part to help the world go around, helping make the earth a better place for us all to live. I feel this is my duty to give something back to life. I'm happy to do it.

Money motivates us to work. It should be otherwise. I wish there was no money. I wish the world could live in harmony, with one another, each person working and giving freely of their talents and taking only what they need, no one profiting off the effort and skill of another.

I recall a song written by the late John Lennon called, "Imagine." The lyric goes, "You may call me a dreamer; I'm not the only one. I hope someday you will join us and the world can live as one."

I imagine the dream Lennon dreamed, of the whole world living in peace and harmony. Everyone loving and caring for everyone else, his or her neighbor as themselves; no one seeking to take anything from his brother,

I see work as a way of giving back to life for all that we receive. We should do it with an attitude of gratitude, and offer it as our gift back to life. It should not be something we must do to pay our debts to the world, giving of ourselves out of the willingness of our hearts. When we expect something in return for our efforts, then our gift is no longer a gift, but a debt to the receiver. Then the questions arise, "How much are my efforts worth? How much am I worth? How much are you going to pay me if I help you?"

I hate how we have to work for money. I think it ruins everything. I believe money keeps us from being happy and content, with what we do and what we have, unable to live the way we want because we must worry about paying for everything.

We feel forced into doing tasks, even if these tasks go against our good conscience. This makes us miserable. We spend our lives worrying about how to keep up with our neighbour.

Where does that end? Our lust for material goods never ends. We always feel we need more, more and more. This means we find more and more ways we can profit off the people around us, and the viscous cycle turns us into greedy takers of life rather than loving givers of it. This way of living robs us of our peace and joy, and leaves us feeling frustrated, dissatisfied and ashamed of ourselves.

Recently, I moved across country to be closer to my family. I wanted to be near them so I could share in their lives, and so they could share in mine. I always felt bad about being away from them, but I always had so many frustrations in my life that I felt it best to keep myself separated from them.

On arriving home, I immediately experienced the overwhelming concern of how I was going to make a living here? I needed to find a job immediately. With the economy the way it is jobs are hard to find, so I took the first one I could find. I notice a signposted on the side of the road that was advertising job openings for cabdrivers. I know the streets of this area well, so I thought driving a cab might be the perfect job for me. I thought I might enjoy doing it and be able to make a decent living at it too.

The possibilities, of the position, excited me. I imagined all the ways I could use it to my advantage. Eager to begin working, I applied for the position and hired immediately. I showed up, the first day, full of enthusiasm and optimism. I hoped for the best, but reality quickly set in. As in all my jobs before, I quickly found the only person making any profit from my efforts was the owner of the company. I was barely making enough money to buy food, let alone build a life for me and provide a decent future for my family.

The other day, more than ever before, it dawned on me. I'm not working for my family or myself. I'm not even working as an effort to give something back to the community for all it has given me. I'm working for the man, the man that owns this company. Only the owner profits from my hard work. He gets rich from my long hours of sacrifice, but he isn't even here! He's off on vacation, on a warm desert island, enjoying the fruits of my labour, while my life and family go without.

It might be different if there was a fair split of the profits between the owner and the labourer, but that is rarely the case. The labourer is vulnerable to exploitation. He or she is desperate for money and the owner is not. It is human nature for the strong to prey on the weak. The rich become richer, and the poor become poorer.

I'm tired of working for the man! I want to be the man, but not. I want to be the man in a different way than most. I want to be a man who is a giver and not a taker. I want my company to be one where everyone within it prospers. I want my company to be one that gives something back to the world. I would offer my services free, if I could.

I don't want much for me, only the freedom to live my life in peace and the ability to feel good about my work. That always seems impossible, as long as I'm working for the man.

I must find a way to work the man out of my plan, and start living life the way I believe in living it. Will you join me and we can live as one?

M Adam Roberts lives and writes from Clearwater, Florida.

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