Monday, July 23, 2012


We all have an opinion about "hard work."  Not all of hard work is good work.  Yesterday,I was translating a three page presentation of an executive level person who is presently seeking work.  The reason why he is unemployed at this time is because he resigned from a very lucrative positive for moral reasons.  I was doing this translation after setting down my reflections about "hard work."  So, naturally I related this person's situation to at least one that I suffered during my days as an active Human Resources Director.  I was somewhat more fortunate than he in that when I told my superiors that I would no longer sign anything in the name of the company, they just shrugged and kept me on the payroll anyway.  Just goes to show how ethical they were!
So it is true.  There is hard work, lucrative work and good work.  My definition of "good work" is conditioned by the definition of work that is proposed by the Catholic Church.  It is work that is performed for the benefit of the employer, the employee and the community at large.  In the concept of the Catholic Church, the employer has to care for the welfare of the employee;  the employee has to care for the welfare of the employer;  Together, employer and employee have to promote and sustain the common good of the community at large.  That is good work.  I propose here to give you two examples of what I am talking about.  One from a non-Catholic country and one from a "Catholic" country.
At the end of WW II, the Japanese people had to rebuild their country.  Needless to say there was a lot of opportunity for work. Hard work it was, for the most part.  Everybody helped.  Those who helped were not sent home.  Those companies who were able to set up again and move forward, hired people and did not send them home in downturns.  Everyone was expected to support the community at large, employers included.  It was a time when mutual support was institutionalized.  Japan not only survived, it flourished and continues to do so.  The discipline of interactive assistance is the hallmark of the Japanese people.  Don't take my word for it, just look at the last disaster that struck them less than two years ago.  You don't see them crying "Uncle" do you? 
That is good work.
1961 - I was in Italy as a student.  I was there for four years.  Everywhere I looked there was a street sweeper.  Sometimes two of them to a block.  Construction sites were common  during this season of the reconstruction of Italy after WW II.  They were never active for six or seven days per week.  No way.  It's not that the Italians are lazy.  Nope.  What they were doing is helping one another to nurse the resources so that they would help a slightly inflated labor force to benefit by the work for a little longer until the next contract.  I was never able to see what was happening outside the city, in the far-flung country side, but I am told that even today, the same attitude prevails in the country.  If you get terminated in Italy, you know that you did something REALLY bad.
That is good work.
I believe in that kind of work.  Maybe is it just me.  Maybe it is because of the house I was brought up in.  EFR Dion was one tough dude when it came to mutual support in the work place.  He was deeply resentful of people who were there just for the money.  He used to say that he was there for them and he expected them to be there for him.  He was there for the company and the employees should be there for the company too.  In my mind "good work" is work where the common good reigns.  In an atmosphere of fraternity, even "hard work" is good work.  
I have worked at many places in my life.  There are only two where I could define the work as good.  At neither one did I get paid king's ransom wages.  I left each one of them due to circumstances beyond my control.  [No, I wasn't fired]...I did get fired in my life, but never from "Good Work."

I know that this reflection is a little deep.  I also know that those of you who have been nurtured by the organized labor philosophy that all employers are the enemy of the employees won't believe it.  To that I say, to each his own.  I have always worked for the good of my employer.  I'm 75 and I am still working for the good of my employer.  
My retirement benefit is my God-given health, my brain and my hands.  
Knowing that, you are now definitely not going to be tempted to cry at my funeral.

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