On Friday, we considered whether the work has a time limit, and we saw that is does not, because it is the activity that you would choose do if nothing else got in your way.
Today, we discuss the most important aspect of the work: is it possible for the work to change the world?
Can the work transform the world?
It is all very well, some may say, for people to pursue their passions, but what is it about the work that can make the world a better place than it is now? The answer to the question is simply—everything.
If the work for you involves erasing even the minutest portion of the image that has been etched in place by the Major Myths, then you are helping to build a world in which more and more people can do the work that is their own creative contribution to humanity. This alone is a revolution in human activity.
Recall that until a short time ago, most people made their way in the world as the slaves, servants, lackeys, or dependents of the wealthy and the powerful. Of these people, servants suffered the least, generally speaking, inasmuch as they received a habitation, a wage in some cases, and, in particularly good circumstances, some consideration for their wellbeing from the masters to whom they devoted their lives.
In nineteenth-century America, as we began to eliminate slavery, we also pioneered a new system of labor that included social mobility. It was a sort of capitalism, but not the unrestrained, heedless free-marketeerism that dominated much of the twentieth century. It was a restrained capitalism, in which the capitalist moderated his expectations of immediate profit in order to pay his workers enough for them to put some money aside and become capitalists themselves.
Why would capitalists forego extra profit by paying workers more than the bare minimum they can obtain?
For two reasons. First, so that workers can afford to purchase some of the products being made by capitalists! There are many more workers than capitalists, so if you rely only on capitalists to purchase your products, you are limiting your customer base unnecessarily. And if you yourself can enlarge your customer base just by foregoing some short-term profit—it’s pretty much a no-brainer.
The second reason for paying high wages was so that the worker could eventually become a capitalist himself, and possibly help his erstwhile boss to grow both businesses. Why cut off a source of potential creativity by not giving it the resources to grow? There might be an unknown number of new businesses or spinoffs in the creative ideas of the workers, but if they never have the means of realizing those ideas, how can they benefit anyone? If the original capitalist was decent in his relations with his workers, and if he encouraged talent and welcomed new ideas, he wouldn’t have to worry much about competition from a worker-turned-capitalist, because he would have cultivated a friend as well as a new capitalist by his friendly and supportive behavior.
This digression on nineteenth-century high-wage capitalism just shows how powerful the Myths are. They can even block out a way of seeing things that had once existed and thrived. So, by chipping away at the edifice locked down by the Myths, you would be joining with millions of other people to remove the blinders, to open up new ways of relating to one another. In the nineteenth century, we created a new system, based not on servitude, but on restrained capitalism. In the twentieth century, the restraints came off capitalism, and the Myths projected this unrestrained capitalism as a highly regarded virtue. It doesn’t have to be this way; it wasn’t that way once; it could easily stop being that way now. And you can help by doing the work that comes from your true self, your creative core.
Tomorrow we will address the question of whether you need to be a genius of some king to have the work you do make a difference.
Until tomorrow, then.
4 February 2013
by Alfred George filed under