Monday, June 4, 2012

A Splendid Life Is Doing Splended Work

St, Thomas Aquinas said: "A splendid life is doing splendid work." So begins the Peace Weekly article on labor. Since labor is a big part of life it is a serious issue for many. Humans have to labor to eat, drink, and live, but we know this is not all that labor is. Labor that has meaning is preferred over that without meaning. Work that is meaningful gives meaning to life.

The columnist asks, what is meaningful work?  It provides our clothes, food and a place to sleep, and these objectives obviously should not be underestimated, but these goals do not exhaust all that can be said about meaningful work.

Korea's financial progress in the last few decades has been dazzling, but we also have a high rate of suicide and a low happiness index compared to other developed countries. This speaks loudly, the columnist reminds us, that working for material progress is not the ultimate answer to all our problems.

More to the point, he says is to compare the working enterprises we are engaged in to organisms made up of still smaller organisms, the cells, which to maintain the vitality of the larger organism have to be nourished. When these cells, in this case the workers,  have a positive appreciation of the work, the competitive ability of the larger organism, the enterprise, is greatly increased. This "transcendent humanism" is referred to in the Encyclical Truth in Charity:
"Integral human development on the natural plane, as a response to a vocation from God the Creator, demands self-fulfillment in a transcendent humanism which gives [to man] his greatest possible perfection: this is the highest goal of personal development( #18).  And adds (in #11), "Only through an encounter with God are we able to see in the other something more than just another creature, to recognize the divine image in the other, thus truly coming to discover him or her and to mature in a love that becomes concern and care for the other.” 

Enterprises that search for this common good are helping the workers to appreciate  the value of their work. This will help prevent countries that have accepted the capitalistic system from becoming tools for greed  and exploitation. Efforts of the enterprises and the workers are necessary to prevent this from happening.

Hildegard of Bingen said: "When we are able to do good work we are like a garden full of flowers: Able to communicate with the universe." When the goals of the enterprises are attractive to the workers, the resulting work will be as life enhancing to society as light and salt is to our individual lives.

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