Resources for Life

 There are many different theories concerning the moral purposes of this world in which we dwell, considered, I mean, in reference to us, its human inhabitants; for some regard it merely as a state of transition between two conditions of existence, a past and a future; others as being worthless in itself, except as a probation or preparation for a better and a higher life; while others, absorbed or saddened by the monstrous evils and sorrows around them, have really come to regard it as a place of punishment or penance for sins committed in a former state of existence. But I think that the best definition, – the best, at least, for our present purpose, – is that of Shakespeare: he calls it, with his usual felicity of expression, “this working-day world;” and it is truly this: it is a place where work is to be done, – work which must be done, – work which it is good to do; – a place in which labor of one kind or another is at once the condition of existence and the condition of happiness.

Well, then, in this working-day world of ours we must all work. The only question is, what shall we do?

To few it is granted to choose their work. Indeed, all work worth doing seems to leave us no choice. We are called to it. Sometimes the voice so calling us is from within, sometimes from without; but in any case it is what we term expressively our vocation, and in either case the harmony and happiness of life in man or woman consists in finding our vocation the employment of our highest faculties, and of as many of them as can be brought into action.

And work is of various kinds: there are works of necessity and works of mercy; – head work, hand work; man’s work, woman’s work; and on the distribution of this work in accordance with the divine law, and what Milton calls the “faultless proprieties of nature,” depends the well-being of the whole community, not less than that of each individual.

Sisters of Charity, Catholic and Protestant. And the Communion of Labor, by Mrs. Anna Jameson. (Boston (1857)

I must say that while reading the paragraphs following these on the work of men and the work of women, I have an urge to make charts of “men’s work” and “women’s work” at various times in our history. I think it would be interesting (and quite telling) to see how the individual tasks move from one to the other.

Published in: on February 26, 2014 at 1:34 am  Comments (1)  

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. That table of work does sound like an interesting idea!


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