What is our process in writing a Current Events essay? First, we pick a subject that will be relevant to everyone in the Global Village and one important enough to justify sounding a piercing alarm. Nothing could be more relevant than the subject of work. What is alarming about a job? After all, most of us probably believe that having a job is good and lends dignity as well as sustenance to life.
The workman [is] worthy of his hire. (1 Tim 5: 17-18)
Nevertheless, we must remember that work and identity are tightly intertwined. First, our worldview, our beliefs, attitudes and values, determine our identity, which in turn drives our behaviors. If our behaviors on the job are self-destructive, a change is called for—a job change or a change in the story we are telling ourselves about our work.
Our subject is WeWork “which investors recently valued at $47 billion, [and] is on its way to becoming the Starbucks of office culture. It has exported its brand of performative workaholism to 27 countries, with 400,000 tenants, including workers from 30 percent of the Global Fortune 500.” We chose WeWork because it reveals some emerging beliefs, attitudes and values related to the world of work.
When did T.G.I.M. (Thank God it’s Monday) or “toil glamour” replace T.G.I.F.? “Arguably, the technology industry started this culture of work zeal sometime around the turn of the millennium, when the likes of Google started to feed, massage, and even play doctor to its employees. The perks were meant to help companies attract the best talent—and keep employees at their desks longer. It seemed enviable enough: Who wouldn’t want an employer that took care of your dirty laundry? Who indeed?
Having chosen our subject, we begin to flesh out the self-destructive behaviors associated with the worldview inherent in that context. Is “toil glamour” the old Protestant ethic in 21st century attire? (The Protestant ethic in sociological theory was the belief that hard work, self-discipline and efficiency in one’s worldly calling were signs of a person’s salvation in the afterlife.) We often appeal to experts or specialists to add credibility to our conclusions reached in the essay.
Professor of economics David Spencer at Leeds University Business School sees the problem of self-delusion related to work dating to the rise of mercantilism in the 16th-century long before the millennials. “‘There has been an ongoing struggle by employers to venerate work in ways that distract from its unappealing features,’ he said. But such propaganda can backfire. In 17th-century England, work was lauded as a cure for vice, Mr. Spencer said, but the unrewarding truth just drove workers to drink more.”
The Hustle, of course, is not the problem with 21st-century ennui but only a symptom of human suffering originating much deeper in the human psyche. “The grim reality of 2019 is that begging a billionaire for employment via Twitter is not considered embarrassing, but a perfectly plausible way to get ahead. On some level, you have to respect the hustlers who see a dismal system and understand that success in it requires total, shameless buy-in. If we’re doomed to toil away until we die, we may as well pretend to like it. Even on Mondays.”
To conclude the process of writing a Current Events essay we draw the distinction between reality and illusion, between what’s true and what’s not true. In doing so we answer one or more of the three Great Questions: Where am I? (worldview), Who am I? (identity) and Why am I here (behavior)? Click on the link below for the final conclusion of what might be wrong with “lusty Monday mornings.”
Insight # 83: The millions are awake enough for physical labor, but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertions, only one in a hundred million to a poetic or divine life. –Thoreau
- “Oneness,” in this blog and also in the print version Science and Philosophy: The Failure of Reason in the Human Community (2015), by Roy Charles Henry, pages 89-90.
- Griffith, Erin. “Drudge Report.” The New York Times Business. January 27, 2019, pages 1 and 7.