Saturday, October 31, 2009
Idleness The Mother of Progress
All bold excerpts are from Dr. Frank Crane's "Idleness the Mother of Progress":
I thought that this title was especially fitting for my current state of life. I hope that progress can be made in my idleness! I think many can relate, as many are unemployed in this economy and I hope that this blog will lighten up someone's day who is unemployed and has some spare time laying around.
"Idleness is the mother of progress. So long as men were busy they had no time to think of bettering their condition.
Idleness is the mother of art. It was when men had leisure from the chase that they decorated the handles of their hunting knives and the walls of their cave-dwellings.
We talk of all men's right to work. There is a deeper right than that. It is the right to idleness."
Ah! What a refreshing thought! There is indeed a season for all things.
"The value of what we put upon the page of life depends upon the width of the margin."
How many employers could profit from this idea! Think of all the corners that are cut trying to reach deadlines, and how many people who say, "oh well, we just don't have the time, this'll have to do."
The margin of my life is very large at the moment, but I am still affected by the fast pace of work from my seasons of business. It is in my blood to hurry up and finish this blog, make it something that'll be decent enough to post, and move on to the next one. (However, this seems to contradict the claim that I am a perfectionist, and I'm not sure what to respond to that thought. Moving on...)
"The curse of America is its deification of labor. Our little gods are the men who are ceaselessly forthputting.
Most of all we deify capital, which never rests, but goes on producing day and night.
We are so occupied in getting ready to live that we have lost the art of living."
Woa. That's a powerful claim. "We are so occupied in getting ready to live that we have lost the art of living." I had to repeat it to let it sink a little deeper. Is it really true? Who is it true of? How much of it applies to me? It's easy to make claims of everyone out there in society, but it quite another to ask to what degree they are true of yourself.
I think that I go through seasons of getting ready to live. I am constantly thinking about having kids in the future, and many times I find myself reasoning, "We need to do this before we have kids, we need to do that before we have kids." I find myself wanting to prepare, and prepare for a career that will carry me till retirement. It's like I want to come to a place where the job is secure, and the kids are on the way, and then I will live. But what is the point of all my days till then? If they are only but preparation, what if kids never come and I never have a career? Have I failed? My conclusion is no. I have realized that while I must prepare to live, I cannot forget to live. It is in the balance of the two that I find my life.
"With us a man is a fool if he sets about to enjoy himself before he has laid up a fortune. We count the woman happy when she has married money, and the child accursed when he has no inheritance.
Every morning we arise from our beds and charge bloodthirsty into the struggle. We all do it, millionaires and paupers. 'Rich and poor alike, you know nothing of the joys of leisure.'
There ought to be two leisure classes, yea three: all children under twenty-one, all women, and all men [and women] over sixty.
The work of the world could easily be done by males between the ages of twenty-one and sixty. There would be plenty of work for every man to keep him from want, and plenty of leisure for every man to preserve in him a living soul."
What a balance there must be for leisure to be a noble endeavor and not an evil one! I like the idea of spreading out the work. Do people really need to work as hard as they do? I think that I am not working now because I have realized the answer is no. In some ways, it is hard to find work because I am an honest, very honest, open-book person. They can see right through to the fact that I value my leisure time, and they view that as a threat. I think many work places are terrified of people who enjoy leisure, because they fear the overspill to laziness. They are attracted to the workaholic, eager-to-please, over-the-top, I'll-come-into-work-at-any-hour, you-name-it-I'll-do-it, hard worker. Because this is what the work places hire, this is what people in society turn into in order to get work. Work places need not be so scared of the man [or woman] who enjoys his leisure. For the best worker is a balanced soul, one who works hard, and then is able to drop work and rest.
Being a woman, I especially like these last thoughts shared by Dr. Frank Crane. While in this generation, some may point to him as anti-feminist, I embrace him as the epitome of a person fighting for my feminist rights. The right to choose to work, but not to have to work, is the best place for women. Women want to be viewed as equals in the work world, and granted that is a good thing. However, I also want men to fight for my right not to work.
"If I were czar of the world, no woman would work except as she might elect for her amusement; no child should do aught but play.
Among savages the women do all the work. In the coming civilization they shall do none. The progress of the race is the progress of the female from toil to leisure.
Every woman is a possible mother. She should be the real aristocracy, the real Upper class, to give culture and beauty to life.
As for man, little by little, he also would lift himself from the killing grind of monotonous exertion. for he would make Steam and Electricity, and other giants not yet discovered, do the dirty work."
I'm always impressed at how much I underestimate thinkers of the time period of Dr. Crane! This was written at the turn of the 20th century, and yet he hit the nail on the head with "giants not yet discovered" that would do the work that men used to do. He just assumed that we would discover new technology-- yet I think he would nevertheless be blown away if he were alive today. We have so much technology now that does so much work for society. One computer can do the work of what several workers used to do. The ironic thing is that rather than decreasing a man's work load, it can put him out of a job altogether, which is not a healthy thing for society. There are more leisure jobs in this century, more travel agents, and more entertainers, more cruise lines, etc, than 100 years ago, however, those jobs are the first to go in a down economy. Sometimes I feel we need to view leisure activities as much of a need as we do buying food, not for any benefit of my own want, but for the want of society to keep men of all jobs employed. (I do want to qualify this statement with a fact that I believe only in supporting leisure activities that uplift the moral fibers of society.)
"To bring all this to pass, you do not need to devise any cunning scheme of government, nor join any party or specious ism. You need only do one thing.
And that is establish justice.
The end of fraud and wrong is fevered toil. The end of justice is the superior product of skill and genius, and their mother, leisure."
Posted by Rebekah Leach at 11:58 AM