Monday, September 27, 2010

Saint Monday

I am a very strong advocate of Saint Monday, which was the tradition during the Industrial Revolution for skilled workers to skive off the Monday. It was in response to regimented working hours (brought on by factories and mainly the spread of the dreaded clock). Before then workers would be paid for the amount of work that they did, not the hours they worked and would work when they wanted and stop when they think they had earned enough money. They held leisure time in higher regard than working (you can read more about it on my slow blog here).

It was only the onset of the greedy puritanical factories owners who valued money over all else and forced their workers to work fixed (and much longer) hours.

I am always deeply suspicious of people who work too hard. I have had the honour to work with people in hospices for the terminally ill and you know what? Not one of them ever turned round to me and said, as their dying thought, "I wish I had spent more time at the office...".

When did working become more important that anything else? This odd and (if you think about it for a minute) very strange belief system is really fairly recent, what 200 years old at best? People destroy their families due to the expectations of them at work. It is utterly ridiculous!

And Benjamin Franklin was wrong, very wrong, time does NOT equal money and this insidious belief has twisted our working life ever since.

I think we could easily move towards a 4-day work week (and have done for a long time before I came across the slow movement), who decide on the 5-day week anyway?!

Not that I am saying we should all be lazy shirkers, not at all. I firmly believe we should be responsible for our own lives and our own destiny and we should not bludge or sponge off other people. But there is a balance here that is not being observed. We have tipped the scales too much the other way, too much to "useless toil" (as William Morris called it) and away from leisure, enjoyment and fun. I "work" hard, but I don't consider it work as I enjoy what I do (even if it stresses me out big time occasionally!), as Confucius said "Choose a job you love and you will have to work again". Everyone should strive to find a way of making a living that does the same for them.


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