Then ask how such workers can take any joy in work

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Unformatted text preview: embered that to work steadily every day and in the same place is not an innate circumstance of man's life. For the untold centuries before he developed into an agriculturist and a handicraftsman, he sought his food and his protection in the simplest way and with little steady labor. Whether as hunter or fisher or CHAPTER XII. 107 nomad herdsman, he lived in the open air, slept in caves or in rudely constructed shelters and knew nothing of those purposes that keep men working from morning till night. It's a long way from primitive man and his occupations, with their variety and their relaxations, to the factory hand, shut up in a shop all day and doing just one thing year in and year out, to the housewife with her multitudinous, never-ending tasks within four walls, to the merchant engrossed with profit and loss, weighing, measuring, buying, selling and worrying without cessation. The burden of steadiness in labor is new to the race, and it is only habit, necessity and social valuation that keeps most men to their wheel. We would, I think, be oversentimental in our treatment of this subject if we omitted two hugely important factors in work character. Two powerful motives operate,--the necessity of working and work as an escape from ourselves. Not much need be said of the pressure of necessity. "To eat one must work." This sentence condenses the threat behind most of the workers of the world. They cannot stop if they would--for few are those, even in prosperous communities, who have three months of idleness in their savings. The feeling of insecurity this fact brings makes a nightmare out of the lives of the many, for to the poor worker the charity organization is part of the penalty to be paid for sickness or unemployment. To my mind there are few things more pathetic than a good man out of a job, and few things for which our present society can be so heartily damned. Few even of the middle class can rest; their way of living leaves them little reserve, and so they plug along, with necessity as the spur to their industry. To escape ourselves! Put any person of adul...
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