A response to Justine Toh’s, “Work has conquered every day of the week. How do we remain human in a world that worships toil?” The Guardian, Monday 20 November 2023, online.
I find these days with journalism, the semantics is so much more unclear, such that one reads an enjoyable piece, about some value that is ‘celebrated’ rather understood, and the applicability is not apparent. Perhaps, it is me: not singularly, but as a part of a large underpaid, or not paid, older workers grouping. As I read thinkers of the past, I understand that experience and meta-reflection counts for much of our understanding, but employers and contractors act as if that insight is bullshit. Why is that so? As I compose this piece of “journalism”, the chief executive of Optus, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, has resigned. Is it that persons of corporations are threatened by persons of philosophical intelligence, in revealing the truth of paid work?
Justine Toh **appears** – since the lack of clarity – to celebrate the grace of God in the time of rest. From my view, that is fine, but inadequate if exploring the issue of work. Work can be toil. Work can be worshipped. Work can rule your life. But not necessarily so.
Here I am working in “journalism”. Its Monday morning, the beginning of the work week, but I was working yesterday on ‘the day of rest’. This work is not toil for me. I miss my late wife, and thinking of her, I think – nay, work at (cognition)– the issue of work and life imbalance. The challenge is that work rules one life, but that is not clear as work does not rule my life. It is my life. Without a meaningful partnership anymore, work is almost completely who I am, with a meaningful slice for my daughters, family, and friends. Even there is work. I take meaningful relationships seriously. The clownish fools would say, mockingly, I have no fun. They are simply wrong in their mocking stupidity.
In the semantics, Justine Toh is not writing for me. I am not the target audience. Fair enough. But the semantics issue is that Justine Toh is not writing about the nature of work. That actually becomes clear when Toh writes:
Plus, if (like me) you live in Sydney, you know the place demands endless hustle. The cost of living is biting? Get a second job, said the former Reserve Bank of Australia governor. Want to own a home? In the second-most expensive property market in the world (after Hong Kong), some say you’ll need to earn $250,000 a year to afford a typical dwelling.
Toh’s piece is about the cost of living in the particular condition of a fairly well-paid job (work). Even those with well paid jobs are struggling to live. To have a life beyond the toil.
Here I am doing community research and education, right now, as I try and clarify the semantics of an inexperience journalist. And I have no direct income for that work.
What does that say about the meaning and reference of work?
That is my challenge of community education. If you want an answer, perhaps you should pay me.
Image: Neville and the Southern Brisbane Suburban Forum Inc. (SBSF) team working on Sunday.
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