424. Work

Everyone has different ideas about what qualifies as work, play, or rest. If some people are involved in a basketball game, and they seem to be having fun, their activity could be called “play.” If it doesn’t seem as difficult as other things they do, it could be called “rest.” And if they get paid, some people think of that as “work.” The boundaries between work, play, and rest aren’t as well-defined as some people think.
With that ambiguity in mind, let’s take a look at “laziness.” I think most people do what they think they need to do to get their lives going. Some think they need lots of money, and they often do work they’d really rather not do so that they’ll get money. To some of them, people who enjoy their work but don’t earn as much can seem lazy. Some people earn a lot by sitting at desks and talking to people, while others earn very little by lifting heavy things all day, or doing other work many of them would rather not do. Some people want to find jobs, and can’t. Some are accused of not even wanting to find jobs – just living off the work of others. I don’t buy that point of view, but I know people who swear by it.
To me, there’s no point or truth in calling any of these people “lazy.” I think they’re all doing what they think they need to do. Human beings have a long history of trying to avoid hard work. They’ve invented all kinds of gadgets that make work easier, or unnecessary. We haven’t called people “lazy” because they’ve moved to California using covered wagons or trucks, rather than carrying their belongings on their backs. But really, the horses and trucks did a lot of their work. And over the years, I’ve heard many people who’ve said and believed that they’ve built their own homes. Most of them relied heavily on many other workers.
Now, let’s look at the child who is not doing the work the teacher has assigned. Maybe the child is not interested in the work – does not think the work has anything to do with him/her. Maybe it’s lack of confidence – why struggle to do what’s impossible? Perhaps he/she does not like being told what to do, and is rebelling. It could be that the child is not even aware that there’s work to do; not everything a teacher says or writes is necessarily heard or read. Calling a child or adult “lazy” may help whoever is using that label; we all need to make sense of our experiences. But I don’t think it’s accurate or useful.
I’ve spent much of my life thinking I’ve been lazy. After all, there’s been plenty of work I haven’t done, even though I could have. I could have exercised more. I could have taken more courses. I could have chosen a career that made me richer. And now, I could do things to earn more money. I consciously think I lack energy, and the medical world backs me up on that. But there are still unconscious murmurings inside me telling me I’m lazy.
I’m not lazy. Neither are you. Neither is the adult who hasn’t found a job or the child who isn’t doing the worksheet.

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