Teaching the value of work

Randy Riley - Contributing Coumnist

Let’s face it. Most people do not have jobs that require really hard, physical work.

Some Friday mornings, I’ll actually get up to watch the Wilmington City trash collectors come down our street. Those guys work hard. They are always there, rain or shine, freezing or hot and humid. The truck will barely slow down before the men jump down. One runs across the street to the neighbor’s cans and one comes to grab our cans. They heft the cans and dump the trash and off they go sometimes riding on the truck and sometimes running to the next neighbor’s house. They work hard!

Many people have hard jobs, stressful jobs, dirty jobs. Regardless, having a job is a really good thing.

Turning around the economy and getting our country on the track to recovery and a successful future is going to require work – hard work. Most people are willing to work, but unfortunately, many people do not work and do not want to work. Many people are willing to accept the welfare and whatever subsidies and handouts that are available to them.

It’s great that we, as a country, can offer a helping hand to our citizens who need a helping hand, but the help that is offered should never be considered a livelihood or a lifestyle for the future. It’s a shame that some people have accepted welfare as a lifestyle and are passing on that same welfare-lifestyle to their children.

We need to teach our children how to work. We need to teach pride and joy is working and a job well done.

Several years ago, our church adopted a mission project in Nicaragua. The Chacocente Mission was developed to rescue people from the horror of living in the city dump in the capital city of Managua. Over a thousand people lived in the absolute squalor of the city dump. Extreme poverty and disease, and eating trash, was part of daily life in the filth of the dump.

Chacocente Mission was developed in the clean, healthy countryside of Nicaragua to provide families who were willing to work with a chance at a new life outside of the smoke, smell, slime and disease of the dump. Many families accepted the challenge. One of the rules — if you’re going to live at Chacocente, you must work.

Members of our church arrived one hot summer to help the families build a school at the mission. Most of us, probably all of us, were not used to the hard work required to build a cinderblock school building. We had to carry the cinderblocks from where they were unloaded to the worksite. We had to shovel grit, gravel and sand onto a screen to separate the sand that could be used for mortar. We had to prepare gravel, sand and cement mix to make cement that would be carried in buckets, up ladders and poured into wooden frames at the top of the cinderblock walls. It was difficult, hot work and we all pitched in to get it done.

The rough cement and the fine mortar, used for laying the cinderblock, were all mixed on the ground. A pile of dry material was shoveled onto the ground. The top of the pile of sand and gravel was hollowed out, like a pile of mashed potatoes waiting for gravy. Buckets of water were poured onto the pile and the mixture was stirred by hand with hoes and shovels. This work was always done by the children of Chacocente.

The children were always around. They couldn’t do a lot of the heavy work. They didn’t help with every phase of construction, but they always helped mix the mortar and cement.

At one point, we were talking about other ways the church could help the mission succeed. I mentioned that we might want to collect money and buy a small cement mixer that could be cranked or hooked up to a small motor to make the process of mixing cement a whole lot easier.

Several of the adults who lived and worked at Chacocente looked at each other. Then one of them said, “That might be OK, but then, what would the children do?”

What a great answer. They realized that the children need to be part of the process of work and of building their own community. They were teaching their children the joy and pride that comes from a job well done.

We need to focus on economic development and job creation, but we must also focus on shifting from welfare to work. People need jobs, but we need to have a citizenry that wants to work; that values a job.

George Sand, a French writer who lived in the 1800s, said, “Work is not man’s punishment! It is his reward and his strength, his glory and his pleasure.”

Let’s get to work and start teaching the value of work – the value of having a job.

Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.


Randy Riley

Contributing Coumnist

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