Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sad Reflections about Work, Meaning, and Freedom

by Miki Kashtan

Although I have been writing some version of this piece in my head for some time, today is the first time I am venturing to actually write it. This is not a hopeful piece, and in this medium I usually shy away from sharing, in full, the pain that lives in me about people’s lives the world over.  I know that many people read this blog and come to study with me because they are longing for vision, for some way to imagine a better life for themselves and for the world. I am glad, most of the time, to be able to offer that vision, which I have in abundance. It’s easy for me to see what’s possible, and I derive great pleasure from weaving stories about what’s possible and from finding companionship for those images. This pleasure, and the care for everyone’s longing, keep me from speaking about the acute and persistent pain I regularly experience about the gap between vision and reality. Why would I want to bring despair rather than empowerment to people? Nonetheless, it is part of my work, part of my integrity, part of my calling, to share truth as it lives in me, even if difficult. So, today, as I am sitting in an apartment in Geneva overlooking a river and the mountains, I am writing a piece about pain, little snippets about the world of work. 

#1: About Menial Labor

Before embarking on my trip to Europe, I got some support from a local teenager who packed my impressive collection of supplements into little plastic baggies. This was work for pay, quite decent pay for a 14 year old. It took her four hours, and she delivered it almost flawlessly. She told me afterwards that it was really tedious and annoying. I asked her if she regretted it. She didn’t, she was glad to have the money, she said, though she wouldn’t do it again. Then she added: “I’m not cut out for menial labor.”