I can’t help but think of Labor Day as the side-eye holiday—as in, it’s the holiday to which we give the side-eye. We distrust it, or don’t quite know what to do with it. This is not true everywhere, of course, but on the whole, Labor Day is the holiday we’re most ill-at-ease with here in the US.
In her debut novel, Heartland, Sarah Smarsh recalls growing up as the daughter of a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer; in telling her story, she tells the stories of her parents and grandparents as well.
We are seeing it happen already—if you have shopped in an Amazon Go store or fired up your Roomba, you are getting a taste of how these advances are starting to change our definitions of work.
In finding a sense of fulfillment and purpose, is it possible that somewhere along the way, we placed work at a level it was never meant to be on, changing the standard of what is successful and focusing our efforts on growth and improvement, never capable of saying we have enough?
While it’s easy to use these statistics to criticize the United States as fundamentally broken or backwards, it’s worth taking the time to pick apart the assumptions at play for why the U.S. has not created a statutory entitlement to some type of paid leave.
How could I do my work in a way that would make a difference about the problems rampant in the world? What sorts of work would be worth doing?