harold kushner, “when bad things happen to good people” author, just passed at the age of 88.
personally, no irony was lost over this fact as i have been working on a criticism rabbi kushner’s book “overcoming life’s disappointments-learning from moses how to cope with frustration.” all things moses are of course a relevant blog topic. in his honor, upon reading the news, i dove back into his book for insight into life.
it was not long, however, when some of his words hit me like a truck. a buried sentence at the end of a paragraph was thought provoking gold.
“something dangerously corrosive happens to a person’s soul when he no longer takes his work seriously enough to give his best.”
while this line was published in 2007, it is perhaps more meaningful in 2023.
the covid-19, pandemic arguably damaged the collective human soul more than the human body. the pandemic’s workplace disruption which included people sent home either to not work and to do remote work. remote work was often compromised by the limitations from working at home as will as the distractions. many in the workplace have been involved in virtual work is “virtually working”. video conferencing often lacks the intensity of “being there.”
the term “quiet quitting” emerged in the workplace in 2022. thestreet.com minimal exertion in the workplace became a trend. one article addressing this habit as with both the meaninglessness of work and the pandemic as factors. social media certainly played a role in its acceptance. people promoted their poor work habits to gain clout and influence on platforms such as tiktok. the self-worth of doing a good job was replaced by getting views, “likes” or followers.
government’s historic oppression of religious practice during the pandemic paralleled the crumbling work ethic. unlike those wishing to go to strip bars, the faithful were barred from congregating. those who did were subject to criminal penalties.
rabbi kushner’s observation leads one to ask “how damaged are the youths’ souls as a result of straying from the work ethic?” and “is it possible to save these individuals from destroying or stagnating their lives for the sake of a moment of “chill” and popularity?”
working can be an act of faith. decades ago, a friend, a recent college graduate, moved to washington dc in hopes to find a career in politics. he had hit a roadblock and could not find a job in his desired field. i advised him to just go out any get any job. i told him sometimes “working is the solution.” after that, he took a job selling ties in a train station. not too long after starting the job, he met a customer who liked him and helped him get the job a job in politics. that particular connection created the trajectory for his career to date.
as much as a day of rest- the sabbath- is good for the soul, the five or six days of working is as well. one’s labors and the exhaustion is produces elevates the sanctity of the sabbath rest. rabbi kushner’s spot on observation is both true and quotable.
this website, the ten commandments project, aspires to promote success ideology upon the youth. a life full of morals and values is a pathway to both success and happiness. to do some, one must be soulful.
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