Essay, Research Paper: Working As American Necessity


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During the birth of this country, Puritans had to work hard to ensure the
success of the new state. In order to make work more appealing, the Puritans
emphasized the fruits of labor. This attitude, reflected in modern day by the
act of "working for a living," is considered as a "badge of
pride." Puritan attitudes toward work and the attitudes of two modern day
writers toward work all agree that the act of working has virtuous effects, an
attitude that I share because of my working experience (Clee and Clee 233-234).
Three different attitudes toward work, expressed by several writers whom I have
recently studied agree that hard work yields positive rewards. Henry F. Bedford,
a history teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy, and Trevor Colbourne, a teacher at
the University of New Hampshire, examine the Puritan attitude toward work in
their book The Americans: A Brief History. Puritans stress the goodness of
working by relating it to religious beliefs. Sloth is sinful, but the Puritans
also pointed out that it was self-defeating. Leisure is even considered an
"evil temptation" (Bedford and Colbourne 235-238). Marge Piercy, a
modern day poet, essayist, and novelist, attempts to explain why work is
desirable on contemporary terms in her poem "To Be of Use." To Piercy,
hard workers who really persevere are admirable because of the fact that the
world is full of temptations to stop working, or to not work altogether. This
admiration for determination is apparent because work is as "common as
mud," and it must be done sometime (Piercy 242-243). Wendell Berry, an
English teacher at the University of Kentucky, explains the basis of the desire
to work in his essay "The Joy of Work." In response to the prediction
that there will be no work in the future, Berry emphasizes the importance of
work to human nature. He explains that people do work because of "fellow
feeling," and that people get satisfaction from doing work (Berry 244-247).
The concept of satisfaction as a product of hard work has been proven valid to
me through my years of experience. All of these selections agree that work is a
basic part of life without it, one would have a void in his life where
satisfaction would be. Success of humanity depends on work.
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