"Without labor, nothing prospers."--Sophocles
Having grown up on a small farm, work for me was not just a necessity, it was a vital component of life and gave great satisfaction. Work included growing food and preserving it for the winter months; planting, cultivating and harvesting crops; upkeep of farm buildings and equipment; feeding and caring for livestock; maintaining our home; and of course, helping members of our community when they needed additional willing hands. The most common complaint was the shortage of hours in the day.
Since my parents married during the Great Depression and I was born during World War II, they instilled in me that it was not a burden to earn what was good in life. We began the school year in July so that students would have the month of August out of class for cotton-pickin'. I was expected to join the workers in the field to pull a cotton sack and earn money as "a lesson of what good people have to do to earn a living."
The stories of the Great Depression related to families I knew in our family and community; but they were far from my life as a fortunate child of the 1950s. When my grandfather's country store was sold, we found the records of the many charges against his own account of unexplained grocery bills during those early years. These were unpaid bills of people who lived in or came through our community, and who would not have been able to survive without help. His explanation was that he could not let people who wanted to work--but could not find work--be deprived of a way to feed their families. They were not lazy; they lacked opportunity.
The stories of the Civilian Conservation Corps giving work to able-bodied men during those hard years were interesting, but did not relate to my own experience. When I moved to Arkansas, my first camping trip was to Devil's Den Park. There, I saw the beautiful native-stone dam, spillway, bridges, and buildings that had been crafted by these enterprising men. Since that time, I have seen much of their work throughout Arkansas. It has endured because of their energy and dedication to the task at hand.
These structures are the result of giving able-bodied men meaningful work. It has been said that when we live for a strong purpose, hard work is not an option--it is a necessity. Manual labor is only one evidence of a strong work ethic--it might include housework, schoolwork, office work, yardwork, works of art, and many other expressions of this principle. Good work is a privilege, a blessing, and can be a joy, if we appreciate its importance in our lives.
The CASS Job Corps Center in Ozark is an example of giving capable young people access to training for a life of productive work, with the result of a financially independent future. Not only does the center provide training for individuals, it contributes to a viable Arkansas work force. This is a crucial element in attracting industry to our state. Recently, the future of this job-training center was in jeopardy.
Second District Congressman Bruce Westerman went to work to assure that this facility would remain a viable source of work-based training experience for those who find satisfaction in good work to be their security for the future.
He enlisted the help of Sen. John Boozman. The two of them made the case for perpetuation of this center as a necessary ingredient to our future as a state and nation. Funding was secured, and the CASS Center will continue its mission of providing young men and women the opportunity to link their technical training with practical job activities in Arkansas.
Oscar Wilde is believed to have said, "The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one." Thank you, Congressman Westerman and Senator Boozman, for securing job training for capable and talented young Arkansans. We hope they will never have to imagine life without meaningful work.
Carol P. Williams is executive director of Land Trust of Arkansas.
Editorial on 12/02/2019
Print Headline: Work worth doing