Utne Reader #4

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This is my Utne Reader article #4:

-- Anonymous, May 04, 1999


The fourth Utne Reader article I read was Breaking The Job Lock by Andrew Kimbrell, January-February issue, p. 47-49.

Andrew Kimbrells article gives an overview of how our jobs today affect our physical and mental lives. According to the author, work used to be part of the family and community, not a separate portion of a persons day as it is today. Even the meanings of the words job, occupation and career have negative connotations. Use of the terms vocation (Latin for voice or calling) or profession (public declaration) place importance on our choice of work. The problem is that industrialization values (speed, productivity, and efficiency) do not correspond to those of professional values. American lives are reported to be more stressful with increases in the use of drugs for anxiety and stress disorders.

The author feels some changes are needed in the work we choose to do as well as changes in our places of employment. Among his suggestions are:  Replacement of the efficiency value to empathy of physical and mental needs of workers.  Corporate valuing of family and community.  Assisting young people in deciding on vocations not just jobs.  National health insurance to separate insurance coverage from job lock in.  Ease power relationships within the corporation and unions.

Overall, I agree with the author and his findings regarding the impact of work on the American population. For various reasons, our lives have become more stressful. If we narrow these stressors to strickly job related issues, it brings into focus what we as individuals have control over. We all know people who, at very early ages, felt passion for a vocation. Some continued on this path, without swaying, and were successful at what they set out to do. This achievement probably relates to a very small portion of our population. Although I felt the author was writing mainly with adults in mind, the young people (high school age) could benefit tremendously, as the author suggested, from some focus and direction. Some students are not able to visualize their future and the impact the present can make on that future.

In spite of the stress, there are individuals who would not give up their jobs for a vocation they felt passionate about. The paycheck and the material items which accompany it are of primary importance. Once we have responsibilities, the options become limited. The solutions the author suggests, some of which are listed above, are not all within our control. These are issues we as a society need to struggle with.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 1999

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