Agape Workplace Initiative

17th Jul 2014

Keep Calm and Go to Work

Keep Calm and Go to Work
Today it has been announced that unemployment levels in the UK are at their lowest since 2005. I note that when governments are trying to resuscitate dying economies, work is talked about as though it were national service. There is militant language of retired people “re-entering the workforce,” or lament over the mothers who have “retreated from the workplace.” It all sounds a bit like a war effort.

Concern for our national wellbeing seems to me like one good reason to work, and I think it would be wonderful if we all felt that solidarity of working together to make life better. But the arrangement feels relationally hollow. We don't really feel that we’re serving the economy and winning the war. Neither do we all feel trust and confidence in the powers who are calling us to arms. Many of us feel like we’re going to work only because we have to.

Work is usually, in part, an economic arrangement, but when that's all it is, it's a chore. It becomes a cold social contract where I do my bit of service and then what's left over is mine. If this is the way that those in power view work, then sooner or later everyone starts to feel like a cog in the machine. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's...” I think a lot of jobs feel like that.

Rehumanising work begins with the belief that work is supposed to be fulfilling, humanising, relational and meaningful in some way... not merely a necessary evil. Perhaps rescuing the very idea of work from the bottomless hubris of global economics might begin with a few questions:

What does my work cultivate in me?

How does it benefit others?

How does it cultivate relationships?