The Joy of Work, the Killing of Jobs By Barbara A. Stachowski


The Joy of Work, the Killing of Jobs

By Barbara A. Stachowski

Site Director, Hamtramck Weed and Seed

 The Oct. 28-30 “Reimagining Work” conference gives everyone an opportunity to wonder: “Do I just have a job or am I working?”

Recent experiences have helped me realize that if what I am doing is killing me, I have a Job. If what I am doing enlivens me and benefits my community, I have Work.

Five short years ago I had the “perfect Job”: a title (engineer), a decent wage, great benefits, a 401K, my own cubicle, my own cell, my own tomb. My Job was killing me. I despised it but could not imagine reinventing myself.

Then the unimaginable happened. Business was down. I was called into the office and terminated. While I was dying a slow death at a Job I had no passion for, the universe stepped in and put me in a space where I needed to face the nothingness and do the inner work necessary to discover the Work that, in the words of Dickens, would make “mankind my business.”

Sufi poet Rumi writes: “Workers rush toward some hint of emptiness, which they then start to fill. Their hope, though, is for emptiness, so don’t think you must avoid it. It contains what you need!”

Matthew Fox tells us, “Work comes from the inside out; work is the expression of our soul, our inner being…Work is an expression of the Spirit at work in the world through us. Work is that which puts us in touch with others…at the level of service in the community.”

While doing my inner Work, I realized that my years as a stay-at-home mom had provided me with a benchmark for authentic Work.

Fox points out that women “often take with them the lessons learned and the skill developed in these more nurturing tasks.”

Moms are Solutionaries. We nurture without watching the clock, without expecting compensation. We don’t put our needs before those whom we compassionately love into authentic existence.

Our Mom nurturing skills seem so simplistic: unconditional love, compassion, patience, and listening. But these are the skills I find myself using with the souls I encounter in my true Work: my children, family, neighbors, comrades, mayors, chiefs of police, refugees and victims of violence.

Fox understands that “Many feminisms also insist on staying in the practical realm, and this emphasis on personal relationships moves discussions of work and unemployment from the head to the gut, where compassion stirs things up and moral outrage can lead to authentic transformation.” Rabbi Herschel assures us that the true prophet “interferes” and “one significant place for our interference is where we work and earn a living.”

Frithjof Bergman writes of the hope that the new technology provides for developing New Work. He calls it Hi-Tech-Self-Providing (HTSP). The first stage of Technology (tools like hammers, axes) liberated human beings. But the next stage (machine technology) fragmented the different operations and established rules and boundaries between them, making us appendages to the machine.

Today’s technology, like the first stage of tools, can be liberating because it makes possible not only the dissemination of ideas from one’s own PC but also small-scale customized manufacturing.

It takes no courage to lose our jobs. But it does take courage to listen to the voice of spirit and give birth to the transformative work that will develop economies with respect for society and the social needs of human beings.

Bergman says that this birth is a radical event very like that of a caterpillar transforming itself into a butterfly: “Something quite new, wholly different from what was there before, sees abruptly, suddenly, dramatically the light of day…It is an incredible, unheard of transformation that no one could have predicted from looking only at the furry worm.”

Detroit is filled with the transformative cocoons of reimagining. If we take the time to be still and face the nothingness, we can begin to hear the soft sounds of the wings of butterflies that have risen from the ashes.



October 28- October 30, 2011

FocusHOPE 1400 Oakman Blvd. Detroit 48238

Discover how your neighbors are Re-inventing Work and Education and at the same time Building Community.

Join conversations with Vandana Shiva, Gar Alperovitz, Frithjof Bergman, Detroit Summer youth and members of the Boggs Educational Collective.


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