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Pillar and Cloud

Last month, the night of the winter solstice was also a full moon. This is a rare occurrence. I remember remarking about it at the time. It seems like I blinked, and the full moon came around again just the other night. It doesn’t feel like a complete lunar cycle took place, but it did. Time is flying by, and my days are busier now than ever.

And I know that many of you feel the same way.

One of life’s greatest challenges is to find a work-life balance. Unlike our neighbors in European countries, self-care and quality of life take second place to making a living, being a responsible parent, and attending to the countless emails and texts that constantly cross our smartphones.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed with me that many of our seniors who have the label “retired” seem to be very busy nonetheless.

A couple of years ago I had an idea to solve the problem of unemployment by reducing the normal work-week from five days to four. If twenty percent of the current labor force needs were transferred to people who were seeking work, I thought, everyone would have a less stressful life and more leisure time.

People would be better educated because they would have more time to read. They would have more quality time with friends and loved ones, and they would live longer and healthier lives. Who knows, maybe people would attend more Sunday services because of the additional leisure time (and more time to volunteer!)

This would all have to be paid for by employers, of course, because my grand plan does not envision people taking pay cuts when their workweek was reduced. But this would all eventually be washed through the economic system. After all, it wasn’t that many years ago that the normal workweek was six days. When the workweek was reduced to five days similar concerns were raised.

The incessant march towards automation has made the need for human labor to be less and less. I read a story recently about an industrial economist who quipped that soon the entire labor force will consist of one person and a large dog. The person’s role will be to feed the dog. The dog’s role will be to make sure the person doesn’t touch the machines that make and do everything for us.

So why can we not pass the benefit of labor-saving machines along to workers rather than simply see reduced labor costs be translated into increased profits for multinational companies?

The answer is that we can, but we need compassionate and determined leadership from our elected representatives to show the way. In my recent sermon I shared my view that we have leaders who elevate power above principle, profit above people.

Where are the leaders who can bring about the change that is needed to restore justice and democracy to the workplace? I know they are out there somewhere.

In this month of February, with its lengthening days, Ground Hog Day, Valentine’s Day, my thoughts are becoming more and more pre-occupied with the need to make our abundance work for everybody. Time is a precious commodity, and we all deserve to have as much time to focus on our spiritual and other needs as nature and technology can afford.