Workers—Carpenters or Kings
SOME of the curious suggestions levelled against the proposed new Feast of Christ the Worker bring home to one the general vagueness that exists in the minds of people who have been brought up on phrases and who continue to think in clichés. Surely any person, be he king or carpenter, who uses to the full the gifts that God has given to him merits the honourable name of Worker? A miner, an agricultural labourer or a factory hand can be a stacker, doing the minimum of work for the maximum .that be can secure in the way of wages, just as a commercial traveller, a banker or an artist can be a true worker, pitting his mental and physical energies against the slow, corroding rust of self-interest and dishonesty.
The parable of the talents applies to each one of us, whatever our position in life may be. It matters little what job we are called upon to do, provided we do it to the full extent of our energy and with alt our will. If we fail in this, then we are parasites and not workers, and that. surely. is one of the most damning appellations that exist.
wOR K is too often taken to mean man
ual labour, and manual labour too often looked upon as drudgery forced upon certain individuals by force of circumstance or undertaken simply for the remuneration that it will bring. Half the propaganda of these war days is directed towards presenting the constructive side of work — telling one lot of workers that they are doing this, that and the. other with every screw they turn or bolt that they drive, and when victories are announced, these workers are lauded for the part they have played and assured that they are winning this war in their workshops equally with the soldiers, sailors and airmen who fight with the tools they have provided. And it is, of course, perfectly true—so true that it is regrettable that we should have needed the destructive drive of war to shake us up into giving expression to it.
The munition worker, the dock-hand and the ship-builder are doing vitally important jobs and they receive their due meed of praise. as do the land-corkers engaged on the satisfying, creative tasks of helping to produce the fruits of the earth, but this war will also be won and peace will also be created by many others who, " unlettereal and unsung," still merit the noble name of Worker.
THE pendulum has swung very far over Sine 1914. Before the last war changed the tone of men's minds, there was a pathetic feeling of superiority among " black-coats " for the labouring man, and one absurd step further back, among the so-called leisured classes for the man who was tied to any wage-earning occupation.
Nowadays the tendency is all the other
way: the manual labourer quite often looks down on the man who has not learned to use his hands. He thinks him rather a helpless sort of person because he uses his mind mare than his muscle: a" You gel on with your typing. Mum, and leave this to me," as a competent handyman of my acquaintance once said to his employer. a well-known writer and journalist and one of the hardest-working women I have ever met !) And so it goes on, up and down ! the so-called social scale.
Miss Dorothy Sayers in a recent lecture expressed a wish to see a church dedicated to Christ the Carpenter, but is not this underlining just that form of particularisation that we want to get away from? In the days to come we shall all have to work if we want to survive, and in the Feast of Christ the Worker every man and woman should have the right to join with the inner knowledge that. as they are one with His Mystical Body. so they are one with the practical fellowship of human beings who ere 'justifying their existence, and their rights to the kindly fruits of the earth; and each one, in union with Christ the Worker, would know that he is joining with his fellow-workers here and now to lay the foundations of the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth. Only the man who has buried his talent might turn aside from such a festival in the bitter knowledge that he no longer had any tribute to bring.