Friday, June 17, 2011

The importance of work

I am in a village, removed completely from those things that define my existence, for a period of almost two-and-a-half months. I faced adjustment issues, like all others of my batch who have participated in this field exercise.

There is almost no electricity here. The heat is excruciating, with the temperature rising above 45 degrees Celsius. The rains provide a temporary relief from the heat, but we have to watch out for cobras, kraits and scorpions during rains. The food is not good, very spicy and very oily. I am removed from all my friends and loved ones. I see suffering the like of which i have not seen anywhere. Corruption, injustice and cruelty are in abundance. People beat their wives with sticks and small children beat dogs and puppies with rocks for fun. My belief in the governance system has completely broken down due to the level of corruption I see here with my own eyes. As if this was not enough, I have rarely, if ever, seen such abject poverty.

But none of these issues is large enough to qualify as "my biggest challenge" here. I can complain about these things to my parents, girlfriend, friends and so on and have a bit of a temporary relief. Electricity and heat were never big issues anyway.

No, my biggest challenge is surviving for two months without doing any tangible work whatsoever. Work is the most basic necessity of a human being, equally or more important, in my opinion, as food, air, water and sex. You can live without food. You can live without people around you. (I am doing it so I know it can be done.) You can live without almost anything. But take a man away from his work and see what becomes of him. Work provides justification to a man's (and of course a woman's) existence. It imparts to the worker a sense of self-respect and makes his life, in his own eyes (and this is very important), worth living. Work, any form of work, provides a man with challenges that are so necessary for not just development, but for emotional, mental and physical well-being of a person. Work channelizes - focuses - the energies of a man in a productive direction. The output of work provides a level of satisfaction that can arguably be compared with nirvana.

These were the "pull factors" or positive traits of work. There are certain "push factors" associated with work as well. This means that there are certain negative traits associated with not working. Firstly, not working is the easiest way to reduce a man's confidence level. This reduced confidence level results in a decrease in what I like to call "mental immunity". This means that the person is more susceptible to negative thoughts and bouts of depression. Long dormant insecurities begin to surface when a person has nothing to do. Worse, the person begins to take his fears and his insecurities seriously. This, as can be easily extrapolated, destroys a person from inside-out.

How do I know this? I have been fighting this battle since the last one month.

Like my father says,"The easiest way to kill somebody is to prevent him from working for fifteen days."