WorkingAn American Necessity









During the birth of this country, Puritans had to work hard to ensure the success of the
new state. In order to make work more appealing, the Puritans emphasized the fruits of
labor. This attitude, reflected in modern day by the act of "working for a living," is
considered as a "badge of pride." Puritan attitudes toward work and the attitudes of two
modern day writers toward work all agree that the act of working has virtuous effects, an
attitude that I share because of my working experience (Clee and Clee 233-234).
Three different attitudes toward work, expressed by several writers whom I have recently
studied agree that hard work yields positive rewards. Henry F. Bedford, a history teacher
at Phillips Exeter Academy, and Trevor Colbourne, a teacher at the University of New
Hampshire, examine the Puritan attitude toward work in their book The Americans: A Brief
History. Puritans stress the goodness of working by relating it to religious beliefs. Sloth is
sinful, but the Puritans also pointed out that it was self-defeating. Leisure is even
considered an "evil temptation" (Bedford and Colbourne 235-238). Marge Piercy, a modern
day poet, essayist, and novelist, attempts to explain why work is desirable on
contemporary terms in her poem "To Be of Use." To Piercy, hard workers who really
persevere are admirable because of the fact that the world is full of temptations to stop
working, or to not work altogether. This admiration for determination is apparent because
work is as "common as mud," and it must be done sometime (Piercy 242-243). Wendell
Berry, an English teacher at the University of Kentucky, explains the basis of the desire to
work in his essay "The Joy of Work." In response to the prediction that there will be no
work in the future, Berry emphasizes the importance of work to human nature. He explains
that people do work because of "fellow feeling," and that people get satisfaction from
doing work (Berry 244-247).
The concept of satisfaction as a product of hard work has been proven valid to me through
my years of experience.
All of these selections agree that work is a basic part of lifewithout it, one would have a
void in his life where satisfaction would be. Success of humanity depends on work.