Anything but straightforward

“Those who will not work will not eat:”  There are several nuances to the seemingly harsh sentence that we miss when we reduce it to a slogan. …

…  there is the description of work itself. We use the word work to talk of things as different as brain surgery and ballet, sewage works and works of art; we number the music of the classical composers by their opus, their work order. The workhouse depicted in Dickensian novels portrays work as grinding, soul-destroying, a necessary evil to keep otherwise undesirable characters under control and certainly, those who would not work would not eat. Even animals may work: workhorses, police horses, sniffer dogs and sheep dogs, laboratory rats.

We use the word labour to describe things as polar opposite one to another as the work assigned to prisoners: hard labour, labour camps; and the work of bringing new life into the world through childbirth. …

Then there is the delicious irony of the free bread offered at the Eucharist …

 – snippets of a sermon. Which hopes to be finished by tomorrow (if its author continues to work and does not weary in the doing of it).

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