When I quit my job, I thought that it is futile to spend so much time commuting to and fro and in office to earn a living. As it is, the job is getting me more money than I need to live a simple life. Why not release some bandwidth, even if it means earning less.
It is so elementary to look at work as a means of livelihood. One works to earn a living. But is the converse true? If one doesn’t need to earn for a living, doesn’t he need to work? For this discussion, let is consider work as professional work, not personal.
When I tried to establish relationships, I wasn’t able to establish a logical relationship between work and earning! Let’s take a farmer or a doctor. Both of them provide a service (growing food and curing illness). Let’s say there is a consumer who is incapable of doing either of it himself and has to depend upon them to fulfill his need. How does he arrive at their fee? If life is precious, both are invaluable, if it isn’t, both are worthless. From the perspective of the farmer or the doctor, is appropriate for him to refuse food or cure to someone who needs it but cannot pay for it? One may say ‘yes he should serve someone who can pay’, but if there is no other taker for the service, then is it appropriate? How then does one arrive at a fair compensation?
Price determination through demand and supply is devoid of any logic whatsoever. Just because the supply of bananas is more than apples, I pay more for apples, though I like bananas more than apples! Absurd! This, however, is a big topic. It also brings out the unfairness and exploitation aspect as we explore it further.
So, if we don’t take into consideration demand and supply, how does one arrive at the price for a service? On thinking deeply enough, I realized that work is related directly to service and earning is related directly to need. One should work in order to serve and one should earn as much as is his need. We have struck off service and need as abstract and subjective and tried to establish a direct relationship between work and earning. Logically absurd, isn’t it?
Logically thinking, I will serve through my work in an area, in which I am best suited and am capable of innovating and improvising for better results. Working in such an area will ensure that I’m committed to whatever I do and also that I enjoy my work. I will look at others in my area of work in order to learn from them or help them learn. Since both of us are serving, there is no sense of competitiveness. In fact, I will help them and take help from them, in case of illness or other times, when I’m unable to attend work. My business or profession will be centered around the needs of the customer. Similarly, my needs will be served by similar persons, who work to serve. In such working environment, anyone who does not serve with adequate commitment will be provided feedback and he will fall in line.
This logical thinking can be continued. But anyone reading it in today’s times will find it weird. But it is logical. Importantly, such systems existed a few centuries ago, in some places, a few decades ago.
Have we completely lost this thinking by relating work with earning? Is earning the primary objective of working? I don’t think so. Most people, even today, experience discomfort when they have to do something ‘unfair’ at their workplace; even if it earns them lots of money. Many people, even today, experience discomfort when they earn what they haven’t worked for.
Though it is considered sentimental and not sensible to talk about fairness at work place, most people feel good when they act fairly.
So, what’s the point? Is there any hope that we will see people working only to serve? We see a lot of people, even today, who work only to serve. That they’re paid for it is incidental. There are many, who aren’t paid enough or at all. But that doesn’t take away their commitment from their work. One characteristic of theirs is that they never try to reason out why they are working. They work, not even to serve. They work, probably just for the sake of work. We see such people every now and then. We salute them, silently and feel humbled.
With this learning, I’m looking at work with an all new perspective.