Ethics Of The Employed

It has been said that we are a nation of mice and men. Which is an old fashioned way of saying there are two kinds of people living in this world: the doers and the doees.

An over simplification, for sure, but there is some truth to the idea. There are certainly those who through a variety of means cause others to become a part of their visions or dreams.

In the old days, "men" were leaders and "mice" were those who required leading in order to get anywhere at all.

Today, in our totally modern world, we would simple say there are those who get things done by inspiring others, and there are those who prefer to be inspired rather than to inspire. Both are needed to make things happen.

This relationship between the doers and the doees, encompassing a vast array of ranks within an almost infinite variety of professions and occupations, makes up the organized system of voluntary slavery we call "gainful employment".

The mechanics are simple really. Workers agree to perform the certain tasks required by their employers in return for money or other considerations. That is, one agrees to be the voluntary slave of the employer for a given number of hours each week.

For some people, this is a very good arrangement. They are happy to have a job and might even enjoy their work. Hence, they carry out their assigned tasks and duties to the best of their ability. Such persons are known as the "salt of the earth". An odd expression that means people who believe in "an honest days pay for an honest days work".

These people are the backbone of the work force; literally "worth their weight in gold" because they have what every employer wants in their employees: work ethic.

Other people, though not really happy with their jobs, still consider themselves good employees with "work ethic". In reality, however, they lack the resolve found in workers who really do have it. These second rate workers feel it is fine to slack off as much as possible while the time clock is running. Yet if you accused them of stealing their wages during this slack time they would say you are out of your mind!

For example, second rate workers will punch in and then grab their coffee and visit around for awhile before getting down to work. They will stretch out those break times as far as possible and think little or nothing of day dreaming or doodling while on the job. All of this and more is fine, so long as they can get away with it. It is only wrong if they get caught.

Still other workers, the third, forth and fifth rate folks, actually hate their jobs and/or their employers to greater or lesser degrees. They resent their supervisors and those who get the promotions time and time again. They wonder why "Lady Luck" never smiles on them? They work very hard at doing as little as possible in return for their wages and compliment themselves for being so clever at deceiving the "boss". About the only thing they are good at is finding fault in anything and everything having to do with their job and/or the company to which they are employed. The universal pastime of these workers is looking at the time clock and living for Friday. Their only hope is found in dreaming of someday finding a "really" good job where they will be appreciated.

Dream on.

In this world, we really have only two basic choices when it come to employment . . . which is why I call it voluntary slavery. We can volunteer to work for another or we can decide to work for ourselves.

What a wonderful world this would be if every employer and every employee embraced good, old-fashioned work ethic. For one thing, it would rekindle one of the most basic of all virtues: loyalty.

If we want true equality in the workplace, we need to nurture and instill a sense of loyalty and work ethic in our people from the earliest possible moments of childhood. Parents must be the first to serve as examples of ethical behavior and loyalty. We can't expect our children to somehow overcome our own shortcomings. The highest of ideals should be further nurtured and reinforced in our schools and institutions of higher learning.

We alone are responsible for the current high or low standards and ethics extant in our work force. It is all relative and we become the kind of people, the quality of people, we allow ourselves to become.

People with a true sense of loyalty and work ethic can be counted on to do the right thing all the time. They need little supervision and are always the most productive and thrifty of workers. People without these virtues generally prove to be a liability.

Many years ago my mentor, Elbert Hubbard, penned this wonderful words of wisdom regarding work ethics and loyalty. I can do no better than quote him here. In doing so, I ask you to bear in mind that this was written in the 1800's when the word "man" was commonly used as we would the term "person" today.

"If you work for a man, in heaven's name, work for him; speak well of him and stand by the institution he represents.

Remember, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.
If you must growl, condemn and eternally find fault, why resign your position and when you are on the outside, damn to your heart's content.

But as long as you are a part of the institution do not condemn it. If you do, the first high wind that comes along will blow you away, and probably you will never know why."

Surely the secret to success, peace and even prosperity can be found in these words. Yet some will no doubt choose to ignore this simple advice, claiming it is too high a price to pay, too beneath their dignity or even a violation of their human rights as a member of the modern work force.

Remember, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.

If you must growl, condemn and eternally find fault, why resign your position and when you are on the outside, damn to your heart's content. But as long as you are a part of the institution do not condemn it. If you do, the first high wind that comes along will blow you away, and probably you will never know why."

Surely the secret to success, peace and even prosperity can be found in these words. Yet some will no doubt choose to ignore this simple advice, claiming it is too high a price to pay, too beneath their dignity or even a violation of their human rights as a member of the modern work force.

All I know is, there is old saying about those who won't lead and yet refuse to follow. In a world of mice and men such folk are a lot like cheese. The best chance they have of reaching a ripe old age is to stay the heck out of the way.

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