If the desire to do “meaningful work” above all else is a folly as I think it is, then why do we so strongly desire to do it?
Because, people claim, evidence shows that individuals give 1/3 of their waking hours over 1/2 of their lives to working in some capacity or another. That is, much of each day throughout most of our lives is going, it is said, to be earmarked for working. And given that we only have one life to lead, given that this life is precious, and given that time is finite, if this is what we’re going to be doing, then don’t we want it to be something we love (or are passionate about) and don’t we also want it to be something “meaningful” besides? Enter delusions such as Westernized Ikigai.
The argument above rests on a set of mistakes and presumptions:
- Mistake #1: That it must be the case that 1/3 of one’s waking hours shall be devoted to work
- Mistake #2: That it must be the case that about 1/2 of one’s life shall be devoted to work
- Presumption #1: That, necessarily, we only have one life to lead
- Presumption #2: That, necessarily, time is finite
Frankly, I don’t buy any of it. Empirical statements applicable to the Work Society (as I call it) do not, of necessity, carry implications for a good society.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What if I allocated 1/5 or 1/6 of my waking hours to working and, in so doing, I was able to sustain myself and my family–then to what higher good would I truly devote myself?
- What if far less than 1/2 of my life were given over to working and, in so doing, I was able to sustain myself and my family–then, again, to what higher good would I truly devote myself?
- How do I know that I only have one life to lead? Could there be some other kind of existence, one that I’ve yet to investigate just because I’ve been wrapped up in this secular presumption?
- And how do I know that time, in all registers, is finite? Could it be that there is such a thing, which is not a thing, as eternity?
“Meaningful work” is secularism’s handmaiden, and secularism is a bad idea. Asking these questions, you soon come to see that meaningful work was a drummed-up response to the void secularism created and is unable to fill.
Time to decolonize the mind, purifying it of every last vestige of Total Work.