I don’t like working hard.
Okay, fine…more words…
What if life were handed to us? What if we were able to live a life without effort…without work?
The Garden of Eden seems a fitting example of a world in which effort simply isn’t required. Adam and Eve lived within perfection, a place that, considering their impending punishment, took absolutely no work to keep living. They didn’t have clothing issues, the weather was so perfect the need not for housing…and the food was plentiful and would keep them living forever. Everything was provided for them.
Yet that wasn’t quite enough for these two humans, was it? They wanted more, and ultimately, they got thrown out of this heaven on earth and tossed to a place where they would have to work for their food, where they felt they needed clothes, where they, ultimately, had to put in effort.
Whether you are a person who considers this Biblical account truth or not, I believe you can find a certain amount of truth in the characterizations of the first humans. Mankind always wants more, don’t they? Whether it be the knowledge of God (which was ultimately what they yearned for here) or just getting more money from their day job…mankind wants more.
I mean, Adam and Eve had what, by all means, sure be considered the dream life. They had everything right at their fingertips and absolutely no responsibilities…at least, as far as we are aware…there could be some assumption of responsibility, since Eve was brought into this world as a ‘helper’ for Adam, but that discussion is for a different day. I mean, it’s not like this is a site to discuss religious apologetics or dogmatics or whatever. Just basic ranting and raving, as per the norm.
They strove for more, although, as far as they were aware, they should have everything they would have ever needed. They couldn’t have been aware that cable television would be coming thousands and thousands of years after their deaths. All they knew what that there was more to know…and they went for it, even though it was the one thing they were told not to do..the one limitation placed on them within this paradise.
Humans have something inside them that cause them to want more. A lot of folks today like to consider this a nasty side effect of commercialism, but the difficulties with being content with what you have is nothing new. It’s something within our nature…something that will continue to exist for as long as humans do, and its incredibly difficult to overcome.
Take your stereotypical Fortune 500 CEO…if you were to write a movie about that guy, you’d probably write about how, although he already has everything he could ever want, he still strives to gain more and more and more, never happy with what he has, although he seems to have it all already. That stereotype doesn’t come as much from example as it does just a simple understanding of human nature….the old Pringles motto…once you pop, you just can’t stop.
Take that same CEO and look closely for a moment. He could, like Adam and Eve, have his life completely laid out for him. He could have people waiting on him hand and foot for the rest of his life, not doing anything outside of recognizing that he has his basic needs taken care of for the rest of his life, without any effort required on his behalf. Whatever he did to get to this point, he could just be done…retired, completed, consider himself a winner and call it a day.
Why does this fictional CEO, then, continue striving for more? I’m sure if you did some sort of animalistic psychological review, you’d have someone come up with our fear of the days of none, where we know that we need to grab everything we can today, for fear that the stuff we right already could disappear at a moment’s notice…Honestly, I think that’s a load of bull. That guy’s on top, he ain’t afraid of losing anything…if anything, he probably already views himself as some sort of demigod, infallible and invulnerable.
It’s that quest for conquest that moves him forward, when he could be living that life many people like to pretend they want if they were to win a million dollars. You know the one…where you live out the rest of your days on a beach sipping margaritas.
I often question this ambition within myself. I mean, I lead a rather blessed life. I could cut my daily effort in half and there would honestly be little change in my actual life. Oddly enough…my ambition isn’t to conquer, but to succeed. I want more, but not in the materialist sense.
When looked at this way, from the perspective of a person in the middle who isn’t aiming for wealth, but simply success in his endeavors, a new image of the human condition begins to form. Adam and Eve weren’t simply looking to have everything (well…maybe they were, who truly knows)…they were looking for knowledge…to, in essence, better themselves. Obviously, the moral of that story is that they shouldn’t disobey God, but the motivation behind their disobedience is what I’m questioning here. Why would they want to disobey the only father they had? Some sort of odd teenage rebellion? Probably not. The Devil, in the form of the snake, didn’t just say, “Hey, eat this, it’ll really piss off your parents.” No, he had to use reasoning that they would fall for…more specifically, that it would make them into something more than they already were.
That CEO who is already worth billions, he’s a modern day conqueror, seeing everything in front of him in much the same way Alexander the Great would. He wants to become the best businessman he can…sure, there’s probably some greed behind it all as well, but let’s be honest here…when you get up to the numbers on this fictional character’s paycheck, it’s more of a scorecard than a bank statement. He’s trying to win.
Mankind could have continued on its simple lifestyle as workers of the land, but even the Bible shows that immediately following getting kicked out of the Garden, these folks started doing things that were completely unnecessary for survival, specifically, started inventing musical instruments. We see cave drawing from pre-historic civilizations, showcasing that humans, although obviously surviving before these came into place, needed new ways to communicate, and developed them…or..you know, just crafted art, purely for the beauty of it.
Mankind, in general, I believe is seen by many to be a rather lazy lot. I think if you look at how far we’ve come, no matter what you hold as your truth of man’s origin, you’ll see that these things didn’t come out of necessity, but out of an inward need for self improvement.
This is what separates us from the animals. Not our language, not our thumbs, not our creativity, but the fact that we will do extra work today, under the belief that it might make for a better day tomorrow.
Sometimes I fear it’s easy to forget that when bogged down in the issues of today. We do work hard to make things better…sometimes we just might disagree on what needs to be done to get there.
Here’s hoping to a brighter future for all of us…and the hard work that will get us there.
Have fun out there!