EDITOR: Labour Day used to be a time to celebrate work and the workers. The value of work and workers took centre stage as worker organizations gathered to mark their achievements. Some political leaders would celebrate too because they derive much support from ordinary workers who constitute their base.
From the religious perspective, one of the first commandments was that to work, “The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it.” (Genesis 1:15) We also gave you this rule: If you don’t work, you don’t eat (11). Now we learn that some of you just loaf around and won’t do any work, except the work of a busybody (12). So, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, we ask and beg these people to settle down and start working for a living. (2 Thess’ 3:10-12). Agriculture has the potential to keep the entire family employed. While the Bible does say that we will always have the poor among us, it does not mean that we must plan to keep people poor. Thus, the focus of churches should be helping people out of poverty through developmental aid rather than handouts.
No government should have a policy of poverty where laziness is encouraged through the distribution of free goods and money on a systematic basis. This practice has created a dependency syndrome that is stagnating our economy.
People sit and wait expecting others to do for them what they could do for themselves. The cycle is perpetuated when children are embroiled in this debilitating habit of reaping where they do not sow. The vital lessons taught in Agriculture need to be learned, that a seed is planted, watered, manured, tended, pruned, and patiently allowed to mature, reaped, harvested, and marketed. Free money and goods need the elements of accountability, and responsibility added to them. The principle is that they should only be used by those who need them but be replaced for those in need in the future. This means low interest or no interest loans. Farmers have helped each other for years.
During planting, they help each other plant. During reaping extra hands were needed and free assistance was rendered. People in construction will help with casting cement floors or putting on a roof.
The focus should be on work and how the assistance made available can be channelled through work. Instead, we find ourselves in a place where we celebrate the increasing number of children and able-bodied adults on public assistance and handouts. We will have no alternative but to designate a day of celebration called Poor Relief Day.
Anthony G. Stewart, PhD