By Spencer Boren
I’m sitting on the couch watching the television. The remote is just out of arm’s reach. What’s on is certifiable crap. But to change the shifting abstract pictures on the screen that somewhat resemble an abstract artist’s colorful interpretation of prehistoric apes, and somehow sounds like a haunted carnival infested by possessed infants, would require effort, so instead of moving the unthinkable six inches it would require to reach out to the remote, or the absolutely inconceivable blood-curdling scream inducing four feet to actually press the dusty buttons of the TV, I settle further into my overstuffed couch and wrap myself in another blanket so that I resemble a human burrito, content to let Teletubbies burn holes in my eyes, my mind, and my soul.
This would be a somewhat humbling experience, except for the fact that it is universally shared one. This is because of a simple trait which is the ultimate sad truth of the human existence: we are content to experience our lives in whatever ways they see fit to inflict themselves upon us as long as we don’t have to work too hard.
When I finally muster the strength to stand it is only because of a distinct primal urge echoing from the magnificent tremors of my stomach which will no longer allow me to leave it unfed. Food. The spice of human life. (Ha.) But seriously. Whatever else happens in life, food is a constant, a comfort. Food is an immortal goddess whose constant influence gives us peasants the capacity to live in her wonderful shining dominion. Unfortunately, my desire for food is matched by my desire to not have to make it. Eventually, however, the continual urgings of the growling beast inside my belly drive me to work, if only to avoid my inevitable self-cannibalism if I stay put. I contemplate making macaroni and cheese for a while, but I don’t think I have any butter, and who wants to drive the five minutes to get to the nearest Walmart? Of course, I’m also hoping I don’t have the butter because I don’t really fancy the idea of standing at the stove for an entire fifteen minutes preparing it and I’m not sure if my arms, which have begun to atrophy from my twelve hour Teletubbies binge, contain enough strength to stir the noodles for a whole three minutes while I wait for the butter to finish the excruciatingly long process of melting. Ramen has the same problem with time, and would also require the unthinkable trek down to my basement. My next option is a sandwich, but I quickly dismiss the notion, as it requires opening at least two jars, and washing as many knives. I finally settle on the final toaster waffle. I know it won’t really fill me, but seeing as it was the sole exception of the extinction of its species in this particular house up until the present moment, and I can think of no other option that doesn’t require me to wash, boil, cook, or stir anything, I can live with it.
Aren’t I a silly boy? Although my life is admittedly a tragic tale of a sad child who has given up on the value of any work, the much more tragic tale is of an entire society with the same truly imbecilic viewpoint. The human race has lost its value of work, on any level.
You may have noticed that of late workplaces and schools increasingly value traits such as ingenuity and social skills. These traits are, of course, necessary, but they and others like them have come to overshadow the value of the truly paramount character of hard work. It will never matter how good the idea you come up with is if you aren’t willing to work to achieve its fruition, nor will it matter how eloquently you can speak a cause if you aren’t willing to work towards that cause’s success. Work is the crowning trait of any person. Without it, nothing can be achieved. Without it, the new generation of workers, doctors, engineers, scientists, will stall, and while they may not drop from the sky, they certainly won’t climb any higher either. Without it, the most exciting thing going on fifty years from now will not be the advancement of higher levels of thinking, the development of faster and more effective space travel, or even finding a cure for cancer, but instead the release of the latest version of the Apple iOS. And we will live content, never knowing what we are missing. Miserable? No. Content. Content with the lives we are living and never searching for anything more. Because anything more would require work. Sure, work can open the door to a better life, but work is work. And we are content. Aren’t we?