Will Kronick is a local Democrat and guest writer who provides his take on social issues, workers and families.
When I leave work, I have a routine: the gym or a run, dinner, reading, and bed. Single and childless, my responsibilities are limited, and I can go to an Indivisible meeting or the grocery store guilt-free.
Most readers probably have similarly pre-ordained “leisure” time. So many of the people I know are tired, stressed and overworked. They have to spend so much energy just trying to figure out how to get the resources to raise a healthy family. On top of the worries about feeding and transporting their children, parents also have to worry about finding health care, good schools and financial security for their families.
The stress families feel is real. In relative terms, Americans work longer hours than our nine biggest competitors around the world, but we see lower wages and leaner benefits.
Full-time American adults, on average, work 47 hours in a six-day workweek. The only reason American household incomes are stagnating instead of declining incomes has been the entrance of women into the workforce. American families have avoided declining household incomes by selling more of their time.
“Leisure time” is about more than fun
Americans have been pushed out of the political process because hard work today yields less money, smaller benefits and in turn lower security. The erosion of the eight-hour workday has made it harder to vote and more broadly hampers civic engagement. Tired, financially strapped people cannot go to political meetings, strike or wait in line to vote. Without time to dream or even think about a better reality, Americans are left to tolerate the status quo.
One hundred and forty years ago, the labor movement coined the slogan: “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest and eight hours for what you will.” The slogan guaranteed time to rest, and it gave working parents the time to organize. Today, the forty-hour workweek remains out of reach for most Americans.
Civil Rights leader Ella Baker said, “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” Her call to action suggests a paradox: Freedom requires tireless commitment to secure the right to rest and to dream.
We are in the wilderness
The work of creating a just society can only come when we have time to rest and to dream. For me, the story of the Hebrews’ escape from Egypt clearly illustrates the importance of having time to rest and to dream.
The Hebrews could not celebrate the Sabbath or follow the ideals of their tradition while slaves in Egypt. Once out of bondage, the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness were able to accept the Laws of G-d, which included a requirement for rest. This ancient story shows a deep understanding of our need for time to renew ourselves: in the midst of the trial of the desert, G-d required His people to rest weekly.
Today, religious or not, we can learn from this story; more than ever, modern Americans need the time to dream.
Opinions expressed in Mr. Kronick’s articles are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Tongass Democrats or TongassDemocrats.com. Questions for Mr. Kronick can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Was this interesting? Would you like to read more? Let us know by hitting the Facebook Like button or leaving a comment!