In Pope John Pauls Encyclical, LABOREM EXERCENS he discusses the value of work and dignity that it brings all persons. The very nature of man is in his capacity to work. It is through the physical and intellectual work that man performs that he can advance, science and technology, morality and culture. It is, therefore, a basic and very critical attribute of humanity. Work was a responsibility that God gave man. It is important to note that the very calling to work, reflects on the fact that man was made in the image of God. An examination of work in the context of mans existence and his capacity, therefore, elucidates more on the responsibility that was given by God and also the dignity that man realizes from working.
The capacity of man to work does not limit his persona and existence but rather advances his society and family. It is through working that man realizes dignity in his existence. One reason why the ability for a person to work invokes dignity is that it is a constantly evolving and challenging the form of existence. There are always new questions and challenges that invoke critical thought and collaborative association in society. The entire human race has been built on the consistent and incremental result of everyday work. It, however, is important to note that in the dignity and advancement that people get from work, so do they realize suffering and human toil. A lot of toil and suffering is also realized in the very dignity and advancement that man gets in working and often realizes expulsion of energy and time. The very thing that man thrives upon must be realized by the sweat of his face. The suffering then penetrates his social life, giving rise to other influences like conflict, tension, and crisis.
The history of man has been met with periodic and consistent changes. One important thing that is realized as far as the value of work and relevance to a particular generation is that it comes in waves. Not all men have something to do or some form of physical capacity. It, therefore, remains uncertain for the majority of people on whether they too are dignified in their existence. One immediate manifestation of this phenomenon is the information and communication technology wave that has been seen in the last two decades. Like the industrial revolution and the invention of tools like the spinning wheel and the printing press, information technology is rapidly revolutionizing how people work and whose input is of more value.
It is for this reasons that the dignity that humans derive from work is undermined. The value of humans is realized from working. However, the cost of realizing this value is realized continues to undermine human dignity. It must be noted that in the Bible, the very nature of work was a curse. After the fall of man, God, cast him out of the Garden of Eden and made sure to make man work for what was initially a God given right. The dignity that man realizes from working is the result of a curse. It, therefore, may not apply to all men.
Case in point, some people spend their entire lives working for what they believe is a just cause. While the achievement of these goals often realizes praise in the eyes of men, it may not be the same from a religious standpoint. In addition to this, the dignity that man must seek in their work is not guaranteed. Dignity is the aspect of realizing some level of equality and content among all men. It is however not realized as society is structured according to class. The presumed dignity that a person may realize from one job can be considered undignified to another. Such rationality often inspires conflicting thought.
Looking at the millennial changes that have taken place, that is, the industrial revolution, the end of slavery and colonial rule, often the introduction of new forms of work and capacities in the working force means that the majority of those whose dignity is realized from the past forms of work is threatened. Many unskilled people from the older generations may find themselves useless given the rapid changes that come with such revolutions. It is therefore not a guarantee that all men will work or even realize the toil or benefit from work. It, therefore, undermines the perspective of work.
In the encyclicals, work is any activity that man take part in. While there are many more options as far as activities for all men to be a part, it is not guaranteed that all forms of work will realize dignity. Is the term dignity in the context of Pope John Pauls Encyclical, LABOREM EXERCENS subjective or objective? Are there degrees of human dignity? Much has to be debated on when looking into the dignity that man realizes from work. The philosophy that inspires this thought may not be universal as presented in the encyclical.
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