Man’s first disobedience in the eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree brought upon him the curse of God which was to the effect that he must earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Labour, then, being ordained by God, to which all human beings are subject without exception, there can be nothing shameful or undignified in it even if it be. To suppose that the labour is demeaning is only a false sense of prestige. Far from this, manual labour raises one in the estimation of all right-thinking men and should be pursued by all if they mean to be respected and independent.
In this world, nothing can be had without labour. In fact, it is labour and industry which has contributed to the progress of civilization. Where would the world have been to-day if no one had worked, but had only formulated theories? If, after the discovery of the power of steam, no one had laboured to build the steam engine or the steamship, could it have been possible for us to have the network of railways which now cover the face of the earth, of the huge steamships which are ploughing in the seas To say nothing of civilization, the everyday necessities of life, the very food that we eat and the various articles of luxury which have added so much to our ease and comfort, can be obtained as a result of labour. If there were no one to plough and till the soil, there would be no crops, and starvation would stare us in the face. Who would clothe us if there were no weavers? who will build houses for us to dwell if there were no masons and no carpenters?
If, then. labour be the vital principle of our existence on earth, next to air and water, can there possibly be any indignity in it ? Is there anything in this labour for which one has reasons to feel ashamed? On the contrary, labour which feeds millions of people on earth and promotes the welfare of the world is a thing of which everyone should feel proud considering that it gives one the opportunity of doing good to humanity. Moreover, the bread that is eaten in idleness has no relish, whereas that which is earned by one’s own labour is far sweeter than even the rich dishes of a king. Labour enables one to earn one’s livelihood independent of others. One can, therefore,” hold one’s own against the whole world, for one has not to depend upon the charity or bounty of other people. By being able to hold one’s head high, one learns the value of respect and respects oneself, so also others. Such a man is full of a sense of independence and has confidence in his own self and cares little for frowns and favors of the rich.
Sufficient has been said about labour to show that it is after all not an undignified thing as many suppose. Honest labour, however mean it might be. is no whit less than the dignity of a king. It is much better to be an honest cultivator than to be a gentleman beggar. Where the former “wins the praise, the latter is. looked down upon. We cannot do admiration of all, better than close this with a quotation from Carlyle. He says,
“There is a perennial nobleness, and even sacredness in work. Two men I honour and no third. The first is the toilworn craftsman and the second is he who toils for the spiritual welfare of man.”