Work is a four letter word

Hilary Clinton

I was watching the Democrats debate this week with my 6-year-old daughter, C, and she heard Hillary Clinton say, “And when I become president….”

The rhetoric slid past me, but C perked right up. “We’re going to have a woman president?”

“Well, maybe.”

“She just said that she was going to be president. That means she’s going to be president!”

It was exhilarating, seeing C, so excited about the possibility, that I got a bit swept up at that moment.

But I haven’t decided which candidate to support.

As far as HC’s concerned, there’s something that still bothers me. About a year ago, at the Chamber of Commerce, HC said that young people today have “a sense of entitlement after growing up in a culture that has a premium on instant gratification,” and that “young people today think work is a four-letter word.”

Chelsea complained, and within days HC apologized in an address to graduates in Long Island.

But I haven’t quite moved on.

Where does this “sense of entitlement” nonsense come from? I often hear it echoing from the halls of business. It’s peculiar, since about 30 percent of Americans aged 19 to 29 consistently don’t even have health insurance. That’s double the population at large, and more than any other age group.

And we think work is a four-letter word? I’ve always heard that our generation just does not know how to work, and I always believed it. But then I began to see the young adults in my congregation. College students work four jobs on top of their full load of classes. Adults in their twenties, can’t make it on Sunday, because they’re working (after 40 hours of work during the weekdays). Thirty-something moms and dads who have jobs as consultants, somehow juggling the childcare, the traveling, and the housekeeping.

My clergy friends put in unbelievable hours, until everywhere we began hearing the call for self-care. My seminary began a college of pastors, trying to do something about the clergy burnout by emphasizing friendship and getting a life in general. Our denominational health insurance began upping our mental health benefits, and urging new pastors to utilize them frequently. They realized that some therapy and a massage was a lot less expensive than treating a nervous break down.

Mrs. Clinton, please understand. We don’t have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. We’re not even getting our basic needs met. And we’ve embraced work. In fact, since young people have entered the workforce, Americans work more hours than any other industrialized country. Yet, our wages have gone down even as our productivity has gone up.

As we head closer to the election, we need someone who will not buy into the idea that anyone under the age of forty is a slacker, that only the baby-boomers are the “real workers.” I hope HC can show that her apology was sincere.

We don’t think our work is a four-letter word. We value work. The problem is that our work is not valued.

poto by Gerry Visco, uploaded from Flickr


2 thoughts on “Work is a four letter word

  1. Amen.

    You are absolutely right, and this is why I have a hard time getting psyched for this (and several other) candidate/s. She/they say what they believe people want to hear instead of what they really believe. To the American Legion they speak disparagingly about the non-Greatest Generations. To the NRA, they talk about hunting whether they are hunters or not. Makes me nuts.

  2. Isn’t that weird?

    She said the statements at the CoC, and apologized at a graduation! I mean, if say something offensive to one crowd of people, I don’t go down the street and apologize to another group of people.

    I know it’s politics, but gheez….

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