Great work is done while we’re asleep….
Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.
And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.
When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.
“X” by Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir. © Counterpoint, 1998
Today’s capitalists, including the Industrial Agriculturalists thinks they built their success and their fortune ‘all by themselves’. Mr. Berry points out what any good rural preacher tells us every Sunday. Our bounty, big or small, comes to us through grace. Whether you believe in the grace of God, or the goddess, or nature, or fate, the root of our bounty comes from something beyond our control.
Just as the devastation of recent hurricanes and droughts have reminded us, that there are things beyond our control.
Even the high tech world of silicon valley requires the bounty of the earth to manufacture the goods and gizmos that fuel today’s economy. And just like this column, those gizmos are required for Wall Street to manufacture money, seemingly out of thin air. Split second trading is not done without computers to manage the algorithms.
But it is well for those capitalists to remember that other great work that goes on while they sleep: the industry of the worker who brings the goods together; ships and delivers them; sells and installs them. While Mitt prances around the country posing for his fellow landed gentry, others are doing the work that sustains his fortune (not to mention his day to day lifestyle).
And for us consumers who, though not well compensated for our labors, are vastly better off than those to whom the jobs were shipped, it is well for us to remember the great work done while we sleep, and Facebook and Wii.
And when the wrath of nature disrupts our ordered lives, it may help to reflect on what we have left exposed to be washed into our environments by the storms. Much of our future health travails will be caused by what was left open to the past weeks storms.