Love Thy Work, or Forever Suffer

1.10     Shemayah and Avtalyon received the tradition from them. Shemayah taught:

Love work;
Hate positions of domination;
Do not make yourself known to the authorities.

Who here has the pleasure of being able to say “I love my job”? I have a sad feeling it’s not many among you (if I’ve yet acquired many readers), but nonetheless, it’s what most people seem to want: We go to school to get jobs that make money that we’ll love doing. It’s what we aim for in life. It’s where we want to be.

But it’s not where we are. That’s the problem. That’s the lesson. We have to make loving what we do an active part of doing it. Take for example school: I love learning. I do much to try to make learning relevant to me, to make myself interested in it so I love doing it—and it’s paid off, I’m doing quite well, and I’m very happy learning new things. But too many people give up early. They just don’t put their heart into what their hands are doing.

Love is an active emotion. Without putting fuel in an engine, we don’t get any energy out; without putting effort into loving something, we don’t get any pleasure from it. It takes a lot to love something (and here’s a disclaimer: I’m not talking about people, I’m talking about things): The best way, and the only way there is to the extent of my knowledge, is to tie it into something you already know and love, and if not that, then to find something that doing it will reward you with—and then to hold onto that. Eventually the love will arise.

If you’re open to it. Otherwise it’ll just be more work. It’s a choice. Make it wisely. Make it purposely. Make it lovingly. And then you’ll be set.

How can we be told to love work, but to hate positions of power? Isn’t all work—especially in today’s world—either a position of domination or a position beneath one? Is work a love/hate relationship? I’d like to think not.

I’m an officer on quite a few school councils and I’m also a Student Ambassador. They can each be pretty demanding and pretty tiring and pretty ugly sometimes, but I love them: They each allow me an opportunity for growth and fulfillment that I can get from nothing else. And, of course, they’re each positions of domination: Over new students in registration, of new club members, of those who didn’t make the cut of honor-society grades. In some very dark ways I reign over these people. I can do horrible things to them. I can be tyrannical and devilish.

But I’m not.

A coin is either heads or tails, but it’s never both (assuming it’s not a trick coin, I mean). Just the same, positions of domination are fueled by an outward hatred (as such can also be considered an inwards love, but I’ll not get into that today); that is to say, to dominate is to not love, or to not express love through your position of power. But once you love that position, it’s no longer one of domination: Instead you simply you love your work and take pride in that.

As I’ve already suggested, far too few of us actually love our jobs, and those of us in jobs of domination can pretty much be considered those, if my reasoning shines true that domination is an expression of anger, which even if not hatred per se, is certainly not love, and when too many dominators come together, you’ve got an authority. So naturally, we avoid, even despise authority.

I think there may be some deeper, historical significance to this teaching. Throughout history, Jews have been persecuted by the rulers of the lands we’ve lived in, so it was good advice then to not make yourself known to the authorities. It became a matter of safety and survival.

It’s still a matter of safety and survival, but for other reasons, for other people. From a sociological perspective, those we hang with hold pressure upon us in a dominating way; and from a psychological perspective, we learn from observing the behavior of others—that is, it dominates our thoughts once it’s in our brains. So if we assume authority to mean those that dominate, and domination to be a negative and hateful application of power, then the greatest lesson to be learned here is to avoid people and situations that support hate.

By making ourselves known to such things (whether living or otherwise, in person or through media), we’re committing ourselves to further such positions of domination. By submitting to the whims of today’s media, of the violence surrounding us, of all this rampant domination unaware, we sacrifice ourselves to a world of hatred and angst that serves no God well and no human with the dignity he or she deserves. When we make ourselves known to such authorities of evil, we put ourselves in such positions of power as these, and when we do this, we lose the chance to love what we do for a deeper, darker thrill that doesn’t engender, but further kill.

The answer is to love what you do, and when you do, that love will return to you.

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