The Importance of Work
A True Story
on Jul 21, 2023
While reading the newspapers, I sometimes come across news of rich Kenyans who are appointed to senior government positions. And they seem to relish the appointments even though they have enough wealth to live comfortably in their homes. That tells us there is more to life than having money. We need work to occupy our time.
I think that's why some American politicians of a bygone era emphasized the importance of work. Abraham Lincoln believed that a dollar earned is better than a dollar found. He advised his son that it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat.
Another American politician is quoted to have said that he had no respect for people who didn't work, no matter how rich they were. And another American politician valued excellence to an extent of not allowing his sons to come home with poor school report forms.
I wonder if American leaders of these days hold such high ideals. In his best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey reported that he had studied success literature written since America was founded and noted a shift in focus by writers from a character-based living to a personality-based one.
According to Covey, the success literature written in the first 150 years since America was founded emphasized the need for such virtues as industry, integrity, humility, courage and patience as the foundation of lasting success. But in the 20th century, self-help writers started telling readers all they needed to achieve success was dream big, smile more and have a positive mental attitude.
With such a change in focus from character-based living to a personality-based one by self-help writers in America, it seems American citizens of these days don't value work as much as Americans of past ages did. Little wonder that there has been a prevalence of obesity and other lifestyle diseases in America for the last 50 years.
I personally admire people who work. A few years ago when I was striving to transform myself from a lazy bum to a hard-working writer and musician, I would underline every sentence about work in the books I read. I even highlighted in my Oxford dictionary the word "work" and its meaning.
So much have I come to value work that when I am walking on the streets, I admire labourers busy at work. Such labourers as workers welding doors, men digging trenches for laying pipes, ordinary citizens hammering rocks to pieces and masons carrying bricks for building houses.
Just last Sunday as I was taking a walk in my hometown of Kiserian in the evening, I passed by a bevy of workers in dusty clothes constructing a building. Mark you, it was a Sunday evening and the workers were as busy as a swarm of bees. I was so impressed with their diligence that I paused to admire them at work.
Then on Tuesday last week, I woke up at 5.30am only to find there was no electricity at home. That meant I couldn't use my laptop to proofread the blog story I had purposed to write that day. (My laptop battery conked out two years ago.) I had to use my smartphone to type, edit and upload the story to this blog.
By the time I was done with sharing my story on social media, my smartphone battery power was down to 39%. So I became a bit worried about whether my smartphone would have enough charge for checking my social media accounts in the evening if the power outage persisted. You can therefore imagine my delight when I saw the bulb of our kitchen light up at around 12.30pm on that Tuesday. I was really delighted to see power return to our home.
Seeing electricity come back home at an hour I needed it most made me appreciate the work people at Kenya Power Company do to ensure we have our share of electrical energy. It also made me feel guilty about the times I have overslept while my fellow citizens were busy at work. I have therefore resolved to keep working hard at becoming a great writer and musician.
My beloved reader, I urge you to also value work because, as the saying goes, an idle mind is a devil's workshop. Work not only occupies our time, it saves us from vice and need. It also makes our lives meaningful. Even in heaven where there is no suffering, people engage in work. So value work and be diligent at whatever you do. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story on the importance of work, you might also enjoy another one on "The Dignity of Labour" which I wrote about two years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Not Exploiting Others
A True Story
on Jul 16, 2023
Probably due to my humble nature, people have had a tendency of taking advantage of me ever since I was a child in the '90s. I can count more than ten times when others have made me do without pay tasks they should have done themselves. Allow me to give you two examples. Only two.
In the year 2000 when I was in Standard 7 at Naro-Moru Primary School, I enjoyed playing as a goal-keeper in the soccer matches we had on Saturday break-times. One Sarturday as we were leaving the classroom for our usual break-time soccer matches, our Geography, History & Civics (GHC) teacher named Miss Esther sent me to buy bread for her from a shop that was about 800 metres away. I obeyed her.
Going to buy bread for Miss Esther made me miss the chance of playing as a goal-keeper in the soccer match we had during the break-time of that Saturday. And after that Saturday, I never reclaimed my role as a goal-keeper in the matches that followed.
Over the last couple of years when I have remembered how Miss Esther sent me to buy bread for her on that memorable Saturday, I have sometimes felt bitter that she exploited me. She didn't share the bread with me. Neither did she give me a tip for my service. What's worse, she made me lose my goal-keeping position in the fun-filled soccer matches we had on Saturdays.
The other incident I will tell you on how I was exploited happened one morning in 2002 when I was a first-former at Starehe Boys' Centre. That morning, I was getting ready for breakfast in the school dining hall when a second-former called Andrew Otando asked me to take to the high-table a notice he wanted read to the whole school. I accepted to take the notice.
Guess what! The captain to whom I handed the notice, a caring fourth-former named Michael Mwangale, inquired who had sent me to deliver the notice. After I informed him it was Andrew Otando, he summoned Otando to the high-table. I never got to know what Mwangale told Otando but I am sure he reproached him for taking advantage of me.
Remembering such experiences has made me sensitive to being exploited. These days, I hate it when someone takes advantage of me by making do tasks they should do themselves. That's why I have made it a rule to either decline or charge a stipend when a person asks me to do something for them.
Last Saturday but one, my eldest brother Joe Kagigite came home with his three kids. While Joe waited for several of his friends who were to visit us later on in the day, he took the initiative of moving parts of a bed from the living room of our mansion to a back veranda. Since I hate being exploited, I was afraid Joe might ask me to help him move the bed parts. I therefore made up my mind that I would tell him I was busy in case he enlisted for my help. Luckily, he didn't ask for my assistance.
When Joe's friends finally arrived home in the afternoon, we had a wonderful time swapping stories outside our mansion as they feasted on toothsome meals. Towards the end of our interaction, two of the visitors took out from a car several cartons of goodies they had bought for us.
One of the visitors asked me to take the cartons to the mansion, a duty that I thought was fair not only because I was going to benefit from the goodies but also because my parents were not strong enough to carry some of the cartons. As I began lifting one of the heavy cartons, I requested Kayla Wanjeri, my 12-year old niece, to assist me. She obliged and quickly took two cartons of milk to the mansion.
Three days later, I felt a tinge of guilt for what I did to Kayla. I thought I had taken advantage of her by asking her to carry cartons containing milk that she would never drink since she doesn't live with us here at home. Honestly, what I did was wrong and I hope her dad, my brother Joe, never complained to her about it. And that guilt feeling has made me resolve never to exploit a child again the way Miss Esther exploited me when I was in Standard 7.
The great American president Abraham Lincoln once said, "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master." Like Lincoln, I would also not want to exploit anyone just as I hate being exploited. I wish to treat others the way I want to be treated. Not an unwise course of action for you to take as well, my beloved reader!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed reading the above story on not exploiting others, you might also enjoy another one on "Overcoming Timidness" which I wrote about three years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.