Did thinking alone ever cook a meal? While both have their place in the healthy functioning of a culture, society teaches us that some work is “naturally” more important and more valuable than others; hence some people are worth more than others. Who really benefits from the violence inherent in the perpetuation of class consciousness?
Early in his law career, at that teetering moment before he fully plunged himself into the path of public service and nonviolence, Gandhi realized that all work that contributed to society should be regarded as equal–from the farmer to the lawyer. At the same time, he confessed that he felt strongly that the work of the farmer was much more worthwhile than the other professions. Why? Agriculture is precious since it is related to human survival itself.
Gandhi realized that when farmers are exploited, we lose access to our most basic connection to the earth through our food systems, and everyone loses. Hence he recommended that everyone engage daily in some form of “bread labor,” work that serves to nourish and understand our food systems.
He once said that, “agriculture is a kind of sacrificial offering (yajña)”– it is the ultimate service to humanity. It’s often difficult, but always indispensable. Society can go on without the art of interpreting law, not without the sacred art of agriculture.
See if there is some way you can get involved yourself in some agriculture, even a city garden, or some other form of “bread labor,” and see whether this doesn’t help you erase any feeling of superiority you may have entertained by virtue of working in some intellectual field or profession.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org