Sloth: Our Sacred Duty

I caught an NPR interview concerning this Foreign Policy article.  Too boot, I’ve been hanging out with my brother and two of his friends from Germany and we’ve been discussing Americas sins of transport and labor.  In order to avoid the pedantic, let’s couch it this way: sprawl that can only survive on the premise of cheap gasoline and the 40-hour work week with little to few benefits were the two major national sins of our discussion.

The article in FP conflates modern European (French) work ethic with a French villiage during the Inquisition, being investigated by a notorious inquisitor named Fournier:

But what must have surprised and disturbed the industrious and energetic Fournier, even more than the absence of crime, was the absence of ambition and hard work. The good folk of Montaillou might not be killing one another, but they were killing time…

The crux of laziness get’s nailed down about halfway through the article in a sentence most red-blooded Amerians find utterly loathsome, but the few – dare I suggest – more enlightened among us shamefully feel in secret:

…Sheep equaled freedom: A shepherd, Ladurie writes, would never “trade that liberty for the plate of gritty lentils often held out to him by friends and employers [in order to] settle down.”

But even those serving up the lentils — the local farmers and artisans of Montaillou — appreciated those same liberties. They willingly worked to live, but most unwillingly lived to work. Rather than devoting themselves to hammering out a better plow or plowing a better field, the peasants of Montaillou did what was necessary to keep food on their table, but nothing more.

In closing, this article nails the spike home to the heart of the matter:

It’s no surprise this is annoying to American sensibilities: If we were honest with ourselves, we never would have wanted to say goodbye, either.

Source

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