HELP WANTED? THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE VALUE OF HARD WORK
We see "Help Wanted" signs everywhere, but the workers have long been hidden in plain sight.
They unload delivery trucks, mop up spilled milk. They rise at early hours to nurse our sick and elderly. They stand in heated kitchens cooking meals that make our room service possible. They repair our goods and our bodies.
These workers may seem anonymous, but in fact are real human beings with histories, dreams, families, talents and bills to pay.
That their jobs are menial or hourly says more about us as a society than it does about the value of their work.
Ironically, it’s not just paycheck laborers who feel ignored today. The “Great Resignation” comprises invisible workers from all sectors of our economy, who find themselves feeling like passive cogs in a large, churning work machine.
The feeling of getting little, if any, appreciation for one’s labors is ubiquitous—from home to the office.
That’s why I’m using the C-word (Conspiracy) to describe this discrepancy of how we assign value to the labors of creativity or invention versus paycheck work.
For starters, conspiracies have a way of steering our psyche toward imaginary perils—like blaming workers for lacking ambition, education or talent—while pointing us away from the real threat, dehumanizing workers and undervaluing their invisible contributions to the quality of our lives.
Where work is concerned, technology has enabled a dangerous separation of the head and the hand. Automating and clicking our way through life toward immediate gratification ignores the inarguable fact that we, as humans, have an innate need for meaning.
We need to feel valued, regardless of the jobs we perform. We need to feel as though what we do means something.
Herein lies the beauty of craftspeople and artists, their work fundamentally threading our human needs through the head, heart and hand.
Where artists focus our attention on the value of practice, skill and expertise, marketers push convenience over the art of making things. Artists enable us to explore the human condition—which includes seeing the plight of workers who toil in obscurity.
French painter Jean-François Millet, who often featured the lives of peasants in his work, was said to see “the godliness and virtue in physical labor.” And who hasn’t stopped in a museum to admire the domestic interiors and workers in a lush Vermeer painting?
President Barack Obama’s American portrait painter, Kehinde Wiley hits the streets to find sitters for his paintings that reimagine Old Masters with regular black folks.
In the large-scale oil paintings of London-based artist Caroline Walker, viewers are confronted with the humanity of workers we’re inclined to ignore: housekeeping staff, parking attendants, nail technicians, cashiers.
“We find only one tool, neither created nor invented, but perfect: the hand of man.”
— Peruvian writer and playwright Julio Ramón Ribeyro Zúñiga
That’s one reason I’m giving a hand to this year’s Venice Biennale, the world’s most prestigious art exhibition—for taking on relevant themes of bodies, humans and value in connection to technologies and planet Earth.
Lesser known artists and those from under-represented sectors will be center stage, marking significant historical “firsts”: Artist Sonia Boyce, whose works focus on identity, representation, race and gender, will be the first Black woman to represent the U.K.
And in the U.S. Pavillon, the ICA/Boston has commissioned Simone Leigh—the first African American female artist to represent the U.S.—whose work forefronts Black female subjectivity and women’s labor in her sculptures and monuments.
But life isn’t all work and no play, because our minds need space to be free and to wonder. Laziness has an important place in our lives, as well. Without it there would be no space for creativity and invention.
There is value in labor and hard work, and it's a fact that self-care and the arts are not without hard work—they are the result of it.
I have to say, hard work is indeed a part of eu2be’s DNA, as the people who raised me inculcated me with values reflected in this great Maya Angelou quote: “Nothing will work unless you do.”
The same values extend to the hard-working carrier oils that compose eu2be’s beloved skincare products.
IT'S HARD-WORKING CARRIER OILS THAT ARE OFTEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GLOWING RESULTS OF PRODUCTS THAT HYPE ESSENTIAL OILS.
So, you can understand my excitement to relaunch eu2be and build awareness for these unsung heroes. Carrier oils are the beauty industry’s most overlooked, under-appreciated ingredients: hard-working, skin-fortifying and formula-transformative.
While all of our socials are rife with the kind of bogeyman ingredient fodder that launched the natural skincare movement, there are a select few who are dispelling dubious claims by interjecting important facts.
Kudos to one of the greatest slayers of myth and conspiracy of all time, the cosmetic chemist behind LabMuffin, Australia’s Dr. Michelle Wong, and one of eu2be’s own chemists, Vicky Vega, PhD.
To be discerning about anything, including skincare ingredients, we need real knowledge and real facts from people who are practiced or trained to unearth them.
I was raised to have an abiding respect for creativity, hard work and the people who do the job despite NOT being paid a million bucks. There is intrinsic value to the work that’s performed by humans who have the integrity of purpose to make meaning of their time and labor.
Here’s a perfect example of ancient knowledge and honest work being passed on to new generations: the unknown slaves who knew how to irrigate the swamps of South Carolina, transforming them into profitable rice fields.
Their knowledge made the vast Southern agricultural system so successful—and so cruel to the men and women who did its hard labor.
Marginalized people have often been left out of headlines but their silent contributions speak volumes for the value of what has been passed on in the way of creativity and invention for these United States.
Most of us may be on the receiving end of work’s true value, of keeping things rolling along for the good of the whole. But thankfully there are workers for whom this purpose gets them up and out of bed each morning.
Experiences and things that have more of the human hand and ingenuity in them are instinctively worth more because they enrich our humanity and lives.
May we be unshackled from technology and lay claim to our rightful space in humanity. May we experience the truth and beauty of our lives—so they unfold beautifully in the daily small acts where heart and hand meet our creativity.
And may we make of ourselves a value to humankind, in ways large and small.