Last week The Daily Caller broke the news feature about the Labor Department attempting to ban farm chores. When I alerted my dad who is a life-long farmer about the new rule, he was speechless. As he scanned the news article his first comment was “This is a joke, right” To someone who has lived his life defined by farm work and family it was impossibly for him to believe that the government had become so far-reaching as to attempt to keep children from basic work supervised by their own parents.
Due to the outrage that followed the news about the rule, the Labor Department quickly back-tracked on the policy. Their statement read:
“The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations… The decision to withdraw this rule–including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’–was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of proposed rules on small family oriented farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.”
For now it would seem they have moved away from the ridiculous policy, but I think it is essential that we keep in mind a small point. They didn’t move away from the policy because they believe in the hard work and the values that seems to go hand-in-hand with a rural life structure, but because of the number of complaints. When is the last time we heard the government pushing for the hard work and skill that comes from farm chores? They seem more intent on keeping our children dependent on them for everything and subsidizing our farms.
I could spend a lot of time focused on the health benefits of hard physical labor – children in the United States are terribly obese, but what does the church say about work?
In Laborem exercens Pope John Paul II states:
“Work is, as has been said, an obligation, that is to say, a duty, on the part of man. This is true in all the many meanings of the word. Man must work, both because the Creator has commanded it and because of his own humanity, which requires work in order to be maintained and developed. Man must work out of regard for others, especially his own family, but also for the society he belongs to, the country of which he is a child, and the whole human family of which he is a member, since he is the heir to the work of generations and at the same time a sharer in building the future of those who will come after him in the succession of history. All this constitutes the moral obligation of work, understood in its wide sense. When we have to consider the moral rights, corresponding to this obligation, of every person with regard to work, we must always keep before our eyes the whole vast range of points of reference in which the labour of every working subject is manifested. ” (Emphasis mine)
“When we read in the first chapter of the Bible that man is to subdue the earth, we know that these words refer to all the resources contained in the visible world and placed at man’s disposal. However, these resources can serve man only through work. From the beginning there is also linked with work the question of ownership, for the only means that man has for causing the resources hidden in nature to serve himself and others is his work. And to be able through his work to make these resources bear fruit, man takes over ownership of small parts of the various riches of nature: those beneath the ground, those in the sea, on land, or in space. He takes all these things over by making them his workbench. He takes them over through work and for work.”
We need to return to the structure of parents actually teaching their children to value hard work. Our work should be a prayer, all things should lead us closer to God. In the garden of Eden, God promised Adam that he would have to work by the sweat of his brow. Last I heard, that order is still standing.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Rachel-Howell-e1315240168290.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Rachel Howell works for EWTN as the Customer Service Representative for the National Catholic Register. She loves her job, as she gets paid to talk on the phone and interact with people – her favorite pastime! A country girl who claims both Alabama and Idaho as her hometowns, she grew up in a large Catholic family that made her who she is today. She is passionate about her Catholic Faith, Pro-life work, and Cowgirl boots. She also blogs about her adventures in life at the National Catholic Register.[/author_info] [/author]