In order to be contented and happy, each normal adult human being must have at least the chance of doing these two kinds of work. Unless he or she can do income-work, he or she is not economically independent; unless he can do universal work, he is not socially and spiritually free.
Much of the present-day discontent is owing to the fact that these two kinds of work are not represented, as they should be, in every working-life.
The problem in regard to the working-man is not how to pet him, nor to patronize him, but how to educate him and inspire him! He is not a parasite to be fed by the capitalist, nor is the capitalist a parasite upon the working-power of the working-man. Both are men. The problem is, How shall the capitalist lead the noblest, most public-spirited, and helpful life in relation to those in his employ? How shall the working-man lay hold on the best that life can give? How shall he find a work which he is competent to do, and likes to do, and may be supported by doing—and at the same time have a chance to grow; to enter into the large, free culture-life of the world?
The complaint of the working-man, when really analyzed, runs down to this: I do income-work, but it does not bring me bread enough to live. Not only that, but ground down as I am by toil, all possibility of the larger, universal work is shut away from me. My faculties are atrophied—paralyzed—and hence my soul smoulders with deep and angry discontent. This ceaseless and sordid anxiety for bread cuts me out of my world-life, my world-toil. I cannot do scientific research-work, or write the books and papers that I ought. My universal labor is interrupted: I cannot be happy until I can take up this larger work again.
As the trade of civilization advances, the meaning of bread changes. The university professor, no less than the day-laborer, finds his income too small for him, and says, “I, too, do income-work which does not bring me bread, books, travel, society, a summer home, and surroundings which are not only decent and sanitary, but refined and beautiful.”
Is it not also the source of the discontent to-day, among almost all classes of women, except the most highly educated and efficient? Women say—our modern daughters, wives, and mothers: “In the home, we do income-work for which we do not receive income. When strangers do this work, they are paid, and we are not.” In addition, many a woman is so bound down by daily tasks, that her whole soul cries out, and we hear of the high rate of insanity among farmers’ wives, of nervous prostration of the housewives in our towns, and become accustomed to such expressions as “the death of a woman on a Kansas farm.”
This discontent takes many restless forms. It leads daughters, who ought to be at home, out into morally dangerous but income-earning work; it takes wives out into all manner of clubs, without regard to the fact: as to whether the particular club, in its atmosphere and influence, is good or bad; it brings discouragement, disorder, and unrest into the home, dissatisfaction with house-duties and home-tasks, and is sapping our life where it should be best and strongest—in the home—taking out of it youth, spirit, enthusiasm, inspiration, and content.