• 39°

Our jobs are our identities

Today, more than at any time in the history of the world, our jobs are central to our identities. So much rides on this thing we call a job.

When we lived in the same community all our lives where we knew everyone, other elements of our identity meant a lot.  After our names, people wanted to know, “Boy, who is your people?”  “Boy, what church do you go to?” “Boy, where do you live?” “Boy, I knew your grandfather.”

Now, we live in a transitional society. We move often, becoming more isolated for various reasons. We often don’t know our next door neighbors. We certainly don’t know the people in our communities.

Some wonder why thousands have occupied Wall Street round the clock for a whole month.  Some wonder why this movement has spread across the entire country like wild fire.  Well, I don’t wonder; I understand it’s a job, a job, a job.

Those of us who have jobs are scared of losing them.  If we lose our jobs, we lose a central part of our identities.  The fear of immigrants, is at its core, is usually about loss of jobs.    It’s scary not to know who we are.  It’s scary not to know who we will become if we do not have our work.  A job, a job, a job.

I run into people almost every day who ask me to help them get a job.  The desperation is so palpable I can feel it.  And I feel helpless because I cannot help them get a job.

A young man I know is accused of killing his sister and shooting other people.  I don’t believe he killed his sister but I do believe he did shoot some others.  A while back, I heard him talk about needing and wanting a job.  If he had a productive job, someone might be alive today, others might be uninjured and he might not be in jail under a $5 million bond.  Our property is broken into weekly.  They take the wiring, the plumbing, and everything.  If those in our communities had jobs, we would all live in less fear and more joy.  A job means so much.  A job, a job, a job.