Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Very Little Work Results in These Life Lessons

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Very Little Work Results in These Life Lessons

Article excerpt

If there's a contest for making the most stupid remark this political season, we may have a winner. That would be Hilary Rosen, the Democratic pundit who observed that Ann Romney, a mother of five, "never worked a day in her life."

Because everybody knows that a mother's work is never done, Ms. Rosen's remark went over like a squadron of concrete balloons. While it was a clumsy attempt to mock Mrs. Romney, my own reaction was different. I took it as a character recommendation.

I don't begrudge Mrs. Romney at all. While other little boys grew up wanting to be firefighters or pilots, I just wanted never to work a day in my life. The best I could do was to go into journalism, where the heavy lifting isn't much (although I did get a paper cut once).

Besides, work is work, a tedious business in all its variety. There's the work of the conventional world -- the sort that gave rise to the expression "Work is the curse of the drinking man" -- and there's the work of the parent, looking after children and helping strap the dog to the roof of the family car. It is arrogant to suggest one is superior to the other.

Indeed, having been more than 40 years in the newspaper industry - - tote that sentence, pull that adjective -- I have sometimes wondered whether I might have done better had I truly never worked a day in my life, say as a member of Congress or as a civil servant in a government department. But this conjecture raises a larger question beyond politics.

What are a person's signature achievements that add up to a well- rounded life? Is work in a conventional workplace a prerequisite for wisdom and understanding? Here's my own observations drawn from years of experience in being alive, albeit sometimes with a comatose look from having attended too many office meetings:

* Everybody should go to college. Young people should stay up to all hours of the night in dorm rooms and argue absurd political and philosophical points with fellow students, the better to get absurdity out of their systems. A failure to do this can lead to an addiction to talk radio in later years.

Only in college can young minds immerse themselves in reading the great poets and writers, understanding history, studying the world of science, and later, just for a break, learning to play Beer Pong. …

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