Revisiting the concept of the weekend
My rights! “Son, there is no such thing as ‘your rights'. The only rights that exist are the ones you create and learn to protect.”
We have so many positions we take as truths, but are merely assumptions — and society often contributes to its own entrapments with the assumptions to which it clings. Many of us can recall when the normal workweek was Monday to Saturday, with Thursdays and Saturdays ending as half-days. None of us can remember but it wasn't much more than a century or so when there was no such term as the weekend.
Sports games were held Thursday afternoons and on Saturdays, and many families enjoyed the Thursday afternoon tea parties, gatherings and even picnics. also, county cricket matches were often held on Thursdays.
Well, you may ask, when did the half-day on Saturday and Thursday begin? Good question, it too was all contrived. It also was not a right or a principle.
So now we almost universally have a 40-hour work week and some would swear it a right, and anything beyond it is an imposition with a redeemable taxation owed upon that right.
It took hundreds of years to arrive at this juncture. Here is where it is important to understand how the issue of exploitation and redress against systemic entrapment of persons essentially led to movements that fashioned the present ethics of work, which may be truly justified by history, yet still may not be healthy to be considered in the context similar to that of a divine right or the holy grail of work ethics.
As a paradox, there are many whom we call entrepreneurs or self-employed businessmen. They begin their days virtually at dawn and will be seen still at work after the sun has set and whose week may never end. This is a burden they impose upon themselves. Somehow the assumption of what constitutes a work week escapes them. That challenge will not be unfamiliar to that group; the vast majority share that experience and thrive on it.
We have declining birthrate and a median age of 44, and live in a country that is facing a huge debt equation and an annual deficit that is heavily dependent on salaries that have diminished. The question of how to get more out of fewer bodies looms over any forecaster's calculations. They say just bring in more people ... yes, but not at the cost of inertia for the local workforce.
Education, which includes retraining and diversifying skill sets, is a significant component; so, too, is remotivation and the need to be reinspired. We need to have the Bermudian workforce with all the tools that enable it to participate with determination and leadership, whether that's with an anvil, a pencil or a pen.
There is an old song titled Send In the Clowns, and I suppose at times we need a distraction to hide the gloom of the moment. But I don't think the clowns can do this one for us.
We need to unleash a new spirit of “let's get it done whatever it takes”. We need that attitude of getting into the mix and being able to make whatever changes to our assumptions we have to survive.
We need another form of collectivism — a collectivism that appreciates more from us, rather than less. Frankly, all of this as a renaissance is needed as an adjunct to the call by David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, to stimulus rather than austerity.
We must appreciate that we inherit assumptions, and while they may not be wrong necessarily or ill-contrived, they nevertheless may have become irrelevant through circumstance and time. The role of the intellectual and leadership are like that of a musical conductor: they must keep society moving forward with the beat.
It is helpful to realise that our old assumptions are a failure for our time and act like a millstone around our necks. Unfortunately, society does not recognise it and as a result, instead of making the appropriate steps that remedy, it with routine philosophy keeps adding weight to the millstone whenever there is a problem.
It's time to stop, rethink, then move forward.