THE SPIRITS’ BOOK

Allan Kardec

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CHAPTER III
II. LAW OF LABOR

Necessity of Labor - Limit of Labor – Rest

Necessity of Labor

674. Is the necessity of labor a law of nature?
“Labor is a law of nature, and is proved by the fact that it is a necessity. Civilization requires humankind to perform a greater amount of labor, because it increases the sum of their needs and pleasures.”

675. Should we understand “labor” to mean only occupations of a material nature?
“No, the spirit labors just like the body. Every sort of useful occupation is labor.”

676. Why is labor forced upon humankind?
“It is a consequence of your physical nature. It is an atonement and means of developing your intelligence. Without labor, you would remain in the early stages of intelligence. This is why your food, safety, and well-being all rely entirely on your labor and activity. Those whose bodies are too weak for tougher kinds of work are granted intelligence by God to compensate for it, but it is labor nonetheless.”

677. Why does nature itself provide for all the wants of animals?
“Everything in nature labors. The animals work as much as you do, but their work, like their intelligence, is limited to providing for their own survival. This is why labor does not lead to progress in animals, while among human beings it has a double purpose of preserving the body and developing thought – which is also necessary, and continually raises them to a higher level. When I say that the labor of animals is limited to their survival, I mean that this is their purpose in working. They unconsciously support the views of the Creator when they provide for their material needs. Their labor contributes to nature’s final end, although you often fail to realize its immediate result.”

678. In more advanced worlds, are human beings subjected to the same requirement to work?
“The nature of labor is always relative to wants; the less material those wants, the less material the labor. It is erroneous to think that human beings in those worlds are inactive and useless, since idleness would be torture rather than a luxury.”

679. Are there any individuals who possess enough worldly goods for survival to render them exempt from the law of labor?
“Perhaps from material labor, but not from the obligation of making themselves useful according to their means, and developing their own intelligence and that of others, which is also labor. There are individuals to whom God has granted sufficient means that are not restricted to earning their income by the sweat of their brows. In that case, their obligation of being useful to their fellow beings is all the greater because they have at their disposal a much greater amount of free time for doing good.”

680. Are there individuals who are incapable of working, and whose existence is entirely useless?
“God is fair. God only condemns those who are voluntarily useless, because such an individual lives off of the labor of others. God wants every person to make themselves useful according to their own abilities.” (See no. 643)

681. Does natural law impose an obligation upon children to work for their parents?
“Of course, just as it imposes on parents the duty of working for their children. For this reason, God has created filial and paternal affection, so that family members may be naturally led to mutually help each other – a duty that is too often lost in the world today.” (See no. 205)

Limit of Labor – Rest

682. As rest after labor is a necessity, is it a law of nature?
“Definitely. Rest restores the bodily powers and is also necessary to give a little more freedom to the mind, allowing it to rise above matter.”

683. What limits labor?
“It is limited by strength, but God gives human beings the freedom to decide this point for themselves.”

684. What should we think of those who abuse their authority by imposing too much labor on their subordinates?
“They commit one of the worst of crimes. All those exercising authority shall answer for any excess labor imposed by them on those who are under their orders, because they violate God’s law.” (See no. 273)

685. Do human beings have the right to rest in old age?
“Yes, they are only required to work according to their strength.”

a) Then what are the resources for old people who need to work for a living, but cannot? “The strong should work for the weak. When the family does not help, society should take its place. This is the law of charity.”

It is not enough to say that human beings need to work; they also should be able to find an occupation. This is not what happens. Whenever unemployment becomes widespread, it assumes the proportions of a scourge like scarcity. Economic science seeks a remedy for this problem in balancing production and consumption, but this balance is always subject to sporadic periods, assuming that it can be attained, and the worker must survive during these periods.

There is one element of the question that has not been considered sufficiently and economics is just a theory without it: education. Not merely intellectual education, but moral education, that which consists in the formation of character and habits, which human beings do not learn from books. Education is the sum of the habits acquired. When we consider that, many individuals are lost in the food of a population without principles, or direction and are left to their own instincts on a daily basis. Should we be surprised by the disastrous consequences that result?

When the art of education is properly understood and practiced, all human beings will have the habits of stability and prudence for themselves and for those who depend on them, and respect for what is worthy of respect. These habits will enable them to endure hard times with greater ease. Chaos and extravagance are social handicaps that only proper education can cure, and the spread of such education is the preliminary element of social well-being, which is the only guarantee of security for all.



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