Many conservatives emphasize individual effort, work and personal responsibility as central moral virtues necessary to happiness and driving personal and economic success - with the lack of sufficient hard work likewise seen as a major reason for recurring societal problems. LDS prophet Heber J. Grant, for instance, called for work “to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle” in the lives of members of that faith community. The belief in the miraculous results of “enough hard work” lies at the heart of the American Dream.
Most liberals, on the other hand, do not showcase hard work as a central or overriding issue and instead emphasize the need for society and government to provide more opportunity to people. Thus it makes sense that many conservatives see liberals as undervaluing hard work. Liberals see themselves, however, as calling for policies that would create a society that properly rewards hard work, as opposed to the world they think we currently live in, in which many work at underpaid backbreaking jobs most of their lives without achieving economic stability or success for their children.
Liberals also often believe that each of us has a responsibility to work hard to help others, and thus could be said to believe in social responsibility as a form of personal responsibility. So it is that liberals and conservatives sometimes talk past each other on the subjectof hard work.
QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:
- People often fear that outside assistance (from government or church) has the potential to discourage personal initiative, responsibility and work. Do you agree or disagree?
- If so, would you say outside help has to discourage personal effort - or are there ways that outside help can stimulate and motivate personal work and effort? If so, how?
- What’s the difference between outside assistance that encourages versus discourages individual hard work?
- Think back to school or work environments that either encourage or discourage hard work. What differentiates between the two?
- Is it possible for hard work to be over-emphasized - e.g., as ‘the answer’ to a situation the will not be remedied without some kind of outside assistance?