Contrary to all the unmeaning and unmeant political talk about job creation, work ought not to be merely a bone thrown to the otherwise unemployed… Work ought to be necessary; it ought to be good; it ought to be satisfying and dignifying to the people who do it, and genuinely useful and pleasing to the people for whom it is done.—Wendell Berry, Another Turn of the Crank
For we are God’s fellow workers.—1 Corinthians 3:9a
People need good work, not only the goods that work provides. I’ve noticed this in my work with community outreach groups. When we helped kids fix their bikes, the first thing they asked was if they could help fix someone else’s bike. When we took in people who needed shelter, they wanted to know what they could help with. Then they could be givers as well as receivers. Then they could know that their skills, time, energy and good will had value.
Today people in this country and around the world are suffering from lack of work—both from the lack of money and from the lack of the confidence and competence that work provides. Until the election, and probably afterward, Democrats and Republicans will keep arguing about whether to fix this problem by creating jobs directly or by enriching certain people and companies in the hopes that they’ll create jobs. I have my opinion about which of these approaches makes more sense, and you probably have yours. But both approaches treat work as a commodity created and controlled by governments or corporations. Both approaches can leave individuals feeling stranded and powerless.
Prepping is partly about stepping back from this narrow view of the world, paying attention to the world God created, to the needs around us and to our own gifts, and putting ourselves to work. Some parts of the prepper’s work do depend on access to (not necessarily ownership of) land or tools, and it’s important that those of us who have these things share them with those who don’t. But prepper’s work is not controlled by the political or economic maneuvering of any elites. It can be done by the officially employed or the officially unemployed. It makes responsible use of the gifts God has already given us. It involves us consciously in the stewardship of creation. It reminds us that we are not only employees of this group or that group, but fellow workers with God.