A job is important, but family should come first

heather    Before assigning an essay for my college freshmen’s composition class, I tend to scour the Internet, looking for interesting topics that might spark their interest and make writing the essay enjoyable.
    As I was looking for debate topics, I noticed a few articles regarding job loss that developed because of a family member’s sickness or because a person had a responsibility to his or her own family. While reading, I was in disbelief over the ideals found in corporate America, where a person’s value is based solely upon job performance, without care for a person’s own personal responsibility as a spouse, parent or caregiver.
    Is wanting to watch your son play in the Little League World Series a reason to lose your job? How about wanting additional leave to be with a spouse battling a terminal illness? These are just two reasons why two employees were recently fired from their jobs.
    In California, a mother wanted to use her accrued vacation time to watch her son play T-ball. However, since her boss was also going to be out of town, he made it explicitly clear that the time off would not be granted. So the mother voluntarily opted to add her name to the list of about 8 percent of Americans who are currently unemployed.
    Similarly, in Georgia, a math teacher requested additional paid leave to be with his wife as she battled an aggressive bacterial infection. Knowing that his wife’s battle would be ongoing and desiring to show his spouse his love and support while spending her last days by her side, he petitioned the school board for additional paid leave. Though many of his colleagues pleaded on his behalf and offered to donate their leave to him, the school board denied the husband’s request. With the mounting medical bills, he returned to the classroom, saying that it was “a difficult but necessary decision” (Daily Mail).
    In each of these cases, it becomes clear that the emphasis in corporate America has been on the success and performance of the job over the personal. In a society that finds itself in economic turmoil, where the risk of losing a job and having potential difficulty in finding a new one is a serious contemplation, this attitude of favoring a job over one’s own personal responsibilities is difficult for me to understand.
    Everyone has felt the effects of the economic downturn and everyone knows how necessary having a job and maintaining a job can be. But does that mean that we must become slaves to our work, turning our backs on our roles as spouse, parent, friend, coworker?
    In the Gospels, Jesus emphasizes the “Golden Rule”: to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In all of his teachings and actions, we see Jesus going among his community to care for and heal the sick. In the church’s teachings on social justice, we are called to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Where have such teachings been put into action in our society today? When was the last time we noticed the needs of another person and put their needs before our own? We need look no further than the abundance of communal outpouring and support that have been shown to the people in LaPlace, Madisonville, Braithwaite and throughout Plaquemines Parish after Hurricane Isaac.
    Across the nation, the outlook of America has become increasingly self-centered. We live in an era of self-gratitude, where our jobs seem to have more value to us than the people around us.
To me, this is unacceptable. We, as Catholics, are called to proclaim the Gospel at the close of each Mass. By our own actions and words, we can be small examples of change in a materialistic society motivated by self-centered ideals.
    Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
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