By Nabil Jabbour
Many historians agree that one major factor that made America “great” is work ethic!
And while most of us think we understand what that means, and lament the perceived gradual loss of such work ethic, we don’t really agree on what it means in real life.
For help, I consulted the Merriam-Webster dictionary and Wikipedia, who define “work ethic,” respectively, as: A belief in work as a moral good; a set of values centered on the importance of doing work and reflected especially in a desire or determination to work hard and the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward.
It is a belief that hard work and diligence have a moral benefit and an inherent ability, virtue or value to strengthen character. It is about prioritizing work and putting it in the center of life. Social ingrainment of this value is considered to enhance character through hard work that is respective to an individual’s field of work.
Unfortunately, this search proved of little help in my quest to find ways to understand and preserve the work ethic that made America great.
We cannot teach and preach such definitions and hope the younger generations will get it. Instead, allow me to suggest a practical and short definition for “work ethic” that can be used as a constant reminder and then illustrate it with real life example. Work ethic, after all, is learned by mentorship, not lectureship.
The short definition of work ethic I am proposing is: Taking pride in what we do. That pride comes from the realization that our work is more than just a job to earn a living or even to benefit our employer. It is of benefit to our town, country and the world. For those who believe in God, it even goes more cosmic, when we believe that we are doing the work for God.
So to put all that in perspective, I want to share with you the story of William (“Billy”) Wilson, with his permission.
Billy Wilson works in the operating room at Mon Health Medical Center as a clinical assistant. Three years ago, at the age of 45, he was diagnosed with cancer.
Since then he has had surgeries and chemotherapies. During this whole ordeal, he remained the reliable worker that he always was. Last year, he showed up to work four days after being discharged from the ICU.
He treats work and all of his co-workers as family. Last week, he was so sick he had to miss work and he could not take his chemotherapy. Yet, today I was surprised to see him at work, with his signature smile and willingness to carry out all his duties with no moaning or groaning.
He faces the gravity of his prognosis with a genuine care for others, especially his family and coworkers. He wants to make sure that his wife and children are taken care of and that his coworkers, especially his buddy, “Bud,” do not have to carry a double load at work because
By the way, Bud is also no stranger to the Great American Work Ethic. He shows up to work with heart monitors on and functions at a normal rhythm, even when his heart doesn’t.
It is Billy, Bud and the people like them who set the example of how work can make life better for all of us.
I hope you agree with me that the story of Billy Wilson should be used as the definition for “work ethic” that makes America and the world great.
Work ethic should make us all take pride in what we do. Thank you, Billy, for inspiring us and setting such a great example for our children and grandchildren.
Nabil Jabbour is an opthamology specialist who lives in Morgantown. This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.