As I reviewed over the feelings I and many of my friends have expressed regarding going back to what we used to do, there is one common denominator: we will miss the extra time some of us were gifted. This time afforded us time to reflect, to think, to ponder, to examine, to question, to innovate, to meditate… and indeed these actions are some of the most important things we can do to give birth to the new humanity and to co-create the world we want to live in. But for the most part, unless one makes a heroic effort to carve out time-space, modern societies do not allow for much of these crucial activities.
I remember a few years ago some people had proposed a movement towards a 4-day work week. I don’t recall if the movement was trying to fix the economy, the environment, ourselves as individuals, our families or society at large. But as I pondered about this idea now, I became excited as to how much all of these issues would be helped by the 4-day work week.
Of course, the school system would also have to be slightly modified. I propose it would have the 5th school day (Friday) as a “guided” home-schooling day. The guidance would be for the parents to give them ideas and exercises to enrich the experiences for the entire family… the overall purpose: to increase their health and the health of the planet. So, this day would be dedicated to growing food, cooking, exercising, being in nature, reading, playing games that encourage cooperation, watching little movies that teach self-esteem, learning about the interconnectedness of all of Nature of which we are part, etc. And it would be done TOGETHER.
Most people would love to have an extra day a week. But worry about insurance coverage. If the government-corporations agreed to consider 4-days a week full time employment, it would solve this issue.
Another impediment would be a reduced salary. Governments could step up to the plate to offer subsidies or some other mechanism to ensure fair wages. After all, they would be saving in tear and wear of roadways and in dealing with traffic accidents, pollution, etc. Also, if people used the extra day to produce more of what they consume, to cook at home more (vs. buying frozen or pre-packaged expensive ready-meals), to can vegetables in the summer for winter, to recycle and upcycle more, they would be spending less. They would also spend less time and money traveling to work each day. Actually, one of the 4 work-days could be done remotely from home. These two extra non-travel days combined would have a great decrease in traffic and pollution issues specially in the large cities. And some other impacts on our own health as we gain more time to exercise and take care of ourselves… time to do all those things we have been doing since the Corona has us cooped up at home. Perhaps the health-care system would get less pressure as we would become healthier human beings, and the environment would get a desperately needed break. Perhaps it would stimulate people to go back to our roots and engage in trading of goods and services, like we have been doing in Guacimal since 2014. It works!
I had a conversation with a young man. He closed his shop at the beach and came to join his mother at her shop and now they run it together. He said they work fewer days a week now. He explained they used to worry about how they would make ends meet, but to their surprise, the quality of life has INCREASED. Their satisfaction and happiness has increased even though they have less money, because they work less and they have time to actually enjoy. They consume less and pay more attention to their old habits of consumption. Perhaps many of us are doing the same as far as paying more attention to our own behavior.
If each of us takes responsibility for doing what we can to correct the course of humanity, we can turn the ship around. Many of us believe that it is our habits of consumption that are at the heart of many issues we are grappling with… I view as good news that some of us are recognizing this and getting the word out, because we can’t control governments nor international corporations, but we have a certain degree of control over our own lives… what we eat, where we obtain what we eat, how we spend our money, where we travel and where we stay when we travel, how we spend our time, etc. The state of affairs of our planet, is the sum of our individual choices… Do we really need to spend so much of the world’s resources? Could we turn down the heat in the winter and raise the thermostat in the summer? Just because we can, does not mean that we should… because what we each do has an effect on the Whole… 7 billion of us doing things differently, will indeed take us on a different course than the one we are on… in this sense I see a lot of hope… There is a caveat… we must have TIME-SPACE to be able to ponder and reflect, to think, and to have enough time and energy to follow through on our insights and inspirations in order to make the best choices… and these are different for each of us.
A 4-day work week would allow us the luxury of time and help towards giving us back a dignified way of living, of thriving, not just ‘getting by’. If we want to see different results, then we must be willing to do things differently. It is totally possible… and some would say it not only possible to change, it is the only way out.