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Ethics for Young Girls: Lesson 17: Work

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 24, 2013

Ethics for Young Girls

Young Woman’s Journal, 1900-1901

Lesson 17: Work

How blessed is the person who is able to work, and who loves her work! Such work, that creates mind activity, brings peace, comfort, and the highest happiness.

Is it not possible for all work to be of the mind as well as of the hands?

Most young girls do not enter into the spirit of their work as boys do. Girls think, “Well, I’ll work for a year or two, teach school, clerk, or do house work, and then I suppose I’ll get married,” and they go to work in a half-hearted way, not even trying to do their best.

Of course, it is right to look forward to married life as the greatest happiness; but does not that entail work, and extremely hard work at that? To work carelessly before marriage will not help them to do careful work when they are wives and mothers. But few girls know when they begin to work just how long they shall have to continue it. Not all girls have the opportunity to marry, many do not marry young, and many have to work after marriage. Is it not well to form the habit of working earnestly from the beginning?

No matter how humble a girl’s work may be to begin with, no matter how small her wages may be, there will always be opportunities of promotion awaiting her if she labors with heart and soul. The women who hold prominent positions today are the women who have risen from just such labor. It has been said that nothing is impossible to the person who is willing to work.

A young girl desired to attend college. Her parents were poor and unable to help her. Did she sit down and bemoan her lot? No, indeed! She at the age of fourteen obtained a position in a knitting factory. She was not ashamed of her work, and labored earnestly. She was looked upon as the best worker in her line, and she was proud of it. During vacation she labored here. During school time she worked after school and on Saturdays. She completed eighth grade work and was the best in her class. Earnestness characterized her school work. She went through college in the same manner, and now her services are much sought. She may have been brighter than the ordinary girl, but she attributes her success to her “thorough-going, ardent, sincere earnestness.”

Success will always attend earnest effort, however dark the outlook may be at first.

A training teacher, after visiting two of her practice teachers, said, “I feel sorry and glad when I visit each room. In this one is a very bright girl. I am glad she is doing so well, but sorry she does no better, for she is very capable. The young girl in this room is not much gifted by nature. I am sorry she doesn’t do better, but am glad she is improving all the time, for she works.”

Several years afterward the training teacher received a call for a teacher to fill a responsible position. She sent the name of the second one, who had climbed slowly, step by step, the ladder of success.

Many girls look upon some kinds of work as degrading. All labor is worthy. It represents human sacrifice and godly power. Only the worker can degrade her work by not doing it well. There is a better time coming for the woman who does house-work as a means of livelihood. If she does her work well, her services will be sought after, and her remuneration will be equal to her labor.

In Germany the lady of rank takes pride in doing her own cooking. She goes down to her kitchen where she reigns in as queenly a manner as she does in her drawing room; while in our country, if the young woman who does the cooking, leaves suddenly, the woman of the house moans and frets but is absolutely helpless.

The women who work earnestly and put their minds and souls into their work, have no time for idle gossip, wounded feelings, or crushing sorrow.

All work that has to be done is holy work. A large school had a number of beneficiary students. The president decided that the principle of giving to the poor is not good for the poor. It makes paupers of them, so he decided these students ought to work about the building to pay for their tuition. The beneficiary students were more than willing to do so. They felt independent. They were giving for what they were receiving. They were beggars no longer. They could hold their heads erect and look anybody in the face.

The independent worker is the one who feels that she owes not any man. She consecrates herself to her labor.

Questions.

1. Explain the parable of the talents (Matt. xxv: 15-20).
2. Mention all the kinds of honorable labor.
3. Why is it not a right principle to feed tramps unless they will work for their food?
4. Is it a good plan to give children money they have not earned?
5. How may we learn to love our work?
6. How should we measure a man’s worth to a community? Is it by his giving or is it by the labor he creates?
7. Why is it that the most successful people often comes from the poorer classes?
8. Is it possible for you to educate another person?
9. What is the only thing you can do for him?



3 Comments »

  1. I’m confused by the German aristocratic women being queens of their kitchens. I have no idea if it is true, but it seems a strange one off comment.

    I can’t quite square the general idea, that any labor is good enough if done well, and question #7.

    Comment by Julia — January 28, 2013 @ 7:16 am

  2. There’s nothing much about this whole series that quite squares with my view of reality, Julia.

    Thank heavens there’s only one more installment. It’s been fun, though, I think, to wonder how the teenage girls of 1900-1901 greeted these odd lessons.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 28, 2013 @ 7:50 am

  3. Oh, yeah, Julia. Don’t try and draw a straight line between the contents of these lessons and reality! This lesson is what — number 17 — and I can remember just one of them that contained an abundance of good common sense. (I can’t swear that I read every one of them, however.) I must say, though, the rest of the lessons have been fun to think about and to puzzle over why they seem so absurd.

    Comment by Amy T — January 28, 2013 @ 8:24 am

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