Hell Is Where Labor Day Is

There are two kinds of people in the world: producers and consumers. Choose wisely who you'll be so you're not a waste of existence.

America's holidays are swelling with national pride. From the materialism of Christmas to the gluttony of Thanksgiving, it's pretty clear what we value as a country. Especially when you look at Labor Day. Sure, it's supposed to be a day to remember the ethical victories achieved by labor unions and the subsequent laws that protect us from being overworked. But really, it's just a day to celebrate laziness and our new status not as a leader of industry, but as a world-class consumer.

I, however, am not a consumer; I'm a producer. And my idea of down time is researching or writing because I need to feel accomplished during the day. I used to enjoy three-hour movies, but now I can barely finish an episode of Bob's Burgers without checking the news on my phone. Like those who say, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," I tend to think that rest is for those who've already checked out of this life.

It's exhausting being me.

It's exhausting because producers are never satisfied. The desire for accomplishment is so great that we never stop trying to accomplish more, not matter how much we already have. This makes relationships particularly difficult for people like us because they're not conducive to measurable results. When I tried to do this years ago, I quickly learned that daily prayer and Bible reading are poor barometers for how close I was to Jesus. I still wasn't satisfied, but at least I wasn't a consumer.

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To a producer, people who aren't driven by accomplishment are consumers: lazy leeches of society sapping the life out of those around them. They don't give; they take.

You'll find them on the couch consuming hours and hours of television instead of producing something of use, beauty or value. Or you'll find them in one-sided conversations extracting the ears of their prey with verbal diarrhea instead of sacrificing some of their own time to help a friend. They're the proverbial sluggard and the man who buried his talent. They don't do; they fold their hands to rest.

Judging others is almost always a sign of insecurity. And I and those like me are no different in this case. Because it's not that I really think being a producer is better than being a consumer. The truth is that just like I wish I could enjoy church, I wish I could enjoy consuming. To consume is to rest or recharge, and to rest is to be content.

I want to be content because everywhere I go, I see brokenness; I see things that I could improve. And this means that discontentment is a preference for the world in my head over the world outside. There would be no innovation without idealism, but idealism cannot act as a substitute for reality. And the first step in accepting that is recognizing that we need to both produce and consume--we need to give and take.

The Bible may speak about the ant and the sluggard, but it also speaks about Mary and Martha. And just like the consumer who never gives is a waste, so is the producer who never receives.