Greetings, Gentle Reader,

When Brigham Young used this saying, he was simply repeating it. He had most likely heard it from birth. It was a common attitude in the earlier years of our country’s existence.

The difference between America and the countries of the old world was that, in America, if a person worked, he could earn enough to eat. That was not the case in the countries our ancestors left, when they came to this land. Only in America could you truly benefit from your own labor.
While this was not universally true, particularly where slaves were concerned in the early years, it was a more correct principle in America than in any other country. When most men married, they made sure they had a way to feed, clothe and house a wife and the children they assumed, indeed hoped, would be born to them. And they knew that "them as works eats."

My ancestors, most of whom were weavers, farmers or ranchers, depending on the family background, usually grew their own food, which is called engaging in "labor of first intent," meaning they grew or raised what they ate, rather than simply working for money with which to buy their food from someone else. When you work for money with which you then purchase your necessities, that is called "labor of second intent."

Somehow, that business of growing your own food by your own hard labor and by the sweat of your own brow makes you understand the outrage experienced by all farmers and hard laborers in whatever field, who are told they must give the fruit of their labors to others, who do not work as hard or as long as they do. I get up and go to the barn at about 6:00 in the morning, to start my morning chores. When the weather is great and the sun is peeking over the eastern mountains, I go to the barn at 6:00 AM. When the weather is horrendous and that chicken-hearted sun is still shivering under the covers, I go to the barn at 6:00 AM. Why? Because my sense of integrity tells me that "them as works eats." More to the point, "them as works have every right to eat."

I have a heated milking room and my chickens have a warm, lighted sleeping room, but my ancestors, including my own father, went to the unheated milking shed at about 5:00 AM, no matter how awful the weather. Why? His wife and little ones needed milk, whether for butter, cheese, or just for drinking. Then he went to work at his job to earn money for the rest of our needs. When he got home in the evening, the cow was waiting, and not at all patiently.
He raised a calf from that cow, regularly. Then he raised sheep and pigs. Why? Because he knew that we needed meat.

Never once did I hear him say that the government owed him a living. In fact, he regularly expressed his disdain for those who did think the government owed them a living.
When the older members of the family could no longer raise most of their own food, their offspring provided for them. That is the way America used to operate, and in the Amish communities, that still is how it is done.

Too bad the biggest portion of our people don’t think that way, anymore. Many of our people are waiting, in this election cycle, to decide for whom they should vote, according to the number of goodies the candidates promise. The guy who promises the most will get their vote.
There is a serious lack of a sense of fair play in that attitude. Why? Because they are not waiting to see which candidate will work hard to make available the largest number of jobs, by his monetary and regulatory policies. Many of them aren’t looking for jobs; they are looking for freebies, because they have been trained to think that is perfectly acceptable. And those freebies have to come by someone else working to provide them, someone who actually has a right to keep the money used to provide those freebies, for his own family, rather than for strangers, many of whom could provide many of their needs for themselves, if they chose.

All Americans should have a code of honor that says no one should forcibly take the fruits of one man’s hard labor and give it to another. Those who work hard to provide for their own and their family’s needs learn the meaning of, and the satisfying feeling that goes with, developing personal honor. It just feels good.

Best of all, we simply would be a much more fair people, a people of greater personal integrity, if we remembered that "Them as works eats."

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.


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1 comments:

    Karin said...

    Hi Mom!

    This is a wonderful post. It is so sad to see how far away from "Thems as works eats" we as a nation have gone. The younger generations are clueless as to what it really takes to live a truly decent life where only their hard work gets them what you need, and more, what they want. There are too many handouts, and Im afraid much of the fault lies with the parents who 'just want to give the kids what we didn't have'. The opperative word is is 'give', and that is the problem.

  1. ... on November 3, 2008 at 11:44 PM