Workers work like dogs, and the tribute to work can only be marked by a temporary stay from what it celebrates. If you can’t stand your job, you certainly can’t imagine work as a realization of human potential, an aligning of effort and outcome, as a structure for creative flow. Marx understood that work that suits a person’s talents and skills makes him human. Simone Weil agreed, seeing the separation of a person from the intimacy of her work the description of alienation. Work brought the freedom that Baudelaire sought from addictions, and of work for Picasso, what more can be said?
For the migrants who are fleeing the Levant and Africa, food is necessity, but work is the sustaining prize. The handsome fellow on the French magazine cover is a longtime friend of a dear friend in Paris. Miran squeezed his way into France from Kurdish lands in Turkey and did things right – like meeting my friend in a bar. But he also worked construction for years, studied, was a smart aleck, interacted with intellectuals and fellow immigrants, saved money to start cooking and opening a restaurant. He’s sassy and quick, and got noticed for the cover that says, “I was a Migrant.” What he wanted was to work. And he wrestled it from the system. While whistling Cole Porter: “Nice work if you can get it.”