I woke up early yesterday to attend a 6:30 meeting in which the Stake Presidency instructed us in the manner of teaching. Actually, at 6:20 and after sleeping through the alarm my wife kicked me out of bed. I stumbled as I picked up a shirt from off the floor and tied a tie. I ate a leftover Saturday Krispy Kreme as I drove. I was glad I went, though. We discussed the Teachings of the Presidents and how to make them meaningful. An important take home message: ask the hard questions. Later that day, I sat pondering the introductory paragraph of the lesson. Speaking of Woodruff’s Character:
To sweat, was a divine command as much so as to pray; and in his life he exemplified in the highest degree that simple Christian life that makes for the physical, mental, and moral well-being of man. He believed sincerely in the moral supremacy of manual toil.
One summer between internships and education, I had a month off and lest I loaf, my mom got me four weeks in a manufacturing plant. I didn’t feel morally edified. In fact, it reaffirmed my desire to get a Ph.D. I asked the quorum if my job of sitting in front of a computer disqualified me from the sweat-induced blessing that Woodruff so valued.
Anyone who has served a mission and had companions that grew up on the farm knows the difference that results from hard work. The injunction, however, is not against laziness. The command is to sweat.
Perhaps this is the root of our affinity for the garden. At the turn of the century, the Relief Society proclaimed “those who eat without labor are the sick ones of this earth,” but the biblical account shows the Lord cursing the land:
[C]ursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground;
Can you be moral and not manual? Is modern work inherently less moral? The elders equivocated.