There were a few articles (here, here, and here) in The Economist over the last few issues that got me thinking about religion. And not any one particular religion — all of them — and how they might be very much interrelated. At the same time, I often think about the growing pandemic of overworking. It seems the ways of work-life balance has completely gone out the window.
There are lots of different explanations as to why people continue to overwork themselves. One from this NPR report claims that Americans mistake overwork for good work. Meaning, they think that if they work harder (they’ll be working better). CNN has a useful tool by way of a calculator that lets you visually see how much time you’re spending on a variety of activities, which include: work, sleep, leisure, chores, meals, commute, etc.
Another contribution to the nature of overworking is the amount of holidays that people are ‘allowed’ to take. In some countries, it’s pretty standard to have 6, 7, or 8 weeks as holidays. We could also say the workweek itself is a pressure to work harder. In France, they have a 35-hour workweek. There’s also the idea that you need to work longer hours in order to get promoted.
Circling back to my initial point about religion: there are certain days in countries that are designated as religious holidays. In the US, for instance, Easter and Christmas are holidays for which it is illegal to mandate that someone needs to be at work. According to Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, there are an assortment of religions represented across the United States.
So, my “big” idea: make all the major religious holidays national holidays.
When I say national holiday, I mean that these are days that are mandatory days off for businesses. I realize that this kind of idea would take an enormous amount of planning, that there would need to be legislation passed, that we’d need to define “major religious holidays,” and all that jazz, but just think about it (abstractly) for a moment.
Think about the extra days off to spend with family. Think about the prospect of religious acceptance for the younger generations. Instead of just “taking the day off and watching TV all day,” parents could spend the day with their kids explaining to them what the major holiday means to that religion. Or, if there were no kids, the adults could take the day to learn about the culture and religion for the holiday. This could definitely foster a greater sense of compassion and empathy between people of different faiths.