The last three days and two nights, my wife Jessie, I, and Zohar (all of us are volunteers) worked and slept at the museum because of the closure. Two others came by yesterday for daytime work by successfully walking through the checkpoints. During food breaks and working in the garden in the stillness of not having too many people around was good for body, mind and spirit. My wife is Chinese (born and lived in Taiwan). I learned so much from her about so many things from inner beauty to work ethics (that you must work hard if you want to succeed and make a difference in your life). When I lived in the US and had a large lab employing many people, I learned that there are differences in work ethic between individuals and cultures. By far the Chinese and Japanese I employed had amazing work ethic. This is a generalization & of course there are people with amazing work ethics everywhere and from every background. My mother raised a row of children born less than two years apart (in my case 11 months apart) while also teaching hard- the first married woman allowed to teach in our region. Growing up, I never found her sitting with other ladies chatting (she was always too busy for that). My uncle Sana Atallah published 12 research papers and finished his PhD age 26.5 (he was killed in a car accident six months later age 27). He was busy 16 – 17 hours a day seven days a week. His master degree advisor Lewis at the AUB was also hard-working. His PhD advisor happened to become my master degree advisor at the University of Connecticut (Prof. Ralph Wetzel) and was a role model for me. I was his last student before he was forced to retire but he kept on going. As a child I admired this. Uncle Sana and my mother were raised in a home that also taught and practiced work ethics. My maternal grandfather and grandmother were amazing diligent industrious people. My grandfather, an orphan from WW 1 rose from zero and built himself on his own with hard work to become teacher, principal, author, philanthropist, attentive father to 8 children and much more.
The people with great work efforts come from all walks of life. I recall how hard my late friend Prof. Edward Said worked (you could also judge this from his writings and teaching loads). On the other spectrum there is also a person named Rami who is a university employee in the maintenance department. His refugee family lives in Aida refugee camp in crowded quarters. He works so hard and has an amazing work ethic. I hired him to work beyond work hours both at home (cleaning, painting etc) and at our Institute (palestinenature.org). There are also many of the farmers we work with (many are women) who get up before dawn to work the farm or workers forced to stand at the Israeli checkpoint at 4 AM to get to their work on time. I could tell you names of hundreds of hard working people I personally know here in Palestine, in the US, and in the 45 countries I visited. Of course I can name thousands who do not have good work ethic (they want jobs and salaries). But I always think people change. People improve. People can and do succeed when they really put their mind to it. While we envy Chinese diligence and work ethic, we can indeed transform our societies IF we focus on transforming ourselves and teaching children to work hard (Einstein said it is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration). It is persistence/resilience.
The Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability has a motto: respect (for ourselves, for others, for nature). The mission includes research, education and conservation (sustainability). Research everything (we publish 1-2 papers per month) then education then we can build sustainable happy societies. We also need to research work ethics and what it means then educate about it then implement it in sustainable ways. I researched Chinese work ethic (and others) and my Chinese wife still educates me. I still lean new things and improve daily. Here is a more academic analysis of Chinese work ethics published in 1985 (even before China’s economy mushroomed) but that I only discovered today - worth reading for ALL of us who want to transform our societies https://www.jstor.org/stable/188906?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents I read everyday before going to bed. Last night I was re(reading) Joseph Cambell (another person with good work ethic) and a wonderful storyteller. I found his book because we moved and consolidated our books to the new museum library and I was putting his book under the bookshelf “Self-Improvement”. His amazing way of retelling wonderful myths/stories of the ancients show us not the meaning of life but the meaning of experience of living. Those who experience life at that deep level develop work ethic and will have ability to produce beyond their wildest dreams. They also not coincidentally really learn, contemplate, literally & smell the flowers. This, as Campbell shows us, leads to true spiritual awakening (what we call bliss, nirvana, or true happiness).