Recreation and Leisure Are Your Right and Duty

17 July, 2020
Only through recreation and leisure can all individual facets emerge. Especially those that aren't subject to the imperative of production. Rest is a right and a duty because the essentials of your freedom are at stake here.
 

Recreation and leisure have been perceived as negative for a long time. “Idleness is the mother of all vices,” some still claim. The wrong idea that you should always be doing “productive” things became prevalent due to the interests of the industrial era. The slogan was to produce as much as you could and led to the popularity of this type of ideology. Thus, working was the only praiseworthy thing to do with your life.

Always producing more to generate surplus led to uncontrolled industrial activity. Part of the consequences of this is the significant destruction of the environment and also the noticeable reduction in quality of life for all animals. Living to work harder and harder only leads to physical and mental illness. For this reason, leisure has now begun to be claimed, not only as a right but also as a duty.

Thanks to the advantages of science, humans now know that resting is as fundamental as working. The brain and the whole organism need periods of stillness to function properly. Those who rest as much as they work are more productive, creative, and, thus, healthy. However, people in this culture aren’t as well trained for leisure as they are for working.

A man at the beach.
 

Recreation and leisure are your rights

As you may already know, there were times when the right to rest was limited to a minimum. It corresponds to those times in which there were no legal working days nor minimum wages. Back then, employers had no problem hiring workers who could toll for 14 hours or more and the wages weren’t set.

There was already a large number of dispossessed people, so the workers accepted such unfair conditions. In turn, unions began to emerge in various parts of the world. Workers from all over the planet fought hard for basic universal rights. It led to the current system that dictated eight hours of work, eight of rest, and eight of family time.

This is the current scheme in many countries of the world, even though there are wage-slavery conditions in many parts of the planet. The important thing here is to remember this is a right conquered by arduous struggles that claimed many lives. Voluntarily giving up your rights means helping them become dead and eventually disappear.

Recreation and leisure are a duty

Giving leisure a place in your life is an act of self-love. It’s part of the self-care each person must lavish on themselves. Rest is the responsibility of every person who appreciates their health and well-being. It seems too obvious a truth, but seemingly forgotten in today’s world. The internalization of obligations is so strong that many people can’t stand having free time. They feel like they must be accountable at all times.

 

Bertrand Russell, an English thinker, wrote about leisure back in his day. He exposed an interesting example in one of his writings. It presents a scenario in which a group of factories produces all the pins a country requires, employing 100 workers, eight hours a day. Suddenly, there comes a technology that can handle the same line of production but in half of the time. What should happen then? and what actually happens?

Russell says that in this hypothetical case many workers end up being let go, either because less labor is required, or because some companies fail. In his opinion, what should happen is the same workers and the same factories should only work half of the time. That way everybody wins because the factory could continue to sell the same products at the same price.

A person enjoying themselves.

Protect your free time

Today, consumer society has changed priorities for many people. It isn’t necessarily about working to adequately satisfy your basic needs, but many want to have a surplus to consume. People want to buy things, whether they need them or not. They constantly replace goods with the latest fashion and are always buying and paying.

 

This is the main reason why people willingly agree to work more than they should. They need to earn more money because the market is insatiable. There’ll always be a more tempting offer. Someone with a closet full of clothes who needs more clothes. Someone who already has a house but who needs a bigger one. Also, someone who already has a car but must have a plane.

Consumption leads to a narrow lifestyle. People live to work and work to consume and consume to work. Free time is a time for going shopping. Thinking about free time often makes no sense to people. In fact, it troubles them. This isn’t healthy. It’s important to greatly value your moments of recreation and leisure because it’s through them when your best get in touch with that which is most genuine in yourself and your environment.

 

Pieper, J. (1998). El ocio y la vida intelectual. Ediciones Rialp.