Economic and Social Importance of the Eight-Hour Movement
The wants of mankind are everywhere simple or complex according to the quality of the habits and Customs of the society in which he moves. Habit not only governs our social wants, but it exercises an important influence over our physical wants also.
As wages are governed by the standard of living, and the standard of living is governed by the social wants of the laborer, how then are the social wants determined? A little observation will show that the wants of mankind are everywhere simple or complex according to the quality of the habits and Customs of the society in which he moves. Habit not only governs our social wants, but it exercises an important influence over our physical wants also. While it does not determine whether or not we shall eat, it does decide how and what we shall eat, the clothes we shall wear, the kind of house we shall live in; nay, more, the very language we speak, the morals we adopt, and the religion we profess, are all determined by the habits and customs of those among whom we live. Whether we are Christians, Mohammedans or Buddhists; whether we eat with chop-sticks, or use knives and forks; whether we live upon rice, wear wooden shoes and a cotton frock, or eat black bread and dress in sheep-skins, or enjoy the comforts and luxuries of modern civilization, mainly depends upon the prevailing social habits and customs of the country we happen to live in. In fact, habit is the strongest force in human affairs. It is more powerful than governments, armies or absolute despotism. It is at once the motor force and ratchet wheel of human progress. Wants push the car of civilization forward, the habits and customs prevent it from slipping backward. In short, the habits and customs of a people constitute its real social character.
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