The Contemporary Vs. the Medieval Peasant

cave2 copyIn my work as a psychotherapist, I meet people regularly who work full-time. But that is rarely enough to make ends meet, so often they are carrying one or two extra part-time jobs, or operating a home business. Even then they are barely able to scrape by. Or I meet the person with a high paying “power” career, but to maintain it they must take home endless reams of work, go on countless business trips, and often be on-call. Indeed, the average person trying to maintain a sufficient income in the urbanized world is working between 50 and 70 hours per week. And this doesn’t count obligations and expectations to school, public works, jury duty, volunteer work, etc., etc., etc.

In fact, the average person with a single full-time job with no take-work-home expectation spends 1.5 hours in commute, and must take an hour of their own time for lunch and 30 minutes for breaks. That’s 11 hours per day invested in the activities of earning a living.

In the Stone Age through the Bronze Age, hunter-gatherers worked perhaps three hours per day, with brief stints of heavy labor (like when the bison were migrating through or the wild grains were ripe for harvest). The rest of their time was their own for fun, community, and personal development.

In rural medieval Europe, the average peasant worked no more than eight hours per day, and often less. Work was seasonal, and lords were expected to provide days off for numerous holidays and festivities, as well as the food and drink for the celebrations.

So, think twice when you are told the modern world is a progressive improvement. Or better, think outside the box. Break out and break free!

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One thought on “The Contemporary Vs. the Medieval Peasant

  1. David of Burkwood

    He he. Well said. Living simply, even when I paid rent, I lived happily on 20 hours a week at minimum wage. Wanting not much, I wanted for nothing.

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