Occupation and Occupancy

In signing a document as witness, or making application for some official permit, as for instance a passport to go abroad, sooner or later you come to a space that has to be filled in, and at the side is a word "Occupation." The writer pauses—how does he wish himself to be designated?

A man who designates himself "Esquire" has in fact no shadow of justification for giving this as his occupation, for he bears no shield, as in olden time, neither does he belong to the retinue of any knight. And if the unmarried woman enters "Spinster" as her occupation she too knows well enough that spinning the thread from which the household cloth is to be woven is not her normal pursuit. These terms nowadays are purely complimentary, and, therefore, if you are particular about such matters, it is necessary to consider again what your occupation really is. Even designations which are usually considered adequate, such as lawyer, merchant, clergyman, and so forth, will not satisfy the more exacting conscience, because to appear to be any of these things in the eyes of the world need not necessarily mean that one finds them in any real sense one's occupation.

Expecting Harmony
February 13, 1943

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