This is the question asked by unemployed author Fran Hopkins, who, her bio says, ” has been searching for full-time work since losing her job in a January 2010 layoff. While “between jobs,” she’s earned an MS degree in Health Communication, does freelance writing and public relations.” In her article on AOL, Hopkins argues that it isn’t wrong, because “I need to get away, just for a few days, close to the soothing sound and motion of the sea, inhaling salt air and unwinding. I have to restore my mental, emotional and spiritual inner resources. I’m running low.” But she feels guilty, and to read the comments, a lot of people thinks she should. On Fark, where I found the post, the wags there simply answered her query “Yes” and filed it under “Dumbass.”
Nonsense. To begin with, the question is unanswerable, since it depends on so many variables. Is it unethical to spend your kids’ college funds or the mortgage money on a vacation? Yes. Is it wrong to spend public assistance on a vacation? Yes. But these are all irresponsible acts, and taking a vacation to recharge your batteries, relieve stress and clear your mind when there are no negative consequences to anyone else from doing so is not irresponsible, and might be the smartest thing you can do.
Poor Fran has been looking for a job for more than two and a half years, and that is, or should be, hard work. Anyone who says, as some commenters do, that there is nothing for her to take a vacation from either has never looked for a work or has no idea how to do it right. Job hunting is a hard job, and a soul-killing one. After a while you tend to become negative and cynical, or pathetic and desperate, and these attitudes can be fatal to your employment prospects. If a week on Cape Cod or the Jersey Shore can restore your vigor and perspective, it is well worth the time and money.
The most annoying criticism of Fran are the people who write that it is inconsiderate of her to take a break from job-hunting when so many of her desperate fellow-citizens can’t afford to do likewise. If there is a mutated sub-category of liberals that make me want to get a package deal on an NRA/ Ayn Rand/ Donald Trump/ Rush Limbaugh fan club, this is it: the “you have no right to be happy as long as other people are miserable” crowd. Really, however, all the criticism of Fran is annoying, because it isn’t based on concepts of right and wrong at all. There’s nothing wrong with Fran taking a vacation while unemployed; there’s nothing wrong with her giving up on employment entirely and becoming a retiree, a beach bum, a street corner philosopher, a mime or an ethics blogger, either, as long as she isn’t defaulting on her obligations to others, or sponging off people who are working.
Have a great time on your vacation, Fran. You’ve earned it.
Graphic: Sidney Morning Herald
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