Whitney Munro: Stop dissing hard-working people — instead celebrate the transforming power of jobs

Instead of celebrating the power of work, a former celebrity is once again being shamed for having a regular job.

Last year, we saw actor Geoffrey Owens of "The Cosby Show" mocked for working at Trader Joe's. This time, the spotlight is on former NHL player Donald Brashear.

On Wednesday, Le Journal de Quebec detailed Brashear's new job serving customers at a local Tim Hortons. Brashear fell on hard times following his NHL career, both personal and financial, and it appears he is using this job to help get back on his feet and re-establish himself. This decision should be applauded, supported and championed, not fodder for gossip.

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Brashear’s story is just one example of a concerning trend of blue-collar jobs being depicted as a low point in someone’s life, rather than an opportunity.

Former Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin didn’t have a college degree — he dropped out after three years to take a job with the American Red Cross — and fielded criticism for years that his lack of a diploma meant he wasn’t qualified to lead.

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In February, Elizabeth Warren said her father "ended up" a janitor while she had more opportunities, insinuating that being a janitor was somehow below value, raising questions from voters across the country.

And in last week’s Democratic debate, Sen. Cory Booker paid lip service to the dignity of work, but his record doesn’t reflect someone who truly values it.

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Booker, like Warren and many of their Democratic colleagues, supports liberal policies across the country that are designed to keep able-bodied adults out of work, including waivers and efforts against work requirements for able-bodied adults. With record-low unemployment and millions of job openings, there hasn’t been a better time in recent history to be a worker here in America. But instead of encouraging people to enter the workforce and empower them through work, we’re seeing them promote the alternative — dependency.

There is dignity in all work, and many pathways to success — but everyone has to start somewhere.

Our country’s story is a rich tapestry of men and women working their way up the economic ladder and boosting the next generation even higher than themselves. Many of our current and former leaders worked on farms, flipped burgers at McDonald’s (like former Speaker Paul Ryan), or were once on welfare (like Rep. Ted Yoho). I had my first taste of work babysitting in my early teens and then taught gymnastics and cheerleading through high school and college.

Our backgrounds are like millions of others across the country, and in each of these cases, working-class jobs weren’t what defined us as people. They were one part of our stories. After all, there is dignity in all work, and many pathways to success — but everyone has to start somewhere.

The more I think about it, the more I believe the piece on Brashear’s work at Tim Hortons was mislabeled. It isn’t a poor-me story of a man who fell from grace. It’s a comeback story, and an inspiration to people who feel like giving up when the life they thought they’d have didn’t go according to plan.

If our goal is to see people get through difficult life situations and past bad decisions and come out on the side of success, we cannot then shame them for their efforts to do so.

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No one is *just* a janitor or *just* a factory worker—these are paths towards a better life and a way for people to take care of themselves and their families.

This country was built on a foundation of hard work. It's inherent to the fabric of who we are, and something we need to encourage for generations to come.

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