My employer pays me to work. Big deal, right? It would be if he didn't...
I earned a degree, prepared for and passed state board exams, continually update my education, work hard, apply my knowledge and experience to the benefit of my patients and employer; for this I am paid, and I might add, fairly well. I'm not a millionaire, but we are able to pay bills, send the kids to private school, go out to dinner every once in a while; diligence and hard work have been fairly compensated.
My career is not limited to compensated services rendered. Friends, family, and sometimes complete strangers test my knowledge and keep me on my toes. I am not paid for this, nor would I expect to be. It is my joy to use my experience and education in this way, so I choose to do it. "Sunday Clinics" are my favorite - after Mass a line develops of those who have questions: "My doctor changed my blood pressure medication. What are the side effects?" Do you know what this rash on my arm is?" Can you look at my knee? Its bothering me" "How can I hook up my unemployed son with insurance?" My wife has come to expect this over the years, and quietly waits with the children until the last one is seen and satisfied. This is a highlight of my week. I am proud to do it, but, once again, it is my choice to do so. There are many physicians, nurses and other health professionals who rarely, if ever, share their medical knowledge outside the workplace. It is not required by their profession, and their choice is not to do so (the ethical implications of that choice are fodder for another time).
At the Mission there are many craftsmen, professionals, and talented individuals that provide a service at no charge because they choose to do so: the electrician who helped re-wire the church bells, the janitor who stripped and waxed the dining room floor, the flooring specialist who tiled the kitchen, the lawyer who provides timely advice, the mechanic who fixes cars - I could go on and on. We don't pay them, nor could we ever afford to; they are aware of this and choose to provide the service anyway, and we are blessed by their generosity of time and talent.
There is one profession, though, that many of us feel that we may partake of their services for no charge, even if they have not chosen to allow it. Perhaps we feel as though they are compensated enough for their job. Perhaps we feel the industry is well-off enough to take it. Perhaps we just want what they have to offer. No matter the situation, many of us feel perfectly entitled to steal their services without a thought or care. I speak of musicians. They have not chosen to allow their work to be distributed freely, and yet it is, every day, by well-meaning, respectable folks all over the world.
There are many who believe I make too much money at work, that I am part of the problem with spiraling health care costs. Yet no one would think to make me work for free based on their opinion. No one requires the electrician to work for free based on their belief that "they can afford a free job now and again". No one feels that they can break into a jeweller's shop and take what they like because jewellers are paid too much anyway. And we all know what happens to thieves who take things just because they want them. Why, then, do we feel taking the work of musicians is acceptable? Did they not have to learn and practice their craft for years? Did they not have to work hard, audition, fail, try and try again? Are they not entitled to being compensated, not only for their musical creations, but for the years of toil that led to it? EVEN IF we think they are paid too much, don't deserve it, can take the hit, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera?
Exodus chapter 20, verse 15 reads: "You shall not steal". If someone expects to be paid for a service or product, the law states they are well-founded in that expectation, and we take it anyway...well, let's just call a spade a spade.