Dignity of Work & Duty of Fatherhood: Geoffrey Owens

Recently, a father working to support his family was ridiculed by a news article. Think about that. Someone working an honest job – slighted for making that effort. The Dignity of Work – has it been forsaken in the 21st Century?



Geoffrey Owens is someone everyone above a certain age would recognize – yet probably not know his name. He is an actor, most famous for his role as a son-in-law in the Cosby Show. This show ran from 1984-1992 and was hugely successful. Of course, the show is now under a cloud and not seen in quite the same light – due to the revelations regarding (and criminal cases against) Bill Cosby. Owens has had many guest appearances in other television shows and has performed in the Theatre.

Outed for working?


For many actors, it is often feast-or-famine, with slow-periods between acting gigs being normal and part of the actor’s life. During this last period, Mr. Owens started working at Trader Joe’s. The UK news-site Daily Mail posted an article about this, featuring photos snapped from customers who recognized the actor. The article focused on schadenfreude – the former successful actor is now forced to work in a market.  (He previously left the position, due to the imminent publicity of this article.)

The Dignity of Work

Certainly, any actor would prefer to be starring in a television show or on Broadway instead of working at Trader Joe’s. However, there is nothing undignified about working – in fact there is great dignity in work. Here we have an adult, a father, who – instead of bunkering down at home and wailing about the injustice of the world – applied for a job and worked that job. This was an honest job. No doubt, he did an honest days’ work.

There is great dignity in working to support your family. Actions that everyone wants to do or are enjoyable to do are not really praiseworthy – it is the actions that we do not want to do, but do anyway, that are praiseworthy. A father taking a job, that others see as beneath him, to support his family – that is honorable.

And there is great indignity in the attempt to shame that person, or any person who works.


Mr. Owens reports that many people came out to support him  and the dignity of work- in reaction to the negative article. This is very good. Even the comments below the Daily Mail article were mostly very supportive – pointing out nothing is wrong or shameful about working. In fact, a later article on the site is about the remorse of the shopper who took the photos which generated the article.

When he appeared on Good Morning America, Mr. Owens wore his Trader Joe’s name tag. That was clever.

Some Hollywood celebs also expressed support. Tyler Perry tweeted: “I have so much respect for people who hustle between gigs. The measure of a true artist.” Mike Rowe also posted support of Mr. Owens, the dignity of work, and the importance of an honest job, which his foundation advocates: “We also try to promote things like personal responsibility, delayed gratification, work ethic, and a positive attitude.”


A father working to support his family was ridiculed by a news article. People responded to support both the individual and the idea of honest work. Fatherhood entails obligations – a duty to support and defend your family. A good father is not afraid to work for his family.

Just another reason why Amazing Fatherhood.

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