Login

Up close and personal

Some men wrest a living from nature and with their hands; this is called work.

Some men wrest a living from those who wrest a living from nature and with their hands; this is called trade.

Some men wrest a living from those who wrest a living from those who wrest a living from nature and with their hands; this is called finance.

 

This 19th century epigram has particular relevance as we increasingly distance ourselves from the basic sources that sustain our lives. Whether it’s our food, our family or our friends, this discomfort with direct physicality in the name of progress, innovation and convenience is showing some social wear and tear.

Sure, interviewing for a job over Skype sitting in your underwear would cut travel and wardrobe expenses, but a generation that’s uncomfortable speaking face to face doesn’t bode well for an engaged labor force or water cooler socializing.

But this issue did not start with millennials. Generations before them, from the Lowell textile mills of the 1840s to white-collar office work of the 1950s, cultivated a business model based on efficiency and anonymity. 

Seemingly, we can avoid getting our hands dirty and rely on others to set standards that we’re willing to live by. But living life at arms-length is an illusion that leaves a mark. An indelible stain that seeps into the fabric of a hollowed-out, soulless existence.

So, we all need to build our own houses, grow our own food, cobble our own shoes to take real responsibility for our lives? In my case, that would leave me homeless, starving and shoeless. Turning the clock back is not the answer.

A place to start? Recognition that we have many social roles, not just as consumers fixated on low prices and free shipping. As citizens, we are impacted by how and where something is made or serviced. Choose indifference at your own risk.

Life always bats last.

 

M.A. Duca is a resident of Twin Lakes, Salisbury, Conn.,  narrowly focused on everyday life.