Here’s some more awesome commentary from Mike Rowe. This time, he uses his experiences shooting a rather infamous episode of Dirty Jobs (involving lamb castration) to segue into a discussion of how our popular culture is systematically denigrating vocational work:
Rowe’s message really resonates with me because I know my family heritage. Dad does “brain work,” but his dad before him rose from poverty into the middle class through hard, dirty, physical labor. Indeed, it was Pop-pop (with a little help from his children) who built Dad’s family homestead in Blue Bell, PA. Did Pop-pop ever try to “follow his passion”? Somehow, I doubt it. I think he just had the character necessary to recognize what needed doing in his local community. And while his son is now a “white collar” professional and relatively affluent, Dad has still absorbed the lesson that is his father’s life. That’s why he’s always emphasized to us the importance of having a job – any job – no matter how much it supposedly sucks.
(And you know what? Sometimes those “sucky” jobs aren’t so sucky after all. Years back, I worked a near-minimum-wage job at Kohl’s, and I’d probably go back there again if my arthritis weren’t so advanced. I found the task of cleaning up the racks and hanging up the returns oddly relaxing.)
Rowe’s right to assert that our larger culture has lost the ethic that once built a house from scratch in Blue Bell. As I noted in the comment I appended to the Jay Leno video, we’re all about pushing our kids into college so they can avoid “back-breaking labor.” And ultimately, I think that attitude is profoundly wrong-headed. We still need people who can make things — who can work with their hands.
(Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds, by the way.)