Bringing dignity back to labor by reviving the spirit of the craftsman

June 7, 2016

These days as a consequence of our high efficiency and ultra productivity fixated age, craftsmanship has all but shriveled up and died…the death of the craftsman doesn’t really hit home at first. That I expect is quite normal as most of us are really marinating blissfully in the mass production age of iPods and plastic galore.

I am now in Penang. I plan to restore a very old prewar building – there is a slab of ancient granite that requires shaping…I asked the contractor, are there still any crafts man who know how to work stone with a chisel and mallet. He looks blankly at me, as if it’s a joke…..but I am dead serious.

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‘It shouldn’t come as a sunrise. Not at all. To believe. The best and most satisfying work ONLY comes when we feel and can believe that what we do daily as world nourishes our spirit and dignity.

Dignity means associating one’s self-worth with the enterprise of labor. When we don’t work with dignity our work becomes “separate” and “detached” and “divorced” from us, the individual…the self and the spirit…it is a form of death that I have written about called zombification. This is when work no longer has the capacity to nourish the human soul and becomes toxic. Toxic work can only debase and dehumanize.

To work with spirit is the opposite of toxic work – it is the ability to transform one’s work from a dead to a thinking thing that is not only alive, but also has the capacity to nourish every aspect of the worker. When work is able to feed the human craving, then it is very natural for the craftsman to seek edification and higher meaning in his work..then and only then is it possible for him to take responsibility for its results…before, during and after…to me this is the true spirit of craftsman….someone who is alive and excited, instead of just going thru the motions with roughly the same brain power as tying shoe laces

When we don’t work with dignity or spirit our work becomes laborious – working without dignity is to be divorced from one’s values. Work without spirit is shallow, insipid and a grind.

When work is evacuated of all dignity and spirit…often there is no quality, corners are cut and excuses galore. As since work has become a loathsome thing….one can only see it as a chore instead of infinite source of joy and personal growth.’

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