Mariner often shares his father’s penchant for chopping human behavior into little pieces with simplistic names like ‘who people, what people and how people’ and of course the ultimate Myers-Briggs test – all grouped under the term ‘pop psychology’.
Whenever mariner uses these terms he warns that none of us are pure examples of any pop phrase and therefore do not be too judgmental nor, as many Myers-Briggs folks do, brag about one’s uniqueness. The best example in a long time that proves pop psychology terms may be a bit tongue in cheek and that culture may influence our identity more than we know is the contractor who just today re-shingled mariner’s garage roof.
He and his team of three stripped the roof in one long hot day and finished the job the next day by Noon. They did an excellent job! The team was comprised of lifelong laborers accustomed to working all day at notable speed; they were heavily tattooed and in physically toughened shape. From a distance of ten feet, the business owner-contractor also looked toughened and tattooed.
As the job neared completion, mariner and the contractor had a chance to talk. The contractor was proud of his family heritage when it came to being accountable for a sound work ethic. His grandparents had a farm where the entire family worked long days; his father, a laborer, preached responsibility and hard work to the contractor and he in turn has made sure that his two sons regularly do physical work.
His conversation, however, told a different story. The contractor was erudite, showed interest in abstract issues, listened to podcasts, watched only selected news specials rather than daily news, understood the role of labor from an external perspective and otherwise demonstrated a mind that was interested in intellectual subjects. Yet he was a laborer by choice and belief and looked every bit a laborer. Mariner had to like him; he blames smartphones for the failure of work ethic in our society. He commented, “I can’t find any young help; two hours on the job and they quit!”
The insight mariner took from his conversation with the contractor, besides the unusual mix of a physical work ethic and an intellectual mind, was that everyone during their youth is shaped more by their culture/family than they may think. The contractor is in his mid-thirties; two generations before him were disciplined laborers; while financially stable, his family never had incomes that would suggest college and further could not allow time for college because there was work to be done. It is obvious in conversation with him that another profession is of no interest.
Mariner doubts the reader will run into the contractor in the metaverse.
By far the most important revelation that mariner took from his visit with the roofing crew is how important Labor is to a mature, sound and successful American society. Since the Reaganites dropped required underwriting of full retirement by manufacturing corporations, since the passing of the Great Society politicians (Ted Kennedy, Bob Dole, et al), since the continued disrespect by the electorate (mostly college snots) as one respectful element after another was cast aside – especially unions – Labor has suffered a forty-year history of disengagement from societal respect.
In fact, a laborer is as critical as a college professor. One is not better than the other. In fact, a laborer could no more handle the life of a college professor than a professor could handle the life of a laborer – let’s have some mutual respect here!
It is a familiar lesson. Every human being is a homo sapiens in good standing. Each is living, breathing, experiencing and surviving reality. No matter how different we may seem – each of us is the same, even identical in the larger measure of existence.
O, for we postmodern suburban West Germanic Anglo-Americans the yeoman will always be the most virtuous and emulable social class. The more relatable Founding Fathers certainly agreed. I aspire to it as well and in my cheerier moments view myself as such, after a fashion, not least because of your own efforts at my early acculturation.
You don’t want to give a man too much in a capitalistic society, but you don’t want to give him too little either. A sweet spot for the individual and society is a few hides of land for field and forge, some recalcitrant donkeys and/or motor-cars, an industrious wife and plentiful belligerent children, and an automatic rifle or two in case if things ever get hairy. (And enough book-larnin’ to read the Bible, but not too much more?)
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch …”